The most glorious of late winter afternoons driving back up the A68 from the Tynedale point-to-point, just as well really as I could be forgiven for feeling a little battered. We had been on a bit of a roll recently but we were brought back to earth sharply with heavy falls for Lucy yesterday and Jamie this afternoon.
At Newcastle Clan Legend was working his way nicely into the race when he made a rare mistake at the first fence in the home straight, putting down then chesting the fence throwing Lucy over his head and then kicking her in the face when she was on the ground. I’ve no idea what caused this most uncharacteristic blunder but prior to the race I had been struck by how illogical it had been for the race to be delayed whilst the stewards inspected a fence facing South whilst paying no regard to the home straight where all the fences faced straight into the setting sun, the protocols on this issue need tightened up as it still all appears amateur and arbitrary. Earlier in the afternoon Off the Hook ran a tremendous race to finish 2nd again, her time will come soon with any luck at all and there should be plenty more to come when she steps up in trip, its just such a joy having her around at all as she was on death’s door this time last year.
Today at Corbridge Royal Chatelier was running his best race for a long time and bang in contention among the most progressive young horses in the North when taking a purler of a fall at the 2nd last firing Jamie straight into the ground, not good for the senior man of the weighing room but after a few worrying minutes he rose to his feet and was helped into the ambulance, very groggy he will need a quiet week. As will Lucy who was in A&E in Newcastle until 10pm undergoing some repairs, Rose and I shared the joy of 5 hours in a busy city hospital on a Saturday evening – a reality check if ever there was one, we came away full of admiration for the NHS staff but wondering how anyone can work for long under such pressure, the present situation is simply unsustainable and hence very worrying. Nearly 1am when we returned home but I had no problem at all heading back down to Northumberland this morning for the point-to-point today which attracted a huge crowd, masses of runners from all over and very exciting racing including Kit only just being denied in the Men’s Open on Robert Miller-Bakewell’s For Yes at odds of 33-1!
Oddly there will be a fraction of the number of horses and people at Ayr tomorrow despite solid prize money and we are heading there with 5 runners on ground that will be sticky but hopefully not much worse than soft, has to survive 8am inspection for frost, pleased to see they have frost covers down. They are all likely to be long odds and for good reason as none of them especially want to be there but they all now missed several engagements and with the forecast as it is for the next week I really feel we need to get them out for a run – not what I like doing but there we go and hopefully they will run well enough and hopefully might sneak into a place.
We start with two runners in the novice hurdle at 2.15, Eagle Ridge (Jamie Hamilton) who is a lovely horse but needs further on better ground and Up Helly Aa King (Grant) who is working his way back from a serious injury last year, hopefully both can build on their previous starts, 9 run. Gold Opera (Grant) runs in the 2.45, a hesitant declaration as had been looking for a hurdle for him as he has lost his form over fences since running well on seasonal debut, will like ground and track and could run well if he stays as will appreciate this drop in class, 6 run. Finally we have two runners in the handicap hurdle at 4.55, Silk or Scarlet (Grant) and Jolie Crickette (Kit), both would prefer better ground, Silk or Scarlet is making his handicap debut off not an obviously appealing opening mark, I am sure he will prove better than that in time but guess will be over further, Jolie Crickette is coming back after a year off and will hopefully be going over fences after this, she also looks to have plenty of weight. After a weekend like this home safe everyone please!