As time goes by a kiss can be more than just a kiss.
IHOPE Rainbow View wins the 1,000 Guineas this afternoon.
I'm sure quite a lot of people hope she wins - John Gosden, George Strawbridge, Jimmy Fortune, lots of punters, the people who stand her sire Dynaformer - but I doubt very much that they hope with quite the same fervency as I.
Have I backed her? No. Did I presciently tip her in print for the fillies' Classic three months before she made her debut? No. What then? I have to kiss one of the people in the office if she doesn't win. And it wasn't even my idea.
Don't raise that eyebrow at me.
We're not talking about one of the clothes-horses in marketing, or one of the '3am girls' on the bloodstock desk, or even the girl in the canteen. I may as well, cathartically, tell you now. If Rainbow View doesn't win today's 1,000 Guineas I have to kiss the news editor, Bill Barber. How did I get here? Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else? Cast your mind back to late September, and the Fillies' Mile at Ascot. It's important to note that, Bob Cratchit-like, I happened not to be in the office that day. Everyone would have gathered round a television to watch the race and, as Rainbow View drew clear of her rivals, looking for all the world a Classic-winning filly, Bill evidently sat back in his chair, raised his voice above the office susurration and declaimed: "If that horse does not win the 1,000 Guineas, I'll kiss Steve Dennis on the lips." Why he chose me, I'll never know.
I mean, we get on well, but we don't share lingering glances over the pages of the Racing Calendar, aren't found whispering intensely about the levy board negotiations in quiet corners. I can only hope he picked me because I wasn't in the office that day and therefore wouldn't immediately react to his airy exclamation, rather than give in to the disquieting consideration that he's been waiting seven years to get me in a clinch and only now has seized his chance.
Similar boasts are common. There can't be a licensed trainer out there - okay, possibly not Lady Herries - who hasn't threatened to bare his or her arse in the window of the nearest Woolworths if a certain horse didn't win, although the economic crisis has sadly closed that particular outlet for expression.
Perhaps they all go to the Co-op these days.
Certain individuals have offered to run naked from here to there in the event of their fancy not delivering the goods - isn't it a bit strange that all these boasts involve some kind of inappropriate public nudity? What does it say about racing people in general? Don't ask - but all these bold proclamations have devolved only upon the speaker. No-one else has been forced to become embroiled in the whole unsavoury business ... except me..
As you might imagine, it has been a long winter, this winter of my discontent. Every bulletin from Stanley House has been ransacked for subliminal messages about Rainbow View's wellbeing. Any hiccup, stone bruise, change of mind by connections would have had the most fearful consequences, so much so that I managed to tack on an amendment to the 'bill' in the shape of 'non-runner, no bet'. The mental stress would have finished me off otherwise.
As winter gave way to spring, with Rainbow View still securely atop the ante-post markets, the hope that I might escape unscathed, unmolested, grew slowly and tentatively, like a snowdrop's green shoots nosing delicately through the warming soil. Until Nell Gwyn Stakes day. FANTASIA put the fear of God into me. Bill and I studiously avoided each other's gaze. And all that rot that was spouted about 'she must take her chance in the Guineas' and 'it would be so good for racing if the two best fillies took each other on' - give it a rest, why don't you. To hell with racing - there were bigger things at stake. When the announcement came that Fantasia would head to France instead, the dual sighs of relief were as loud as a Zeppelin bursting.
And now here we are. All portents are good. The other Classic trials failed to produce anything to sing and dance about, and Rainbow View is a short-priced favourite against a field that lacks a truly terrifying opponent. Surely all that needs to be avoided is trouble in running, and Rainbow View is a shoo-in.
When you hit the front, Jimmy, don't stop pushing. Four lengths good, two lengths bad, and if you ease her right down in the closing stages I shall scream. I don't know what the record winning margin is but why don't you see if you can break it? The alternative - defeat - is unthinkable. But if it does happen, please Lord don't let there be tongues.
Read Steve Dennis's blog at racingpost.com'To hell with racing - there were bigger things at stake'
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||May 3, 2009|
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