Sunday, June 14, 2015


Well, we didn't run Grand Liaison yesterday, but fingers crossed we should be OK tomorrow with Hymn For The Dudes (pictured here eating his dinner the other night, and then galloping with Hannah on the Al Bahathri four days ago, and then with her on the Heath two days ago) and Tommy (Platinum Proof) at Nottingham tomorrow.  Grand Liaison doesn't want to be running on ground faster than good, and it had been good to firm at Chester when I declared her (for Saturday afternoon) on Thursday morning.  However, the course's bulletin told us that they were expecting "a band of heavy rain" overnight Friday into Saturday, yielding something between 10mm and 15mm, so it seemed correct to declare her.

Straightforward to anticipate goodish ground?  Of course not! The rain didn't arrive and, rather than easing, the ground firmed up further to 'good to firm, firm in places'.  It thus became a no-brainer not to run.  Grand Liaison had had three options over the weekend, but happily I don't need to berate myself for having chosen the wrong one, because all three ended up being unsuitable for her.  She was also entered on Saturday at Sandown, where the ground was good to firm at declaration time and 'good to firm, firm in places in the back straight' on race-day.  I didn't even enter her in the third option, and that has proved to have been a good decision.  Salisbury (where they race this afternoon) did catch 4mm of rain on Friday night, but it was still firm there yesterday morning.  The ground which has eased marginally for today's meeting thanks to 8mm of irrigation yesterday, which has left it 'good to firm, firm in places', but that would be no good for this mare.

There have been multiple non-runners at all three of these meetings, and I know that the racing press likes to whinge about scratchings.  But if all the withdrawals were in the same boat as Grand Liaison, then there are no grounds for complaint by anyone.  She was one of three horses taken out of her race at Chester yesterday, which took it down from an 8-runner to a 5-runner contest.  Even with that small field, though, I am completely happy with the decision not to run her, because on that ground (a) she wouldn't win anyway, however few opponents she has, and (b) even more crucially, she would almost certainly come home sore afterwards.  And nobody, surely, would advocate that.  And, similarly, nobody, I presume, would quibble with the decision to declare her on Thursday morning, bearing in mind the outlook as it was then.

For tomorrow's runners, though, the situation is very different.  The ground at Nottingham had been very fast when they raced there on Thursday.  I think that it was described as 'good to firm, firm in places', but I was hoping that some of the rain which was forecast for Chester on Friday night might find its way over to Nottingham.  The forecast suggested that this could happen, although the likelihood appeared to be that rain was less certain there than at Chester, and the total there would be less than what Chester received.  So what happened?

Chester, having been forecast 10mm - 15mm, received nothing, and the ground became firmer; Nottingham received 24mm overnight Friday into Saturday, and the ground there by declaration time on Saturday morning was 'good to soft, soft in places'.  If the weather picks up in the next 36 hours, we should find ourselves racing on lovely ground, just a tad softer than good, and that will be lovely.  So I hope that Hymn For The Dudes and Platinum Proof (pictured last week in the previous paragraph) can show their appreciation of it - even if matching the excellence of the horse on the right in this picture (Able Friend, having his first exercise on Newmarket Heath six days ago) might be asking a bit much.

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