As I have said many times before I have the greatest job in the world, or would have if I could do it from my back yard. It has everything- including, sadly, being on the receiving end of some of the worst our Rail Network has to offer.
But the racing people you come into contact with more than make up for that- most of the time.
I write this on my way to the final event of a typical but frantic month- my second trip to Ireland in three weeks to the Tipperary yard of Trainer Mouse Morris where Aintree will announce plans for the 2017 Grand National, the first under the sponsorship of Randox Health care. It’s tradition to hold it at the yard of the winning horse from earlier in the year.
It promises to be a fun day- and lunch is laid on afterwards at a local, and exceptional pub cum restaurant. It’s an amazing place in that it also doubles as the Local Undertaker!- they do things different in Ireland.
This job has many facets- race commentating, reporting, interviewing, presenting which in many ways is one of its leading plusses. But at times it can do your nerves no good at all.
The month started with commentary duties on a 10 race card from Munich- all live on SIS in the UK and also in Australia, and the feature, a Group One race, shown on AttheRaces.
All goes smoothly, you check, double check and triple check your colours and all is well. A French challenger has a pacemaker- an unconsidered and seemingly out of its depth outsider- distinguished (and you check that half a dozen times) by a yellow rather than a blue cap. It’s all fine until 2 furlongs out when you realise the pacemaker is not going to get caught and for that awful fraction of a second the frighteners are on ‘I have got these the right way round, haven’t I’. You know the score, happily I had but never ever be complacent! The pacemaker, to the embarrassment of many, did indeed make every yard.
Then a fortnight later it’s Cheltenham’s Open Meeting and having to deal on the final day, a Sunday with the retirement of Sprinter Sacre. I have the greatest and deepest admiration for how Trainer Nicky Henderson dealt with the end of the amazing horse’s career- pure raw and understandable emotion, but no one deserved, just a couple of hours later to lose a returning Cheltenham hero Simonsig.
There’s no time to mention an Irish trip for a unique insight into young Joseph O’Brien who is now training – and being fortunate enough to be invited to see him at work first hand on his gallops at Owning in County Kilkenny where his father started his career- impressive doesn’t even start to describe the man and his set up, or the most fantastic video salute to his father Aidan as he, deservedly, won a lifetime achievement award at the Cartier Awards in London- Jim Bolger reflecting how he had told him to get a wife was one of the most legendary soundbites I have ever heard- the brilliant piece is on Youtube and is a must watch for any racing fan.
So the show moves on, so do the miles and so do the ‘where have you been this time?’ quizzical look from my two beloved if eldery cats every time I walk through the door of Vince Towers.
Soon it will be Christmas and then on to 2017.
There’s a job to be done.
By Mike Vince