Monday, 19 January 2015

Planning my 'fixture list'.

Tonight I've had seriously itchy fingers but unfortunately my brain wasn't forthcoming with anything to type about, much to my general disappointment. Having spent the evening trawling through the STAGBI stallion list in an attempt to update it, I think I've managed to completely fry my brain in the process.

However, do not despair dear readers, as I have managed to conjure up something that I felt was half worth writing about. This is something that both Smarty and me would class as fun, although I suspect that the majority of the British population would roll their eyes and disagree. Every year for Christmas, Smarty gets me a diary for the year, and I take immense pleasure in filling it up with dates for the forthcoming racing season. The two reasons that I like to do this are:

1. Around about now I begin to really look forward to racing again. Not just for the actual racing, but for the travelling around the country, meeting up with my friends, having a few drinks and getting the shorts out (even when the weather is unsuitable for such attire); and

2. Having left my family and friends behind in Wales, I need to know which weekends between May and November are classed as 'free', and which ones feature race meetings that could potentially coincide with a quick trip home.

So here we have it, my own personal harness racing fixture list. To emphasise the extent of the travelling involved, I've put the country the track is situated in in brackets (E = England, W = Wales, S = Scotland and I = Ireland):

03/05 - Tregaron (W)
04/05 - York (E)
10/05 - York (E)
14/05 - Haugh Field (S)
16/05 - Tir Prince (W)
17/05 - Presteigne (W)
21/05 - Corbiewood (S)
24/05 - Appleby (E)
25/05 - Appleby (E)
31/05 - Appleby (E)

05/06 - Corbiewood (S)
07/06 - York (E)
10/06 - Walton (W)
11/06 - Haugh Field (S)
17/06 - Cilmery (W)
18/06 - Corbiewood (S)
20/06 - Tir Prince (W)
21/06 - Hellifield (E)
25/06 - Haugh Field (S)
27/06 - York (E)

02/07 - Corbiewood (S)
04/07 - Aberystwyth (W)
05/07 - Aberystwyth (W)
09/07 - Haugh Field (S)
11/07 - York Sire Stakes (E)
12/07 - Allensmore (E) / Wolsingham (E) - will decide once the cards are published
16/07 - Corbiewood (S)
18/07 - Tir Prince (W)
19/07 - Allensmore (E)
24/07 - Haugh Field (S)
25/07 - Musselburgh (S)
26/07 - Musselburgh (S)
28/07 - Tir Prince Breeders Crown (W)
30/07 - Corbiewood (S)

01/08 - York (E)
02/08 - Bellsfield (S)
06/08 - Corbiewood (S)
08/08 - Portmarnock Vincent Delaney (I)
09/08 - Portmarnock Vincent Delaney (I)
11/08 - Tir Prince (W)
13/08 - Corbiewood (S)
15/08 - York (E)
16/08 - Haugh Field (S)
17/08 - Scorton Feast (E)
20/08 - Corbiewood (S)
23/08 - Boughrood (W)
27/08 - Corbiewood (S)
28/08 - Tregaron (W)
29/08 - Tregaron (W)
30/08 - Tregaron (W)
31/08 - Appleby (E)

01/09 - Kilnsey Show (E)
05/09 - Wolsingham (E)
06/09 - Haugh Field (S) / Lampeter (W) - will decide once the cards are published
07/09 - Wolsingham (E)
08/09 - Tir Prince Crock of Gold Final (W)
12/09 - (going without Smarty to this one as it's a W&B meeting at my parents' local show) Beulah (W)
19/09 - York (E)
20/09 - York (E) / Almley (E) - will decide once the cards are published
26/09 - York (E)
27/09 - Wolsingham (E) / Almley (E) - will decide once the cards are published

03/10 - York Sale Day (E)
04/10 - Corbiewood (S)
10/10 - York (E)
11/10 - Corbiewood (S)
17/10 - York (E)
18/10 - Corbiewood (S)

And every subsequent Sunday at Corbiewood until the entries dry up and the season finishes, which may be well into November.

I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where my other half doesn't miss many meetings because of his work. He's known for rocking up at meetings in the middle of Wales after a six or seven hour drive, which baffles a lot of people, but when you're self-employed and you're good at what you do, you try to do as much of it as you possibly can. And of course I'm not going to turn down the opportunity to go racing, even if that means hitting the road at 5am!

I will be trying to write up as many of the meetings as I possibly can, because some days I leave a track having witnessed something so spectacular that I can't help but want to share it with people. I have sat and lamented the meetings last year which went without mention anywhere other than the results page on the BHRC website, and with the greatest respect to the governing body a list of names, times and finishing positions often doesn't do the horses justice. I've seen such great feats of triumph on the racetrack that now, months and sometimes years after they happened, I still smile when I think about them, and tell as many people as possible about them. The night Laneside Lexus overcame the outside draw in the Crock of Gold final to beat six of the best horses in the UK and Ireland; the night Infinatey sat off the pace for 3/4 of a mile and came four wide at Amman Valley to sprint past the field to win the Welsh Cup; the day Rhyds Fivestar won his fifth start from six at Musselburgh (second on the other occasion to Stoneriggs Mystery) as a 16/1 outsider.

Nobody pays me to do this. Nobody needs to. I don't just love being able to train and race my own horses, I love being a part of what I believe is the best, and most underrated, sport in the world. If I can convince one person from outside of the world of harness racing that it is worth getting involved in, then my writing is worthwhile. And if I can't? Well I'm enjoying myself nonetheless, and I hope anybody who reads my posts enjoys it too.

Over and out,

Overworked and underpaid #1 groom

Sarah :)

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