The Brig: Games of Thrones and George Martin: Roman' About in Cirencester: I Gotta Horse(s).

What are the qualities that define the great thoroughbreds?
Certainly conformation; great horses generally look the part; movements are fluid and graceful. They must possess bursts of speed, when required and that undefinable quality a big heart; the ability to keep up to their work, when conditions are against them. In other words, to be able to look defeat in the face and say " not today."

Such an animal was our flat race horse of the month, the great Brigadier Gerrard.
Beaten only once as a two year old, the Brig was expected to challenge for all the top one mile events as a three year old.

Forward to the 1971 Two Thousand Guineas, being the classic test for the top milers of their generation. The race, as always held on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in early May.
That year there was only six runners, making it an unusually small field. But consider the class, for those six had raced 33 times, and  won no less than 27 of their  races.

The three principal runners, were in order of betting; Mill Reef ; My Swallow and Brigadier Gerrard.
These three had won 18 of their 19 races. in fact the only defeat that the Brig met as a two year old was at the hands of My Swallow in the Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp in Paris France.

Not surprisingly these three were held in high regard by their perspective trainers.

The Brig, unlike the other two went to the Guineas unraced as a three year old. This was a bold gamble by owners and trainer. They considered the horse went better fresh and also would be able to withstand the rigours of the difficult season ahead . But remember you only get one chance to win a Guineas and defeat would blunt the  stud value.

1971 2000 Guineas.

Here is an extract from the Late Lord Oaksey's book " The Story of Mill Reef. " ( pub.1974 )

"There has never, in my memory, been a better, more stylish or more rhythmic rider of a flat race finish than Joe Mercer ( rider of the Brig ).  And, as he starts to ride flat out he hisses in time between his teeth like a boxer punching the heavy bag. It was this hiss-hiss that Geoff ( Lewis, rider of Mill Reef ) heard now, and a second later as Brigadier Gerrard's head came into view he must have known in his heart that the game was up." P.61

A clearer view of the Brig's winning distance, can be seen from the photo below.

Mill Reef, second in the race went on to frank the form by winning the Derby and the Arc in that year.

The following race,for the Brig The St. James' Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, should have been no more than a workout for him,  but the race conditions brought very unseasonably wet, gooey  ground, which sapped the horses' strength. The Brig hated it, but proved  to have that special attribute, by showing gritty determination to win by a head from Sparkler. He remained unbeaten that season and was named racehorse of the year.

Further successes came his way as a four year old. He proved very capable at winning at distances beyond a mile and retired to stud after strolling home in the late season's Champion Stakes at Newmarket, after which he was spontaneously given three cheers by the adoring crowd in the winner's enclosure.

His race record in England was 17 out of 18 victories.
A great servant of the turf.


The above, as you probably know is George R. R. Martin, the author and creator of the  " Games of Thrones, ' saga. Apart from huge book sales,( the fifth and last book to be published in the series being, " A Dance with Dragons " 2011 ), this sprawling fantasy adventure, has been made into a television series by HBO in America.

April12th 2015,  (13/ 5 /'15 in UK ) sees the start of season five. This programme has been one of the hottest TV shows and amazingly the series now screens in 193 countries.

Season four has just been released on DVD and Blu- ray. It has been the fastest selling DVD boxset for over a decade, with a157,000 copies sold  in one week alone.

All of the above points to the fervour and huge public appreciation of this work. Each year it seems to gain momentum and bring new converts in.

I remember two or three years ago buying my friend LG for a Christmas present, the first  in the series, " A Game Of Thrones. " Inside I wrote the following inscription; ' whatever you do, don't read this book! '
Naturally, he took the bait and when, a few months later, I saw him,  I asked about the book to which he sheepishly replied he had finished book five and was waiting for the next.

This, friends has become the problem, for George is a story writer and will tell the story in his own good time.
Originally, when he conceived the idea he thought of it as a trilogy , but as he worked on the story his plan morphed into a seven book series ( one for each of the seven kingdoms ).
Here is the order of publication:
Book 1 1996
Book 2  1998
Book 3  2000
Book 4  2005
Book 5  2011
Book 6    ?
Book 7     ?

You will notice how the gap between books widens and however great the demand; it is unlikely book 6 will appear before 2016 at the earliest.
Each book averages 1500 pages and so we are talking at least 3000 pages before the end point is reached.

Television, of course is a voracious beast and needs new material to support the programme.

For the first time in Season 5 George has not written a script for one of the episodes as he had done in the previous four seasons.
Is this a Rubicon crossing point ?, I believe so; for this series in places departs from the books and breaks into new ground.
 The two chief writers/ producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have met George for a few days at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, they have talked story arcs and I understand have been given end sequences. So effectively, for the time being, George has signed off the project and left the details to Dan and David.; whilst of course having a final say on the direction of forthcoming scripts.

So the next question is, will the television series finish in season seven as planned? We shall see.

I have placed a further  book from GRRM's back catalogue in my special blog posting.
See link here:   GRRM's back catalogue


Built in the 2nd Century and having a seating capacity of 8,000 people, The Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre is second only in rank to London.

D. and I visited it today ( 5 / 3 / '15 ) and  here are three shots that we took:

I am pleased to report that adjacent, to this site, new pathways are being laid and  and more detailed information boards are to be displayed. And so they should be.

One of my pet annoyances, is the way we English, carelessly treat our old, historic, monuments, places and battlefields.
It sometimes seems they hardly ever existed, so casually are they left.

Take Tewkesbury for example whose battle in 1471 was one of the most decisive in the War of The Roses. Many died and are buried in an open grave. Today, if you look hard, you may find a  green signpost with the inscription " Battlefield Trail " leading the walker across some fields, but very little information is given about this famous battle. Indeed modern homes are built on or near this site.
So little, do we seem to care. Perhaps it would change if we didn't have so much living history around us, who knows?


And so the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival 2015 approaches, starting next Tuesday 10th March until Friday 14th. Four days of racing excess. The town comes alive, especially buoyed up the yearly invasion of the Irish. Much drink is quaffed, money is won  and lost and all meet up to exchange their views and the craic is mighty.

For what they are worth ( not much ), here are my tips for the feature race on each of the four days.

Tuesday:   Champion Hurdle                                      Faugheen  Res. The New One.

Wednesday:  The Queen Mother Champion Chase    Sire de Grugy   Res. Dodging Bullets.

Thursday :        The World Hurdle                             Rock on Ruby   Res.   Zarkandar

Friday :             The Gold Cup                                  Many Clouds     Res.    Coneygree

 May your pockets jingle and your heart be strong.

Cheerio for now,


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