The Inside Rail

Nothing like a winner. When I rode races, I couldn't understand the enjoyment, the interest of the owners. How could they get so excited, they're not riding the horse? Now, that I can't ride, don't ride, I understand.

Tuesday morning, random races click past as my computer screen splits in three - open Microsoft Word document on the right, email account in the center and international racing on the top left, like a security camera high up in the corner. 

I wait. And wait. And wait.

Ludlow's 3:40 finally comes onto the screen, I see the red cap of our silks first, thanks Mom for adding that it in the 70's. Alzammaar, fitted with blinkers for the first time, looks active, upbeat, circling, head up, animated in his moves. 'He's going to sit close,' I think. That's fine. Lining up, yes, they're definitely putting him close to the lead. Then on the lead. Three miles, on the lead, this is going to be torturous.

He leads, he jumps, he rolls, righthanded, outside Ludlow's golf course with conviction as horses make mistakes behind him, my phone vibrates, 'We're on the lead.' 'Yup.' 'Long way.' Then silence between texters, it's not that long a race.

'Don't move, Gavin. Don't move,' I repeat as the field makes the long sweeping turn (at least for America, in England it's probably tight) into the stretch. Sheehan is motionless. Then he isn't, he pumps, whip deflects off Alzammaar's right flank. I slouch and squirm in my office chair as my phone vibrates and the vacuum cleaner bellows from another room.

Alzammaar is headed, he's sliding back, three horses pass him, I feel disappointment, disgust, the dread of another loss. Then he stays put, the digression is staunched, he's not losing ground, then he slides outside and across the course, in a few strides, he's back in second, he flies the last fight, he's back in with a chance, the announcer's voice rises as Alzammaar gains ground and Sheehan pulls his whip through to his left hand. I yell and yell and yell, it's amazing how fast Al-Za-Mar can roll off your tongue at a resurgence after 3 miles. In the confines of a guest bedroom/makeshift office across a sea, I'm yelling at a computer and Alzammaar is rallying, he latches onto the stand-side running rail and regains the lead, in a matter of strides, it's over, from deep in the fire, he's pulled it out. He wins comfortably in the end.

Whew. It's a free day.

- To read what Racinguk had to say about Alzammaar, click here. 


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