Monday, May 4, 2009

My marvellous Mayday

May Day. Hi-jacked for some reason in the C20th by ‘the workers of the world’ when they were trying to unite, rather than by the less egoistic May Queen ceremonies of yore, and not a day that I’ve ever paid much attention to. But I was made to this year.

1 May was, of course, the date on which I was finally to end up heading for Berlin. An event in itself, but..
It was also a day where – after a fairly long time of not having any of my horses make it to the races – two were to run on opposite sides of the world..

Little ‘Fritzl’ (The Soldier Fritz) is the first horse I have bred who actually made it to the races. He is also the first foal of my first homebred mare, Duchess, so he’s very special to me. I have leased him to my dear friends Mike and Sue, who are actually racing him, and he is being trained by Murray Edmonds who is i/c all the trotters from Gerolstein these days.
Anyway Fritzl made his debut in a top two year-old trot class a couple of weeks back and finished a very dignified sixth, in a nice time against good horses, and as a result he was launched to the heights of the Group 3 New Zealand Trotting Stakes, against the best young horses around.

In the Northern Hemisphere, it was the day when ‘Rosy’ (Rosy des Baux) who won for me at Domfront last year at her first time of asking, but who had since been largely resting to allow her to grow fully, was scheduled – now a four year-old -- to make her re-appearance on the race track. She was in a race at Evreux, a rather more upmarket track than those here she ran on last year, with sixteen starters among whom she was rated – on the measure of money won and times run .. 16th out of the 16.

All of which to say, had I ended up with two lasts, the pundits who set Fritzl out at 117-1 and Rosy probably at something similar) would not have been surprised.

The day started at 10am, when – thanks to world time zones – Fritzl was running his 9pm race in New Zealand. He ran a model race, always in the first five or six after a good, safe, beginning, third behind the redhot favourite on the home turn, and only giving best to one other and very fine young horse in the home straight. The big outsider, our little, inexperienced Fritzl, had run fourth in a major classic race!

Soon after, we – John, Margo, Dukky and I, set of for Düsseldorf and, after the odd fright amongst motorway traffic jams, made it to the airport and our hugs of goodbye. I flew the short trip by Air Berlin (splendid), and while I was in the sky, Rosy took her turn on the track. I ran the race a hundred ties in my head whilst thousands of feet above the groud, but I knew I wouldn’t know what had happened for ages. France, unlike New Zealand, doesn’t have its race results up on the web till days after the event.

Off the plane, out to the luggage collect. And guess what, MY bag rolled out first! How many times has that happened to YOU in your life? And as I picked it up, Kevin hove to outside the window .. we didn’t even have to pay for parking. May 1 was getting better and better..

Back chez Clarke, I leaped for the Internet, and there was the hoped for message from Jack: ROSY SECOND! Well, I haven’t seen the race, but trainer-driver Marion sent me a wee description and it seems she came home strongly after a good run and … and, well, I’ll see eventually. But she, like Fritzl, clearly has a future as a racehorse. And that makes me very very happy indeed.

(click to read the result)

Kevin had a dinner date that evening. I decided that I would not spend the evening at work or at play. 1 May had better finish as soon as possible, so as to remain a wonderful memory. I luxuriated in a hot bath, nibbled at cheese and pickles and some good German bread, and at 9pm I crawled under my duvet and slid off to sweet dreams of my best horsy day (not to mention the suitcase) in years.

PS the above picture of Frizl is not new. Since he became a racehorse, I’ve been on the ocean wave. This snap was taken the day when, at one year of age, Mike and Sue became his ‘parents’. The one of Rosy is new, snapped by Jack on a recent visit to Les Baux. I’ll be taking plenty more when I get there in a few weeks.

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