Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Summer holidays

Well, all that Carlisle agonising led me round and round in circles, eventually ending up where we'd started: good ground!  And I don't mean "good ground" in the generally accepted 21st century sense, in which anything that isn't very firm and isn't very soft can be termed 'good', irrespective of how bad it is.  This was good ground in the purest sense of the word: it was perfect ground.  For sure, I'd rather it had been softer simply because Zarosa has won on 'good' (which all horse handle) and has also won on 'heavy', a surface which far fewer horses handle; but as things were, it was just a pleasure to race a horse on the surface on offer.

And it wasn't just the ground which was perfect: it was the whole evening.  Carlisle was blessed to have a truly glorious evening for its extremely popular "Ladies' Night", which is a "Ladies' Night" with a difference, the concept being extended from the general to the specific in that only female jockeys, female apprentices and female amateurs are eligible to ride in the races.  There are plenty of very good female riders around.  One of them, Hayley Turner, rode her 700th winner during the evening; while another of them, Shelley Birkett, rode Zarosa, giving her a perfect ride to finish second.

This was easily Zarosa's best run so far this year (in fairness to her, it was only her third start of 2014, and there had been mitigating circumstances on the two previous ones) and, not only that, also her best run since finishing second at Nottingham in the spring of 2013.  So that was really encouraging.  She did everything right, being beaten only by an Irish raider who turned out to have been thrown in on her first run in a handicap.  It was just really, really good to see her bounce back to form - it was easy to understand as she'd been going very nicely at home, but after a couple of moderate runs one doesn't dare count one's chickens - and very encouraging for the rest of her year, as she's still a relatively fresh horse at this stage of the summer.

So that was lovely.  Zarosa ran very well, and Ladies' Night was a huge success all round.  It was a pleasure to be there and to enjoy the best atmosphere I have experienced on a racecourse for a long time.  The racecourse was full of smiling faces, and it was hard to believe that anyone could have gone home feeling anything other than that they had had a lovely evening.  I know I certainly did - well, except for the fact that I didn't go home, as I, Zarosa and Gift Of Silence (the two of them pictured in the seventh paragraph in their Carlisle hotel yesterday morning, before checking-out time) stayed there overnight before going on to Catterick the following morning, where Gift Of Silence was due to run the next afternoon.

That worked out so well, as Catterick, only a mile off the A1, really is virtually on the way home.  After racing so late in the evening at Carlisle, 270 miles from Newmarket, I would not have wanted to come home that evening anyway as that would have been asking for trouble; so taking Gift Of Silence along for the ride and running her at Catterick on the way home worked out perfectly.  (That's maybe what is meant by one of the most inelegantly named horses in training, Art Of Logistics, whose name is nearly as unappealing as that of his stablemate Art Of Payroll).  The only thing which wasn't perfect is that Catterick probably wasn't the right course to run Gift Of Silence.

I knew that anyway, of course, because she's clearly better suited by a big, spacious track than by a tight one; and by a flattish track than by an undulating one; and by a straight or right-handed one than by a left-handed one.  Furthermore, the very fast ground exacerbated its unsuitability for her.  Still, although I knew that the track wouldn't be ideal for her, I also knew that it would be a race with very little depth, and that she'd do her best whatever the circumstances.  Predictably the favourite won the race, and predictably she was placed, finishing a well-beaten third in a five-horse race in which two of the runners looked outclassed.

So that was a lovely trip.  Both horses performed with credit.  They seemed to enjoy themselves, and I definitely enjoyed myself.  I had my summer holiday a month ago when Emma and I went to Mallorca for two nights for Gina Bryce's (now Gina Harding's) wedding, but this was my summer holiday part two.  A "busman's holiday", of course, and a short one too - but a holiday nevertheless, as any overnight stay in perfect weather in one of the loveliest parts of the country, taking in one of Britain's most enjoyable race-meetings, is likely to be a treat.

There's another outing on the agenda tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to that one too.  Ethics Girl (whose ears are shown here, pointing up Warren Hill this morning) heads off to Brighton to try to reclaim the Brighton Cup, which she won in 2012.  She seems very well, and her win at Epsom last time suggests that she is indeed in good form.  I think that she's run in the race three times.  I seem to remember George Baker riding her in it three years ago.  Darryll Holland won on her two years ago.  Adam Kirby rode her last year.  And now we have another good jockey on her tomorrow, Jim Crowley, fresh from one of the most excellent victories of the season (on Missunited in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood last week) bidding to make his excellent record for this stable even better.  Fingers crossed.


Brian Jones said...

did you enjoy Marti Pellow?

bigalp said...

Good Luck with Ethics Girl John we really hope she wins and comes back safe.

Cat Wood said...

God that mares honest John, beaten less than a length. Hope she ate up and is pig rooting in the sun!

neil kearns said...

Great effort in what looked a decent race

Picking up on your comments about Carlisle's ladies day it shows what happens when someone doesn't merely follow the norm and thinks a little out of the box good on whoever thought it up

John Berry said...

Yes, plenty of positives all the way through there, thank you. Including Wet Wet Wet, who were more entertaining than I'd expecting. It was no disadvantage at all to hear them playing in the background after the racing had finished. Certainly hasn't tempted me to order their greatest hits' CD on Amazon, but.