Whoa! Charlie wobbles briefly on spindly legs before crashing to the ground — again — in a flurry of flailing limbs. Darn it. He thought he’d got the hang of this in the stable, but outside in the paddock, the ground is uneven. And hard.
His mother nudges him gently, as if to say, “Come on, get up and have another go”. Sighing, he heaves himself upright again and stands, swaying, trying to get the feel of the ground under his little hooves. His mother harrumphs quietly through her nostrils in encouragement.
Gaining confidence, Charlie lifts up first one foot — balancing on three — then the others, in turn. He takes tiny, shuffling steps forward. Then — he’s getting cocky! — he goes into reverse. He walks a neat circle around his mother, who snorts her approval. Then he trots. There’s a brief skittering as he almost loses his footing, but he stays upright. He can do this! With every step he takes, his confidence grows and he is soon stretching out his long legs and cantering around the field. He accelerates into a smooth, ground-covering gallop that speaks of future glories.
For Charlie is no ordinary colt. He is the first of 2016’s stock by a famous sire. In just a few years’ time, those long legs will eat up the ground as he strives to get his neck in front of his rivals at the winning post at Royal Ascot, with the crowd cheering and thousands bet on his nose. And one day he will.