Magazine article The Spectator

Quick Reactions

Magazine article The Spectator

Quick Reactions

Article excerpt

There are worse things than moving house. A pestilence of locusts, perhaps. Having your teeth extracted, without anaesthetic, by a talkative dentist with halitosis. Or being strapped in your seat for 24 hours watching endless re-runs of past party political broadcasts. But for the period when our small new abode was filled with two removal men, an electrician repairing faulty wiring, a plumber restoring the cold water supply and a technician attending to the alarm bell which had been blasting our eardrums for three hours, the experience ran them pretty close. I suppose we should have been grateful in a way that British Telecom were unable to come to rectify the telephone fault for five days privatisation doesn't seem to have done a lot for them.

The only consolation was having the television working in time to see Frankie Dettori's bold effort in the 2000 Guineas on Island Sands. Racing has always been about quick decisions. Perhaps the fastest alleged was that of Mick Easterby's when an owner rang up and said he wanted to buy a decent horse. `I've got So and So for 10,000,' said the trainer. Oh, I was thinking of spending around 20,000,' said the owner. Sure, the 10,000 is only for a half share,' came the lightning reply. But when Island Sands burst out of the stalls Frankie had to be equally quick on the uptake, deciding against the original plan to ride his race from the front.

The Saturday before, on Whitbread Gold Cup day at Sandown, I had seen Michael Roberts ride two beautiful waiting races from the front, only to have a brace of photo finishes go against him. Frankie was both clever and lucky and I would not necessarily back his mount to finish ahead of Enrique next time. I was only sorry that Kieren Fallon, the narrow loser in the 2000, timed his swoop on Wince to perfection the next day in the 1000 Guineas since I had backed Wannabe Grand, the 16-1 second in the fillies event, in which Newmarket-trained horses filled the first four places.

Having been spared house duties to get to Newmarket that day, I did enjoy some consolations, notably the 13-2 victory of the gutsy Primo Lara in the rated sprint handicap. I do so love those horses that keep on digging out a bit more and Richard Quinn got a wonderful response from the seven-year-old as Kieren Fallon and Halmahera sought to wear him down in the final furlong. Trainer Peter Harris told us afterwards that he used to keep Primo Lara until June but his knees tended to gum up a bit in the winter so he had given him a run on the all-weather. …

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