Weblog: What do you mean the Wi-Fi doesn't work? The life of a Racing Post reporter
You can have too too much of a good thing
It's always easier having too much material and cutting it down to size than finding yourself short and having to pad things out. Ask a sculptor.
That certainly applies to 'Stable Tours' for the Post.
I did one with a trainer who was the very model of tight-lipped taciturnity several years ago and was so desperate for 'filler' I was tempted to add in a few jokes to make up the space.
No such worry when making the short trip to visit Kevin Ryan near Thirsk today.
Not just because he is a model of open-mouthed, chattiness but also because he has an awful lot to talk about. Ten dozen topics of animated conversation.
A large string of older horses who look sure to have a big say in Group races or decent handicaps in 2012.
Plenty of three-year-olds to be very interested in.
And the usual strong team of two-year-olds, in a yard which has made its name with the exploits of its juveniles.
Transcribing the whole lot produces twice as much copy as will fit in the designated two-page spread.
And I don't think the editor will drop the Ascot racecard from next Wednesday's paper in order to make extra space.
That's when the hard work starts. Taking out every word that you possibly can, all the while making sure that each one removed does not send a whole paragraph crashing into meaninglessness - a sort of literary Jenga.
And when wielding the scalpel leaves you still well over the limit you have to reach for a rather blunter instrument and start to remove whole horses.
But which ones? They had to be quite decent for me to ask about them in the first place and for Ryan to think it worth talking about them - neither of us were in the business of seeking the winner of a back-end seller at Catterick.
It's no easier deciding what to leave out than it is when you are drawing up that life-changing Jackpot perm. And the horses left on the cutting-room floor are just as likely to make you look stupid by winning.
It's the judgement of Solomon and I can only apologise if I turn out to have lackedhis legendary wisdom.
Though at least I had the nous to find the yard unaided (on only my second visit), after the sad death this morning of my sat nav.
Overwork rather than old age is likely to be the coroner's verdict. Miraculous devices though they may be, they never seem to make it to their second birthday in my experience - wonder if there is something in the racecourse air which gums up the workings?