‘If you think about it, Frankie Dettori is to blame,’ said the builder boyfriend, because when things are really bad he deploys satire.
One thing leads to another with horses, the joke goes, so we may as well trace our problems back as follows.
If Dettori had not ridden a horse called Marienbard to victory in the 2002 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe by bringing something magical out of a horse as slow as an elephant so that the Godolphin bay suddenly, like something out of a movie, exploded from the absolute back of the field to come from nowhere, overtaking horse after horse after horse in the final seconds of the race, flying over the finishing line so improbably that even the commentators were caught off guard and the first time they mentioned the horse as a contender was when they were announcing he had won… if Dettori had not managed to do that then Marienbard would not have been standing at stud.
And he would not have sired a filly out of a jumping mare called Up Thyne Girl. And this little bay filly would not have been born with one front foot slightly more boxy than the other, would not have had the producers shaking their heads and moving her on and would not have ended up in a sale, bought by a dealer, and sold on to an eccentric recluse with a stable yard in Sussex, the builder boyfriend’s mother. And when we visited his mother one afternoon I would not have seen this little filly and fallen in love with her.
Nearly ten years on, Maid By Marien (known as Darcy) still has one slightly boxy front foot but has become a fine jumping horse.