Over the stable door: Success at picking winners does not extend to Mercedes

Last Saturday's trip to Kempton proved a champions' day.

Of the five horses I picked, three won, including my tip for the King George VI chase, which had been postponed from Boxing Day.

I went for Long Run who is owned by avid National Hunt enthusiast Robert Waley-Cohen, a permit holder from Warwickshire.

When he asked international bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley a few years ago to find them the next Kauto Star, little did Robert realise he would do just that.

Apparently, at the time of the negotiations, the permit holder had become a little hesitant when the price of the horse was mentioned.

Bromley told him coolly: "You asked for the best, so you'll have to pay for the best." Tentatively, the deal was agreed.

I rode against Long Run's half-brother in a hunter chase at Wetherby, in 2007. Bica was favourite and ridden by Robert's son, Sam.

I was aboard a horse called Thatlldoya, an inexpensive Irish purchase.

Some furious kicking and driving failed to keep Sam's backside within my close proximity and we were beaten into a respectable second place.

In fact, career-wise, Thatlldoya was ultra-frustrating, being placed in the first two 11 times, but only once a winner.

After his Kempton run, the defeated champion, Kauto Star, was found to have broken some blood vessels ("burst"). When a horse "bursts", the lungs are filled with blood and the animal is unable to utilise the oxygen breathed in.

In a race, it means they usually go from travelling

well to virtually stopping in a single stride – like removing the ignition key from a speeding car.

Sometimes, blood will appear down one or both of the horse's nostrils shortly after the race, depending on the severity of the bleed. But 80 per cent of horses will show no outward physical sign other than poor performance.

The reasons a horse may burst blood vessels are varied. In most cases, it is treatable.

The primary cause is from a virus the animal may be harbouring but which comes to light only when the animal is put under extreme pressure, such as in a race.

In these cases, rest is the best cure, with possible antibiotics to ward off infection.

Other reasons can be extreme pressure or weakened lung capillaries resulting from previous occurrences when the essential healing time has not occurred.

In the latter case, the horse may become an habitual "bleeder" (every time he runs) to which there is no legal cure in the UK.

Most trainers have preferred remedies which work for them.

It is worth noting before you place that hefty bet that 60-70 per cent of runners will burst to a minor degree during a race – possibly even the winner.

Kauto's bleed was reasonably low level and it was his first, but it affected his performance.

It is likely he will make a full recovery so the 10-1 odds he is quoted at for the Cheltenham Gold Cup may well turn out to generous indeed.

My new (ish) Mercedes horsebox, which I was so proud of when I bought it, is bed-bound.

The temperamental computer says no when I start it up, resulting in a wretched quote of 1,900 for a replacement.

"My 18-year-old rusty vintage model didn't cost that in 10 years," I grumbled to the mechanic. "So much for technology."

Fortunately, dad's ageing cattle wagon has come to the rescue. Luckily, it doubles as a horsebox but the drawback of this arrangement is apparent on market days. On Mondays and Thursdays, it returns awash with cow muck, which takes forever to clean. I emerge drenched after washing it out and it is not water I am usually covered in.

Next Sunday, the first Yorkshire point-to-point meeting at Sheriff Hutton is scheduled. Make sure you keep up to date with all the information on today's Point-to-Point feature page.

CW 22/1/11