|Jason proposes to Lauren|
The next day at Newmarket it was the turn of our small stable to enjoy another memorable day at our local track on one of our favourite days of the year – Town Plate day. The race probably passes many people by but it is the oldest in the calendar, albeit not run under the rules of racing. The Newmarket Town Plate was established in 1666 by Charles II, a winner of the race himself who decreed that it should be run forever. Yesterday’s renewal was the 344th running, so a few must have been missed since the inaugural year, presumably during war time. The original October slot has since been moved to late August but it is to the credit of Newmarket Racecourses (and sponsors Powters and Goldings) that it has upheld the tradition of this famous and historic race for amateur riders who race not for money but for glory, honour and, er, sausages.
It's not exaggerating to say that it was the happiest day of my life when Kadouchski, owned, trained and ridden by John, was the 25-length winner of the race two years ago and while that wonderful afternoon is unlikely ever to be bettered, the events of yesterday came close to matching it.
|She said yes|
Jason spent around 70 hours studying the catalogue and it was time well spent as, just 18 days before the race, he came away from Doncaster with a beautiful nine-year-old gelding by the name of Start Me Up, who had won five races for Charlie Swan in Ireland, having raced for Timmy Hyde then Gigginstown House Stud.
|Going to post|
Come race day it was hard to tell who was more nervous, Jason or John. Jason admitted in the horsebox on the way to the racecourse that he felt it was the biggest day of his life but even then I’m not sure he realised how prophetic that statement would turn out to be.
As the Town Plate jockeys filed into the parade ring, Jason went over to his friend Chris and took something from his pocket. In a flash, he was down on one knee and proposing to his girlfriend Lauren Bentley, who had dressed in Jason’s blue and yellow racing colours for the day. She didn't really have time for the proposal to sink in before her new fiancé was legged aboard Start Me Up to make his way to post for the marathon three and three-quarter mile race.
|Start Me Up and Jason Carver win the 344th Town Plate|
As ever with racing, a happy tale comes on the back of a sad one and, just a week before the race, Jason lost his Kyllachy filly after she failed to respond to treatment for her tendon injury. It hit him hard and of course we all wanted Start Me Up to run well for Jason but I’m not sure any of us had let ourselves hope that he might win. The determination, judgement and commitment shown by Jason in choosing this lovely horse and sticking to his game plan even in adversity is an example to us all. His great victory a just reward for pursuing his dream.
|A very happy team (photo by Michael Smithson)|
All that remains is for us to wish Jason and Lauren a very happy life together and to look forward to the return of Start Me Up at Christmas after a well-earned holiday. Next stop Cheltenham and the St Patrick’s Day Derby!