Saint Anthony and Velvet Vision run today and True Calling tomorrow ...

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We will have one runner on Sunday

Friday, 01 June 2018

"It is sad when two people turn from the paths they’re traveling, and their paths go on to cross without them."

Robert Brault.

A misty start to the day

It’s been overcast again and there was a faint drizzle in the air as we drove in before first lot. The low lying mist has hung about for a few hours, but it is just starting to clear now. It has been a very good morning so far with plenty of people in. We have had two lots of gallopers, schooled a couple, along with all the normal cantering. The Peat Moss gallop was like a carpet once again and everything strode out well when doing fast work.

Pageant Master, Quanah and Garrison Law working this morning

We have one runner at the weekend. Topalova will make her debut over hurdles at Fakenham on Sunday. She has been schooled several times and is ready to run. She may need this first outing and it could be a bit on the sharp side for her, but I am sure she will enjoy the experience and will improve greatly for it.

Walking home ...

... back to the yard

It is the Oaks and Derby this weekend with the Oaks today along with the Coronation Cup. Aidan has five runners in the Oaks with only four home grown runners. You would think his team might be able to conjure up another winner although it would be great to see one of our contingents fly the flag. Tomorrow's Derby has a few more home grown runners but Aidan, again, has five and his battalion will be setting the pace of the race to suit their champion. I hope we don’t get any more heavy downpours which will alter the ground and let’s hope it is a level playing field for them all.

I see there are going to be armed police at Epsom with a lot of plain clothed officers and sniffer dogs out in force. There is usually a bit of fighting on the hill, mostly arranged by the travelling community who have their own bare fist fighting laws, but I would hope we don’t see any of the Goodwood scenes as we want to knock this bad publicity on the head.

Astrosparkle and Astroblaze on Hamilton Hill

It is interesting to see that Germany has outlawed tongue ties in all their racing. These are a very common aid in all other countries as it stops the tongue from going back in the mouth and the horse choking. They don’t inconvenience the horse at all and they never seem to worry about them. This has evidently been done for animal welfare concerns and we will have to watch to see if it comes over the channel. Our authorities say there are no plans to do the same here, but it is one of those rules that creep in. My advocate to have one set of worldwide racing rules, as they do in every sport, seems a long way off.

Garrel Glen and Astromerry

Phil on Friday

They once put up a plaque in a Newmarket hotel to commemorate a special moment in the life of one Patrick Flavin, not the most successful of racehorse owners but among the most popular and generous.

An American-born entrepreneur, he had horses in training at Newmarket with Bernard van Cutsem and Mick Ryan. His greatest British success in many years of ownership came in the Edinburgh Gold Cup. He didn’t exactly set  racing alight here, but he built a huge reputation in HQ for his late-night partying, his eccentricity, wild sense of humour and, above all, generosity.

He was well remembered, at least temporarily, for one extended session at the Moat House in Newmarket (now the Heath Court Hotel) where he was a regular. After an all-night sitting which would have rivalled anything Jeffrey Bernard (about whom I have written with admiration several times in the past) could offer, Pat suffered an alcohol-induced collapse on his way back from the bar to his room in the early morning. According to a Telegraph report, guests had to tread carefully around his prostrate and inert form on their way to breakfast.

Eventually he revived and his generosity immediately shone through – he ordered steak and champagne for everyone in the hotel. So popular was he that a plaque was affixed to the wall at the point where he fell and passed out. It read: ‘Patrick Flavin slept here’. He could take a joke.

His kind-heartedness had already been shown at home in the States where he bought and distributed 2,500 teddy bears to youngsters each Christmas. He also set up scholarships for the children of his employees who otherwise could not have afforded them.

Pat died in 2013, aged 74. Sadly the hotel plaque is no longer in place. Perhaps it ought to be, commemorating this extraordinary man’s flamboyance, kindness and, up to a point, his capacity. 

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