Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Der Frühling kommt ...




August 24 is surely verging on spring? I still need to stay rolled up in my duvet and minks till 9am.  Nearly every morn the untrodden fields are white with frost ... the fire is guttering ... the kitties are snuggling ... I am cuddling Schnidibumpfl .. until the dominatrix bladder drags me from his arms ...

But the sure clock of the seasons is our Mr P.  First touch of spring and, wham up he goes like a ramrod. His tail I mean. And the hens of the Gerolstein Girls Brigade stop being bossy best pals and start being coy would-be-concubines. Which involves noise.

Mr P is getting old and clumsy. He's broken one feather on Day 1.  Oh. Wellgunde and Woglinde are hidden behind his tail. He ... um .. operates from the rear.  Sorry mate. She's pretending to be not interested. But it is only day one.

There was just one hour yesterday when I could venture outside and make a very small beginning on preparing the vegetable garden for the forthcoming ('Komm! komm!) planting season. Wendy knocked the rest off this morning while I was still in front of the fire. 

The strawberry plants have survived the frosts. Some chunky leeks. Some spinach, and herbs ... I'm afraid I'm not horticultural ... will others come up again, or are they annuals? I buried a few squidgy tomatoes last autumn ... I collected a bottle full of basil seeds ....

Ah! I also planted in May some charity stall bulbs. Ten, I think. I don't have green fingers, so I counted it as a donation. The ground was soooo hard in what I thought was a nice sheltered spot under the trees ... with my duff hand, I could hardly break the surface. So I shoved them in as best I could and thought: we'll see. Well, eight seem to have come up! Little green shoots! I made something GROW ..

Some are a wee bit smothered in ground cover. But the ground cover has flowers. Violets! Mother's favourite flowers .. I remember buying violets on the ramparts of Tourettes-sur-Loup ...

We have a little dell between my bedroom and the (sometimes) raging torrent that is Saltwater Creek. It was once an mini-orchard: 20 years ago we had five kinds of fruit therefrom. Alas, the frequently overflowing Creek has drowned all but one tree ... I'm not a litigious fellow, but I think the Waimakariri Council owes me a new orchard. And a new sleepout. And a new garage. One night, after a bottle of something, I shall intent a process ..

And see? On the hardy but weakening cherry tree ... the first blossoms of spring!

This one is further away from the river ...

Outside my bedroom and the lounge French doors, we have a patio. The one where Mr P loves to fornicate. It is made of tiles, which means that, like a suburban drive, it needs a regular water-blast to keep it moss and weed free.  Well, I wasn't up to water-blasting this year ... but instead of weeds (well, as well as!) beautiful flowers .. violas? .. came up! All over the place!

I couldn't get down low enough to photograph these ..

Well, maybe it's pre-Spring ...

I'll go searching for buds next time it's warm!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

EMILY: does she need a nose-job?


I've had a rather up and down time through June and July. The perils of old age attacked me from all ends at once ...

Starting at the top and descending to others less photographable. But equally hard to get rid of. And all combining to make poor me a rather melancholy, sleepy (14 hours out of 24) and world-weary old man.

However, not all has been entirely woebegone these last two months, and our beloved Emily has given us a few thrills. Alas, she hasn't quite managed another win, but you couldn't really get much closer without clutching the candyfloss..

Addington 25 May. Fourth in a blanket finish beaten a head by the starry MAJESTIC LOVE

I think I can ... ach! not quite!

Ashburton 4 June. She hates Ashburton. I think I do too. She messed up. And the toilets (human) were dirty.

Addington 9 June. Ran on for a very fair fourth behind veteran MADELEINE STOWE and the extremely interesting (see later) MAKE MY SUNDON

Addington 25 June and 30 June. Two disappointing runs. What is wrong with her? Answer: she has/has had a virus. Antibiotic treatment, so no races.

She resumed in the semi-classic Darren de Filippi Memorial for junior drivers. A wish of trainer Howie's. Darren and he were friends. Oh dear, will a junior driver get her away? She often 'does her little dance' when the tapes fly. Anyway, I don't have a junior driver. But trainer Howie did. Tom Bamford is now my Junior Driver. He got the wee girl away perfectly, not even un petit pas de chat! she ran nicely, and finished 6th of 16 behind LIGHT OF THE MOON and GIFT CARD both of whom look like future top horses.

