Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Tired today. Insomnia last night, which always leaves me feeling like an idiot. So this post may not make much sense.
To take my mind off the sordid details of the Barclays scandal, I had a quick peek at the afternoon’s racing. I had a little bet on a very nice sort called The Ducking Stool, and she duly romped home in the sunshine at Yarmouth. (It was the merest coincidence that she happened to be a bonny chestnut mare, not a million miles away from my very own Red.)
She was ridden by a young apprentice I had not taken in before called Shirley Teasdale. She sent the mare off in front, which was obviously where she liked to be; she was bowling along with his ears pricked. The thing about front-running is that you have to time it exactly right, and know the horse, and what it is capable of, otherwise you run out of petrol and get caught close home.
Teasdale not only timed her run to perfection, but when The Ducking Stool was tiring a little towards the end, and another horse was coming at them, she did not panic. Many young riders would. Teasdale did not start flapping about or scrubbing away; she stayed beautifully collected and kept the horse balanced. This is incredibly important, because otherwise they can break stride and lose momentum.
Dear Ducking Stool turned out to be a game and genuine mare, and, with her excellent rider keeping her straight and up to her work, she flashed past the post half a length in front.
It was a very happy thing to watch. It’s lovely to see a young apprentice doing something so well, and especially a female one. Racing is still very much a man’s business. I was so impressed, I sent her a little tweet, congratulating her on her cracking ride.
Just now, I got a reply. It was thanks to the very gutsy horse, she said. I went and looked at her timeline. A few people had also sent congratulations. Teasdale had not only replied politely to them all, but she gave credit to everyone but herself - the trainer, the team, the horse.
I tell this little story not so much because it is about horses, but because it is a good news story about The Young People. One of the things that makes me cross is the bashing of The Young People. They are often portrayed in the media as a bunch of internet-addicted, illiterate, workshy disappointments, not like the excellent young people of an imaginary golden age which exists only in the heads of the sentimental and nostalgic, the kind of people who start sentences with ‘in my day’.
Here is a young person who not only works very hard in a difficult job which pays very little and is exceptionally hard to break into if you are a female, but is very skilled at it, and tremendously polite to boot. I hope that Mrs Teasdale could watch her daughter’s triumph today. She must have been very proud.
I found the most enchanting picture of the dear Ducking Stool on the blog of her trainer, Julia Feilden. I hope she does not mind me using it. Since this blog is the spiritual home of the chestnut mare, it feels appropriate:
And here is Shirley Teasdale, who is going straight onto my one to follow list, along with William Buick and Richard Hughes:
See how neat and balanced she is. Really impressive.
Just time for my own little champions: