Monday, October 27, 2014

This chapter, my blog

Our bid for a mighty 'across-the-card' (as people sometimes say when they're not thinking too deeply about what the words mean) double on Friday didn't go very well - but then such bids generally don't.  As it was, both horses got round eventually, both have returned home sound and healthy, and no lives were lost.  In the case of Zarosa (pictured heading off towards the start) it was fairly straightforward: in the gathering dusk at Newbury she ran reasonably well, but not quite well enough, to finish fifth.

In the case of Wasabi it was less good: she bled, and finished tailed off.  Still, that was not too much of a bolt from the blue as she had bled previously (at Newmarket 26 months ago).  She's a nice horse, but this has clearly put the writing on the wall that she should be doing something else, which is a shame - but there's no point in burying one's head in the sand and not accepting what is patently true.  One would like to think that every horse can win a race, but that clearly in such a competitive sport is far from the case; but (nearly) every horse is useful for something, and she'll find her role in life and make someone a lovely horse for a different branch of equitation.

I really enjoyed my trip to Newbury.  It was a very mild afternoon which made things easy, and the rain didn't come until nightfall, ie about half an hour after our race.  But what was particularly good was that it was my first visit since the racecourse began its process of huge change - and I was impressed by what I could see.  Newbury is a worry, really, because it used to be one of Britain's best racecourse, but seems to have lost its way.  Any time one hears a statement on its behalf, it's like hearing a speech from 'London 2012' or 'W1A'.  It makes you fear that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.  If you don't understand what I mean, just consider the fact that its name was changed from 'Newbury Racecourse' to 'The Racecourse, Newbury'.

Anyway, it was lovely to go to Newbury and find that, despite my misgivings, it is still run by good people who are taking their task very seriously, and doing a good job of making sure that it's a good, well-run racecourse.  Anywhere one went, the staff could not have been more helpful, and I am sure that, although the place is changing massively, it is still going to be a very nice place which its serves its purpose (being a racecourse, I hasten to add lest there be any misunderstanding) very well.  And, right on cue and as if to prove my point - I read this week that its name is going to be changed back to 'Newbury Racecourse'.  Big sighs of relief all round!

So that was Friday - and tomorrow we have another outing, with Zarosa being asked to back up four days after that race.  She's pulled up very well from her last few races, and I've been thinking for a while that she'd be one to back up when the occasion arose.  Well, this is such an occasion, so we'll see what happens.  I generally find that when horses are tough enough to back up, they generally run better for doing so.  So let's hope (a) that she is tough enough to back up and (b) she does indeed run better for it.  We'll find out at around 3.50 tomorrow afternoon, at Catterick - which is appropriate because, as Catterick has turned out to be our most frequent venue this year, it's appropriate that what might turn out to be our last Flat turf runner of the year should be there.

It won't be easy for her tomorrow, mind.  I have hardly looked at the race, but I have seen enough to make me realise that the race will be hard to win.  It's a divided race, and there is one horse whom I would much rather see in the other division.  Generally I don't mind who trains our rivals, and in particular there are some very high-profile stables against whom I'm very happy to run, as I feel that, even their horses look unbeatable on the book, they are still as likely to finish last as first.  However, if I were running in a conditions race at Catterick I really would be disconcerted to see Andre Fabre having a runner against us; and if I were running in a middle-of-the-road two-mile handicap, I really would be disconcerted to see Tony Martin having a runner against us.  Yes, you've guessed it: tomorrow we're in a middle-of-the-road two-mile handicap, and one of our rivals is trained by Tony Martin.  Safe to assume we won't be starting favourite, anyway.

Oh yes, and the weather has been simply divine. It was nice at Newbury on Friday.  On Saturday here it was really, really nice: clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine all day, and very mild. On Sunday it was overcast all day, but still very mild.  And then today was a proper summer's day: brilliant blue skies and sunshine, and very warm.  At any time of year such conditions are a joy, but in the final week of October that really is a godsend.  I don't know how long this spell of weather will last, but every such day is a bonus.  (Other than the first photograph, all this chapter's illustrations were taken either on Saturday or today.)

1 comment:

M Anderson said...

Good luck today John.
Seems a tough race with a Prescott hot-pot favourite and a rare Catterick raider for Tony Martin.
Also a couple more Irish raiders lurking near the bottom - McKiernan's will like the ground as well, but is getting on a bit.