Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Great excitement: another trip to the races.  We'll be off to Yarmouth tomorrow (ie Tuesday) evening, and it really should be an idyllic trip to the seaside as we should be due another lovely sunny day.  It's evening racing, but we're in an early race (the second at 6.25) so, even if it gets chilly as the sun starts to go down, that won't be happening until a fair time after our race.  We've had both Gift Of Silence and Wasabi running on our past two trips there this season, and they were indeed both entered again this time; but as it turns out I only declared Gift Of Silence.

She was only beaten a head there last time a week and a half ago, and this time it's a similar-grade race over the same distance but for fillies and mares only.  That should give us every chance, but the problem is that this time it is for three-year-olds and upwards, rather than four-year-olds and upwards.  One might say that the three-year-olds might find it tough against the older horses this early in their lives, even with the wfa allowance, but their advantage is that they might still be unexposed and 'ahead of the handicapper', which rarely applies with the older generations who have had more racing and particularly more racing in handicaps.

And there is, needless to say, a well-bred three-year-old filly making her handicap debut.  Estiqaama is trained for Sheikh Hamdan by William Haggas, and she finished a close second to the John Gosden-trained Trapeze, five lengths clear of the third, in one of her three maiden races, with her conqueror now being rated 86.  On that basis, she might be very well treated on 70, so it's hard to be too optimistic, notwithstanding the fact that our mare is tipped in the Racing Post.  Gift Of Silence is 2lb higher than when she finished second there last time, so we clearly can't be regarded as leniently treated.  Still, she should run her race, so we can live in hope, as ever.

I actually started this chapter on Monday evening, but am finishing it off at the end of the next morning (Tuesday) before heading off to the races this afternoon; and today, as expected, is indeed as splendid a day as yesterday was.  The first four of these photographs were taken yesterday (with the third and fourth of them including Gift Of Silence's ears - and don't be put off by the fact that they're laid back: she was just itching to get on with her work while trotting around the Severals, rather than feeling unhappy) while today's pictures (the final two) duly show similarly glorious weather.

So we'll hope for the best.  And I'll leave you with an illustration of the point which I made recently of how hard it is for the stewards to decide what penalty to give a jockey who puts in an unsatisfactory ride.  Common sense says that it's either a mistake (no penalty) or a deliberate offence (10-year disqualification, apparently).  Anyway, watch a replay of the 2.45 at Leicester yesterday, a 6-furlong seller, and study the progress of the third-placed Coastal Passage, bearing the second colours of his owner Willie Mackay.  The Racing Post close-up  is: "tracked leaders, steadied and lost place well over 4f out, soon behind, pushed along halfway, headway over 1f out, running on when eased near finish, never near to challenge".

The horse was beaten 1.75 lengths and a head, and the horse who finished second, a head in front of him, was his owner's first string.  It's probably fair to say that he'd have definitely beaten his stablemate but for being eased in the closing stages.  Was this bad ride deliberate or intentional?  God knows.  And what does the penalty (a 12-day suspension for the jockey, for failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to achieve the best possible placing) tell us about offence and motive, about accident or design?  Again, God knows.  If I were Eddie Ahern, though, I'd want to take a film of the race to the hearing when I appealed against the severity of my punishment.

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