Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good or bad?

Catterick seems to be becoming my second home.  I am guessing that we've had more runners there this year than anywhere else, which is not something one would have guessed in advance.  It's nearly 200 miles away, and over the years we haven't visited it that frequently.  In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of us having had a winner there this century prior to Indira winning there last month, although I recall both Statistician and Il Principe winning there in the 1990s.

But this year we've run Frankie (Douchkirk) there over jumps, Ethics Girl two or three times on the Flat, Gift Of Silence once and now Indira twice.  Frankie finished fifth, but the others have all made the frame, so it's been a happy hunting ground.  Indira ran there on Wednesday, the second of our two runnners this week following Zarosa's second place at Chepstow on Monday, and she put up a bold bid to try to take her record at the track to two wins from two runs.

However, she too ended up finishing second: she looked as if she might have the race in the bag, but was collared about three strides from the line by the strong-finishing, Kieren Fallon-ridden, Maktoum-owned favourite.  Ah well, another second - but one can be nothing other than pleased and proud when a horse runs as well as she ran (yet again).

Furthermore, there was no element of ill-luck involved: she was well ridden by Robert Winston and ran really well, only to be beaten by a mighty horse who had more in hand than the margin suggests (as the second photograph, taken a couple of strides after the post, suggests).  It was good to see the Racing Post applauding her performance(s): "Indira has gone from strength-to-strength since tackling this trip and duly turned in another career-best effort.  A daughter of Sleeping Indian, it's quite conceivable that softer ground this autumn will conjure even further improvement."

Anyway, that was the upshot of our latest trip to Catterick, a trip which had a further element of entertainment in the form of the post-racing camel races. Niall Hannity, justifiably one of the most popular figures on the racecourse, was one of the riders involved, and we can see him putting his National Hunt skills to good use in the third paragraph, wearing James Bethell's Clarendon Racing silks.  But victory in the final (following two qualifying heats) went to the other colours in that picture: yet another big-race winner for J. P. McManus, with Ben Haslam seen above saluting the judge in the familiar green and gold.

Anyway, that's been our racing week: two runners, two seconds. That's either good or bad, depending on how one views things.  I'd call it good, but then I would, wouldn't I?  Harder hearts would say that it's a 0% strike-rate, ie bad.  Emma has dug up statistics to say that we've had four runners in the past fortnight for form figures of 1-2-2-2.  And that we've run seven horses on the Flat this year; and that between them they've had 39 runs, with 28 of those runners, ie 72%, finishing in the first four.  I'm happy with that - it's just that it would be even easier to be happy with it if our total of winners was higher than three.

I think that our jumping runners this year have been Frankie (in the first four in four of his five starts), Wasabi (third once from three starts) and Saleal (fourth once from two starts).  So that's six runners out of nine finishing in the first four.  Overall, from my point of view it feels OK, as what kills you as a trainer are the disappointments; and, while we, like everyone else, have had some of those, including a handful of bitter disappointments, they have been few and far between.  Anyway, how are things going, one might ask?  Well, nothing too much wrong that a few winners wouldn't cure!  (Especially as, as you can see, we've had some splendid mornings in the second half of this week).

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