Saturday, November 08, 2014

Brave girl

That was a good outing to Fontwell yesterday.  It's a place which I almost invariably enjoy visiting, and yesterday's trip certainly hasn't diminished my fondness.  I'd thought in advance that I was throwing Russian Link, definitely the baby in the field yesterday, in at the deep end by putting her in a 0-130 handicap on only her third hurdles start.  As things turned out, they'd had even/considerably more rain down there than we'd had here, and further rain overnight and into the morning saw the track further downgraded to 'heavy'.  That made things really testing, which made things particularly tough for the youngest and least seasoned runner in the race (even if it all looked very welcoming in the midday sun, as you can see).

As it was, though, she defied the conditions to run heroically, finishing fourth, eight lengths off the leader with the remaining runners well strung out behind her.  It was a rough race and she suffered a bit of buffeting on the home turn, but she stuck to her guns bravely.  I think that the jockey who tried to barge her out of the way was the same one whose deliberately reckless riding a furlong or so later caused Jamie Moore's mount to fall - and it's food for thought that deliberate interference which causes a fall can be penalized with merely a five-day suspension, and no disqualification of the horse.  Only in the UK.  (Compare and contrast with the reaction after the Breeders' Cup Classic where many people seemed to think that a horse jumping to his left out of the stalls, thereby slightly, accidentally and momentarily interfering with the horse on his inside, might/should have led to disqualification).

Anyway, the gist of that is that she ran very well.  She's turning herself into a lovely National Hunt horse because she really jumps very nicely, and she tries her heart out.  I received two lovely tweets later in the afternoon and they really sum her and her run up.  From @TonytheTyke we had "What a brave girl!! Had a real cut at her hurdles and got 4th" and from @8idsy we had "oh she will win for sure John, I was at Bangor 2 back & remember thinking the front 2 above average, & so they seem".  Those tweets were lovely to read, both for the nice, encouraging things which people said about her, and also for knowing that people are interested and that they care.  Such interest and encouragement is much appreciated.

After her tiring day yesterday, Russian Link can take it easy for a short while, so she won't be taking up her engagement at Kempton on Thursday.  Roy will (God willing) run in the race, though.  I had entered him in a 12-furlong claimer (3- and 4-year-olds only) and, driving down to Fontwell yesterday morning, I checked the Weatherbys' site and noticed that there were only three entries, Roy included.  There was a race at Catterick in the summer which attracted only three entries, as a result of which it was abandoned rather than re-opened.  Anyway, two thoughts came to mind.   Firstly, I really did not want Roy's race to be abandoned; secondly, if the race was going to be that weak, it might also be suitable for Russian Link, so she ought to be in it too, both from the point of view of her possible participation and from the point of view of the race's survival.

Anyway, I entered her too.  Even as the deadline loomed the race still only had the four entries (ie our two plus two others) but a relative flood of late nominations came in, pushing the total up to nine.  Having fewer than 10 entries, the race was re-opened until 11 am today, by which time one more had been added.  Anyway, Russian Link had a very hard race yesterday (at the time of putting her in the race yesterday morning, I had, of course, no idea how yesterday afternoon's race would go) so I don't think that it would be fair to back her up.  But Roy (pictured this morning in the final paragraph with some of his friends) can run, so God willing he will be our next runner, in the 5.20 at Kempton on Wednesday.

The funny thing is that my worrying about whether the race might be abandoned was, on reflection, unnecessary concern.  Subsequent to Newcastle being told that it can't hold fixtures which feature races only at a mile or less, it has come to light that this very good rule had become over-looked, both by clerks of the courses and by the BHA race-planning department.  Many racecourses have been staging fixtures which are not permissible, and nobody has, until now, realised.  Kempton is the odd one because it stages a really solid programme of staying races - but, strangely, it has several cards which do not conform to the rules.  What it does seemingly is to put several staying races on the same card (eg it might have a 10-furlong race, two mile-and-a-half races and a two-mile race on the same card) and then will have another card with only shorter races.  Overall it more than fulfills its obligations - but individually it has been in some cases erring.  Anyway, the 12-furlong claimer on Thursday (presumably) could not be cancelled irrespective of how few entries it attracted: take it away and there wouldn't be a race on the programme beyond a mile, and that, of course, would not be legal.

1 comment:

M Anderson said...

Good luck anyway on Thursday John.
4 runners so you might as well give it a bash, and you have the right man onboard at Kempton.