Toby Coles’ diary: a smashing bank holiday

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  • This past week has been one of royal prowess. Our second in line to the throne married his long-term girlfriend Miss Middleton, now HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.

    Meanwhile racing’s royalty, Henry Cecil, produced Frankel, named after the late king of the American game, Bobby Frankel, to win, or should one say annihilate the opposition, in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas for Prince Khalid Abdullah. And not to be outdone His Highness Sheikh Mohammed won the QIPCO 1000 Guineas with Blue Bunting. One might say the weekend was a right royal affair.

    Proud to have visitors

    With a second bank holiday in succession and the Guineas Meeting at Newmarket taking place, I was inundated with owners and friends coming to look at the yard and its inmates. Hopefully, all were duly impressed!

    In a strange sort of way I quite enjoy people coming to the yard for I am definitely guilty of one of the seven sins. I am extremely proud of the yard, its inmates and my staff. The latter have to be praised for surviving the onslaught of onlookers.

    I did manage, on both days, to get the time to go to the races and enjoy the class of horse and see some old friends. An amusing highlight racing was my father’s suit going up in smoke. He smokes a pipe and often keeps it in his pocket. This time he had failed to make sure he had fully smoked it. On putting it into his pocket it started to smoulder and he only noticed when the pipe dropped to the ground, having burnt its way through the cloth!

    Windsor — and the air ambulance

    Monday was a very long day. We had Rich And Reckless running at Windsor, with a large number of the partnership in attendance. It was also a very big day for a young apprentice, Tim Clark, who was having his first ride in this country in public. I had borrowed this boy from my mentor Sir Mark Prescott. Things did not go quite as planned. The filly jumped rather high as she came out the stalls and, as it turns out, smashed poor Tim in the face. This only came into light after he came back after the race and was unable to pass any information to the owners or me.

    He was apprehended by the doctor on entering the weighing room, where they acted very fast in diagnosing a head injury and summoning the air ambulance. Little Tim was not in the best of shape. What the hell was I going to tell Sir Mark, never mind his mother?

    The least I could do was stay with him, and make sure he would see the light of day. On taking off in the ambulance we were re-routed to Oxford, apparently better for head traumas, but not so good to get home to Newmarket from!

    Tim came out of a semi-conscious state, and I left him with my coat, and a little money. All he had was his breeches and a T-shirt!

    He’s back home now, but will have to pass a concussion test before he can resume riding. Sir Mark was surprisingly good about it, just remarking that it was a day that Tim would never forget…

    So You Think is so exciting

    Monday also saw the return of a world superstar in the form of So You Think, previously trained by Bart Cummings, and in my view (I probably will be stoned for saying it) is a better horse than Frankel. I am one of the lucky few to have seen both in the flesh. He barely came out of a canter to win a Group Three by 10 lengths for Aidan O’Brien. This season really does have the making of something special — I can hardly wait.

    As for my horses I am very excited. We may not hit the ground running so to speak, but I have no fear that we have some with a little ability. A favourite of mine, a Zamindar colt called Lycidas, returned from a little break today. He is a horse who is an honour to train, in both type and breeding.

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