Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bank Holiday weather

Two runners this week.  One down, one to go.  The first was yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday)when Zarosa ran at Chepstow; the second will be tomorrow, when Indira goes to Catterick for a very open 7-runner handicap in which she might start something like 4/1 co-favourite of four, which shows how open it is.  If she runs as well as Zarosa ran I'll be happy; if she goes one place better than Zarosa, I'll be very happy indeed.  Zarosa, as you might have guessed from that, finished second, well ridden by Shelley Birkett and well clear of the third but beaten by another horse who relished the heavy ground and who proved just slightly too good on the day.

We have another example of the famed north/south divide, but in this instance there is nothing social or economic about it: the north has been dry and sunny, while down here it's been very wet.  Yesterday it rained and rained across the south, while it remained dry north of the Trent, or wherever the division proved to be.  Zarosa loves the wet and, in what wasn't much of a test of her stamina, yesterday's race didn't seem to take much out of her at all.  She was also engaged at Ripon today, as a fall-back really, but after the race I was mulling over the thought that she probably would be fine to back up on what, I presumed, would be another heavy track.

However, any decision in that regard was swiftly taken out of my hands when I discovered about the rain's avoidance of the north, and that Ripon, far from softening, had dried from 'good' to 'good to firm'.  So that settled that: even if we had wanted to run her, she wouldn't be running, and she was a non-runner because of the changed going.  She was one of, I think, 16 horses taken out of Ripon today because of the ground having firmed up since declaration time - while, ironically, today's Epsom card featured, I think, 21 non-runners on account of the track having changed from 'good' to 'heavy' since declaration time.

Strange though it is to believe from this neck of the woods, but it will, as the above suggests, be very fast ground at Catterick tomorrow.  (The last time I looked it was 'good to firm, firm in places').  Ideally I would prefer it to be a bit softer than that, and I think that Indira would prefer it too.  However, she seems to be one of those wonderful horses who can run, and run well, on any ground, and it was fairly firm when she won at Catterick last month.  So tomorrow we can head northwards and hope for the best.

We have four photographs from yesterday illustrating this chapter, and also showing how dismal the weather was down at Chepstow.  We have Zarosa chasing home the winner with the other runners a long way behind her, and then we have her and Shelley coming back in afterwards.  Then we have someone I was delighted to bump into, my friend John Egan, who was making one of his increasingly regular forays over from Ireland to ride for David Evans, which seem always to yield at least one winner.  And then we see two more forgotten heroes, the winners of the day's main race: lovely old Fury, who finished fifth in Frankel's 2,000 Guineas but who hadn't won for two years prior to scoring yesterday under Seb Sanders, who hardly gets a ride nowadays but who remains a very, very good jockey.  And lastly we have a photograph from Sunday, before the weather deteriorated, which shows Indira's ears (sizing up some Godolphin horses) as she limbered up in readiness for tomorrow's assignment.