Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Whatever the weather

I'm still scratching my head about how badly wrong I got the ground and weather last week.  We'd had a very wet period (or, rather, we hadn't here, but other areas of Britain had) and I rushed to run two soft-ground horses before it dried up.  It seemed best to get in while we could, as the weather was really coming good, and there was little to suggest that it wouldn't remain that way for a while, other than vague threats of isolated heavy showers, mostly in the south-east.  Tuesday last week saw Zarosa go to Newcastle (which dried up rapidly from 'soft, heavy in places' to an official 'good' which was probably quicker than that) and Gift Of Silence went to Yarmouth, where it also dried out too quickly for our liking.

It almost went without saying that both courses received a drenching shortly afterwards and raced on signficantly softer ground a few days later.  If that was not enough, though, I compounded the error.  I'd declared Ethics Girl (pictured post-race with Royston Ffrench in the first paragraph, and then here in the field on Sunday morning, proving that the race has done her no harm) on 'good to firm' ground at Catterick on Thursday morning; but come Saturday afternoon the going was changed after the first race from 'good to soft, soft in places' to 'soft, good to soft in places'.  She never runs as well on soft ground as on a fast surface, but it was a suitable race with suitable opposition - especially after three of the seven declared runners had been scratched - so we ran.  And, as ever, she did her best, which equated to her being beaten only three lengths.  This, though, meant that she finished fourth of the four runners.

The only consolation was that pretty much every other trainer in the land was similarly wrong-footed.  Haydock was the classic example.  There was a mass of scratchings on Friday morning because the going was 'firm, good to firm in places' - and their trainers would have been somewhat non-plussed to see the going changed from that description to 'good' after the first race!  By the time of the last race, anecdotal evidence of the jockeys suggested that it was soft; and then a further 11mm of rain fell overnight.  The result?  Saturday morning the ground was confirmed as being 'good'.  I don't know what the official verdict was by the end of the day, but I do know that it carried on raining heavily and the races were run on an appallingly wet track.

Anyway, God only knows what we'll find at Bath tomorrow, whither we'll be heading to run Indira in the first race.  It's her first race on turf, so there's no point worrying about the ground, as we don't know what she does or doesn't run well on, other than being able to say that she runs well on Polytrack, but less well on Fibresand.  She hasn't run for a couple of months, but should give account of herself - and the fact that she will have the excellent Oisin Murphy in the saddle won't be any disadvantage at all.  Jim Crowley rode her (very well) last time and he was the obvious first choice, but he's is on one of our opponents, and I'm very pleased to have been able to call on Oisin.

The weather has been appalling here.  I'd guess that we had the best part of two inches in the almost-continuous rain which fell from Monday evening until this morning (ie Wednesday morning) and it is very wet underfoot.  And that was after some very heavy showers on Saturday.  But the nice thing was that the weather was good when our friends from Mansfield (Vic), Tony and Joan Tehan, were staying here.  I took them on a good tour of the Heath and racecourse on Sunday afternoon, and then Emma took them up to the Heath on Monday morning to see a lengthy snapshot of the daily equine comings and goings; and this was splendid, as these illustrations (of the Rowley Mile and the Limekilns on Sunday, and in the yard on Monday) show.


Alan March said...

Nil desperandum re Ethics Girl. The ground went against her and she got a little tightened up in the run. As I write the 3rd is 9/4 for a Class 5 handicap at Haydock tonight.
It was good to see you at Catterick, shame about the weather and lack of time for a chat. Next time.

Alan March said...

And won