Horse Racing

Another point of view


In the weeks leading up to the Guineas meeting, there will be talk of ante-post lovers, big barns, rich and famous owners. There will be a lot of newspapers about the betting market and the numbers and each journalist will try to get some clue from the trainers who don’t want to give any clues.

In some strange way, the horse can get lost in all of this. I mean the horse in general – not a single Classic competitor, but all horses, about 2,500 Thoroughbreds living in Newmarket.

Racing is unique among elite sports because of horses. The horse brings something extra to the party – a mystery, because anything that lives across the species barrier will always retain a haunting mystery; a pure aesthetic, because Purebred would make even a Vogue supermodel look ordinary; and an element of relationship and connection, because women and men who can get into the minds of horses will always make the most of them.

I mean it’s much more than that: an extremely rich person buys the most amazing breed on the planet and sends the resulting pony or puppy to a famous trainer in a storeyed yard and people started counting their money. I am a simple person, but I do it on purpose, because sometimes it seems to me that this is the story that is told the most. That is the nature of the news; that’s how headers work. But still. It leaves something out.

Of course there are always outstanding yards and great stallions and owners with huge checkbooks. I’ve just taken a tour of the National Equestrian Museum, and there they are, giants, with hats and coats and their honorable servants. There are earls and barons, the Duke of Portland and Lord Rosebery, the only incumbent prime minister to have bred and owned a Derby winner. There are Hyperion’s skeletons, an astonishing sight and, in the empty rooms of the Palace House, Stubbs paintings of eighteenth-century fine purebreds.

He put the horse in the middle of the stage. No legendary owners or breeders; only horse with a guy. It is the focus and location of beauty, so alive that it captures the eye and the imagination. That’s how it all started, and that’s how it remains, for me.

I drove 500 miles from Scotland because I wanted to see the horses. I grew up on the National Hunt and purebred dogs are my first memories and first love. There is no racing in Aberdeenshire and I can only watch beautiful people on television. Heading south for this season’s first Classics game isn’t about betting markets or form or even headline acts. I’d like to see them all – close-ups of the fillings and ponies in the ring before the parade, the unknown sequences on the Heath field, perhaps a glimpse of an old favorite in the gym .

I’m staying with friends who have a small stable in the middle of town. I awoke to the sound of gentle hooves as the horses came out to the first lot. It’s a relaxing place and the horses are fun and friendly. (They all want to come and say hello, a great sign in my book. They think people are a good thing.) This is fun for me, though these are not of the sort. Classic and will not live large in the imagination of the wider public. But they have the beauty and grace and intelligence that Purebreds have; they have a history running through their veins; They can trace their roots back to a time when Captain Byerley brought his brave horse home after the war.

That’s another part of the beauty, for me: history. Some say, at the races, no one knows who Fred Archer is anymore. Maybe here really it’s correct? I just stared at the revolver he killed himself, on display in the museum. It was a gleaming silver object, with no pain in it to rub against, and I spent hours dreaming in the yard he built. There are moments, when I stand on Warren Hill and watch the horses silhouetted against the sky, when I can imagine Stubbs himself painting the scene, or conjure up an image of Charles II camping in town in its entirety. his entourage. (Pepys wrote on April 26, 1669, “The King and Court have gone out of town to Newmarket this morning for a week, for a week.” This happened quite a lot, to the horror. disgust of courtiers who are not interested in ephemeral sports pursuits.)

There’s a trainer I know who can talk about horses from 100 years ago as if they were running yesterday, and more recent history isn’t entirely lost to me either. I drive out of town, across the vast Suffolk hedge and bluff studs, where every spring a new crop of dreams is born, to meet a dear friend who has worked in the field of racing since he was a boy. He told me about walking around the stables at night with Sir Henry Cecil, and how Henry would say, as if on a whim, “Let’s go see this one,” and then he went to the box and ran his hand over the smooth back and stopped and simply stared.

“I didn’t say anything,” my friend told me. “He needs to look and look and look at his horse. So we would stand in silence until he had enough, and then he would say there was another one he wanted to see, and we would move on. “

I love the picture of Sir Henry staring and staring at his horses. I thought, oddly, that he probably looked with the same intensity as I did: see the beauty, see the history, see the promise.

