Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Patience, patience ...

I think I last wrote a chapter shortly before heading off to Chepstow with Senator Matt (shown here in the evening murk after the race, with Saleem Golam about to dismount) on Saturday.  It was a long trip during which Chepstow maintained its record of always raining any time I go there (although, fortunately, on this occasion the rain did not start until about half an hour after our race) but it was a good one.  It had rained there the previous day too and I'm glad about that, because the ground was still surprisingly fast even for having had 11mm of rain on Friday.  One might think that Senator Matt's run would not have been particularly pleasing as he finished towards the rear, but he acquitted himself honourably and honestly, showing a good spirit in every respect, and also racing dourly enough to suggest that he can improve from this when he gets up to two miles.  He might be a five-year-old maiden, but he's only a lightly-raced one.

That was pleasing, but our proposed trip to Nottingham tomorrow won't be pleasing as it isn't going to happen.  I'd hoped to run another five-year-old maiden, Magic Ice, pictured here last month - and, annoyingly, it has indeed turned out to be a race from which she would not, for once, have been eliminated, as there are only 10 runners - but I'm not happy with her, so have not declared her.  This is a perfect illustration of the frustrations of training and racing (or, more correctly, trying to race) horses.  I trained her for around a year from when she was a spring two-year-old to when she was a spring three-year-old, and she was fairly straightforward then.  But since her return here 20 months ago - gee, she's been hard to get right.

When I bought her at Tattersalls 20 months ago, Brian Ellison, from whose stable she came, was typically helpful after the sale, suggesting that he felt that she could do with a break.  I was slightly surprised to hear this because she looked as if she had already been having one, but once I had had her in the stable for a few days I could see what he meant because, although she was sound, she was as stiff as a board or as flat as a pancake (chose whichever cliche you prefer) so attempting to train her would have been swimming completely against the tide.  Anyway, I didn't run her for nine months, and then once I had finally given her a run (in which she ran quite well, finishing fifth of 12 at Yarmouth despite not being fully fit) I then didn't run her for again another three months after that.

Anyway, in the 20 months that I have had her, she has run four times, most recently on 16th January.  She's just been so hard to have right, and I can't honestly say that I've been 100% happy with her at any stage.  I could probably count the weeks in which I have been almost completely happy with her (and these obviously include the four weeks in which she has raced) on my eight fingers; and, while I was almost completely happy with her a week ago, I am less so now, so haven't declared her.  She's a very honest, genuine filly who will be well up to winning races when she is right, despite the fact that at one stage she had developed a habit of racing too keenly, a habit which has found hard to shake off - but she won't win anything until she is right, and there's never any point in trying to kid oneself that one is totally happy with a horse's condition when one isn't.  Fingers crossed, though, we'll get there in the end, even if takes a while longer yet.  There's a race which might suit her in the third week of July ...

1 comment:

wayinfront said...

That's a marvellous, detailed, very informative and very interesting piece. For any punter, including a hardened old one like myself, it gives real insight into what it is like to be a trainer, and the difficulties trainers face.

It's also a very enjoyable read. I'll long remember it. Thank you very much John.