Was she coming back to her autumn form? Hopefully. Only one way to find out. 27 July. The public and tipsters thought she was a no-hoper. Fifteenth favourite in a field of 16. And Jimmy, our regular driver, was on a .. what? ... cruise?! Let the lad drive her! I harrumphed. But, once again, Howie had a better idea. His, and our dear late Murray's neighbour, at Motukarara is Steven McNally, the still young driver of 499 winners (one for me!).  Well, Steven got her away brilliantly from way out under the stands and she led the charge until WAIHEMO HANNAH dashed past her at un unwise rate. Perched on Hannah's wing was favourite GALLEON'S AMBASSADOR. But little EM put her back into it. She gobbled up the audacious Hannah ... but so did the AMBASSADOR .. EM gave chase. The fifteenth favourite conceded a matter of an inch to the fave at the line...   Steven 499.9wins!

Wendy, on a rare holiday, watched the race from the Shore's Tavern in Yamba, NSW. I gather she howled as loudly as I and my babysitters did at Addington. But when people realise 'you OWN that horse? WOW!' ...

She's back on form! Well, her crucial four-year old season is fleeting. But, best of all, she comes through her races in such lickety-split lead-me-to-the-next shape  ... So. Bring her out again a few days later! Errrm... Mobile start (yuk). Sprint (yuk). Oh pouff! programming! But we went. We came 4th, breaking the 2.30 mark, after being sadly hampered by poor 7-win WINNING BONES (who turned out to have palatal ulcers). Well, she's the only one of the trotters I have owned, apart from SEPPL, who has got near the 2.00MR. Oh, the runaway winner was TI AMO BELLE, the same filly who beat EMILY (yes, by a nose!) in her very first race!

Last week, Wendy was back home, and we were also back to real racing.  2600 metres. Standing start. Very even field. Steven in the sulky. And the punters seemed to have changed their evaluation of our girl. She ended up second favourite. Fickle, fickle, thy name is punter ... The betting was rather incomprehensible ... these are all nice horses but ... the computer at Addington almost tied itself in snakes as the 2nd favourite became momentarily the 7th favourite ...

To me, the best horse in the race was our old rival MAKE MY SUNDON. But no ... somebody brought out statistics and it was TK MEGASTAR (which won Heat 2, when TI AMO BELLE beat us for Heat 1 in the fabulous Rangiora trot series) who was favourite.  Anyway, we were at about $7.

The race itself was déja vu. Emily and Steven: great start. Field split in two, led of course by Emily. But the quartette de tête also included MAKE MY SUNDON (3/5 in the betting!). And surely enough, before long, that speedy 7 year-old zoomed to the front. 

But EMILY didn't give up!  The two of them neck-and-necked down the straight, Emily inching closer and closer. 

They hit the line together ... But oh no! When the judge's call came out we were second! Beaten --- you guessed it -- by a nose! Blurry Hell! Steven 499.99 wins!

I asked Howie, does our girl need a nose job?  Should I sacrifice a little of my Jewish nasal equipment?

Well, one more go, before she has a wee break. Off to the race track in 45 minutes. GALLEON'S AMBASSADOR is in the field again. And BROTHER LOVE, which won the Kurt Gänzl and Wendy Williams Trot at Rangiora three starts back ... 

It is nice to be in the swim when good horses go racing. And I think the best of this year's crop are very good.

PS Emily began strongly, found the lead and led the race to the turn. GALLEON'S AMBASSADOR toddled along behind. They came swooping at her in the final furlong and she, lacking just a smidgin of her recent sparkle, was beaten into fourth place. She now goes for a nice wee freshener, munching Motukarara daisies for 2-3 weeks, before starting her spring preparation ...  not TOO many daisies now, Emily!

The life and death of Agnes, and the rise of Wendy


In 2009, I sent a friend to the yearling sales to buy me a filly. Lovely horse, but alas AGNES DE GEROLSTEIN (named for my mother) didn't make it to a gold medal. After a crushing qually win, she managed 2 seconds, 2 thirds from 20 starts ... and I gave her away. 

Agnes headed on the line at Timaru

It was one of my 'retiring from racing' periods. AGNES found a wonderful home in North Auckland, and the new owners bred from her. Luck was not with them. The first foal died, the second qualified for Murray Edmonds, but proved to have a breathing problem .. 

But Craig and Suzy persisted and, yesterday, AGNES's third baby, filly WENDY'S SHADOW qualified on a breeze a Cambridge. Alas, AGNES didn't see it. She had been felled by the colic a year previously. Apart from WENDY (named for Wendy Williams, AGNES's trainer and carer of her pre-Northland life) she left two more orphans: filly RITORNA VINCITOR (by Vincent, and obviously named by me!) and colt GERALT (by Captain Crunch) sold at the yearling sales this year. So AGNES's family will live on ...

Here is WENDY coming in as a qualifier. I hope that rainbow portends something!

WENDY two months later .... yay! big girl .. ready for the races soon!