March 8th – the brave man!

nickalexanderCold & windy, snow in the air; some horses hacking today but Seeking Power, Four Fiddlers and Forcefield worked on Lucinda’s woodchip, Papamoa & Noir et Vert on our all-weather and Playing Footsie, “Alf” and Minimo on the grass.  Daasij had a pipe-opener ahead of his run in the 3.20 at Catterick tomorrow, ground is good, 15 run, Paul Gallagher rides and he has a decent each way chance.  Buffalo Ballet remains under observation in the Royal Dick.
Well, I am pleased to introduce my next guest blogger who is currently working in Afghanistan, the light-hearted nature of his blog below belies the bravery and commitment required to carry out his job as chief executive of The Halo Trust ( http://www.halotrust.org/) which carries out the unenviable but deeply necessary task of clearing landmines in the most hostile environments in the world….

Guy takes a breather

Guy takes a breather

“Most perturbed to see you may be reducing your blog thing – can’t be true. Here in Afghanistan the internet isn’t great, but when it fires up there is little better than reading the Kinneston Blog – your meetings with Triumph and Disaster and treating those two imposters just the same. My tenuous link to your yard….. well am sort of on your website home page every time it opens…. look right side of the screen for the only horse with its ears pricked galloping strongly up the hill at Carlisle, coming in just behind yet another Kinneston winner. Ok, you’ve spotted it, but no rider! Even if I was in the ambulance at least the horse was very happy – and a happy horse is the key (as Lucinda said afterwards – oh so polite!). Over here it is snowing and foggy, Kabul airport is shut down, and chances of me making it home for Cheltenham look remote, and sadly missed Kelso at the weekend. Déjà vu – seems like only yesterday that I was stuck here just after the Russians left and Dessie went on to win the 89 Gold Cup. Horses in Afghanistan? The main sport is Buzkashi, which is like Polo but instead of stick n ball the riders have to reach down and pick up a dead bullock, tuck one of its legs under a stirrup leather, ride one handed / reins between teeth and gallop in the vague direction of a marked out white chalk circle and then drop the Buz (Buz – rhymes with Cruz) in the circle. Other than that, there are almost no rules. Two teams (each of 20-30 riders), but also individual prizes – so the rider can be going great guns for the circle, protected by his team mates, and then at last minute one of them grabs the Buz off him to try to score himself! Sounds violent, but actually there tend to be only a few real enthusiasts in each team, while the rest of the riders hang around coffee-housing, all rather like cub-hunting in Gloucestershire. Luckily no rules on non-triers, otherwise I would have been in the Stewards’ Room after each of my few games. The annual Buzkashi country finals take place later this month (24th) at the Afghan New Year festival. The semi finals were two weeks ago (same day as electrocuting Newbury). One of the lead riders from years before had come out of retirement to play (for those who know Afghanistan he was a relation of the turncoat Commander Rasul Pahlawan), which made the other team very cross. They responded with drawing lots for a suicide attack – that then killed many of the opposing team (if you think I am just telling a tall story then see news link at  http://en.rian.ru/world/20110226/162770954.html ). Hopefully Nichols, Henderson, Twist’n’shout not hatching similar plans (though of course you/we have had bomb scares at key races before), but anyway for a variety of reason I’ll settle on Imperial Commander for the Gold Cup. Have a great week, and don’t stand too close to men with beards and black hats – you never can tell….Guy. ”

Spot the Brit!

Spot the Brit!

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