Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In good company

We're in good company: Hymn For The Dudes was not the only declared runner to be found to have a foot abscess yesterday, because California Chrome was found to be thus afflicted shortly after he was declared for tomorrow's Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.  For us this was merely a minor irritation, notwithstanding that yesterday's race at Nottingham would have been a perfect opportunity for his debut.  For California Chrome's connections, though, this must have been incredibly frustrating, bearing in mind that running in the Prince of Wales's Stakes was the sole reason for him being in Europe.  Character-building, this racing game.

Tommy's run was rather character-building, too.  Pictured above under Royston Ffrench before the race, he ran abysmally.  It was clear by the time that they had gone halfway that he was going to finish out the back, and he duly passed the post 17 lengths behind the second last horse.  That was as irritating as it was baffling: even if the form book had suggested that he would have been an unlikely winner, it was still hard to fathom that he could or would run that badly.  But, again, we are accustomed to disappointment, and no lives were lost.  Even so, such setbacks are easier to take during the day than in the last race at an evening meeting.  In the latter case, they make a very long day seem even longer.

As it was, though, Nottingham was a lovely place to be last night, other than that I didn't enjoy the three minutes or so which I spent watching Tommy's race.  There were plenty of nice people, nice horses and good racing there, with the highlight being an excellent result: Stanghow carried the colours of the late Mel Brittain to victory under Paul Hanagan in a sprint (and is pictured easing down after the line in the second paragraph).  Mel is much missed by the racing community, and it was lovely to see his famous colours in the winner's enclosure again.  I hope that this win will have given his family a welcome boost.

We had some good sunshine at Nottingham yesterday evening, and we had some more here today (as you can see in the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs) which was lovely.  Some more would be nice tomorrow too, and we ought to get it.  Tomorrow will be the second day of Royal Ascot, but the main meeting for us will be Chelmsford, where Koreen runs.  It's another evening meeting, but we'll be in the first race this time, which will be a welcome change.

He's well placed in an unremarkable 7-runner handicap, but his mark of 70 seems very harsh on all his form bar what he was doing in the early days with Andre Fabre.  He certainly didn't run to that mark in Italy and hasn't run to it in his two starts in the UK - so, while he'll be doing his best, he might find it a bit of a struggle, even with his burden reduced to a less unrealistic level by the 7lb claim of Jimmy Quinn's son Josh, who is starting to make a bit of a name for himself now that he is down with Richard Hannon.

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