It's Champions weekend ...

Reminiscing about old times

Saturday, 28 April 2012

“Well done is better than well said.”
Benjamin Franklin.


(L-R) My Guardian Angel and Shomberg

A damp morning with steady rain and it looks set again for the day, with even more forecast for tomorrow and next week. People are saying to me, "Have we not had enough yet?" but I love it to rain as it does so much good. Once it does stop and the sun comes out everything - the grass, the trees, the fields - will look fantastic. You can’t beat a good bit of rain. I took first lot to do some fast work on the Al Bahathri gallop that comes up from Railway Land on to Lord Derby’s. It’s about a mile in length and the boys reported that it rode really well, despite the weather. Second lot has done two good canters up Warren Hill and similar exercise will be happening at third lot.

       28-_Like_Clockwork_Robbie_Astrogold_Nikki      28_-_Cotton_Grass_Iain_Star_Commander_John

        (L-R) Like Clockwork with Astrogold          Cotton Grass and Star Commander

We have two runners today, and there was a lot of thought about whether to run them or not as the ground is very soft at both Sandown and Doncaster. But after much deliberation we have decided to let them take their chances unless there is a big deterioration in the ground.  Sandown  sees the end of the jump season only for it to start again tomorrow. To my mind this is completely crackers, as horses and men need a break and people need to be able to relax while enjoying their rewards. To have jump racing all summer is completely mad, and certainly needs looking into. Anyway, we run Barwick in the last on this mixed card at Sandown in a race for flat and jump jockeys. It is £10,000 added so worth winning. We were lucky to get William Buick in the draw as he rode the horse when it won last time. Hopefully he will handle this very soft ground – in fact it is given as heavy – and run well once again.

At Doncaster we see Battery Power having her first appearance of the year. I am not sure as to her ground preference but she has won both at Southwell and Kempton so I would be hopeful that she will handle it. The trip in my mind is a bit on the short side but I don’t think that matters so much on this ground. Kieren Fallon takes the ride and he knows her well.


 (L-R) Mystery Star (Lauren) alongside Blimey O'Riley (Rhea)

I hope you have enjoyed Phil’s memories of Punchestown. They have really brought a smile to my face and I know the stories already. He has many more great recollections some of which can not be printed.

Memories of Punchestown ....

The racing was brilliant. So was the craic. But for me the best memory of our Punchestown excursions remains the kind, welcoming nature of Irish racing people. As representatives of Mark Tompkins we were feted by the staff at the Aga Khan's Gilltown stud where some of the most famous stallions of their generation were paraded for us,  the Maktoum family's Kildangan stud, by John Oxx and, most memorably, by Michael Keogh at Ballysax Manor and Des Leadon at Swordlestown.

We visited Ted Walsh's training establishment at Kill - he had said we could see Papillon who had won the Aintree Grand National, and Commanche Court, winner of the Irish equivalent.

Ted himself could not be there for our visit, but he laid everything on for us and when we arrived and met his family one told us: "Hang on a minute. I'll get them in from the field for you." Moments later she came back, a mud-spattered Papillon on the one hand, Commanche Court on the other.

We, strangers all, stood there patting these two National heroes, one of which had landed a £10 million gamble at Aintree, and feeding them Polo mints as though they were a couple of old hacks.

What a memory. What a privilege.

Aah!  Punchestown. We must go back ....

       28-_The_Guvnor_looking_at_the_horses_after_1st_lot__Blimey       28-_The_Guvnor_pointing_Toptempo

       The Guv'nor looking at first lot and giving instructions