Thursday, 26 December 2013

Santa's Visit

Whatever you wished for from Santa, I hope that you found it in the toe of your stocking. With a great King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, Sprinter Sacre appearing at Kempton on Friday and the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Saturday, you could be forgiven for thinking that all your Christmases have come at once. 

But we know that’s not quite true – because there have been some great Christmases already. There was that heart-warming one when Wayward Lad won his third King George in 1985, that brilliant one when Desert Orchid won his fourth King George in 1990, that heart-breaking one when Bradbury Star was just beaten by Barton Bank in 1993 – and that frustrating one in 1994 when Barton Bank fell at the last. Do you remember that one? Barton Bank’s trainer, David Nicholson, was so upset he punched a photographer. Perhaps that wasn’t a great Christmas after all. 

After Captain Chris’s failure to make the line-up for this year’s Boxing Day feature, I’m hoping that 25/1 shot Tour Des Champs will put in an appearance at Chepstow on Saturday. Teaforthree will run his usual good race and Well Refreshed looks well handicapped, but I’m siding with Tour Des Champs because he’s trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who has raised some good jockeys as well as training some good horses.       

Being a good trainer and raising children at the same time isn’t easy. A friend of mine, who trains racehorses, has two  children: a little girl who is as good as gold and a little boy who isn’t. The boy swears like a member of the trainer’s stable staff and would give many a sailor a good run for their money. 

For the last few months they have been telling both children that they should behave well, or else Santa may not visit them on Christmas Eve. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss – when the boy continued with his foul-mouthed ways, they warned him that they’d report his language to Santa’s elves. When these threats yielded no improvement, they turned to desperate measures. While the little girl was provided with all the items that she had specified on her list, the boy’s stocking was filled with fresh horse manure. 

On Christmas morning the parents sat in bed and waited - listening for their children’s response to Santa’s visit. The little girl was delighted and came sprinting into her parent’s bedroom, “Mummy, Daddy, Mummy, Daddy, – Santa brought me a bicycle, a sparkly tiara, a lollypop and a sack of pony feed!” She wore the biggest smile on her face. 

They called out to their son, who was looking mournfully out of the bedroom window, holding the stocking full of horse dung in his hands. “What did Santa bring you son?” they asked. 

“I asked him for a racehorse,” he said, “but the bugger's gone!”

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