Next morning, I had a fascinating time watching the meticulous way in which Mark does his entries. There are so many imponderables why you should enter a horse for a race, the object being to make as much prize money as possible. His methods are clearly working, because his horses are absolutely flying. He was very helpful telling me some foxy ways my Rupert could boost his leading sire earnings.

I was so pleased to see Mark’s Assistant Trainer, Jock Bennett, who so kindly drove me around last time, and who, back in March, so deservedly won the Godolphin Stable Staff Star of the Year award. A lifesize cardboard cut-out of Jock in a dinner jacket on his winning night stands hilariously in reception being greeted or apologised to by the absent minded.

After lunch Deirdre drove me down to Newmarket, slightly apprehensively because Mark was following flying his own plane. I had a lovely dinner with my friend Minnie Hall, former head lass and trainer, who had a wonderful Cheltenham win with a horse called Clerk’s Choice.

Ed Harper’s stallion, Foxwedge

Next day was magically spent with my friend Ed Harper who runs Whitsbury Stud in Hampshire, where I stayed and learnt so much last year. Popular stallions there include an incredibly exciting Australian newcomer called Foxwedge, who’s had mares queuing up for his services. I was pleased to see the leaflet listing Whitsbury’s stallions for 2013 had been illustrated by Michelle McCullough.

Ed Harper & Foxwedge

In the morning, Ed took me to the Darley Stallion parade where I nearly died of delight to see more superstars: New Approach, Exceed and Excel, and Ravens Pass. Some behaved impeccably as they were led round, others showed off, rearing up, breathing in the lime blossom, which I noticed didn’t make them ‘draw’, like my scent had got Frankel and Oasis Dream going.

I was also ecstatic when one of my favourite photographers George Selwyn took my picture with Animal Kingdom, the stunning chestnut winner of the Kentucky Derby and the World Cup, who everyone had come to see. They were all so powerful and glorious. If I’d been one of the armies of breeders watching, I would find it impossible to choose the right mate for my mares.

Jilly with Animal Kingdom

The parade was followed by a wonderful brunch of prawns, crab and lobster and buckets of champagne, which set Ed and I merrily off to Newmarket races. It was a delight because instead of swilling champagne, Ed goes to the pre-parade ring, before every race, then to the paddock, then down to the rails to watch the race, so one really learns from him.

To add to the delight Mark Johnston had two terrific winners, Universal and Maputo and I bumped into another special friend, Jeremy Kyle, who was in cracking form. Although he’s an owner, he confessed he was utterly petrified of horses. The nearest he gets to leading in a winning horse is hanging onto his jockey’s leg.

After the fourth race, Ed decided he wanted to buy a lovely filly called Lady Macduff at Tattersalls Horses in Training sale which was just starting, so off we went. It was so exciting, Ed lurked in the passage near the stairs to bid. This was so subtle, just a flick of his race card, that when the hammer came down, I was desperately disappointed someone else might have bought her. But next minute one of the pretty girls known as ‘spotters’, who identify the buyer, rushed over with a form confirming the sale for Ed to sign, then uttered the immortal line: ‘Enjoy your purchase’.

Ed and I then floated on to a marvellous party given in a pub by a company called the CastleBridge Consignment which seemed to include everyone who was anybody in racing.

I had a wonderful time talking to Nick Luck another truly sweet man who fronts Channel 4 and who has remained admirably calm and good natured throughout the endless ins and outs of Channel 4 taking over from the BBC. Ed also looked after me adorably, chatting away to his own mates, yet the whole time seeing I was OK.

At two o’clock in the morning however, I suddenly had the feeling, having drunk champagne fairly steadily since eight p.m., that I might end up in the gutter unless I went home, so I slipped out and set off across Newmarket. Luckily I was picked up by four lovely Irishmen who gave me a lift back to the dear Bedford Lodge.

Hideously embarrassingly the next morning, when my breakfast arrived, it consisted of several glasses of tomato juice, several of orange juice, and multiple croissants.

“This can’t be mine,” I cried in horror, then looking at my breakfast request sheet, saw I’d scrawled all over it. I really shouldn’t be allowed out in public. I suppose it was a mercy I hadn’t added caviar and a magnum of Bollinger.

So finally back home to Gloucestershire and my darling Leo, Feather and Bluebell. ‘Only here’ as Vita Sackville-West said: ‘lies peace after uneasy truancy’, although I had a gorgeous time, and have amassed some fantastic copy.

When E.M. Forster said that ‘Research is the traffic policeman that holds up the novel’, I’ve often wondered if he meant if you include too much information in a novel it gets so clogged up with facts and loses any drama, but I suspect he meant that one ought to stop faffing about and get stuck into writing one’s book which I’m now going to do. I do hope I haven’t bored you all.

P.S. And please do anything, particularly writing to your M.P. to stop the hideous badger cull, which is due to start any minute.

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