Thursday, 9 January 2014

Meg the Mud-loving Mare

Soft. Heavy. Abandoned. Managing race meetings at this time of year is a challenge. Britain may have largely escaped the frost and snow, but wind and rain are not much easier to deal with. 

All over the country there’ll be Racecourse Clerks wondering how to avoid surface water on their tracks, re-aligning their running-rail in an attempt to get the horses around safely and wondering whether to miss out obstacles with sticky take-off areas. Sadly it isn’t always possible and the BHA is in the process of scheduling additional fixtures because so many have been lost recently.  

It takes a special type of horse to succeed in the prevailing conditions. I think Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet must have backed a few because he wrote about it once: 

Weel mounted on his grey meare Meg-
A better never lifted leg-
Tam skelpit on thro’ dub and mire
Despising wind, and rain, and fire.

"Dub", by the way, means "mud" and if Burns were alive today, I feel sure that he’d be lumping on a grey mud-loving mare this weekend. Queen’s Grove fits the bill nicely in the first race at Warwick on Saturday, she’s the right colour and her last two wins have come on heavy ground at Fontwell and Hereford. 

Burns could also be pretty sentimental and I am sure he would have a soft spot for Carruthers who, despite being a bay gelding, will get his preferred heavy ground in the Betfred Classic Chase – and at big odds too.

However this week’s selection is Royal Boy, who is entered in three different races on Saturday including the competitive Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton. A non-runner due the abandonment of Sandown last week (preserving this column’s 100% tipping record for 2014), Royal Boy won easily in soft ground at Ascot during the week before Christmas. 

I suspect Burns was a regular visitor to Cartmel races – or at least he witnessed post-racing activities in the village - as he also wrote the lines: 

The night drave on wi’ sangs and clatter
And ay the ale was growing better.

All of which makes it entirely appropriate that we should be hosting our own Burns Night at the racecourse later this month. Uniquely, our event will be staged on Friday 24th January, partly because we can’t wait until the 25th and partly because the best Ceilidh Band and piper in the district are available on that night to ensure that our party goes with an appropriatly celtic swing (which also happens to be the name of the Champion two-year-old of 1994 - in case you're interested).

It will be a great night – so why not come and join us. Tickets are available now on 015395 36340.

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