Posted by Tania Kindersley.
There are grave world events going on all around, and yet my mind today is focussed entirely on a green sward in the Gloucestershire countryside. It's only a race; it's only a horse; in the wide sweep of things it should not matter. But every so often a horse comes along and catches at your heart, and in this generation that horse for me is Kauto Star. His record is quite extraordinary: two Gold Cups, and four King Georges, the two highest, hardest races of the National Hunt calendar. Whatever happens today, no one can take that list of glory away from him.
Everyone says he can't do it. He is too old; his legs are not what they were; he makes mistakes which stop him in his tracks. In the old days, he used to bash the last, you could almost set your watch by it, but he was so good that he would still run on to win. You sometimes felt he was having a little joke, giving his backers a fright to keep them on their toes. He can't do that any more. There is no room for error. He must gallop a full tilt, over an undulating track, in a hot field trained to the minute for the best race of the year, jumping five foot fences at speed. As with all races, there are the terrifying imponderables: a loose horse, something falling in front of him and bringing him down. The odds are against. It would be a miracle, really, if the old horse can come back to his best.
But I love him. I love his beauty, his class, his guts, his will to win. I have put my money where my mouth is, for hope, for sentiment, for old times' sake. It is the exact way NOT to bet. By the time you read this, we shall know the result. I am starting to tremble with big race nerves. I shall be watching through my fingers. Most of all, whatever happens, I hope the beauty comes home safe. Win or lose, he can hold his dear old head high.
PS: there is a lovely bold campaigner called Midnight Chase, not quite in the same class as the others, but an honourable outsider at 14-1. I'd love to see him run a big race, and I've got a tenner that says so.
PPS. My pick in the 2.40 just trotted up. In the mad racing world of magical thinking, I am wondering if I should take this as a Good Omen.