Saturday, 14 April 2012

Triumph and tragedy; a quick digest.

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.


14 April 1 14-04-2012 18-44-42 4032x3024

14 April 2 14-04-2012 18-46-20 4032x3024

14 April 2 14-04-2012 18-47-47 4032x3024

14 April 3 14-04-2012 18-47-21 4032x3024

14 April 4 14-04-2012 18-47-41 4032x3024

14 April 6 14-04-2012 18-48-48 2640x1744

Red the Mare:

14 April 7 14-04-2012 18-36-02 2984x3067

Her view:

14 April 8 14-04-2012 18-35-03 4020x1577

The Pigeon. Are you going to play with this ball or what?:

14 April 8 14-04-2012 18-45-19 4032x3024

I think it went over there:

14 April 9 14-04-2012 18-49-43 4032x3024


14 April 14 14-04-2012 18-50-04 4032x1791


  1. I made a bit on Katie Walsh coming third, whoop whoop, but then heard about Synchronised and According To Pete and the elation evaporated. Mooched off to to the pub to spend my winnings with The Husband and The Dog. Husband and I very pleased there is no such thing as West Highland White Terrier racing.

  2. Sad for people, but horses have lives well lived too, and seems they enjoyed theirs.
    Just had nine teenagers camping in the garden and wondered where they had all gone at one point ( the silence was deafening)- they had all trooped off to visit Mary horse in the next field and chat to her. (aha! so thats where the carrots went!)
    Horses and humans, they just go together.

  3. That was one spectacular finish, but so sad to lose two nice horses. Now remembering why I stopped watching jump races many years ago. That's not said condescendingly; flat racing over here has major problems in the loss department--problems I can't excuse either to myself or anyone else--so I have no soapbox to stand on.

    So many of the racing troubles in the U.S. relate to drugs and to the way some people handle their horses when big money is involved (or, in other words, human nature at its worst). At least in steeplechasing, that is much less of a factor, something I appreciate very much.

    Tania, is there any talk of modifying the jumps or length of races? It wouldn't eliminate injuries, but perhaps it would help for the ones which occur when the horses get so tired that they can't do it well. I know the great races are tests of a horse's heart and ability, but in the end, is it worth it? Where does sportsmanship cross the line?

    By no means mean to sound huffy; even with the things that go on over here which make me want to strangle the people with no integrity, I can't help loving racing ... loving the horses, the feel of being at the track, the whole noble business of it (because it CAN be noble; it generally is for the horses themselves).

    PS Was hollering like crazy for Katie Walsh ;-).

  4. Reading -- and writing -- from Florida (visiting family). By now the race has been run & the rest is history, as "they" say.
    I always feel so split. These horses are such tremendous and so terribly delicate creatures! It always tears at me when one has to be "put down"...

  5. Anything you love has the capacity to break your heart. It's the price.

    How wonderful that Pigeon likes chasing balls. Her eyes are just lambent. Winston plays "keepies off" (where half the game is getting the throw toy off him), Molly couldn't care less and Fearghus just looks at you with his lordly "you threw it, you get it" air....


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