Thursday, 1 August 2013

A very brief meditation on an absurd passion.

A quick bulletin, as it is another of those crazy days, and I want to get everything done in double quick time so I can watch the racing and listen to the cricket.

Sudden, pouring, Scottish rain. Gentle horse morning, but no riding as rain has stopped play. Work, work, work. 1178 words of book. The picture becomes a little clearer although I have made life difficult for myself by deciding the whole thing is set in the wrong season. Weather is important in fiction.

Dawn Approach did not win. Toronado finally fulfilled his promise, repaid all that hope and love the Hannons have put into him, all the faith they have kept, and he flashed up on the outside and took the race with a storming late run, by half a length. It was a brilliant, brilliant contest between two titans, and the strong bay horse prevailed on the day. I can’t wait now for the next chapter in that story. There must be a rematch for sure.

But I won my money back because a lovely, rather exciting filly called Ribbons won the 4.50 for the most excellent James Fanshawe. He’s a trainer I admire, and I think he might have a bit of a star on his hands.

She’s a diva for sure. She stopped dead, half way to the start, and her jockey James Doyle had to jump off and attempt to lead her down. She wasn’t having that either. Some poor hapless fellow ran down to wave his arms at the filly in a vain attempt to get her moving, and she stared at him as if she were Lady Bracknell confronted by a handbag. I’m not sure I ever saw such equine de haut en bas.

Once she eventually consented, purely on her own aristocratic terms, to get to the stalls, she went in kindly, leapt out like a running deer, and absolutely took apart a big field, dancing away with the thing as if she had never had a mulish thought in her pretty head. I love her. She’s my new heroine.

Stanley the Dog is happy; all the family is gathering for the highland games; I wish there were twenty-seven hours in the day instead of twenty-four. I have had slightly too much coffee. But the racing is glorious, the cricket is starting, and I feel keenly aware of my luck.

It’s a sort of blanket luck, to be alive when there are such sights to be seen. It’s a very specific luck too: to be self-employed, so I can switch about my schedule and watch it all. Mostly though, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, it’s the good fortune of having passions.

It’s all a bit nutty, my idiotic love for racing; my adoration of these horses I shall never meet, my forensic following of the form, my living through the triumphs and disasters as if they were my own. A nice man wrote, kindly, forgivingly, on my Twitter timeline yesterday that he did not understand a word of my racing tweets but quite enjoyed them anyway. I thought that was very generous.

It did make me feel a bit goofy. I am forty-six, after all, not sixteen. But I read somewhere not long ago that one of the vital ingredients of happiness in life is to have a passion. It’s quite tiring, minding about the things I mind about so much. But it does galvanise. It keeps me alive. It does not let me slip into blah existence, but acts as a roaring shot in the arm. I think I’d rather be a bit absurd than be bored and disengaged. Well, that is my story, and, my dear Dear Readers, I really am sticking to it.


Too wet for the camera today; here are a few pictures from the last 48 hours:

One of my favourite of the HorseBack mares:

1 August 1

The mare and her little filly foal. I rather love that I got this picture all wrong and that they are slightly out of focus. Sometimes I am quite fond of my mistakes:

1 August 2


1 August 3

1 August 4

1 August 5

1 August 5-001

1 August 6

My lovely Red, last night, having a good old pick out in the wild grass:

1 August 9


1 August 10

The Older Brother and his Beloved came to pay the dear old duchess a visit:

1 August 11

We haven’t had a good Myfanwy picture in a while:

1 August 13

My most excellent sight dog, sighting things:

1 August 15

Yesterday’s hill. Today’s hill is lost in cloud:

1 August 20


  1. I think I've told you this before, however, just in case I only "did" it in my mind....I brag about your knowledge of horses & betting prowess whenever and wherever I go (the latest being a wedding in France just south of Arnac-Pompadour which has a rather large hippodrome & staged a big race the day after the nuptials).
    I continue to be impressed by your ability to pick winners, & then, even, combinations (I forget the correct terminology...again!). It IS a talent!

  2. As there is no such thing as a *bad* Myfanwy photo, the word "good" was not necessary, however apt! 8-D Good to see her again!

  3. I am still chuckling at the equine equivalent of Lady Bracknell. That is so exactly what recalcitrant horses look like. And then she goes out and wins! Myfanwy at her most loveable. Yes, passions are so important and it is a blessing to have the inner wherewithal to embrace them. Enjoy the racing! Rachel

  4. myfanwy is a super star, i'm sure she's a unicorn in hiding...

  5. Very nice article and very useful! Today is the second day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival which will take place at Goodwood racecourse until 30 june. In this second day, other 7 races will take place, but the most interesting is race 3 which it has as favorite on Awtaad is the first favorite, with 3 wins and 1 third place in just 4 races since this year. I hope C D Hayes will be able to perform well and deliver an easy victory. However, Galileo Gold is also in the race for a victory, having a 67% win percentage in the its last 3 races.


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