Jessica N. Chapel, new media expert, journalist, blogger, web designer, and Brooklyn resident (like me) has a sense of humor and a good memory. You need both to live in Brooklyn. She’d read a humorous Steve Haskin piece in bloodhorse.com recently about Steve trying to talk to British trainer Henry Cecil at Santa Anita, and a few days later an equally humorous piece by British journalist — or hack — Marcus Armytage in telegraph.co.uk about an “American hack” who didn’t see “the funny side of Henry.” She put 2+2 together, smiled, and emailed the links to me. “Do you mind if I post it?” I asked.
Here’s the scene setting from Steve, who hails from New York:
On a cool, crisp morning at Santa Anita Wednesday, Cecil stood on a ledge just beyond Clocker’s Corner and shared a few innocuous comments about his three Breeders’ Cup contenders, Twice Over, Midday, and Father Time, with a pair of British journalists to his left who had scaled the same ledge to get a few words of wisdom from the maestro, or at least a few words to fill their copy. Cecil was offering the usual fare of comments about his horses when off to his right, a foreigner with a twisted New York accent joined in the exchange with what was thought to be a good tension breaker, even if it was a lame attempt at making an amiable introduction.
Here’s the same scene from the Brit hack’s point of view:
Shortly after Cecil’s arrival at Santa Anita to supervise Midday, Twice Over and Father Time, one of the most picturesque tracks in the world, the local hack took the opportunity to ask the 10 times Champion trainer what he thought of the place.
“When was the last time you were at Santa Anita?”
Cecil, unaware of this intruder to his right, appeared surprised as he was forced to turn his head in the opposite direction to see from where this riveting question emanated.
“I’ve never been here before,” he replied with a quizzical look, his head tilted off to the side.
“What do you think?” said the Yank, believing his strategy to be a dumb, but hopefully effective ice breaker
Brit journalist Armytage wrote:
“I’m not sure yet,” said Cecil, “I’ve only been here five minutes.”
Not satisfied, the journalist pressed him harder. “Well,” said Cecil, “it’s better than Wolverhampton.”
“Oh well,” said the disappointed hack. “I’ve never been to Wolverhampton so I wouldn’t know what that was like.”
“Come to think of it,” added Cecil, “nor have I.”
The intruder thanked Cecil for his time, jumped off the ledge, and went off in search of the first American trainer he could find.
Later that morning he joined in the mass assemblage gathered closely around Aidan O’Brien, who as usual offered direct, honest, informative, and witty comments, even after the crowd had departed and there were only two reporters remaining.
Ah, I miss Ireland.
Brit hack Armytage concluded:
Completely bemused the hack wandered off and is probably now still trying to get his head round that first encounter with the great man.