At the races, there is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern. There are young people in edgy suits and summer clothes, shouting on the tracks, and old school, men still wearing Trilbies even though it’s May, women wearing sensible shoes to they might be about to watch the runners. I heard a retired person Rider said, “I don’t put myself much on these days.” He watched the proceedings like an elderly statesman, as if seeing that all was well.

There are whispers about the place, as the Apartment restores itself to life after the long winter. (And there’s also a metaphorical winter, during lockdown, when meetings take place behind closed doors and horses run across ghostly, empty stands.) Which surprised me. , after a long absence from the racecourse, is how refined and refined these horses are. life. The camera blurs them and flattens them and somehow enlarges them, all at the same time. You cannot feel the energy flowing from them when you are watching on the screen. In real life, each person’s intense individuality stands out. There are young people with poise and optimism who are already professionals; people who are all a little excessive, people who need reassurance; people who look a little startled but are willing to trust that they will be fine.

Another thing that surprised me was how enthusiastically the crowd cheered for them to go home. Even on Fridays and Sundays, when the stands are quiet, the noise rises to a culmination of excitement, released tension, joy, maybe even hope. . Some will scream because they won a hundred quid; some because they love a good ending or a certain horse stroke; some because they were infected by the sound of drumming hooves and the voices of their commentators and riders. I barely had a dog on the hunt, so I screamed for grace and courage and refused to give up. (I like those qualities in humans; I love them in horses.)

As always, some beauties surprise and some disappoint. The one that probably intrigued me the most was Cachet, the filth that took the lead in the Guineas 1000 and was there, there and just chasing, from quick-kill opponents.

She’s a delicate, very seductive thing, obviously with a steel core. My wonderful friend, an expert breeder and knows the reverse and inside out, looks at her through the lens of wonderful breeding males and brilliant parents. People who understand ratings and betting look at her with mild surprise, because she’s 16-1 and has a little to offer on the books. (She Find it.) I find her to be my favorite type of character – someone who is humble, doesn’t create drama and doesn’t make noise, goes out and does a difficult thing while making it look simple.

Then the victor’s siege was pierced. Cachet belongs to an organization, and she seems to have many owners. Some of them literally jumped for joy. They all wanted to pat her and take her picture with her. She’s still young and she’s just run the hardest race of her life and she’s in the midst of an adrenaline rush and she could have told these legions of strangers to stay away. (She didn’t know that they paid for her food and hay and the people who took care of her every day.) But she didn’t. She politely allowed the hullabaloo to walk around her until all its owners had had their moment of life.

Even the most finicky commentators seemed a little hazy at the surging joy. It’s not billionaires and autocrats – and I don’t despise them because they put so much into racing and they deserve the same pleasure as everyone else; It’s great to see the non-celebs get their moment in the sunshine. It’s a bunch of exceptionally cheerful men and women, everyday types that the average viewer can relate to. “Good for racing,” nuclear commentators said cautiously. Good for humanity, I think, touching.

The next morning, Racecourse Side was almost deserted. The convoy packed up for another year. There is a ravishing forest walking path, a path under the green trees packed with wood chips so that the horses can comfortably do their work more slowly, walking and trotting to keep allowing their muscles to relax and ease. Across Warren Hill, lines of Purebred dogs are galloping and trainers are on their trusty hacks, but here lies a tranquil woodland wonderland that makes up the paddocks fine grass spread out, under the wide and wide sky.

Suddenly, out of the silence, a horse rope appeared. I realize this is Cachet’s crew. ‘Good morning, good morning!’ We happily call each other. The friend who took me on this lovely road knows everyone, so her good mornings are familiar. Mine were the exclamations of a cheerful stranger – almost a thank you to the riders who stepped out on those ravishing horses so I could admire the beauty one last time before riding. car north. They still smile with their victory and we congratulate them and the smile grows wider. There, I think right there: the horse element and the human element, love and joy and beauty.

Then, after going to the museum, I stopped at a small restaurant to eat something. (I was so famous after all that passion.) It was a casual place, nothing fancy, so I was startled to see Cachet’s coach a few tables away. There were about ten people everywhere and he was one of them.

There was a lot of laughter. And then a sentence flew across the empty room.

‘She is an absolute person legendary. ‘

I smiled all the way home.

 

 

Item Another point of view appeared first on TDN | Purebred Daily News | Horse racing news, results and videos | Purebred Breeding and Auction.



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