Newbury Racecourse sees Ed Barrett’s truly remarkable walk for charity, lots of rain and good racing
To have a flutter - and keep the bookies in profit? To be with chums? To watch extraordinary horses?Why do we go to the races? For the sport?
The second day of Newbury's Dubai Duty Free International Weekend (September 22) , was an afternoon with several top-quality performances, thrilling finishes and persistent rain. It also provided an occasion to prompt further thought about why we go to the races.
In April 2015 he had a life-changing fall while riding in a point-to-point at Upcott Cross.Before racing began, 30 year-old Ed Barrett completed an emotional and inspiring charity walk - round the parade ring without his crutches.
He broke and dislocated his neck and a fragment of the bone went into his spinal cord causing paralysis. He was told he would never walk again. After three weeks intensive care at Plymouth Hospital, he was moved to Oswestry Spinal Hospital to start his rehabilitation.
He then had four months at the Injured Jockey Fund's (IJF) rehabilitation and fitness centre at Oaksey House. It was there he had the idea of a walk for charity to raise funds for the IJF and the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation: "I wanted to give myself a goal and to promote the work of the IJF and the help they've given me."
"I also hope one day there will be a cure for spinal cord injuries so have chosen to also raise money for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation."
Here's the link to Ed's donation page - and more of his story. His achievement - small step by small step - put the afternoon's excellent sport into a slightly different perspective
The feature race was the £75,000 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (Group Two). And present to talk about the horse he trained and in whose name the race is now run was Ian Balding with stories about that memorable thoroughbred Mill Reef.
It was the fourth race on the card - and while the rain continued to fall, the going had been changed to soft after the first race.
The Mill Reef Stakes race has proved a springboard for future stars like Ribchester (2015) and Harry Angel (2016) in recent years, and this year's winner Kessaar also looks to have a bright future following a decisive victory.
The John Gosden-trained colt led for virtually all of the six-furlong contest for two-year-olds and found plenty for Frankie Dettori after being briefly headed by True Mason entering the final furlong to win by two and three-quarter lengths.
Kessaar had previously captured the G3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park and a step up to G1 level now beckons for the son of Kodiac in the Criterium International at Longchamp, France, on October 28.
Gosden, winning the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes for the first time, said: "We didn't know if Kessaar would handle the soft ground today, but it won't worry us again. The Criterium International used to be a mile but they've dropped it to seven furlongs and we are all going to Paris."
Dettori added: "We knew Kessaar handled soft, but weren't sure about this. He showed good courage too, as the other one passed me. He finished the race and isn't just a six-furlong horse."
It was a notable day for French jockey Gérald Mossé who has been based at Newmarket this year. He brought home three winners.
And it was a day to remind us all that it can be a dangerous sport - sometimes dangerous for the horses and sometimes for the riders.