Over the stable door: Patience proves to be a most Noble pursuit

Bangor racecourse was Nobles first outing with the ground dry.  Picture: Martin Rickett
Bangor racecourse was Nobles first outing with the ground dry. Picture: Martin Rickett
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A little bay racehorse called Noble arrived at the yard in early summer. Every morning the sight of him whickering to greet me meant more than the usual. His arrival in Yorkshire had been a long time in coming.

It had taken seasons of patience and persistence on my part to get my Irish pal Gerry to part with him. Two years ago my pal had bought Noble with a hefty price tag attached for a group of his friends to form a syndicate. They were buoyant over their purchase and had plans afoot for a big gamble the following year.

I watched Noble every time he ran and the more I saw the more I liked. I knew he would suit my small string. It was just a case of waiting for the right moment.

Although his form looked patchy Gerry’s friends gained enough prize money to wet their appetites during their first season as owners.

The following year plans were set in motion for Noble’s big return. After a prolonged dry spell in the Emerald Isle the ground was firmer than normal. Success was looking imminent.

When the day of his big return arrived all the owners had booked a day off work and were accompanied to the track by a large party of followers togged up in their finest. Large amounts of money were being directed the bookmaker’s way as the owners readied themselves to cheer their horse into the winner’s enclosure. It seemed nothing could go wrong and my hopes of owning him were disintegrating fast. But Ireland is not a place the rain stays away from for long.

Half an hour before Noble’s race heavy clouds rolled in off the Atlantic and the heavens opened. The downpour only lasted 20 minutes but it was enough to ruin the horse’s chances. The ground turned soft and Noble trailed in nearer last than first. I felt for them all but luck plays such a huge part in racing.

Later that evening I called Gerry. He was glum. Everyone wanted ‘out’ of the horse he explained. It had been a costly day for them all.

“So he’s yours if ya want him,” he said. “And a quick sale would do us all a favour.”

I had to contain my excitement until a price I deemed sensible was agreed. It didn’t take long.

A few days later Noble’s conker brown head was staring out over my stable door and I felt a strange sense of fulfilment. Finding a patient owner for him was now going to be key. I hadn’t waited so long to be rushed into a wrong decision so I talked my father in to taking half. After the success of his old horse he readily agreed.

Noble turned out quite a character. He was strong to ride so I had to vary his work. At home he settled down, splashing in the river after a canter was his favourite but the gallops were a different story.

When his jockey came in to ride him out one day the little horse tanked off with him up the steep gallop like a rhino. Pulling up, the lad declared Noble to be the least pleasant horse he’d ever sat on, said in slightly harsher terms. I was beginning to wonder what I’d waited so long to purchase.

A month later Noble had his first outing for us at Bangor. The ground was dry. Following his performance with the jockey we had avoided the gallops altogether and I was unsure if he was even going to be fit enough.

The little horse dispelled all my doubts and won by eight lengths. I swear he had a smile on his face when he past the winning post. I did too until we were being presented with our prizes.

The commentator asked me if Mr Foster was my brother or my husband.

“He’s neither,” I replied through half gritted teeth. “He’s my father.”