Posted by Tania Kindersley.
After yesterday’s absurd length, I should like to give you some pith. It is the least you deserve.
The big news in my tiny world is that the farrier came. He is a man of great talent and decency. His father was a farrier and his grandfather a blacksmith with his own smithy. He put such a set of shoes on my mare. The tiny great-nieces and nephew came out to watch, their eyes wide as saucers as the hot shoes hissed and smoked. ‘See,’ said my friend M to the children, as the farrier got out his rasp, ‘she’s having a manicure.’
The mare stood like a statue throughout, and dozed a bit with her head on my chest. I felt very proud of her.
There was more racing today, some surprises, some wonderful horses. I shouted and roared and gave back to Mr William Hill some of the money I took off him yesterday. Suddenly, after the last, as the adrenaline ebbed, I thought fiercely of my father and wished that he were here. I always think of him at Grand National time, and this is the first year he will not be here to see it. It is amazing to me how deep the knife plunges into the heart at this thought.
I go up to see Red. She does not think of life or death, but whether I have carrots in my pockets. Luckily, I have. She ambles towards me, and then follows me back to the gate without a headcollar. This is new, and she’s done it a couple of times now, and it makes me feel as if I have won something, a prize or a lottery. It’s such a very small thing, and so very potent.
I give her the carrots in reward. She can be a bit duchessy, I have discovered. She is not that keen on crunching things, so I cut the carrots up into small, delicate pieces, which she graciously accepts. Then we commune for a bit, as a faint evening sun suffuses the far mountains. That’s better, I think; that’s all right.
Tomorrow is the National. I love it and hate it. Part of me thinks it is the greatest show on earth, and when horses take to those fences, they really do take to them. A fellow called Always Waining ran in the Topham today, which is a shorter race than the National, but over the same fences. He wins absolutely nothing on any other track, looks like a real old second-rater; then he comes to Aintree, takes one look at those fences, and turns himself into a superstar. He’s the first horse to win that race three years in a row, and even though I had not a penny on him, I cheered him home, it was such a splendid sight.
The other part of me thinks the whole thing is a freak show and yearns for a nice sensible steeplechase over normal fences and a normal distance.
But then, perhaps there is nothing that normal about any kind of race.
The main thing is that first thing, before anything else, I shall take my own little champion out in her new shoes.
And two panoramas – of Red's view:
And the hill: