Pick a Pony

When I was little I had a vast stable of imaginary horses to choose from, and burned up happy hours daydreaming about this or that pretend Arabian or Hanoverian and winning races and Olympic gold medals etc etc. Lately I’ve realised that that was a far better use of my thoughts than fretting about US politics, the rise of extreme right-wingers or world-wide financial crises.

In the light of this revelation, I’m picking out real horses that I want to buy (pending lottery wins, the book becoming a runaway bestseller, pots of gold turning up in my cellar and so on).

Dan at Darley

First up, Dan at the Darley Stud’s racehorse retraining programme. The Makhtoums have invested in a facility in Suffolk to care for and re-home geldings that are no longer raced. The horses have a six month wind-down in a field before being schooled as riding horses, and eventually starting new lives. All I know about Dan is that he’s 15.3hh and has a touch of the Exmoor pony about the nose, and that’s good enough for me.

(Do indulge in the story section, which gives updates on graduates of the Darley rehabilitation scheme – eg “Craftmaster is now a true family horse. He has hunted, been to pony club camp and practically lives in the kitchen!” – and much cheer on a gloomy autumn morning. The photos in the gallery are beautiful too.)

Grey Vision

Today at Newmarket there will be a special race for grey thoroughbreds only, the Racing Welfare Grey Horse Handicap.More from Horse  Talk:

“The contest, first run in 2003, is restricted to horses registered as grey aged three and above. A field of 16 has been declared for this season’s renewal and includes the first three horses home from last year, the Stef Higgins-trained Sarah’s Art as well as Zowington and Bilberry, who are both trained in Newmarket by Stuart Williams.Middleton Grey was a stalwart in the early years of the Grey Horse Handicap for trainer Tony Newcombe, landing back to back renewals in 2004 and 2005, finishing fourth in 2006 and eighth on his final attempt in 2007.

This year Newcombe, who trains at Barnstaple in Devon, is represented by Witchry who will be making his third appearance in the race, having finished fifth in 2008 and seventh last year. The eight-year-old Green Desert gelding has had a light campaign so far this year, having made just two appearances, most recently finishing third at Bath on 22nd July.

Newcombe said today: …

‘The race offers something different and to see 16 grey horses racing against each other is something in itself. I think the race has established itself in the calendar now and offers good prize money. It is run in the middle of the summer and owners appreciate the chance to pick up some decent prize money. We are all systems go and we will have a nice day whatever happens.'”

In my family, we commemorate my maternal grandmother by betting on greys. I’m not sure where to start here, but am pretty sure she’s in the ether with an opinion or two.