Thursday, September 09, 2010

Good results

There have been several results this year which have given me great pleasure - the six winners I've trained obviously coming into that category - and today saw another: the win at Epsom of Amber Sunset. This filly has spent her racing career in Exeter Road, having initially been trained by Jonathan Jay in Exeter House and now being in Dave Morris' section of our yard. She obviously had to leave Exeter House when Jonathan disappeared, so she was one of three horses to migrate up the road to Dave's yard. Dave's staff was simultaneously swelled by the addition of our friend Nigel Walker, who started his working life with Dave many years ago, who had more recently been Jonathan's head lad at an earlier stage of Jonathan's career and who had more recently still been kind enough to help us out while we were very busy. (Dave's current workforce is pictured here approaching the Fordham Road crossing a couple of weeks ago, Dave being closest to camera on Sleep Over with Nigel beyond him and Dave's famously gorgeous son Paul leading the string.) Nigel rides these three new horses each day and Amber Sunset has visibly thrived since her arrival. She and Nigel are pictured above after exercise two days ago enjoying the current Indian summer, and I had an even closer look at her yesterday evening when I went over to that yard to give Nigel a copy of the current edition of 'Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder', which features a very interesting interview with his erstwhile employer and mentor, the Duchess of Bedford. The filly looked so well and so happy yesterday evening that I was sure that she would run well today - and that's exactly what she did, fighting hard to post a thrilling victory under the excellent Adam Beschizza and rewarding those wise souls who had backed her from 6/1 to 7/2. Good on 'em.

Another really nice recent result was Cathy Gannon's Group race win at the Curragh on the David Evans-trained Dingle View. That was really well deserved because Cathy is not just a top-class jockey (and I don't mean a top-class female jockey nor a top-class light-weight jockey, I mean a top-class jockey) but she is also a hard-working, conscientious and decent professional. She's never ridden a winner for us, but we've used her intermittently since shortly after her arrival (including on Ethics Girl at Goodwood last year, as this picture shows) and she's ridden every horse faultlessly. She really struggled for patronage when she first came over, despite being well known here as a former champion apprentice in Ireland and bearing the well-respected credential of having been apprenticed to John Oxx - and we know that the standards of riding in Ireland are so high that to be champion apprentice there one would need to be very, very good. (This example of British xenophobia, parochialism and sexism, of course, makes it easy to understand why Iva finds it so hard to get any recognition here because if nobody gave Cathy much respect for having won Ireland's apprentices' premiership, it's not surprising that her former status as one of the leading jockeys in the Czech Republic is not paid much heed). The first horse Cathy rode for us was, I think, Lady Suffragette, and she was working for Kevin Ryan at the time, but having not a great deal to show for it. Happily, she is now thriving thanks to the patronage of Dave Evans and of other trainers such as Chris Dwyer; and her first Group race success suggests that she has now, at last, broken through, which is really good. Good on 'er.

And good on the Indian summer, too, which happily seems still to be with us. At this time of year, every nice day is a bonus, and happily we're still getting nice days. And the great thing about autumn is that nice days often have spectacular starts. I'm still on a routine of starting quite early but I suspect that that might have to be altered before the end of this month because we're reaching the stage where my current timings mean that, while it's currently light enough when we reach the Heath (as this view of the canter through Asterisk's ears on Monday shows - and you will be able to spot at least one of Asterisk's ears if you look closely enough), another fortnight of ever-shortening days will mean that we might have to reconsider our schedule. However, on clear-skied mornings such as this, once the sun gets up the views can correctly be described as brilliant, as this shot of Aisling and Ex Con leading the way around Bury Hill grass on Tuesday confirms. Today was very nice and I think that the forecast is for another nice day tomorrow - but of course that'll have me agonising over running plans, because I've declared Rhythm Stick for the maiden at Sandown on Saturday on good ground, and it might be wise to have a re-think for this heavy and immature horse if the ground was going to become significantly firmer than that. But then, on the other hand, if conditions don't dry up down south, we might want to re-think my aim to run Ethics Girl at Goodwood on Sunday, where the track is currently rated good to soft (which would probably be softer than is ideal for her). Can both horses' preferences be satisfied in the same area on the same weekend? We'll just have to watch the weather, wait, and see.

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