Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good evening

Yesterday was such a lovely day, and one all the more special for the fact that I hadn't expected us to have a winner. I was expecting Frankie to run well and would have been slightly disappointed had he failed to make the frame, but I really did expect the favourite Forever My Friend to win at odds-on. Forever My Friend's debut at Aintree three weeks previously, when arguably a little unlucky to be beaten a head by Anis Etoile's relative Seedsman in what I had thought was quite a decent bumper, meant that it would have seemed unrealistic for us to go to Stratford yesterday anticipating victory, even if second place did seem a justifiable aspiration. But Frankie managed to beat the favourite - and beat him well, by five lengths, and more or less unpressured. The big thing in favour of fancying Frankie's chances in advance had been the fact that I had never seen him tired - and the really exciting thought is that I still haven't, because he really didn't have a taxing race at all. So that's all good. One couldn't really ask for more from a debut - particularly as he really was the model pupil throughout. He travelled really well to the races, quietly and coolly, and all the time that he was there he just looked as if he was having a really interesting and enjoyable time. Even after the race he wasn't at all stressed, and it just couldn't have been nicer. The icing on the cake was that it was Gus' first trip to the races as well as Frankie's, and he too took everything in his stride. Mind you, Frankie had every chance to have an enjoyable day: the drawback of being in the 9.00 at Stratford was that we didn't get home until half past midnight, but the benefit was that we didn't leave home until nearly 4.30 (I was very keen not to arrive until after racing had started so that we wouldn't be caught in the pre-racing traffic which can cause such delays through the town) so he was able to have a relaxing afternoon playing in the field with his mates before leaving. And, as these photographs show, he certainly enjoyed that.

I was so pleased that William was on board Frankie (pictured being eased down shortly after the line and then returning to the winner's enclosure in the dusk) yesterday as he'd missed out on our two previous National Hunt winners this year (Alcalde and Kadouchski). He's our jockey and is very valued as such, and there's always extra pleasure in a win if he's part of it. I was also very pleased, incidentally, that Sara was able to be present, because she's ridden Frankie on umpteen mornings this year and I know thinks the world of the horse. And we've now had perfect post-script to the win in that it has proved to be the first leg of three consecutive victories for William: wins in three consecutive races, rather than just on three consecutive rides, because, having won the last race at Stratford last night, he won the first two at Uttoxeter this afternoon. For a man who doesn't get the opportunities to ride large quantities of winners, that's great, with SPs of 13/2, 7/1 and 7/1 making it a 339/1 quick-fire treble. Also in double form today was the Newmarket-based conditional jockey Matt Crawley, who won consecutive races at Fontwell this afternoon for two of our best local trainers, Chris Dwyer and Rae Guest. And while I'm remarking on wins which I was pleased to see, I must observe what pleasure I've had on my two most recent National Hunt racedays to see two of Ethics Girl's rivals from the winter winning over hurdles: Phoenix Flight won at Market Rasen when Kadouchski ran there a fortnight ago, while yesterday saw Carter, who won four staying handicaps on the AW during the first two months of this year, winning the penultimate race at Stratford - where, incidentally, the ground was still good to firm despite extensive watering being augmented by some solid rain during the week. That, though, was no problem because, as usual at that track, the racing surface had been well maintained and seemed to provide safe underfoot conditions. I'd thought that Jezza might make it a treble for Ethics Girl's winter rivals at Uttoxeter this afternoon, incidentally, but he was surprisingly beaten at odds-on in the novice hurdle there.

Next stop now Chepstow tomorrow, where Silken Thoughts (pictured walking home through Rayes Lane nine days ago, ridden as she normally is by Hugh) will try to take some inspiration from Frankie's great win yesterday. She's in a 16-runner handicap in which there appear to be several in-form contenders, so it certainly won't be a pushover, but she's a very nice filly and she's well, so I think that she should run well. Mind you, I think that every time she runs and she's still a maiden after eight starts, but she tries hard so I hope that one day my hopes for her will turn out to have been justified rather than merely optimistic! We have had one good omen for her in that, with Frankie seemingly having been inspired by sharing the Al Bahathri with Frankel in the run-up to his win, she found herself sharing the Heath this morning with Newmarket's other most currently celebrated equine resident, the Queen's Derby favourite Carlton House. Iva and I were cantering respectively First Pressing and Silken Thoughts along the first sand this morning when we passed two Michael Stoute-trained horses, ridden by Kevin Bradshaw and John Nolan, on the walking ground. I don't know whom Kevin was riding, but the other horse was clearly Carlton House. I did actually manage to keep our distance when we turned to walk for home, saying that we should show the Derby favourite the respect which he deserves by not trotting our two fillies past him under his nose - but when they took a turn and came back towards us, we found ourselves close enough for, fingers crossed, some of his aura to rub off on our mounts, as well as for the inevitable photo-opportunity. Here's hoping, anyway - and here's hoping that in a week's time we shall be calling him the Derby winner, rather than merely the Derby favourite.


Nathan said...

Best take Gus tomorrow too John. He has a 100% record...

Niall said...

nice to read your comments and equally satisfying to say that I backed "frankie" as I do most of your horses when they look like winning.

Ive only discovered your website today but we did meet about 10 yrs ago when I called to your stable with a friend. John Egan was with you and he was still expecting "welsh wind" to win but he had to wait along time.

Ive been waiting for Silken Thoughts for a while but I think that tomorrow is her day.
She hasnt shown the form of a horse that finished 3rd behind a subsequent Guinnies winner, up to now, but being by Tobougg, she will definitely be a better 3 yr old and I also think the "dazzler" knows that he has a handful

Many thanks for some nice winners and happy days tomorrow at Chep.