Sunday, June 02, 2013

That was the weekend that was

Well, we've had our two trips to the races this weekend.  Our trip to Lingfield last night with Platinum Proof was disappointing, but good old Ethics Girl helped, once again, to keep the show on the road at Fakenham this afternoon.  And conditions matched the results: the weather is picking up again and it was just about OK yesterday, whereas today was a genuinely lovely early summer day.  Platinum Proof is proving slightly frustrating at present as he's a lovely horse who is working well and looking terrific, but his two runs so far this year have been total non-events.

Still, he's in good nick and is a genuine horse, so I'm sure that all will fall into place before too long.  He struggled again yesterday, but I'd be hopeful that we'll get things worked out shortly.  As the boy said in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: "Things will be alright in the end; if things aren't alright, it's not the end yet".  As these photographs suggest, he's a very big horse, and one often has to wait a bit longer for such animals to come good.  But I remain confident that the wait won't be in vain.

Contrastingly, Ethics Girl is a very small horse.  Well, she's merely smallish by the standards of Flat horses, but by the standards of National Hunt horses it is fair to say that she's very small indeed.  However, there is no correlation between height and ability (despite what some might say) and she ran yet another mighty race at an idyllic Fakenham this afternoon.  It was her third hurdle race, but the first time she had raced over jumps on a sound surface.  And she showed her appreciation of that by running a very sound race to finish second in the opening maiden hurdle.

It was no disgrace to finish second because the winner Lyssio is a markedly better horse on the Flat than she is.  Her current Flat rating in the low 80s is as high as she's ever been, and higher than she's ever won off, but Lyssio has been placed in two Listed races on the Flat and has finished fourth in a Group Three, while his form in 2012 included him winning a good conditions race at Epsom in which, had she been a runner, she would have finished last, and also him finishing second in a handicap at Meydan in the Dubai International Carnival off a rating of 99.  So second was the best we could realistically have hoped for - and second is where she duly finished, bless her.

Ethics, who found this lovely fast-but-safe ground very much to her liking but who possibly could do with a greater test of stamina than Fakenham's very quick two miles, was very well ridden by Conor Shoemark, whom I'd never met previously but who made a very good impression on me today, both in and out of the saddle.  He's from the family of Shoemarks who have done so well in recent decades, his grandfather Bill having been a Whitbread-winning jockey of the early '70s and his father Ian having been a good apprentice in the '80s with Ian Balding and then a good hurdles jockey with  Reg Akehurst.

Ian's uncle Peter is in Newmarket, working in John Gosden's office - and another Newmarket man very much on the radar today was Alex Merriam, a jockey with Neil King.  Alex hung up his boots at the end of racing today, and the lovely thing was that he went out on a winner, partnering Bollin Tahini to victory in the novices' handicap hurdle.  Bollin Tahini was bred and is owned by Alex's very nice father Andrew, who is a director of Jockey Club Estates Ltd, and this was the perfect way to bring down the curtain on a career in which Alex has shown himself to be a thoroughly diligent, dedicated and professional jockey, as well as a good one and a very likeable one.  Most his rides over the years were for Neil King, but he had a couple of rides for this stable (in bumpers on Extreme Conviction) and over the years has impressed as a man who does things well.  I don't know what the future holds for him, but I have no doubt that he'll excel in whichever direction he heads.


David Winter said...

You made me smile John with the analogy fron BEMH...i thought at the time that it was the most wonderful outlook on life to have and i use it as a touchstone when life seems to be giving me a raw deal.And doesn't it sit well with the patience required in dealing with horses in general.
Frankie does look and act as if he is still growing into himself...looks terrific...but tall and a bit leggy...or am i being unfair...a good summer will bring him on leaps and bounds. I'll shut up now..beginning to sound like a trainer !!! eeeek!

David Winter said... the above..i meant "Tommy" not "Frankie"