2 January 2009
AT THIS time of year we all look back on the year which is ending and forward to the one which waits just around the corner. As I do this I have a very strong premonition that for us punters at the News it will be the Tale of Two Easters. I will explain.
At Easter 2008 we were embroiled in our boycott of the Newmarket trainers' strike. Mrs Dunnett and I were being called every half hour by the media for statements about our stand against the sabotage of the Yarmouth meeting by the Newmarket trainers. We had made our decision on principle to run our colt Southwark Newsboy and to walk over if necessary. I had arranged a big party in one of the owners' suites and we were going to make a day of it.
Then the bad weather moved in and the Yarmouth meeting was deep in snow and the meeting abandoned.
Apart from my memory of trying to be cheerful ankle deep in snow at the seaside track my abiding memory of that episode is Mark Johnston describing Mrs Dunnett as "that woman from Norfolk nobody knows" and John Gosden saying we were trying to make a profit with a bad horse.
Only one part of those disgraceful statements is probably true.
Southwark Newsboy probably was a bad hoss. My defence of that is that bad hoss or good hoss, we had the right to race him and give him his chance. As for the wicked statement about Christine, everybody who knows her knows she is a pillar of her community, a tireless worker for charity and a wonderful example to any woman widowed in early life with children to bring up.
So where does Easter 2009 fit in? We are preparing our new - as yet unnamed - filly for a racecourse debut in the spring. She is well forward in her preparation. She is already broken and cantering in the covered riding school and as soon as weather permits she will be on the gallops. Yarmouth at Easter could be the ideal place for her to be unveiled to the racing public.
One thing you can never be sure of with new two year olds, especially fillies, is how well they will travel. Yarmouth is only a hop and a skip down the road from Mrs Dunnett's yard so the time spent in the transport will be minimal.
The number of holiday makers at Yarmouth for Easter will not be too many so it is unlikely that our filly will get spooked by a big crowd. One of my very best fillies had her career ruined by a stupid jockey who shall be nameless, taking her on her debut past the packed stands at York, causing her to bolt and come to grief in the public car park. You cannot be too careful with these things.
So there you have the vision of 2009. Shall we be turning the tears of Easter 2008 to champagne cork popping 2009? That is the outline plan so watch this space.
I must take this opportunity to thank those of you who made the trip to our stables on open day on a pretty grim winter day. I did not stay very long because the damp air gets on my chest but I hope you enjoyed the champagne and strawberries I left for you in the farmhouse kitchen.
I also must thank you for the Christmas cards and very kind letters of support you have sent me. I am very moved by them and can only reply by promising that I shall do everything possible to help make the year ahead brighter and happier for you.
Happy New Year to one and all.
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