June 21st. The longest day of the year. Or, if you happen to be in New Zealand, the shortest.
But a memorable day. On this side of the world it was my dear friend Fiora’s birthday. Nineteen? On the other side, my little horse Montmorensy (named, of course, after my and her Berliner best man) was going to the races.
I should say ‘again’. Montmorensy was (as I was) born under a different name. He used to be ‘Mario’. Story. After my stroke, I gave away many of my horses, including my brood mares: I could not, and was not going to breed any more. Finding Gwen (below) a good home didn’t prove easy, but finally I gave her to what I thought …
The lady put her in foal to Monarchy (fine by me) and the boy foal was born at Gerolstein. An adorable little feller …
The lady then got into financial difficulties, and the fate of wee ‘Mario’ seemed perilous. The options were horrific. So I bought him. I know. Buying back your own son? But I did. And I re-christened him for that brilliantly musical Australian-Berliner bloke that I’d not long since met. Montmorensy.
In the meanwhile, the son of Gwen known as Seppl had been doing rather well on the racetracks of Canterbury. So what more normal to send this wee man to his elder brother’s successful trainer, Murray Edmonds. Good thinking, Kurt….
So Montmorensy came of age. He qualified easily, but half a furlong behind a certain Prince Fearless, a pressure-cooked two year-old which duly hit the headlines. But I don’t play those games. ‘Monty’ (‘Mario’) went out to pasture, and only came back as a late three year-old. A couple of trials to learn racing, and then a first start. In a mobile (no!) sprint (nooo!) at Addington! Nooooo! The record says he finished 6th. More than that I do not wish to remember. Just that he didn’t gallop. And then, Blenheim.
Blenheim and I have a special relationship. My first horse, Davey Crockett (sic), had his and my first win at Waterlea. My next boy, the irritating Smart Don won the same race a couple of years later. And the talented but sickly Master Ado followed them. So, could I have a fourth trotter win at this track?
On Day One, the little chap was clearly finding his way. He trotted cleanly round and finished a slightly hampered 5th, without quite realising, I think, that he was supposed to zoom past. But John (Dunn), his driver, realised, and clearly had a chat to him. Day two was a different story.
Day Two. Nine horses (the same ones as day one, minus the promoted winner), and Monty was sixth favourite at a rather insulting 16-1. Nine horses who ran a rather different race to that on Day One. To start with, they all went away safely, and the erratic Redwood Invasion flew to the lead. Monty made his good start (inherited from his Mum) and popped into second. The leader put his foot down, and skipped away. Monty followed at a distance, clear of the rest. And so it stayed as they came to the home turn and into the final straight … when Monty started to close that gap. Not with a dramatic turn of speed, but steadily. The all-the-way leader was weakening a bit, but the gap seemed too large. No. Monty got to him with a few strides to go … done!
I awoke in my Berlin bed at 4am. Damn. Missed it. Switched on the Macbook and saw … communications from Wendy, from Kelly, from Robin, from Natalie … did that mean? … yes, it did. Montmorensy the horse had won, at just start three.
When Montmorensy the man awoke (much) later in his Berlin bed, he was .. omg, omg, OMG! … and we fixed a celebratory dinner at the Katz Orange for that evening … well, wins are few and far between (this was my first in two years) so celebration is a must. Paul drew Monty’s portrait on the table-cloth in Laphroaig-tinted water …
Its been a good week for Gerolsteiner babies. Douchelette (Duchesse de l’amour) won impressively in Dunedin on Friday ... now her baby uncle on Sunday … will there be more for the family of Gwen?