The Inside Rail

Contributions from TIHR co-founder, editor and writer Sean Clancy.

Worlds Apart

What a difference a week makes.

Cheltenham Festival. Piedmont Point-to-Point.


Although, looking at the overnight for our local meet, field sizes are comparable – 17, 14, 20, 19…the times have changed, the world has changed but still the interest in country sport continues. Long may it continue.

Miles and I share the Saturday couch. The Dubai World Cup plays on the big screen, Miles spinning his globe, looking for the United Arab Emirates. He found it – quickly. Hopefully, world geography will be one of the categories when he’s on Jeopardy! Presidents, Greek mythology, world geography, Shakespeare…and hopefully no Thoroughbred racing.

“It’s entertaining, I guess,” Miles says about the wallpaper of his life.

That’s the most ringing endorsement he’s ever offered.

We just watched Chad Summers win his first career race as a trainer, taking the Grade 1 Golden Shaheen at Meydan with Mind Your Biscuits. Crazy game. Summers has come a long way from when we analyzed Orb's Kentucky Derby, Chad and I soaked to the bone while sloshing through the mud below the Twin Spires. We called him Poncho after he rung out his suit in the HRRN studio at the top of Churchill Downs. A racetracker to the core, many bumps along the road, he can buy a Gore-Tex suit now. 

 

Goodbye Cheltenham

Homeward bound. Four days have come and gone. Defining moments. Lifetime memories. Seems like a long time ago when Mullins and Walsh were on the floor. They rallied.

Sizing John rallied, closing an open Gold Cup. Cue Card crashing out again, again at the same fence. 

Douvan has a broken pelvis. That explains that. Horses, fragile, mercurial creatures holding man’s silly dreams with every stride, every footfall.

See you in America.

Bittersweet Gold Cup memories

The doors swing open with the breeze. The butter and eggs sit on the counter. The horses rustle from below and beyond thick windows. The birds wake you, different songs, but the same tunes. The dogs lounge like they were here first, the house built around them. The Racing Post is open on the table. The racing show is on the background. That’s life here. Racing life.

Plane ride

Airplanes. They used to be mean freedom. Now, they mean consequence. Well, they represent consequence. They used to mean escape. Back when I lived with my parents, back when I rented a room for $150 a month, back when I could touch everything I owned from my bed. Now, well, a plane doesn’t bring freedom, it brings dread and stress and worry and concern. I fly, but I’m not flying.

Swimming on a February morning

And now for this week’s how-do-you-solve-a-problem-get-a-bigger-one portion of the program, we thought the problem was the broken board in the new floor or the broken septic line to the barn or perhaps the simple lack of productivity from all involved.

Those aren’t problems.

“It’s in the pool…It’s still breathing…I can’t do this by myself…Get over here.”

Going for Gold

Ski Friday. Yes, ski Friday. Off to the slopes with Miles for the finale of the ski season at Bryce Resort. The Ski Olympics. Miles goes at 11:30.

Last week, we arrived at the slopes, found our rental equipment, hooked up our lift ticket, pulled our goggles down and stared up, well, not exactly up.

Goodbye Kempton, Thanks for the Memories

Kempton Bombshell. That was the headline in the Racing Post as Britain plans to bulldoze another turf track and build another all-weather. As John Gorka sings, “They’re growing houses in the fields between the towns. And the Starlight drive-in movie’s closing down the road is gone to the way it was before. And the spaces won’t be spaces anymore.”

Smith comes full circle with Arrogate

The first was Bat Prospector.

Mike Smith had arrived in New York earlier that year. I hadn’t arrived anywhere. It was 1990. In the jocks’ room to ride a no-hoper in the opening jump race, I worked up the nerve to introduce myself to Smith, who was due to ride Mike Freeman’s Bat Prospector later that afternoon. I had galloped the filly a couple of times, figured it was an icebreaker, a conversation starter. We shook hands, talked about the filly and became fast friends. I was in awe of the New Mexico kid who had come to New York with finesse and flare.

The Close Calls of Life

One of my resolutions is to write more, well, write more well. That sentence definitely doesn't suffice. Ah well, we'll keep trying.

So far in 2017, I've been diving into other forms, a book, a journal (for me now, for Miles later) and some other creative spots, they probably won't see the light of day. As I was toiling and tinkering and looking for distraction today, I checked my friend George Baker's blog. A great friend, a horse trainer and a natural writer, his daily blog always provides a moment of escape. His entry from January 2, sadly, isn't an escape. I cut and pasted it below, it's good perspective on a world gone mad.

Read him daily, you never know what you're going to get.