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We have one runner today at York

Friday, 16 June 2017

"What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow."

Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Desert River and TTMAB

It’s another warm and sunny morning, but there is a slight breeze that is helping, and with one non-runner, one on holiday, two away at York, we are getting on remarkable well. We have been cantering all the horses on Hamilton Hill, which is in great condition and you can get a bit of shade from the trees. At present they are full of cherries and I take great pride in trying to beat the birds to the best ones. We have no runners over the weekend but one today and then there will be several next week.

Gee Sixty Six

Our runner today is at York in the big seller. Budgie looks an ideal candidate. He has had two runs and has gained a lot of experience for both. I don’t think the ground suited him last time out at Leicester, but he was not given the best of rides. I think the ground will be ok and although he needs a little bit further, he will be doing his best work at the end and let’s hope he can give us a shout and get in the frame. I have won this race in the past, twice I think . The one I can remember most is Gabbiadini. He was named after Marco Gabbiadini who was a very good professional footballer and had a hotel in York. He went on to win a couple of nurseries afterwards as well.

     14_Stelle     10_Sand
(L) Stellekaya and (R) Sandwood Bay

I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Bell who has come out against letting Welsey Ward work his horses on the track at Ascot. It must give them an unfair advantage and it certainly wants looking into for the future. When we go abroad, there are many obstacles put in our way as they don’t really want us to beat their horses, and very little assistance is given with expenses. There is absolutely none with the Breeder’s Cup and Melbourne Cup trips, only good hospitality. The American horses are based here in Newmarket. We have two courses, plus unbelievably good gallops and there is nowhere like it in the world, so calling for a level playing field is certainly not way off the mark.

Velvet Voice leading Bracken Brae

I hope the Queen makes it in time on Wednesday as she is required to give the Queen's Speech in parliament. I am sure everything will go off by the minute, as all royal functions do. If there is anybody who deserves to have some enjoyment it is her majesty, and this is the one week of the year she looks forward to and it is her week. It is typical of politicians to upset it. It would have been better to have put it off for another week.


Phil on Friday

So England are out of cricket’s Champions Trophy. I know at least half the population couldn’t care less but, for me, last Wednesday was wasted Wednesday – up early, fetch the paper, have breakfast and switch on the telly in time for the toss. Then suffer hours of anxiety and ultimately huge disappointment.

At least that long and difficult day gave a chance to think of better times …

It was amusing to read in the early-season sports pages about the cricketing ‘chubsters’ of Northamptonshire, my home county.  They are a big side all right, and you wouldn’t want to argue with the likes of Rory Kleinveldt or Richard Levi. They can’t quite match up, however, to the greatest of them all, in every sense – the now long-departed Colin Milburn. Ollie was his nickname. He played in Test matches for England and at one point shared TV commentary with the likes of Richie Benaud, Denis Compton and Brian Johnston. He was a giant of a man with a giant appetite, and an enviable capacity for beer.

I was once honoured to judge a ‘hot pants’ competition with him in Northampton.  I think we might have overdone the ‘warm-up’ slightly because we put some random bloke, who might have just wandered in from the street for all we knew, in third place. As I recall, however, the winner was well worthy of her title and I hope she still remembers the evening she genuinely became Northampton’s Miss Hot Pants.

I was privileged in my early days in journalism to report on a few cricket matches – what a job, with long summer afternoons and only a few paragraphs to write as the day meandered on – and I have special memories of time spent at Northampton’s County Ground.  As a very small boy I witnessed the introduction of Frank Tyson, probably the fastest bowler of them all. Typhoon Tyson they called him.

Of course my more senior colleagues always had better cricketing anecdotes to tell. One concerned the brilliant John Arlott, most revered of all commentators. He was also wine correspondent for The Guardian and would often do his tasting during a game. One day at Bath, on a hot July afternoon with the Somerset v. Northants county match paralysingly slow, the great man consumed two bottles of claret all by himself for lunch. Not surprisingly he soon nodded off and, when he awoke in time for tea, was heard to observe: “I don’t know what it is about Bath but I always feel sleepy here in the afternoons”.

I love the story another colleague would tell about the day Northamptonshire took on Ireland in a cup competition. Ireland were fielding and one of their men on the boundary fell into conversation with a spectator who was intrigued by the make-up of the visiting side. “Is it an all-Ireland team, or just from the Republic?” she asked. “Well now”, replied the cricketer, after giving the matter much thought. “Half of us are from Northern Ireland, half from the south, and the rest come from all over”.

That clears that up then.

Back to the Racing Post, Royal Ascot, and good luck Pakistan. You did us, fair and square.