The new game machines are set to go in the shops ...

It's the Guineas weekend

Friday, 05 May 2017

"There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them."

Vicki Baum.

Bracken Brae

It’s a much better day, in fact a perfect morning, great temperature and very little wind. Let’s hope it stays like this from now on, although we do need some rain for the ground. It certainly will be fast ground at Newmarket this weekend as I haven’t seen any signs of watering on the course. It has been a good start so far with the horses mainly using the Rubbing House canter and we have had a few more debutants through the starting stalls. They were absolutely brilliant, walked in without a hitch. In the nearly 40 years I have been training, all my horses have been excellent in the stalls and it has only been recently we have had one or two awkward ones. 

Gee Sixty Six

Topalova ran a sound enough race yesterday to finish fifth, but came back with a cut on her hind hock, which had been caused by a horse behind striking into her as they slowed it up after a few furlongs. Nobody sees these injuries, which happen frequently and are caused by jockeys with no ability or brains. They can be career threatening and in fact many horses have never run again after being struck into if the tendons get infected. This is what can happen, but let’s hope in this case as her injury is not too deep, she can recover quickly. It seems to me this type of injury is getting more prevalent and jockeys should be given extra training, especially the younger ones, as they just don’t understand what the after effects mean. If the vets in the stables reported all these type of injuries to the stewards, it would soon show up how bad some of the riders are. It is mainly because they have not got the ability to settle or hold a horse, just general horsemanship which seems to have gone out of the window. That’s my gripe for the day over.

     05_Yarmi     17_Stalls
(L) Yarmi discussing tactics  (R) Walking towards the stalls

I am not going to move from my prediction that Churchill will win the 2000 Guineas, but I would certainly like Barney Roy to run well and I think the Andre Fabre, Al Wukair, will also not be too far away. On Sunday you can’t go much further again than Aidan’s Rhododendron with one of John Gosden’s filling the runner up spot. It will be what horse handles the faster ground and the dips best in both races.

Astroblaze and Koin in the stalls

Phil on Friday

Our former amateur rider Michael Jenkins has gone into print again. After an earlier, very successful small volume recalling his time as a jockey (it is called An Idiot Aboard) Jenko has helped fellow villager Mary Fritchley record her extraordinary experiences in racing, and beyond, in a booklet entitled Oh! Mary.

A copy was sent to the Queen. Now Mary has received a letter from Windsor Castle and, says Jenko, is thrilled to read of Her Majesty’s thanks for sending her this story of an amazing life, and offering her good wishes.

Mary has obviously been pardoned, then, over an incident at Royal Ascot which is revealed in the booklet. She swore very loudly right in front of the Queen!

 As she led in a royal runner after it had finished second in the Gold Cup the horse lashed out ‘with both barrels’ missing Mary by inches – ‘his hooves flashed past my face near enough to count the nails in his shoes’.

‘You b-----’ cried Mary, as the Queen walked closely by. Her Majesty carried on after the outburst ‘wearing a knowing smile’.

On another occasion the Queen visited Captain Cecil Boyd-Rochfort’s stable to see her horses in training there. Mary was riding one of the royal string at exercise when it began behaving badly and reared up, nearly going over backwards. The horse was led away, then the Queen walked over to the young rider and ‘apologised for her horse giving me such a bad ride.’

Mary also tells of her long friendship with Muhammad Ali which developed after she presented him in person with a painting she had done of the great man; a TV appearance with Esther Rantzen with her appropriately named horse Krackers ‘who could laugh on demand’; and her venture into the world of art in which she displayed considerable talent.

This 40-page booklet contains pictures of Mary riding out in a headscarf, no helmet (no-one else had one either) and tells a remarkable tale. It is a worthy follow-up to Jenko’s own stories of his time in the saddle, told with so much self-effacing humour and charm, and I shall write more on them in the near future.

What marvellous people racing keeps on producing, and we haven’t got to the Guvnor yet …

If you would like to read an electronic version of Oh! Mary please send Jenko an e-mail. The address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it