Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Strange day of mixed emotions. (Perhaps emotions always are mixed, and we humans just make a mistake in thinking they ever might be one pure thing or another.) Anyway, a very quick digest for you, because it is late and I am tired:
Love and affection for my horse.
Astonishment at the cold. Turning to bafflement at the snow.
High excitement as the thought of the day’s racing settled in. Despite reservations about the Grand National being such a strange and freakish race, the blood started to rise.
Talked to mother, talked to brother, discussed form.
Had a lovely time on Twitter, boring everyone with horse talk.
Concentrated hard on Racing Post.
Had the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of watching Simonsig and Sprinter Sacre, two of the best young horses I’ve ever seen, canter home, so full of beauty and belief that it was blinding.
My venal side was very pleased that I won rather a lot of money, especially when the third in my treble came in, and Oscar Whisky completed the party.
Suddenly panicked that the sister was about to arrive and the house was a detritus of betting guides and horse treats. Tidied up. Arranged flowers, even. Felt slightly saintly.
Joyful when the sister did arrive and noticed and appreciated.
She said, as the warm-up to the race began: ‘I thought today of Dad and how brave he was.’ He rode in the National a few times, never got farther than the third. We gave his memory a moment’s silence.
Usual thing in race – can’t bear the falls, can’t bear the cavalry charge, but am thrilled by watching the ones who really take to it, or love it already, like dear old Hello Bud, aged fourteen, who hunted round for fun under his nineteen-year-old jockey. (He finished an honourable seventh, which is remarkable, considering his age, and looked like he was loving every minute of it.)
And then the finish. For a lovely moment, we thought the wonderful Katie Walsh might do it on Seabass, but he couldn’t quite see it out, although he jumped beautifully and ran like a Trojan. We shouted for her, until her race was run, and then the marvellous Neptune Collonges won it on the nod, simply refusing to be beat.
Joy for the brave grey horse, giving Paul Nicholls his first win in the race. Joy for the young Irish jockey, Daryl Jacob, who cried tears of delight in his post-race interview.
And then the swoop of sorrow and regret as it was reported that both Synchronised and According to Pete had to be put down. I mourn dear old Synchronised, with his great white donkey face, who battled up the hill at Cheltenham to win the Gold Cup, rather against the odds, through sheer grit and perseverance.
According to Pete also had a big old white face, and was bred in Yorkshire by Peter Nelson, who runs a small newsagent; he said, of the horse, ‘And when you watch him bowling along, he's such a fine sight, seems to love doing it. He always has his ears pricked and you'd swear he has a smile on his face.’ He was a real journeyman of a horse, and he is a great loss.
Rather melancholy, as the evening fell, thinking of these fallen stars, I went up to see my own mare. She was ambly and goofy and present and real; she nudged me with affection and rested her head on my shoulder.
Horses do make and break your heart.
Photographs of the day.
Red the Mare:
The Pigeon. Are you going to play with this ball or what?:
I think it went over there: