April 2020

As Easter approaches I do hope that you are well and bearing up under isolation. What very worrying times we are living through.

The trainers are doing a great job keeping the horses exercised in readiness for whenever racing can return which might yet be in May. If it is in May then it…

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The trainers are doing a great job keeping the horses exercised in readiness for whenever racing can return which might yet be in May. If it is in May then it will of course be behind closed doors and on a very restricted level generally but at the time of writing the industry has had no further update on this. Many though think that it will be later, possibly in July, and at a time when the virus will hopefully have peaked and when the NHS is under less pressure.

Ruffian - an exceptional filly

Alex, Frances and I have been talking to many of you and we all could not be more impressed with the way that everyone is dealing with this momentous upheaval to daily life. It’s so uplifting to listen to your resolve and to hear the wonderful optimism for a return to racing when everyone’s horses will carry all before them!

I am currently re reading a book that I absolutely love called “Ruffian - burning from the start” by Jane Schwartz. Ruffian herself was one of the greatest thoroughbreds ever to race. Unbeaten in her first ten starts she shattered one record after another before it all tragically ended in a match race at Belmont Park. This is a really gripping book and to me it captures everything that we all dream about when we buy a yearling. I would have loved to have seen this filly in the flesh and to have watched her perform on the track. She equalled or broke a Stakes or track record every time she ran!

Ruffian - Burning From The Start

This is a beautifully researched book that takes you from the moment of her birth through to that tragic end. We have raced some fabulous horses at Highclere and in Harbinger, we had a world champion but with every new crop of yearlings the dream is still alive that maybe this is the next superstar - this is the next Ruffian!

For this Easter newsletter I am extremely grateful to guest writers Clive Hamblin, Clodagh McKenna, Clive Webb-Carter and Roger Varian. Alex too returns to write a piece on wine and Rolf of course rambles on beautifully!

We are all thinking of you and send our warmest wishes for a very happy Easter.

Stay safe,

Harry Herbert, Chairman

A Letter From Roger Varian

I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy during these challenging times. We are all keeping well, Hanako and the kids are in Japan where things are…

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I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy during these challenging times. We are all keeping well, Hanako and the kids are in Japan where things are a little bit calmer than they are here (or maybe they are just a few weeks behind where we are)?!

Here at Carlburg myself and my team are very fortunate in that we are still able to work every day and our professional routine has not yet been dramatically impeded. It is very important, we feel, that the welfare of the racehorse is maintained and that for as long as possible their physical development continues. We have had to adapt some of their training programmes so as not to have their fitness levels peaking at a time when we have nowhere to run them. This has affected the horses who had end of March and April targets. Generally speaking we aim to keep the large majority of the string, particularly the three-year-olds and older category, at about 75/80% race ready. And we are hoping/anticipating we will have 2-3 weeks’ notice of when racing will resume. This ought to give us enough time to put the finishing touches to a horse’s preparation and have them ready to race once we get the green light to do so. Our approach with the two-year-olds has not yet massively differed as we would rarely have two-year-old runners before May anyway. So our two-year-olds in general are following a very similar programme to what would be normal for the time of year.

We have had to adapt and introduce new measures in order to comply with the government guidelines in response to the pandemic. We have a routine ‘Covid-19’ meeting every Monday with all of our staff in order to communicate the latest news/industry developments/yard protocols. I feel strongly that communication at times like this has never been more important not just between the trainer and his/her clients, but also the trainer and his/her employees.

We have had to introduce social distancing and extreme hygiene measures into the workplace. These procedures were not too difficult to put in place as 98% of our time is spent outside with the horses. Communal areas, which under normal circumstances would see a large collection of people together, such as the canteen/tack room/feed room, now have restricted access (for example, no more than 6 people in the canteen at one time). All of these areas now have hand sanitisers outside and staff are advised not to enter any new area on the yard without washing their hands first.  Regarding life on the gallops; whereas we used to send our horses out in one long string of up to 35 at a time we are now sending them out to exercise in smaller groups of 6. Once on the gallops this group of 6 split into 3 pairs, with each pair sticking to the two metre rule. I am pleased to say that the majority of trainers are taking similar social distancing measures whilst on the gallops.

We are being very strict on staff self-isolating at home should they or anyone they live with become unwell. They are extremely aware of their responsibilities to not only themselves, but to their colleagues and the wider public in general. I couldn’t be more proud of how they are conducting themselves as a group at a time like this. It is not lost on them or myself how lucky we are to be outside every day continuing to work.


On a separate note I am pleased to tell you that both Ascension and Union are sound and healthy. We have had to rein them back a little bit as both could well have been racing mid-April. They are ticking over in pleasing fashion and we will continue to update you on their progress. Title went back to Malcolm Bastard’s on March 23rd and he looks an exciting horse for later on in the year.

How To Make Your Own Fresh Bread

By Clodagh McKenna

When Harry asked me to contribute to your newsletter I was thrilled, I have met so many of you at the races and we have chatted about cooking, so I…

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When Harry asked me to contribute to your newsletter I was thrilled, I have met so many of you at the races and we have chatted about cooking, so I hope you will enjoy this recipe. It’s my everyday bread that I have been making since I was a child. There is no kneading or proofing involved – it’s just stir, shape and bake. You just need to set aside 20 minutes and you’ll have the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house and a great sense of accomplishment that comes with baking bread.

This recipe is similar to the traditional Irish soda bread, but mine is made with yogurt and fresh rosemary. It will last for a week and it also freezes very well. There are so many delicious variations you can add to the dough mix - raisins, dried cranberries, sultanas or other dried fruits. You can also add grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan, gouda), sundried tomatoes, olives or any other herbs such as thyme or oregano. I also love adding seeds to the top - pumpkin, sesame or sunflower are delicious. Sending much love to you and all your family.

Rosemary Clodagh Bread 

Makes 1 loaf


350g / 3 cups wholemeal flour

200g / 1 ¾ cups white flour / all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda / bread soda

1 teaspoon of salt 

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

350ml / 1 ½ cups milk

250ml / 1 cup natural yogurt

*Note you can also use 600ml buttermilk, or 600ml of milk instead of the milk and yogurt mix

milk and yogurt mix (for brushing)


Pre-heat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7.
Sieve the white flour and bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the wholemeal flour. Using clean hands mix the flours, bread soda and finely chopped fresh rosemary together. Make a well in the centre of the bowl.

Whisk together the yogurt and milk and slowly pour into the well of flour. Using a fork mix the flour into the milk mixture. Make sure that there are no dry patches and that the dough is completely wet. Pat your hands with flour and shape the dough into one round. Place on a floured baking tray. Flour a large knife and cut the shape of a cross into the top of the dough about two-thirds of the way through. Brush the round of bread with the milk and yogurt mixture using a pastry brush, this will give a lovely golden colour to the bread once baked. 

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4 for a further 20 minutes. To test whether the loaf is cooked, tap the back with your knuckles; it should sound hollow. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

If you would like to watch Clodagh’s daily IGTV cookery videos click here 

Chablis - My 'Go To' Wine

By Alex Smith

There are times when I want (need? God forbid!) a glass of wine and invariably I will end up opening a bottle of my favourite white wine - Chablis. Well-made…

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There are times when I want (need? God forbid!) a glass of wine and invariably I will end up opening a bottle of my favourite white wine - Chablis. Well-made Chablis is a beautiful thing; clean, fresh, mineral (I don’t want to get carried away with silly descriptions like some merchants are so fond of these days), not too heavy like some Chardonnays - the grape used to make this nectar. I’d almost say that it is uncomplicated which some wine makers would scoff at, but there is a simplicity and freshness about a good Chablis that makes it such an easy choice when you're not sure what you feel like in the drinking department.

One of the most famous wine names in the world, comprising of nearly 5000 hectares (just 400 fifty years ago). Although situated closer to Champagne, its considered part of Burgundy, with which it has almost nothing in common but a grape variety. Chablis lies about ten miles east of Auxerre, roughly half way between the Cote d’Or and Paris. The region covers 15 Kilometres x 20 Kilometres across 27 communes located along the Serein river. A key element in the make up and style of the wine is the soil of the region made of Kimmeridge clay, named by a French geologist while walking in Dorset near the town of Kimmeridge. The layer is basically chalky marl with thin marly limestone containing rich layers of seashells, giving the wine a mineral character which is why the wine is such a good partner to seafood. The same clay is also evident in the Loire.

During the Middle Ages Cistercian monks became a major influence in establishing the economic and commercial interest of viticulture for the region. Vines were planted along the river Serein by the monks in 1186. A renowned chronicler described a Chablis wine as early as 1245. The Chablis area became part of the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century. There are records of Chablis being shipped to Flanders and Picardy in the mid 15th century. The Serein river, easily accessible via the nearby Yonne river, gave the Chablis producers a near monopoly on the lucrative Parisian market. Like many wine regions Chablis was devasted by phylloxera (an insect that which feeds on the roots and leaves of vines, cutting off the flow of nutrients and water to the vine) from 1887 and the replacement of vine stocks took some 15 years. Many Chablis producers gave up winemaking resulting in the acreage of the region dropping to just 1200 acres of vines planted.

Chablis wine region

In 1938 the region was given AOC status to protect the name Chablis which by this time was already being inappropriately used to refer to just about any white wine made from any number of white grape varieties from around the world.

A serious viticultural concern for Chablis growers being so far north is frost protection. The 1957 vintage was hit particularly hard so much so that regional authorities reported that only eleven cases of wine were produced! Hail the invention of smudge pots (known as Chauffrettes) during the 1960s which provided direct heat to the vines thereby preventing frost and potentially securing the future of Chablis.

Oak barrels

Today Chablis is thriving and of course winemaking techniques have evolved hugely, but one winemaking issue remains contested in the region is the use of oak. ‘Oak blurs the terroir, you cannot make Chablis with oak’ one winemaker will say and another ‘Oak finishes the wine, you cannot make Chablis without oak’ and so on. In general basic Chablis does not benefit from oak where freshness and minerality are key. As you rise through the quality scale, so some premier crus producing full, rich wines and grand crus, will benefit the wine and round it off-but not too much otherwise you risk losing that special Chablis taste.

Much more of a concern now is the effects of global warming. Milder temperatures and all the complications that can ensue with confused wines budding earlier, sap rising before warm and wet springs bring on the curse of mildew. Vines need to rest during the winter and cold temperatures allow the them to stay dormant for longer. Of the last nine years, and in descending order, 2018,2014,2019, and 2011 were the hottest years on record. This provides wine makers with a big challenge. In the Chablis region Chardonnay’s touchstone remains minerality and tension. Further south in the Maconnais, a couple of extra degrees of heat make marked differences to the wines produced, a richer, rounder and more exotic profile. What if Meursault and Chablis were to permanently gain those extra degrees?


Anyway lets not worry too much about these problems and enjoy what to my mind represents good value. A really well made basic Chablis can be had for around £10 and a premier cru (a big step up in quality) from around £20, far less expensive than some of the smarter white burgundies that are on the market. Enjoy!

Harbinger At Stud

By Clive Webb-Carter

As many of you will of course know, Harbinger was the highest rated horse in the World in 2010, which saw Timeform rate him at 140. To put his scintillating…

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As many of you will of course know, Harbinger was the highest rated horse in the World in 2010, which saw Timeform rate him at 140. To put his scintillating 11-length win of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.1) into context, only Frankel (147) has been rated higher by Timeform since 2010.

Shadai Stallion Station

Retired to stud for the 2011 breeding season at Japan’s leading stud farm, Shadai Stallion Station, the home of the late Champion sire Deep Impact, Harbinger quickly showed an influence at stud. His first crop of runners yielded 19 winners which saw him crowned Japan’s leading first-crop sire of 2014. The following season saw him lead the second-crop sires list with 72 winners, including two stakes winners.

2017 and 2018 proved to be Harbinger’s strongest years at stud to date. 2017 saw the son of Dansili sire three Grade 1 winners; The Mile Championship (Gr 1) winner Persian Knight; the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr 1) winner Mozu Katchan and Deirdre, winner of the Shuka Sho (Gr 1), the autumn leg of the Japanese fillies’ Triple Crown. The following year saw Harbinger finish fifth on Japan’s General sire list. With 115 winners and ten stakes winners which included Blast Onepiece, who landed the three graded stakes wins including the Arima Kinen (Gr 1) to be the 2018 JRA leading three-year-old colt.

Persian Knight winning The Mile Championship (Gr 1)

It was last season that we all got to see Harbinger’s qualities as a sire in Europe when Deirdre put up a top-class performance to win the Qatar Nassau Stakes (Gr 1). In the process Deirdre become only the second Japanese-trained racehorse to win a British Group 1, the other being the 2000 July Cup (Gr 1) winner Agnes World. 2019 also saw Harbinger sire his fifth career Grade 1 winner with the Victoria Mile (Gr 1) winner Normcore.

Harbinger’s achievements at stud are particularly remarkable as he was raced in Europe. Most breeders worldwide mainly support ‘homegrown’ sires from their own jurisdictions, as they will know the horses, form and pedigrees. So, for Harbinger to achieve what he has to date in Japan is certainly significant. Currently standing at a fee of ¥6,000,000 and with both his 2018 and 2019 foal crops numbering over 130, there will be plenty more written about Harbinger and his offspring in the coming seasons.

Deirdre winning The Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1)

Clive Webb-Carter

Tendon Injuries

By Clive Hamblin

Clive Hamblin is a renowned veterinary surgeon whose clients include champion trainer Paul Nicholls who has first call on Clive for leg operations such as the one on our Carry On The Magic. He is also the go to veterinarian for leading female trainer Emma Lavelle. Previously Clive was principal vet to the late Toby Balding. Clive lives in Wiltshire. Much of his time is taken up on duty at the major, and minor, courses in the south of England.

You may have noticed his car speeding (not something Clive objects to!) behind the field - at Ascot for instance - on the inner road as he shadows the runners ready when instant intervention is required. Clive has successfully carried out the same operation on Cheltenham winners as that on the injured leg of our Carry On The Magic. Here Clive gives his explanation of the process and his prognosis for the prospects of Carry On The Magic whom he describes as " a real gentleman to deal with".

It is important to have a spring in your step, especially if you are a racehorse! The spring comes from the flexor tendons, all part of an evolutionary system, accelerated…

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The main tendons and ligaments of the foreleg

It is important to have a spring in your step, especially if you are a racehorse! The spring comes from the flexor tendons, all part of an evolutionary system, accelerated by human intervention, that has produced the equine athlete we know today.

So, energy is placed into the weight bearing limb of the galloping racehorse, stretching the superficial digital flexor tendon by up to 16% and that energy is recovered as the tendon recoils, as the foot leaves the ground, providing the initial thrust for the next stride.

This elasticity is achieved by the clever design of the tendon tissue which is made up of vast numbers of crimped (zig-zagged) microfibres which can be observed under the electron microscope. They straighten under loading, recoiling to their original shape when unloaded. However if the limb becomes overloaded, and the fibres are already stretched to capacity, i.e. straight, then there is nowhere for them to go, other than to tear under the strain. To some degree this happens with individual fibres in the course of normal life and is considered standard physiological change, repair of the individual fibre taking place in short order.

But if many more fibres are damaged as the result of a single over-stretching insult, or more likely, repetitive overloading strain, then it turns into a pathological condition, resulting in an actual tendon injury. (Laboratory work on cadaver limbs indicates that a loading of approximately 19% extension leads to failure and rupture of the tendon - far too close to the normal physiological levels for comfort!).

Clive Hamblin

Superficial digital flexor tendon injuries are top of the charts for the commonest racehorse limb injuries, especially in the National Hunt herd, who are by definition an older population, racing over more extended distances, both factors known to increase the likelihood of tendon injury.

Having spent forty years in practice; I have seen innumerable treatments for these tendon injuries come and go - and often return again. Thermocautery, tendon splitting, carbon fibre implantation, terylene and latex implants, sectioning the accessory ligament of the SDF tendon, injecting “Bapten”, Hyaluronic acid or Adequan, tendon fenestration, prolotherapy - the list grows as a 'silver bullet' is sought.

In the last named material is injected into the tendons in order to stimulate the influx of fibroblasts and tenocytes (the cells that are involved in the repair process). Regenerative therapies include the harvesting of the horse’s own growth factors in the form of Platelet Rich Plasma, bone derived Stem cells or fat derived Stem cells.

Whenever there is an 'arm-length' of potential treatments for a single condition, it is fair to say that any of the therapies will be inconsistent in their results! The veterinary profession are still seeking the Holy Grail of the ultimate tendon injury treatment. Further research is being carried out with allogenic, Embrionic Stem Cells  and perhaps even more exciting, the infiltration of plasmids containing specific genes for the production of  new tendon tissue. Watch this space.

However, no matter how good the direct treatment of the injured tendon, two other factors are of extreme importance, time and an ascending, low grade, exercise programme. Time (almost invariably around a year) is required for the initial inflammatory phase to settle; the regeneration phase with the production of repair tissue to occur and the remodelling phase, whereby the new tendon fibres are “educated” and orientated in the correct way. The low grade exercise phase is imperative in order to achieve this remodelling in preparation for the impact of advanced training and racing.

Carry On The Magic

I rechecked Carry on the Magic on Monday 6th April. He was the subject of my prolotherapy and thermocautery in November 2019. I found his injury to be resolving favourably and to the timetable I have set out. He is now well into the prolonged, remodelling phase with an expected return to the racetrack towards the end of the year.

Rolf's Ramblings

The Queen’s message of support in the time of the current virus pandemic attracted a television audience of 23 million; Strictly Come Dancing -10m; Bake Off - 9m; the 2019…

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The Queen’s message of support in the time of the current virus pandemic attracted a television audience of 23 million; Strictly Come Dancing -10m; Bake Off - 9m; the 2019 Grand National - 9.6m; and the 2020 Virtual Grand National, 4.8m. That number had their TVs switched on, but how many of those gripped by ‘The Chase’, the preceding tea-time (need I say more?) Quiz Show, actually watched the race? I switched on early – in case there were any false starts.

The Chase’s ‘integrity’ (no ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ tomfoolery) is overseen by Beyond Dispute Ltd. I’ve taken very little persuading (self-persuading) to play judge and jury over the fabricated Virtual National, mindful that betting on it made £2.6m for charities. The exercise highlighted, for me, the topic of horseracing on screen.

Potters Corner, a Welsh outsider, more at home wading through the mud heaps of Uttoxeter (where he won the Midlands National) and Chepstow (where he won his Welsh National) and home track Ffos Las (he was originally owned by the boss of Ffos Las) led home nineteen finishers in the computerised Aintree mock-up – on what looked like very good going. I must point out, without prejudice, that one ‘runner’ who didn’t finish, Crievehill, had never fallen in his life; Potters Corner had, twice.

Moreover, the ‘winner’s’ (watch the inverted commas - ed) ‘jockey’ Jack Tudor couldn’t claim his 7lb allowance. In fact, 17-year-old Tudor was two winners short of qualification to ride in the race: but then so was Elizabeth Taylor (because she was a girl) in National Velvet.

The computer might, therefore, have had its wires crossed or there needs to be a steward’s enquiry (virtual) into the Aintree finishing order before, say, we head for a Virtual Derby. I reckon sand got in the works.

“It’s a nice thought - Red Rum and us both getting ready for Aintree on the beach,” said Potters Corner’s trainer Christian Williams. He’s not wrong, but not the same sands. “We go down through the Ewenny and Ogmore rivers with the string to Traeth Yr Afon (River Beach)” which is on the Bristol Channel. Ginger McCain famously hacked the one and only Red Rum down urban Birkdale’s Upper Aughton Road to Southport sands, lapped by the Irish Sea.

I noted that there was no virtual Aintree fashion show (small mercy) this year and no virtual parade, essential to the pageantry, through the victor’s hamlet on the following Sunday morning. In 1981 three thousand crammed into tiny Findon village for Aldaniti’s cavalcade. He and his co-star Bob Champion’s true story, reprised in the 1984 film ‘Champions’, had a stronger message than any artificial construction - to the extent non-racing folk have found it fictional. Aldaniti survived breakdowns: Champion survived cancer: the actor who played him, John Hurt, didn’t. But then that’s the problem with racing’s feature films – they wouldn’t be made unless they were fantastic, while superficial computer games exist on fantasy too.

Capturing the rarified atmosphere of extreme horseracing exploits has proved elusive: homages to Phar Lap, Shergar, Ruffian, Secretariat and Seabiscuit have come and largely been forgotten (no, I don’t know the audience figures; at least the last-named made $100m). None of the aforesaid technicolour melodramas compare artistically with ‘Brighton Rock’, the 1947 adaptation of Graham Greene’s black novel. Centre stage was Brighton races and the bookmakers’ protection racket that kicked off gang warfare. Even though the script was fiction (and shot at Lewes) tougher 1930s crowds didn’t need refuelling with drink to set about one another. We’ve left those days behind, largely; we weren’t there; we’re never ‘there’ when the action is on screen: celluloid is no place to breed reminiscences.

Virtual racing, churned out promiscuously in betting shops, doesn’t imagine and certainly doesn’t care for “real life racing fairy tales”. The list of films with racehorses at their hearts sought to recreate great exploits but couldn’t afford to be anything other than ‘fairy tales’. The human capacity – “ordinary people pursuing dreams”- inspired by our relationship with racehorses, is circumscribed by the fact that we humans can only be complicit with, ‘get into bed with’, flesh and blood. Flickering figures on screen are inadequate.

The latest addition to the genre was ‘Dark Horse, the Incredible story of Dream Alliance’ (incredibly his trainer Philip Hobbs has Sandy Beach at his disposal – in a straight line south across the Bristol Channel from Dream Alliance’s home). Dark Horse concerns a thoroughbred with a mongrel’s pedigree, brought up on an allotment on a flattened slag-heap of an abandoned colliery in a desolated Caerphilly valley. The Full Monty and Billy Elliott have similar themes, set where industry and hope have died and seeking redemption. But the films with human heroes obviously have a bigger palette – human misery for a start: the hats in the air for Dream Alliance’s triumphs are joyous; the hats in the air that expose the naked cast of The Full Monty at its climax have deeper resonance.

The day of escapism in ‘electric palaces’ is largely behind us – killed by modern streaming technologies. ‘Dark Horse’ had its premiere in 2016 in the Maxime Cinema in Blackwood nearby where Dream Alliance was brought up. It was a runaway award winner at the Sundance Independent Film Festival, the largest of its kind, in America. But like those of its kind, I fear for its perpetuity.

Tom Jones’s ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’ is, naturally, omnipresent in ‘Dark Horse’ and the images of Dream Alliance slashing a leg to the bone at Aintree is hidden by the screens, green. Such possibilities, such peril is immediately excluded from any Virtual Sport: there was no mourning after the latest of four Virtual Grand Nationals. 

Dream Alliance was ‘resurrected’ by stem cell treatment at a cost of £20,000 before going on to win his ‘national’ National at Chepstow in 2009. His 2020 Aintree fellow countryman Potters Corner must stay sound for another year before he can be mentioned in the same breath along with that of the other Welsh equine hero, Norton’s Coin, from Nantgaredig, Carmarthen. Where would programmers have placed, at Aintree, the only 100-1 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, or Dream Alliance with this year’s counterpart?

The computer had no qualms over disregarding PC’s (Potters Corner) tumbles or going essentials. What would humbler backgrounds count for? Even among the Welsh Norton’s Coin was unsung before Cheltenham and even then nobody got round to making a film about him. Dark Alliance made the cut because Jan Vokes, whose jobs ranged from barmaid and cleaner to breeding whippets and racing pigeons, upped her ante to breeding a racehorse. Surely somebody along the way told her not to bother?

So far so romantic – but no more so than Norton’s Coin’s owner, breeder, trainer, stable lad Sirrell Griffiths milking his cows and then driving his unconsidered beast to conquer Desert Orchid and the cream of the jumping world. Down on your luck? Community bonding? Get a horse and carry on believing; keep your feet on the ground and don’t get caught up in sentimental slurry – not that Norton’s Coin didn’t roam the Carmarthen farmyard.

The temptation is to say that Dream Alliance gave hope to a deprived post-industrial community (and the film couldn’t resist saying it). In 2007 he came second to the mighty Denman in the Hennessy Gold Cup and two years later, after the accident, the £57,010 Welsh Grand National prize replenished the syndicate’s coffers to the extent that on his retirement the next in line out of the impoverished mare was over-subscribed. Unfortunately, ‘Recurring Dream’ became a recurring nightmare.

‘Dark Horse’ ends with the characters in the same jobs, the same lives; Pied Piper Jan still cleaning at Asda.

Motor racing ought to be more susceptible to manipulative representation; we had a Virtual Bahrain Grand Prix not long before the Virtual Grand National. How much supporters bemoaned witnessing an even richer man’s sport than horseracing reduced to a superficial ‘game show’ is not recorded. In 1966 “millions of dollars of star power, and a nickel’s worth of plot” were heaped on the movie Grand Prix. All it produced were forgettable stock characters. 

The 1994 documentary ‘Senna’ was different. It is widely acknowledged to be the best sports film ever. It was not an articulated insight with vaulting commentary on a reconstructed myth but pure archive footage and home videos portraying the ace driver’s genius.

Ayrton Senna’s death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 was attributed to his car crashing due to mechanical instability resulting from increased computerization.

(Not So) Out And About With The Highclere Camera...

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