The John Magnier article is a must read ...

We have one runner today at Lingfield

Friday, 06 April 2018

"A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold."

Ogden Nash.

Rum Ration and Astroblaze

It’s slightly breezier this morning but a very similar day to yesterday and with this wind, the ground is starting to dry. If it stays like this we will be able to get onto the turf next week, which will be very enlightening. Everybody is in this morning and good cantering on the polytracks has once again been the exercise. All has gone well.

Velvet Vision

We have one runner today and that will be it for the week. Clearance runs in the 3.25 at Lingfield. He has always galloped better at home than he does on the track and I have fitted cheekpieces in the hope that they concentrate his mind. He has got the ability to be involved if putting his best foot forward. Shane Kelly takes the ride.

Roof Garden

It is interesting to see that there is a major row about the new Britbet operation with the Arena Racing Company up in arms and issuing an ultimatum to the racecourses involved. What with Betfreds original Tote operation looking likely to expand considerable, and now this situation, it will be fascinating to watch from the outside how it all evolves. This is typical of our industry where nobody works together and everybody pulls in different directions, purely for their own good. Mind you this situation has been caused by the Government who sold the Tote off to an independent, rather than sell it to the racing industry that would have developed it in the interest of the sport other than to private shareholders. Once again a kick in the teeth.

Garrison Law

I see my prediction about the Jockey Club upping the prize money came true. Any increase in the prize money is very welcome and the Cesarewitch, especially, will be going up on the same lines as the Ebor to £½ million and then up to a million in a year’s time. They have no sponsor for it though, which doesn’t surprise me, and although these two big races are worth so much, you will not be able to take part with a normal horse as it will become a Group race without black type. Only the highest rated horses will be able to take part and once again these races will fall to the big boys.

Astrodonna and her Bated Breath colt and Diverting with her Nathaniel filly

The first breeze up sale went ahead yesterday and as I predicted it was very selective. In fact only 50% of the lots found buyers and both the median and average were way down. I am sure the same trend will continue with vendors finding it hard to sell in the middle to lower markets. There will obviously be a few good horses come out of them, as there always is, but it is like everything, whether it be a picture, a vase, or a horse, they are only worth what they make in the ring. That sometimes can be disappointing for the vendor, but we have been living in a world of inflated prices for a while now and some common sense would come in handy as most of these horses will be racing for a pittance.

Phil on Friday

It was the first Grand National I saw in the flesh. My father and I travelled on an ‘Aintree Special’ train (hauled by a steam locomotive!) back in the sixties and, as if the occasion itself was not excitement enough for a boy, the Russians had sent over three horses to put us in our place.

They came by rail across Poland, Germany and Holland before boarding a boat to Harwich then travelling on to Aintree. Sadly the Russians’ best hope, Epigraf II, had to be scratched, probably through exhaustion after the long journey, and despite threats to withdraw the others because they had been allocated top weight (which, of course, they had to be, never having competed in Britain before) the remaining pair took part.

The Red Flag flew over the Aintree stands and, obviously, the colours worn by one jockey were plain red and by the other bright orange. Grifel came down at Becher’s first time. He was remounted but after at least one other horrendous error was pulled up after a circuit. The other, Reljef, unseated at Valentine’s.

The Russians had vowed before the race that, whatever happened that day, they would be back to win within three years. They have not been seen since.

A few years earlier, however, the boot had been on the other foot when Russian Hero won the great race.  The racing correspondent of the Daily Worker, the Communist mouthpiece in Britain, naturally tipped it. With a name like Russian Hero he had no choice. He was the only newspaper man to do so but probably every communist-minded person in the country was on as the Cold War loomed.

Even sixpence was a lot of money in those days but when Russian Hero won and multiplied the outlay 66 times might a few have been tempted to turn to capitalism? The victory resulted in ‘the largest collective transfer of wealth ever to communism’s stalwarts in Britain’ according to one newspaper report.

Since the war the National has been won by Red Rum, Red Marauder and Red Alligator, none with Russian connections as far as I know, so the East-West conflict on the Aintree turf across all those years remains a 1-1 draw – somewhat reminiscent of the current diplomatic tit-for-tat, I suppose.