A day of sport for me yesterday.
I spent the morning with the children. We have a couple of extras with us at the moment as one of the mothers at school had an accident with her 2yo boy – he fell out of a climbing frame and broke his femur. He faces two weeks in traction and morphine injections – tough on the family and we’re looking after the other two for now.
I headed off to Newbury in the early afternoon. Astrodome looked well and was on his toes. The race didn’t pan out for us – he had to make the running and just set it up for the favourite.
I think I was wrong to fancy him given the conditions. Good going and 2 miles on a flat track – he didn’t have speed on the flat and he doesn’t have it now. I’ve watched the race a few times – he has a round knee action and he’s a big galloping type. He probably needs further, he needs cut and a tough uphill finish. I don’t think he’s a betting proposition without these conditions.
I had been hoping to make it to Swindon for the closing stages of their match against Hereford, but I got chatting and didn’t have time. The good news was that they won 3-0 – their second 3-0 win in 5 days. It takes them out of the relegation zone for now – this coming week is a big week with two away games against other relegation candidates.
Since I didn’t make it to Swindon I decided to go down to Manton instead. There’s a pub in Manton village called the Outside Edge – Brian Meehan was there with a few of the locals watching the Ireland/Wales match. I watched the first twenty minutes and then headed off to see the horses while it was still light.
I have ownership in five horses at Manton – four with the Comic Strip Heroes (I am 45%) and one (my Rock of Gibraltar 2yo filly) I own outright. Leaving aside the RoG filly it is pretty much all about one horse this year.
I didn’t want to tear Brian away from the rugby so I went down with Hugo, his pupil assistant – we met up with the head lad (actually a lass but she is termed a head lad) Clare, in the upper yard where the older horses (3yo and up) reside. We started with the star of the show, our unraced 3yo Cheddar George.
George is a sight for sore eyes. He’s a big rangy chestnut who is physically all there – he has a long stride and the indications are that he has an engine. He had recurrent sore shins and didn’t run at 3 – that’s history now and he’s being built up for for a debut in April. I was totally taken by him – he’s a real prospect.
Hector Spectre looked well and could be ready to win now – he’s not the biggest but should be up to winning at a low level. Pansy Potter had filled out surprisingly well and is all muscle now – she has the physique of a sprinter. She also can win races but probably not at a high level.
Major Eazy looked very well. He had a minor leg problem that kept him off the course for most of last year, and when he came back he never quite found his form, as is often the case with horses that have had a lot of box rest. He might be ready to do himself justice this year – Clare told me that she had put him in her ten to follow.
The ten to follow in this instance is a Manton only competition, but they have 162 horses there with plenty of quality. Clare saw Major as a developing mature sprinter who was, for now at least, clear of injury and ready for a good year.
Let’s hope so. I asked her if Cheddar George was in her TTF – she laughed. “Obviously…”. With horses like Crowded House and Delegator in the stable it’s nice to hear that George is an obvious selection – that said Clare does ride him out so she’s bound to like him.
We drove down to the lower stable to have a look at the RoG filly. She looked great – her front legs were the main point of interest having been a problem earlier, but they looked 100%. She was physically really nice, but it’s early to have a view on how good she is.
We went back to the pub to catch the end of the match. It turned out to be an epic encounter – Ireland nicked the lead with minutes to go and Wales had a penalty from the half way line right at the death to seal it back. The kick came up short and the whistle blew – Brian went crazy. Once he’d stopped leaping around we popped out for a chat.
Brian reiterated the points that Clare made, although he had a word of warning about George – he is a big horse and there are plenty of little things that could go wrong for him. We keep our fingers crossed.
I headed home. I took some pictures, but it was a bit dark and they didn’t come out well so I’ve decided to put up some I prepared earlier. Sometimes in sport one sees something of such grace and beauty that it redefines the whole genre;
What a swing. WHAT A SWING!!