Is a joy to find, there’s a lovely piece by the consistently readable (quiet, unassuming insightful) Robin Oakley in the Spectator about trying to scrape a living out of writing and horses. I’m including the end of it here for two reasons, one, for the desperate tale of the poor trainer who manages to not win £33,000 by the length of a short head – for the want of a stride he loses a grand instead. Imagine the pain, and the attendant courage required to go on. This is the sort of story that helps keep S Foster’s pecker up when his Saturday £10 e/w has gone south. The other reason is for the verse at the end, which I like a lot. I don’t know where it’s from. The full piece is here.
Anything which puts the irrepressible David Bridgwater in front of the media is to be welcomed. The Stow-on-the-Wold trainer was renowned as a jockey for his all-out effort on every horse, and he shrugged off some fearful injuries to keep going. I am not the squeamish kind but, after seeing the livid scars on his leg and the metal pin popping in and out of one of his joints as he was matter-of-factly making a point about the hazards of the game in Lambourn a few years earlier, I needed a stiff drink — and it was only 10 a.m.
Bridgwater has not exactly been blessed with a parade of top-liners since he took to training and he only handles a dozen horses but, as he says, ‘I may not have trained many great horses but I’ve ridden plenty,’ and so he knows when he has a good one. After Rodi Greene rode his The Giant Bolster to victory in the Timeform Novices Chase, the words came tumbling out as ‘Bridgy’ insisted that he had a horse that could be good enough to win the Gold Cup in a couple of years’ time. First he joked, ‘He was only going for a school round today — bloody jockeys!’ before paying tribute to the ride his horse had been given after falling on his previous appearance.
Then he added, ‘This is a serious horse. It’s all about looking after him now.’ He couldn’t remember a previous Cheltenham winner as a trainer, not surprisingly since there hadn’t been one. But then he doesn’t bring many to Cheltenham: ‘They shouldn’t come here unless they are good enough. I don’t send many. I’m not a social person — I don’t have social runners.’ What he did reveal is that while he is not a gambler he did have £1,000 on The Giant Bolster at 33–1 to win his bumper, in which he was beaten a short head. Same old story really:
The rain it raineth every day
Upon the just and unjust fella.
But more upon the just because
The unjust’s got the just’s umbrella.