When Key Cutter failed to make any impression in our first race of the season I began to wonder whether Alex was would start to lose interest in the sport, but everything changed at Aintree the following Saturday.
For me, it was the second leg of a three part sports day. Following my golf in the morning we were in good time to see Sixty Something led to the start by Paul's top guy Jerry (the horse has previous form for bad behaviour).
Sixty Something won and Alex stepped up to collect the prize just in time for us to drive to Eastlands for the kick-off to see Manchester City beat Aston Villa 5–0. It was a very good day.
Next Thursday we had a runner at Stratford but I had to watch the race in the William Hill branch at Euston Station. Judging by their body language none of my fellow customers had backed Safran de Cotte who romped home at 9–2.
With two wins on the trot we were full of confidence, could this be the season that an Alex Timpson horse runs at The Festival?
We had a house party of friends staying at the same time as the next meeting at Haydock so, keen to give them a flavour of an owners day out, we booked a box and persuaded both Paul Webber and Henry Daly to enter one of our horses. They were too polite to point out that neither could find the ideal race on the card.
It was fun introducing our friends to the quaint pageantry of racegoing. On the minibus I gave them a guided tour of the Racing Post and once at the course gave a practical demonstration of the difference between betting with a bookie or placing your tenner with The Tote. They were all keen to stand in the paddock where they heard the last minute discussion between trainer and jockey ("Is anyone keen to make the running" – "There are a couple" – "Just stay handy and if it feels good four from home take it from there"). It is, however, a pity that they didn't hear Henry Daly's comments by the pre-parade ring.
"If we come last we will have done well," said Henry as I listened in astonishment. "Can you say that again?" I asked. "Perhaps I didn't put that too well," replied Henry, "What I meant to say is that sixth would be a fair achievement." "But," I pointed out, "There are only six runners."
Henry explained. "It is an Open steeplechase and as Safran de Cotte has already won over the big fences," (while I was in William Hill at Euston,) "he has a 5lb penalty. None of the other five of the novice chasers have won a chase but, based on their hurdles form, they all have a higher rating; one is at 143, we are 128, so in a Handicap we would receive 15lbs but as it is an Open race we give 5lb, the chances are that we will be way behind at the finish."
Safran de Cotte finished third and with our expectations being so perfectly managed we were delighted and celebrated with the rest of our party.