Sunday, 1 June 2014

Newmarket was quite ghastly.  We were treated like second class citizens when the officials knew that we were just in the charity race and were all extremely unhelpful. It was clear that the Newmarket toffs didn't actually want us there and made it as difficult as possible for us. There was no stabling near to the track and yet they didn't want us to keep the horse in the lorry. The only stabling was a mile up the road and they didn't really want us there either!  The race was pretty uneventful with Harry coming a very commendable sixth amongst a lot of flat bred horses and with a novice rider on board from the Essex Hunt who seemed fairly unexcited by the whole event and who had false eyelashes so long that I was surprised the wind drag didn't give her whip lash.
We were supposed to be staying for lunch but because Harry couldn't stay in the lorry (happily, with his hay net) we had to cut it short and head for home. We didn't mind too much though as we were desperate to get back to Stratford and see some proper racing with real hunting people. What the Countryside Alliance were thinking off having a charity race at Newmarket on the same day as the Horse and hound cup at Stratford, I really do not know. Any genuine racing, country, hunting person would be at Stratford and they are the people who the CA are supposed to be helping. As you can probably tell I am not a great Countryside Alliance fan. I think they have lost their way, they are no longer necessary and are taking money away from far more deserving charities.
I cannot tell you how pleased we were to get to Stratford having only missed the first race. There was a huge crowd there of genuine racing people who all enjoyed, as we did, some top class racing. Stratford can sometimes be a bit of a graveyard because of the time of year and the drying out ground but this year the ground was perfect. The Aga Ladies championship race was mouth wateringly exciting with three horses battling it out over the last fence with Universal Soldier just beating a very brave Palypso De Creek. The Novice horse championship wasn't so exciting but just as impressive as Theatre Queen made the other very good horses look positively average. The Horse and Hound cup was won by Painted Clouds ridden by Sam Whaley Cohen, and although I think everyone would rather it had been won by a horse that had actually been on a point to point course, it was still a great performance.
Aga Dave and 'Cynthia' did us all proud with the fantastic party afterwards in the Aga tent and then somehow we found ourselves in the Lazy Cow nightclub in Stratford. Luckily we had booked a room for the night so we were able to enjoy the crack until the early hours. The Harkin team had access to the drop pot and made sure that every penny was spent on maximising their merriment. Although I think in Esme's case quite a lot of it ended up in the river Avon for the swans to enjoy!
We are now on our way to Garthorpe where we have got Val D'Auberge for Peter to ride if we think the ground is suitable. If it isn't then Peter will be taking him home for his holidays from there. It is a beautiful day and I rather suspect that the ground will have dried up too much.