Every August I go to York races in England but this time I had to make a stop in Ireland to see my as yet un-named horse (we were still calling him ‘the Heron Island’) I was operating under a handicap as my wrist was in a cast after having had surgery a few weeks earlier; not that I was going to get any sympathy in a jump racing yard where broken bones are a rite of passage. I couldn’t drive though so caught the Portlaois bus service from the airport to Monasterevin where Peter picked me up in his gleaming black Mercedes.
I was instantly reminded of a policy I had implemented at a previous company: if a supplier arrived in a better car than mine I would send him away on the basis his margins were obviously way too high! Too late for that now, so I reminded myself that “if you look the part, you can play the part” After an overnight flight in Aer Lingus’s economy cabin the only part I looked fit to play was as Estragon in Waiting for Godot (which, at the risk of alienating many readers, is the single most pretentious and boring play I have ever seen).
Despite my ragged appearance, I was greeted warmly by Peter and Ber and we went off to see ‘the Heron Island’. Peter had him out on a long rope lunging and he looked pretty happy although he seemed to prefer going clockwise rather than anti-clockwise. This isn’t a major problem in Ireland where 17/25 courses are right-handed but Cheltenham is left-handed and that is what dreams are made of so we had better sort this out pretty quickly!! Peter was convinced that the bit (it is placed in the mouth and the rope is attached to it to aid control) was aggravating a tooth. Apparently, this is not uncommon and the solution is to remove the tooth which , typically, is high in the cheek bone area (if I am sounding like an equine dentist right now then you need to get out and meet more people)
For an owner the words you don’t want to hear are “we need to get the vet out” but I was too cool to register panic at this early stage of our relationship so I told Peter to do whatever he needed to; I didn’t even ask how much it would cost as I maintained my confident and assured demeanour. I was a little concerned that Peter may have too much confidence in my financial well being but, if so, I had only myself to blame: earlier in August I had decided it would make much more sense to send over the annual training fees all at once and then I would not only save on bank commission but would also not forget about it every month. Obviously, this logic was flawed as it depended on getting a monthly invoice and, as I was to discover, this sort of rigidity to convention was something that neither Peter or Ber were easily disposed to; their intentions were good (consistently) but execution was a little lacking. I didn’t mind; the money was on deposit with them and I was constantly in credit.
It was a relatively short visit and the plan was to see ‘the Heron Island’ when I was over later in October; by which time I would hopefully come up with a name. Before I went, Peter and Ber treated me to a great lunch at a nearby pub; an event marred only by my pathetic inability to use a knife (still blaming my wrist) with the result that 5 foot tall Ber was forced to cut my meat into chewable pieces for me. After delaying lunch I was running a bit late and, so to prove what wonderful people they are, they drove me the 40 miles back to the airport in record time. You know something? I could not be happier Peter has a real quality car!