A heartening moment on Sunday that shows the true spirit of racing really can make a difference and bring a smile to the faces of the public.

Zain Al Boldan’s win in the Lingfield Oaks Trial has not only opened the door to yet another series of reminders in the press that the Trainer is yet to win a Classic, but it also thrust Sam Hitchcott to the forefront of his own conciousness and gave a few others a timely reminder that he’s the bloke we seldom see in the flesh, but often calls on his way home from places called “Pontefract” and “Carlisle” in order to be heavily criticised by He who knows best.

The Racing Post described young Hitchcott’s role as that of “Stable Backroom Jockey” which raised a few eyebrows at West Ilsley.

For a kick-off, we were unaware of the fact that there was a frontroom for jockeys so where on earth we keep the backroom was anyone’s guess. As it happens, the diminutive Evertonian was tracked down after early lot this morning drinking coffee in his very own backroom next to a stable, so it appears that the Post’s Jon Lees was 100% accurate in his description of Sam’s role at the yard.

Sam Hitchcott's Backroom

So, The Oaks may very well beckon for both Zain Al Boldan and Samuel Hitchcott who, to prove he’s not lost the common touch amid all of the press jamboree made an appearance at Lady Ilsley’s 123rd birthday on Sunday afternoon.

It was a modest affair – hula hoops, scotch eggs, caviar, Blue Nun – that sort of thing, whilst I was forced to turn the Queen away as she wasn’t on the guest List and I hadn’t anyone on hand to open doors or listen to her husband.

“Lady I” was in great form though and thoroughly enjoyed the company of her four young children and newborn baby Horace, before a certain high-profile backroom jockey strode into the room to the delight of everybody. Just have a look at the photo my biographer managed to capture below. In the words of Barry Davies, “Look at his face! Just look at his face!”

The modest, camera-shy Sam Hitchcott (Front, Centre) makes Lady Ilsley's day

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I’m not one to blow my own trumpet.

The Trainer - No longer the owner of the UK's widest gallops

Let’s face it, it’s far easier to have others do it for you, but on this occasion I’m more than willing to claim responsibility for hitting the right note.

Time and again we hear of the Trainer’s pride in his gallops at West Ilsley. The downland grass and the fresh West Berkshire air, untouched by the plough since the dawn of time (the grass, not the air) and all that blather. But it’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it.

Only the other day, the resident handler was waxing lyrical about the width of the all-weather track and how it offered horses under his care “the widest synthetic surface in the country”. To a degree this was very true, but I felt the need to point out that from his perspective it was a cambered gallop, six furlongs wide and only twelve feet long.

I suggested that it might be far better utilised if he were to work the two year olds up the camber, across the gallop if you will, allowing for a far more testing exercise.

Especially on work mornings.

Five juvenile winners on the board already since this change in regime, with the animals markedly improved from the obese, asthmatic throng that they were beforehand.

This is no time for false modesty – it truly was a Cecillian piece of equestrian genius on my part.

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World Cup Semi Final 2011

It’s not often that there is disharmony in the ranks at West Ilsley, but today started out with lighthearted banter, descended into minor bickering, before progressing on to vile threats and mindless violence.

That’s what cricket can do to men and women (let’s not be sexist) of a certain disposition.

As ever, The Trainer was the instigator of abrasive tendancies as first lot passed by the gallop wagon at the top of Hodcott Down.

“Who’s going to win the cricket Abdul?”
“India Boss!” came the reply.
Who’s going to win the cricket Kashif?”
“Pakistan Boss!” came the reply.
“India Boss!”
“Pakistan Boss!”

When the string took another turn around the collecting ring The Trainer continued.

“Ere Ali!
“Yes Boss?”
“Gordhan says that Pakistan are useless and that Tendulkar is going to score a ton batting left handed. Oi Ahir! Maroof says that India are a pub team!”

It shouldn’t have been so.

There’s enough troubles in the world without revving up the rivalry between two cricketing superpowers. The World Cup Semi Final between India and Pakistan makes the England v Scotland Home Internationals of the 1970’s look like a knitting class with Thora Hird.

An "Unplayable" Lord Ilsley. Calcutta, 1923

Having swung the willow in India myself, I’m well aware of the hotbed of cricketing passion. Indeed, I even challenged Gandhi to a game to sort out those “Independance Issues” that he had such a bee in his bonnet about. He duly accepted the challenge and the date was set.

December 4th 1923.

It was a scorcher of a day in Calcutta as I opened the bowling, with little success at first. Indeed, I was tonked all over the park and the Indian National Congress XI were 190-3 before lunch when Gandhi came out to bat. Having changed ends, I started to hit the straps and fortunately with my fourth ball to Mahatma, I also hit the prominent ridge situated just short of a length at the Pavillion End. The great pacifist fended off a rising delivery and it looped into the hands of a grateful Lord Hawke at cover point. The game swung our way and an irate Gandhi returned to the hutch without bothering the scorers five minutes ahead of the tea interval – not a happy bunny.

Gandhi - Hopeless against the short-pitched delivery

Now it’s not right to speak ill of one of the most influential civil rights campaigners in history, but as a middle order batsman he was dreadful. He was angry with me for my controversial selection of Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji for ‘The Empire And Any Talented Subjects XI’, but it was his own selection that I tackled him on at tea.

Having pointed out his woeful shortcomings (he insisted on wearing the glasses, yet he didn’t even wear spikes!), he stormed out and refused to eat with us. In fact, he refused to eat for some time after that, although I might be confusing that with another period in his life.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that sport shouldn’t create barriers between people. The Calcutta match for example had a happy outcome. We kept India until 1947 thanks to my impeccable figures of 27-8-74-5 and Ranjit’s stunning 232 not out.

Passions ran a little too high at the staff hostel

Today, a tight finish saw Pakistan lose in Mohali by 29 runs to progress to the World Cup Final.

At West Ilsley though, the Indian residents’ celebrations were somewhat short lived.

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A strange morning as I popped in for my weekly update. The Trainer was in uncontrollably fine mood, laughing out of the office window at Andy Larkin and Michael Junior attempting to change a flat tyre on the gallop wagon. For Larkin it’s very much a labour of love, whilst Junior wouldn’t know his arse from his elbow in such matters.

‘Clueless’ would be far too generous an adjective, whilst the sight of him trying to turn the flat side of the tyre to the top was tragic. The worst advertisement for University education you could ever concoct.

Like a rural Bernie Ecclestone in the pits, The Trainer hurled abuse at Larkin and ‘The Moonman’ through tear-stained spectacles.

Not content with simply holding down a job, Junior’s riding career is a sight to behold, although at six foot nine and eighteen stone, his hack isn’t your regular thoroughbred. His health and safety awareness might also have got the better of him too, as he can regularly be seen clattering up Whitehall on a weekend off chasing protestors. A strange man indeed.

Michael Jnr - Quickly went from getting to grips with things to losing the plot in a matter of days

All such lunacy leaves me hankering for the Riviera where I’ve spent the last fortnight courtesy of my latest betting plunder as mentioned in the blog previous to the last. Sad to hear of Liz Taylor’s demise whilst I was away. Shame, as I always thought I’d get an opportunity.

We met, but only during her Burton phase, where nobody got a look in, least of all Dick who spent the entire time with myself and Bogart on the sauce. We even went in on a two year old together, Hindsight Kudos. He was a super two year old, but never progressed.

Looking back, he never got the credit he deserved.

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Ecstacy at Hodcott, with The Trainer for once in a stress free mood on a work day. Like Henry Cecil, there is a Channon coat of arms raised on the lawn of The Trainer’s garden, but it’s not there hailing a Group 1 winner.

"The Bastard"

‘It’ has been caught.

You may or may not be aware of the fact that the grass at West Ilsley is almost a deity in The Trainer’s eyes and following a mole hunt lasting for the best part of four years he’s finally snared his Tapidaen nemesis. Affectionately known as “That Bastard” (a name the unfortunate late mammal shared with Richard Hannon), he finally succumbed to a trap placed by the gate of Hodcott House.

He’s been a worthy adversary over the years, one that has driven The Trainer potty, but an era has come to an end. As a mark of both glee and respect, it’s been stuffed and mounted on the bonnet of the gallop wagon, possibly as a warning to others that the grass is off limits to everything other than equines and the new John Deer.

