Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Great excitement

Great excitement.  For me, anyway.  I'll own a debutante tomorrow, courtesy of the grey four-year-old Gift Of Silence lining up in the 6.30 at Kempton, a six-furlong maiden race for fillies and mares.  Her debut has been a while in coming as she's been here for nearly two years, and in my ownership for just over a year.  She was bred and initially owned by Henry Moszkowicz, who raced (with his wife Rosemary) this stable's former star Largesse.  Henry bought several unremarkable mares to use on Largesse when that horse retired to stud, and Gift Of Silence's dam Not A Word (a daughter of the moderate, sprint-bred, Sadler's Wells stallion Batshoof) was one of them.

Largesse, as it turned out, was (and still is, I hope, in Egypt) a very good stallion as he did well with these ordinary mares (as he did with the mare I sent him, Minnie's Mystery, who bred Jersey's reigning co-Horse of the Year Grey Panel by him).  Anyway, Not A Word having bred three winners by Largesse including a winner of the Norsk Criterium (Norway's principal two-year-old race), Henry pushed the boat out and sent her to Largesse's distinguished sire Cadeaux Genereux, Largesse having left the country.  Gift Of Silence was the result.  The only problem was that Gift Of Silence turned out to be a late-developer, as the fact that she is currently an unraced four-year-old suggests.

This wouldn't have been a problem, especially as she's shown plenty of speed all the way through (and you can see her on the home page of the website, galloping as a two-year-old between the ditches on Racecourse Side with Zarosa, Hotfoot and Grand Liaison, and going significantly the best in that gallop; and you can also see three photos in this chapter of her that year with the other juvenile fillies, and then some photographs of her this year, including two in the greyness of the past two mornings with Carolina riding her) - except that Henry had decided not to own any horses in training last year.  I didn't know this at the time, but it was clear that Henry was very keen for her to run at two.  Unfortunately, I felt that it would not be prudent to do so as she started to find things a struggle once she'd done a few gallops (very well) and I deemed that it would have been irresponsible to push on and run her, bearing in mind that injuries can occur even when the horses aren't giving you any warning signs, never mind when they are.

Anyway, she was to be entered in the February Sale as a three-year-old early last year, and my advice was that she was too nice a horse to be sold at a time when she was clearly going to hold no appeal to the market-place.  However, she was to go - and I felt that, with my having consistently told Henry that she was a nice horse and that he should not sell her, it would look very odd if she went to a sale, attracted no interest and I didn't bid for her myself.  In other words, if I couldn't put a relatively small amount of money where my mouth was, it would suggest that I had been lying when telling him that she was a nice horse.  Anyway, the upshot was that she became mine for 800gns.

Anyway, a relatively small amount of money has subsequently become a much bigger sum as Gift Of Silence then spent her three-year-old year doing what she had done as a two-year-old, ie showing plenty of speed and promise, but then not coping with things any time she had done enough to get within sight of a race.  She's gone through various stages of starting to hang right very badly in her work (and it's no coincidence that she's running tomorrow on the only right-handed track which races in the winter - even now, with her currently showing no tendency to lug right, I still would be very loth to run her on a left-handed track) and at various times I've worked her in blinkers and/or different bits to try to correct this.

But, as ever, time has been the only cure: she's now, notwithstanding that she still looks an immature, leggy filly, mature enough to cope with things, and for the first time ever she is working consistently well (rather than well one week and terribly the next) and consistently tractably.  So she can have a run and we'll see how we go.  And we've already had one stroke of luck because, strange though it may seem, in an 8-horse field I was really hoping to draw stall 8 - and that's exactly what we've got.

You might wonder why I'd want the widest gate, but there is method in my madness.  She's not the easiest in the stalls because, although she walks in fine, she can get very restive once she's been in there a while. She's never done anything really stupid in them in her sessions in there with Iva, but I wouldn't put it past her to sit down or rear up too high eventually.  In other words, she's the obvious candidate to wear a blind-fold, as they usually stand more quietly if they can't see where it is or isn't safe to throw themselves.

And, of course, of all the really silly rules in the book, top of the list is the one which says that a horse wearing a blind has to go in first.  If she'd been drawn an odd number, I'd have reluctantly elected to wear a blind and go in first.  But with an even draw, particularly the highest one, she can, without a blind, go in late - and, ideally, last - so that she shouldn't be long enough to get into trouble.  That's what I hope, anyway.  But, even so, I wouldn't put it past her to move around in the gates - and if she does that, she'll probably miss the start - and if she does that, she'll run badly.  So don't ask me how she'll run because it could be anything from first to last (and that's assuming that she gets round)!

The other seemingly strange thing about tomorrow is that, as well as wanting the 'worst' draw, I've booked a jockey who can ride at close to 8 stone for a horse with 10 stone, when several of the heavier jockeys whom we use are available.  However, it's been on my mind that we haven't given Martin Lane a ride for a while, and he's a good jockey as well as a local and a very hard-working one, and as such deserves to be patronized.  So tomorrow looked a suitable opportunity - and let's hope that things go better than the last ride which he had for us which, through no fault of his, didn't even get round (Wasabi at Newmarket).  You'll note that he was still riding out through the mornings when we were at our coldest (as you can see in this photograph of David Simcock's string last month) and while many of our fair-weather friends in the weighing room had either fled for warmer climes or were taking shelter in the warmth of their homes, so it's good to be using him.

So let's see what happens tomorrow.  I've no idea what will happen - but I'm looking forward to finding out.


racingfan said...

best of luck tomorrow,


John Berry said...

Thanks Ian. Looks to have three decent fillies in opposition, but let's hope that we can show some promise.

glenn.pennington said...

Your blog is much appreciated John, and gives a fascinating view of how a (top) trainer sees the world.
Keep up the good work !

racingfan said...

Hello John, I didnt see the race tonight but from the comments on at the races website, I would think you would be very pleased,

I also agree with Glenn, as I have said before your blogs are appreciated,



John Berry said...

Thank you for those comments. Always good to find people taking the trouble to read the blog.