Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kempton tomorrow

You might have noticed that we had Energia Eros declared for Wolverhampton on Saturday night.  It was easily the weakest race that we'd had him in, the first time that he hadn't drawn the widest stall, and the first time that the Racing Post had forecast him to go off at a single-figure SP.  However, a very minor problem intervened and I erred on the side of caution.  It won't be a long-term setback at all and I'd hope that he'll run in maybe three weeks' time - and in the interim I was left reflecting that every cloud has a silver lining, as I was able to enjoy an early bed on Saturday night instead of arriving home some time after 1.00 and getting to bed some time after 2.00.

I hope that we won't have any non-runners tomorrow because we have Roy and Magic Ice engaged in the same race at Kempton, and I'm really looking forward to running them both.  It isn't satisfactory at all to be running two horses in the same race, but 0-50 races don't grow on trees, and it is clearly a very suitable race for each horse.  For horses rated in the 40s, one doesn't get much choice about where to run as even in 0-55 races elimination is a major issue.  Even in this 0-50 race it was touch and go whether Roy would get in - but get in he has, so they can both run.  And they can both run well, I hope.

I'd guess that they'll both go off at double-figure SPs, which is fair enough.  And I'd guess that Magic Ice will start the shorter price of the two, which again is fair enough.  If I had a gun put to my head, I'd say that Magic Ice is likely to fare the better of the pair, but even that is not something about which I'd be adamant.  They are both four-year-old maidens and they are both taking a step into the relative unknown.  For Magic Ice, this mile race will be the longest race which she has contested; while for Roy it will be the shortest race he has contested since he was a two-year-old.

(Some might say remarkably) I'm happy with the distance for both horses, although I should probably add that I'm less hung up on the distance of races than most people seem to be.  Even saying that, though, I will have to eat considerable humble pie if it turns out to be the right distance for Roy, as I've spent a year and a half running him over farther.  Early on I formed the opinion that he'd stay well (based on three factors, namely that one could never tire him out at home, that his dam had won the Jersey Derby over a mile and a half, and that his sire is a son of Sunday Silence, and the Hail To Reason/Sunday Silence sireline is synoymous with, by modern Flat racing standardsd anyway, stamina).

Consequently I put him straight in at a mile and a half as a three-year-old and he ran well to be fifth.  I then moved him up to two miles and he ran better, finishing third.  And I've kept him to 10 furlongs or more since then.  However, all this year he has been running like a horse who might benefit from shorter races (which was not the case last year) so tomorrow will be the day to find out whether that impression is correct.  If it is, I will have to admit that I've spent too much time being wrong - but I won't be too proud to do that, and it would be an occasion when I'd be delighted to be proved wrong.  We'll see what happens.

As regards our usual topic, Sunday was one of the filthiest days here one could ever find as we had 24 hours of more or less constant rain. Since then it has got colder.  Yesterday was a nice, clear day, but it started cold and stayed cold; and then last night we had a decent frost - and now, would you believe it, it is bloody raining again.  So that will make underfoot conditions even less acceptable - and on the subject of unacceptable conditions, I concur with David Winter's observation at the bottom of the previous chapter, finding it hard to understand why Southwell persist with Fibresand, particularly when they've had to renew the surface anyway.  I believe that the argument runs along the 'variety is the spice of life' lines; and that any time the matter is discussed, there is always significant support for the status quo(understandably) from the few people who happen at the time to have horses who cope with Fibresand and who have thus become course specialists.

As regards photographs, we start with two pictures from Sunday morning (featuring Roy's ears and then Magic Ice's ears) which make it clear what a foul day it was.  That was in the morning and it carried on raining for another six hours or so, so you can understand how mucky it was by nightfall.  The third picture was taken when Hannah and I were over on Racecourse Side on Monday morning, when at least it was a relief to have no rain and to be able to see the sun, albeit vaguely.  Then we have two pictures from the frost and mist of today's dawn (showing Senator Matt's ears on the Side Hill all-weather, and then Hannah and Russian Link).  And finally we have tomorrow's two runners in their stables today.

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