Michael D the perfect horse for the diplomatic course
The President will surely get a bookof poetry out of his State trip
“Oh, how lovely!” exclaimed Sabina when a lamb was presented. She cuddling the baffled mite and giving it nuzzle, before moving on to the pigs.
If Michael D doesn’t get a new volume of poetry out of this groundbreaking State visit he may throw one of his tasselled caps at the caper.
Although that won’t be any great hardship for him. On the academic and honorary doctorate front he probably has a drawerful of tasselled caps by now. Although there’s one new addition to the collection he won’t be too keen to fling at the muse.
That’s the St Patrick’s blue cap with the gold tassel which goes with the St Patrick’s blue shirt with the gold arms – his own racing silks in the President’s colours.
Michael D presented trainers Andrew and Anna-Lisa Balding with a framed set of the colours when he visited their impressive stables in Berkshire yesterday. Flattened behind the glass, the silks looked the perfect fit for a very fat jockey.
The trip to Kingsclere in Newbury followed a morning visit to the “FAI experimental farm” in Oxfordshire.
This is not a daring initiative by the Football Association of Ireland to grow new talent but a research project by Food Animal Initiative farms into improving methods of compassionate and sustainable agriculture.
This was the President’s day out in the country. The big road car was gone and he and wife Sabina travelled in a convoy of enormous Range Rovers, with the Tánaiste and his wive Carol also in the high-powered four-by-four motorcade.
Michael D wore his favourite Donegal tweed suit for the occasion and declined the offer of Wellington boots because the ground was dry
Sabina wore a coat in a lovely shade of burnt orange, while Carol Hanney chose subtle tones of green.
Having spent the previous three days meeting and shaking hands with people, it will have come as a nice change for them to meet receiving lines made up of sheep, cows, pigs and hens.
“Oh, how lovely!” exclaimed Sabina when a lamb was presented. She cuddling the baffled mite before moving on to the pigs.
These Gloucestershire Old Spot specimens were not for lifting, but very winsome. We weren’t to know at the time, but these pigs were going to be on special duty a few hours later in Windsor Castle.
The pig is an interesting creature, observed Sabina. When they go foraging for food “they remember their ground, rooting it out – it’s in their genes.”
Michael D looked pensive. Perhaps a few stanzas crystallising in his mind’s eye among the noble farmyard creatures.
Jack Russells apart, the only animals on view at Park House Stables were horses of the expensive thoroughbred kind and a wooden one on springs in the tack room for the jockeys to practise on.
Array of colours
An impressive array of colours hang in that room – racing silks belonging to owners whose horses are trained at the stables. Mr Higgins was shown the queen’s colours and he recognised the red and white with star silks displayed near them.
“That’s Alex Ferguson’s!”
The Irish National Stud, by the way, presented the President with a horse recently. Aimhirgin Lass is a two-year-old filly trained by John Oxx in Kildare, and Michael D has high hopes for her when she gets to run a race.