That'll learn him

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In Demand - Tarbuck

I’m not a regular in the office, but popped in this morning for the low down on our three winners for this week on my way home from a spot of rabbiting.

The Trainer breezed in after third lot and gruffly barked at Sue Harding, “Get me Jimmy Tarbuck… and a cup of tea”.

It was the way the man delivered his orders. I could almost picture the King of the Palladium’s head arriving on a tray at the behest of some sort of ruthless, worzel mafia boss.

Three winners today, Thursday and Friday will pay for the next cruise I feel. The one at Wincanton tomorrow prompted The Trainer to consider being measured up for a tweed suit.

Rabitting remains poor around these parts. Still no ferrets and the rabbits never come back up.

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A good day today as I’ve been contacted by an individual that believes in several of my viewpoints and would like to hear more.

Quite scary, the internet.

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A return to the Riviera, September 2004

Susan Harding has been a whirling dervish in the office of late. Not only with the increase in administrative work that Spring brings such as naming the horses, registering new ownership partnerships, checking the colours, a treble check of the tet and flu records, a second double check on passports as well as new sponsorship registrations, she’s having to get to grips with “Twitter Fever”.

This seems to be a degenerative disease that The Trainer has been struck down with since the new site launched last week. Rather than leave his Twitter account to his own devices, which would surely involve him putting diesel into the office computer, Sue is the one responsible for keeping the world bang up to date with the on-line musings of the Master of West Ilsley.

The Trainer’s been immensely proud to hear that his Twitter followers have increased above the 200 mark over the weekend. All this in light of the fact that he has no idea what Twitter is, how it works or what a “Follower” is.

From his perspective, Twitter represents a way of venting his fury at life’s annoyances. This morning, step forward Lydia Hislop, for her emotional breakdown on terrestrial television over the incident involving jockey Jamie Moore’s marking of Tobago Bay at Newbury on Saturday.

The Tweet reads thus:

Lydia Hislop moaning about cruelty in racing. Thanks for your input, horses in training are better treated than human beings. A joke.

Apparently, on Twitter, you are only allowed 100 or so characters, so feel free to fill in the expletives where necessary.

He’s banged on about it a little more in the website’s news section if you’d care to read in detail, although the Deirdre Barlow neck veins and bulging eyes don’t come across so well in the written word format.

Hurst Park, A Chav Free Zone back in '53

Personally, I’m all for calling for that little bit more when the fight is on. I had a horse called Penicillin’s Nemesis suffer a similar fate at Hurst Park back in 1953. Turning for home it was neck and neck between my filly and the Noel Murless trained Fleming’s Cure. A chap called Johnstone was on mine, a small chap, but I guess that was the point. Anyway, we prevailed by a head but I couldn’t help notice that Penicillin’s Nemisis was in ribbons on her return to the enclosure.

It was a hollow victory, only made palatable by the hefty wager I’d had on. It was also a landmark occasion in that even the Stewards at the old track had noticed that my hollow victory was accompanied by an almost hollow horse.

The use of the “Barbed-wire whip” was banned thereon in. Yes, those days were hard on horses, but they didn’t half respond.

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Lord Ilsley, West Ilsley Beer Festival 2010

Yes, a bit weird this.

Having spent several years blissfully ignorant of “bloggers” and constantly sniping at the futility of internet dwelling, it would appear that I am here. Blogging.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s all come about, but apparently when you have a website updated, a whole swathe of gizmos accompany the process.

The Trainer even set up a Facebook account. That’s mental.

Facebook’s “Mick Channon” (Hometown: Salisbury, Gender: Male, Secondary School: Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wilts) will be gathering dust for all eternity I fear. Don’t bother “friending’ him – he’ll never use it – although you could join the Facebook Page: Mick Channon, West Ilsley Stables –┬áif that takes your fancy.

Twitter is another gizmo that the web tecchies have urged us to use although The Trainer is unsure how often he should tweet. As he admits, if he were to express each and every opinion he has, the world would be left in no doubt that he’s clinically insane and permanently miserable. When you hit 60 you see, EVERYTHING is rubbish.

Personally, I’m undecided about Blogging, having opened my first ever blog by questioning the value of blogging.

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Welcome to the blog of Lord Ilsley!

Welcome to the blog of Lord Ilsley, part of the new MickChannon.tv website!

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