Friday, July 12, 2013

July Week

July Week.  Always a tiring week.  It's Friday evening and I'm tired, even though it's not obvious why I should be, as I haven't done much.  We're very quiet in the stable as the team in work has sunk to single figures, which would be the fewest we've had in work mid-season for at least 15 years, and we haven't had any runners (haven't had any entries, in fact) so I don't know what's worn me out.  I suppose that the answer is the July Sale, in which I've been engaged as both vendor and purchaser, and that's tiring.

Probably more mentally tiring than physically: keeping busy at the sale does involve a fair bit of exercise, but it's hardly taxing in the greater scheme of things.  Anyway, if selling (Simayill, who is pictured with Hugh in the collecting ring in the first paragraph) was stressful (which it was), then buying (Russian Link) was even more worrying.  With selling, things are out of one's hands: people either bid for one's horse or they don't.  With buying, everything is in one's hands: what to bid for, and how much to bid.

The most important skill of a successful (as opposed to a good - big difference) trainer is getting good horses in one's stable, and in one sense one could say that getting things right on the day of the sale is more important than getting things right on all the subsequent days put together.  Anyway, let's hope that I pulled the right rein in buying the three-year-old Juddmonte-owned and -bred Rail  Link filly Russian Link (who was formerly trained by Roger Charlton and who, as one would expect from that stable, seems in great condition) for 2,500 gns.

Anyway, selling Simayill (who, fingers crossed, is going off for a safe, secure and enjoyable long-term career as a mum) for 2,500 gns was disappointing.  She turned out to have been a very bad project, notwithstanding the fact that she's a sweet mare.  It turned out that she had too much wear and tear, both physical and mental, to be a good prospect, but there you go - we knew that that was a possibility when we bought her, but thought that we knew better - but we were wrong.  C'est la vie.  But as regards her sale price, 2,500 gns doesn't seem so bad when one considers that Russian Link was only worth the same.  In fact, one could almost say that, if the market-place values Russian Link at 2,500 gns, it was a miracle to get that much for Simayill.

But, of course, only time will tell whether Russian Link has been a good or a very bad buy.  Here's hoping.  (By the way, she's seen in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth shots of this chapter - at the sale, back at home in the pen, and then in the fourth, fifth and sixth photographs out in the field this evening with her new chums.  I'm chuckling with the caption for the photograph in this chapter: I'd say that Jack and Roy are saying to her, "Please allow us to introduce ourselves: we are men of wealth and taste" - or maybe I'm painting those two little angels as being more devilish than they are.)

Anyway, that's been the going and that's been the coming.  To look outside our own little corner of the racing world, the big story today has been the big race, the Falmouth Stakes.  This was right on cue, my having observed in the previous chapter that it's impossible to frame the perfect rules for interference.  As with the Eclipse, it would have been unsatisfactory to have disqualified today's winner Elusive Kate - but it was also unsatisfactory to let her keep the race.  If I liked speaking in cliches (which I don't), I'd say, with a smart-arse expression on my smug face, "Damned if you do, dammed if you don't".

One could argue it all day.  I'll just make two observations.  Firstly, Richard Hughes was interviewed on RUK before the race.  He said that if the pace was slow, he'd make the running - and if he'd done that, he'd have won, as Elusive Kate would have drifted left across the track but wouldn't have taken him with her.  Secondly, John Gosden was interviewed after the race and said that Elusive Kate always drifts left.  If that's the case, Richard Hughes must be kicking himself for not having known that; if he'd known that, he'd have dropped behind her, she'd have drifted left, he'd have galloped straight to the line while she hung all the way across the track, and again he'd have won.  Oh, the wisdom of hindsight!

Anyway, the weather's been lovely (as you can see in the previous paragraph, with a photograph from Wednesday morning) and tomorrow's July Cup Day (as well as Magnet Cup Day, as well as a big raceday at Ascot - oh, where did it, ie race-planning, all go so wrong?) and we'll have Shamexpress running for us (if I can say 'us').  He's shown here with his trainer on the Severals on Tuesday morning.  His connections have discovered this week that things work a bit differently here.  Richard Hughes was booked to ride, but got off when Mosse had a fall in Hong Kong, which meant that the ride on Reckless Abandon was free.

Richard's agent Bony Hind placated the Shamexpress (pictured this morning being scrutinized by Grand Liaison) camp by saying that they could probably have Ryan Moore instead - but then Ryan Moore was booked by Aidan O'Brien for Gale Force Ten.  So eventually Shamexpress' connections booked Barzalona.  Wait for it: Reckless Abandon ended up yesterday morning not being declared, so Bony rang to say that they could have Richard after all.  I'm not sure what he was expecting them to say to Barzalona, but that's academic as he's found out that, while that saga might be OK in 21st century Britain, in the civilized world things don't work like that.  So you can take it that unless Barzalona walks into a door this evening, he'll be riding Shamexpress tomorrow afternoon.

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