Posted by Tania Kindersley.
For all my resolutely non-horsey readers, I apologise, as Cheltenham goes on. Despite having an excellent win in the second race yesterday, I am what is known as down on the meeting.
Sarah calls. 'Are you gambling all day?' she says. Then, sternly: 'How much have you lost?' The answer is: more than I would like.
So I have little time to write, as I must go at once and study the form. I have a hot tip for the 4.00; keep your fingers crossed for Song of Songs.
Today, fifty-one years ago, my father rode a horse called Irish Coffee at the festival. He and my mother left it late to get to the meeting, got stuck in traffic, and thought they were going to miss the race. My dad got out of the car and ran the last few hundred yards to the course, arriving at the weighing room to find another jockey wearing his silks. Just in time, he tore the colours of the fellow's back, dashed out to the paddock, and got up onto his horse.
'I finally managed to park the car,' my mother says. 'And I ran into the crowd just in time to see his cap.' That was all she could see, as my father flashed past the winning post in front.
Sadly I don't have a photograph of the great Irish Coffee, but here is my old dad, in his glory days:
That's my father on the left. You can see how riding styles have changed in the last fifty years. Look at that fella on the right: you'd never see a jockey do that now. It used to be known as calling a cab.
There is dad again, on the right, kicking on.
And there I am, attempting to follow in his footsteps, not quite fifty years ago, but almost thirty. I still remember that pony. He jumped like a stag and I could not hold one side of him; I inherited him from my older brother and I absolutely adored him. Those were the days when I did not understand anyone who did not get up at seven in the morning to muck out. Quite soon afterwards, I got to London and discovered boys and The Great Gear Market, and that was that.