Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sedgefield - a lovely little course

This lovely Indian summer continues.  I think that the next couple of days we're looking at daytime highs of maybe 23 and night-time lows of around 14.  Which is lovely.  You'll think from the photographs that we had idyllic weather  yesterday for our trip to Sedgefield, but that wasn't really the case: the day started with fog in Newmarket, and the air never really cleared properly pretty much everywhere.  It was hazy enough up there even in the afternoon, but the air just cleared for our race to give us some crystal-clear weather for the photographs.

Unfortunately, the photographs aren't of Saleal (pictured in the first and last paragraphs, walking round the parade ring with Joe Akehurst) running well.  We'd picked the Sedgefield race because we thought that there was a decent chance of the race attracting a weak field, which would give him a chance of making the frame.  Even expecting there to be little depth in the field, though, I was rather taken aback to find the horse second favourite, albeit second favourite behind a 1/4 favourite (the Donald McCain-trained Mr Burgees, pictured in this paragraph taking the last hurdle en route to a facile victory - while the third photograph is of a couple of the other runners taking the hurdle a second or two afterwards).

Anyway, Saleal didn't run like a second favourite: he knocked up pretty quickly half a mile from home, and Joe sensibly pulled him up pretty quickly, just before the second last hurdle.  He was remarkably unperturbed immediately afterwards, not distressed in any way and hardly even blowing.  But he has subsequently shown signs of being under the weather, so it's easy to see why he under-performed.  Anyway, disappointing though it was, no harm was done: he'll have a rest and bounce back fine.  It just meant that yesterday's trip was a wasted journey, but when the horse and jockey come home in one piece and live to fight another day, it's not a bad day.

Saleal's disappointing run aside, it was a pleasant trip.  It's almost invariably a pleasure to go to Sedgefield, a cracking little course where the racing is generally very exciting.  It's a great spectator's course as one feels really close to the action, and generally attracts a good and very friendly crowd.  There was no shortage of friendly faces there yesterday, and what was very touching was how many people - friends, acquaintances and strangers alike - stopped me in the hour after the race to ask me if Saleal was OK.  That was lovely.

Funnily enough, our neighbour Don Cantillon was also up there as he ran two horses.  Remarkably, they ran as badly as Saleal: the first one did finally complete the course but might as well not have done as he as beaten miles, while the second one started joint-favourite and finished 11th of 14, beaten a long way.  I haven't seen Don today so haven't been able to ask him if he was able, like me, to enjoy the day - but he seemed to be enjoying annoying Donald McCain in the stable yard (pictured) so I'm sure that he will feel that the day wasn't entirely wasted.

1 comment:

M Anderson said...

Can't win them all Mr Berry.
So long as Saleal returned home ok then there's always another day, as you quite rightly said.
Any plans for Russian Link after a grand introduction to hurdling? Perhaps RL's good run was the reason why Saleal was 2nd fav? Bookies taking note of the 'shrewd trainer' instead of the actual form of the horse.