Saturday, 8 September 2012

All about the love. Or, the good mares make my heart dance.

Author’s note: Warning – this is a bit of a racing report. General readers are assured there shall be other subjects tomorrow.


Today was all about love.

The mare, who was grumpy last night, greets the sunny morning with an air of benign enchantment. Everything is right in her world. When she is like this, the goodness and sweetness are so acute that I feel my heart expanding like a great bellows, to fit all the love in. We have a fine ride, a bit circussy, but mostly foot perfect. She settles more and more, as I find out what she enjoys the most, and how to ride her so that she is engaged and happy.

Then I walk the two equines round the field on foot; my little white Welsh person, and my big red person, with me in the middle. We amble along in perfect harmony, no ropes or hands needed, a happy little herd of three. I am so delighted by this that I call the great-nieces out to witness it. So then there is the family love. The two beaming small people say hello to the horses; the younger of the two, my own little Lester Piggott, does some grooming and leading with Myfanwy and the sight of the two of them is absurdly touching.

Then it is a thrilling day at the races. Some of my favourite horses are running. I have a small disappointment, because dear Ortensia, the Australian wonder mare, finds the big race at Haydock a run too far after her long English season, and fades away. I love her still, and have won wads of cash on her and shouted her home in joy in her last two races, and I feel very grateful that her owners and trainer sent her across the world so we could have the pleasure of watching her.

To make up for it, Society Rock, trained by the lovely James Fanshawe, suddenly decides to have his moment of glory, after a bit of a disappointing season, and flashes home at 10-1. It’s always a thrill seeing a good horse come back to his best, especially for such a good and modest trainer.

Fanshawe also saddled Dandino, another of my beloveds. He’s been a bridesmaid all summer, running honourable seconds and thirds. Today was his day, and he lengthened his stride and stuck his head out and had his moment in the literal and metaphorical sun. I shouted my head off.

There were other delights, most notably the tough, genuine Mark Johnston horses running out of their skins. There is something about the way he trains them that brings out every last drop of determination and guts. They can have trouble in running, get boxed in, have half the field come at them, and they never, ever give up. I don’t know what he does up there in Yorkshire, but he produces the most honest, gutsy horses I’ve ever seen. The motto on his website is Always Trying, and it could not be more appropriate.

Then, as if the day were not crammed enough with delights, the remarkable filly Snow Fairy was running in the big race at Leopardstown. She’s won all over the world, from France to Ireland to Hong Kong, and came back from a career-threatening injury to win at Deauville after months off the course. Even though she was up against another of my favourites, Nathaniel, I really wanted the brave classy filly to have her day. And so she did, under a smooth, patient ride from Frankie Dettori, dancing past her rivals in the gleaming Irish sunshine, and making me shout and clap with childlike glee.

I can’t tell you how happy it made me. There was so much good about it. She’s a really game filly, her trainer has worked wonders to bring her back after a long time off the track, and she gave the veteran Dettori a fine moment of vindication. People have been muttering unkindly about how he is past his best, on the decline, even losing his nerve. He showed them all, and his smile lit up the racecourse.

It’s funny. I was cranky and gloomy and beset with demons yesterday. Today, all was good and right and fine. It was all small, simple things; it was all about the Love. I often think I am a complete idiot, to be so head over heels with all the horses in my life, both the ones I know, and the ones I shall never meet, but watch out on the wide green grass, running their hearts out. There is something a bit absurd about it all. But on days like today, the goofy pleasure it brings is beyond counting.


Today’s pictures:

The light in the woods was quite magical:

8 Sept 1

8 Sept 2

8 Sept 3

8 Sept 4

8 Sept 4-001

8 Sept 4-002

Red’s view:

8 Sept 6

A very happy and dozy little pony with her small helper:

8 Sept 10

Red the Mare at her most blissed out – ears akimbo, eyes shut, lower lip wobbling with joy:

8 Sept 11

Talking of the latter:

8 Sept 9

And here she is looking a bit posher and prettier:

8 Sept 12

There was happy Pigeon love too, as there is every day:

8 Sept 14

Hill, rather blurry through the trees:

8 Sept 20

I could not find a picture of Snow Fairy winning today, but here she is from a past race. I wanted you to see her outrageous beauty:

And once more I must apologise for the tenses. I’m always doing terrible tense veers, and I’m always too tired to go back and correct. I suppose a blog should be a bit rough and ready, but I always have to apologise. It’s the curse of the pedant, I suppose.

I hope you too are having a lovely, sunny weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Shouted Snow Fairy all the way down the stretch--what a heroine she is. When they finally do retire her, will be waiting impatiently to see what she produces. I know, the great race mares don't routinely reproduce themselves, but Snow Fairy is anything but routine.

    If I had a horse, I'd be well into "natural horsemanship" by now, just based on your accounts. Love the image of you and your two herdmates touring the field together. Does the fourth member of the family--the black one with the silver muzzle--oversee the drill from the comfort of a nearby rest spot?



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