Yesterday was a lovely day. Any day when you have a winner is great, but to win at one of the country's (world's) premier tracks such as Sandown is a particular pleasure. And the icing on the cake was that Lawrence Wadey was there. Lawrence, along with his fellow 1997 Partnership partners Gerry Grimstone and Bill Benter, has been the most loyal and supportive patron any trainer could wish for. He tells me that I have trained 22 winners for him (nearly all of which have been in the 1997 Partnership colours, although the first, Lorelei Lee who won twice in 1995, raced in Lawrence's sole ownership) but sadly, because Lawrence is in the Far East for most of the time, he has been present for very few of the victories. Yesterday, though, he was at Sandown for Ethics Girl's success, which was lovely, not least because we were able to share the pleasure of victory with several of his former Racing Post and press room colleagues, Lawrence having been a Racing Post reporter prior to his emigration to Hong Kong in 1990. I may be imagining things, but I'm sure that Mike Cattermole, commentating on the race, called the filly home with particular relish for her being Lawrence's, and similarly Bruce Jackson seemed to very happy to conduct the post-race interviews for his Racing Post report. Ethics Girl is a lovely, genuine filly, and thanks to her we were able to enjoy a memorably happy day.
I must also say that the victory came about thanks in part to the skill and diligence of Richard Mullen (pictured with Lawrence after the race).
The best horse at the weights on the day won, but she would not have won without a faultless ride from Richard, and I venture to suggest that only a small minority of jockeys would have won on her yesterday. Before the race, I impressed on Richard the importance of covering the filly up. She had drawn the outside and, as we had decided to eschew the easy option of dropping her back to last to ensure that she could get across behind the field, Richard found that getting in was easier said than done. We have seen all too many occasions when a jockey appears to have understood the importance of getting cover, only to spend the entire race facing the breeze, but Richard knew what we wanted him to do and was clearly hell-bent on doing it. Solely thanks to his persistence, he was able to force his way in after about a very long-seeming 300m and ended up sitting covered up, one off the rail, two thirds of the way back in a strongly run race. It was a masterclass of determined, conscientious and first-class race-riding; and that, as much as the filly's ability and genuineness, won us the race. I've known Richard basically from day one - I think that I am correct in saying that I gave him his first outside ride, on a horse called Keys Seminar in an apprentice race at Warwick in 1995 - and he has impressed me throughout his career as the consummate professional and a first-class rider, but one would never see these qualities better illustrated than by his riding and conduct yesterday. Good on 'im.
Another jockey whom I rate very highly, as regular readers of this blog will know, is William Kennedy, and we were lucky enough to benefit again from his help yesterday morning. He was in Newmarket to school some jumpers for James Fanshawe (along I believe with Paul Moloney and the ageless Steve Smith-Eccles) and kindly did some schooling for us after that assignment. It was a busy morning up on the Links, as Mark Tompkins had half a dozen young jumpers being educated by Colin Bolger and Dave Crosse, and our contribution to the morning was a couple of very polished displays of hurdling by Risky Cry (pictured) followed by a very satisfactory brief session on the small jumps by Extreme Conviction.
William was very pleased with both horses, and so was I. In fact, William was so impressed with Risky Cry that he said afterwards, with a big smile on his face, "He was so good that you could school him next time"! I suppose that this was an encouraging report, but even so (despite the fact that I'm Risky's number one fan and as a rule cede the ride on him to no one) it was an easy enough decision to say that I didn't think that that would be a very good idea!