Friday, July 31, 2015

Runners, non-runners and friendly faces, human and equine

Four declared runners this week (albeit with only three horses) but two were scratched, which isn't ideal.  We'll come on to that, but we'll start with the first one, who did run.  Cottesloe (pictured pre-race) ran a nice race at Sandown on Wednesday evening.  He doesn't like being crowded at all - hence the application of blinkers - and so stall one was the last thing we wanted.  I'd possibly over-emphasised to John Egan his dislike of having horses around him (although it's not really possible to over-emphasise that, as he hates it) and so we agreed to drop back and come down the middle of the course.  I was happy with that after 300m as the leaders were going very hard, but they put the brakes on going into the turn, and so they just proved too hard to reel in. Cottesloe boxed on very well, finishing fourth, beaten just over a length.

It was funny, really, We've enjoyed a lot of success at Sandown over the years, and I've always found that it suits our horses, who generally like to come with a sustained run from off the pace.  However, I've been perplexed any time recently that I've watched Racing UK, hearing the pundits saying that it's a track that suits front-runners on which it's hard to make up ground.  That had never been my experience - but I now see the point.  I said to John Egan after the race that it hadn't been like watching a race at Sandown, more like watching a race at Windsor.  He replied, "That always happens here because the bend is so tight".  So now I know - but what I don't know is how long the bend has been so tight, because I'm sure that that hasn't always been the case.  Anyway, it clearly is now, and my belief that Sandown sees truly-run races which suit horses coming with a long, sustained run is clearly just another example of my living in the past.  But I've moved on now - in this instance, if not in general!

So that was Wednesday. Thursday was more complicated.  We'd opted for Nottingham Thursday over Newmarket Saturday for Grand Liaison, despite the fact that Newmarket was clearly going to be a more suitable race, on the basis that the weather forecasts (ie wet at the start of the week then brightening up markedly by midweek) suggested that we'd get our ground (ie not too firm) on Thursday but not on Saturday.  Anyway, come the day, it became apparent that the wet weather was lingering longer than forecast, so Newmarket (where we had a couple of hours of solid rain yesterday afternoon) had come back into the equation.  You've got to play by the rules, and the only way within the rules of not running on Thursday but running on Saturday was making the trip with her to Nottingham yesterday afternoon.  So that's what I did yesterday - and what I will do tomorrow is to take her to the July Course.  Fingers crossed.

Then we had Fen Lady declared at Newmarket this evening.  She'd been inked in for this after her debut, but a fly appeared in the ointment at the end of last week when she started coughing.  I was very keen to run her for various reasons, and she was fit and ready to run.  She could clearly run as soon as she had completely shaken her little cold off, so it made sense to declare her and hope that she'd give us the all-clear.  Sadly, though, but possibly unsurprisingly, she hasn't quite shaken it off yet.  She is almost there, but she gave eight coughs (which isn't much, but is still more than zero, which is what we want) this morning, so we're not quite there, and it would clearly have been wrong to run.

So then the fourth declaration this week is a horse we've already discussed, ie Grand Liaison tomorrow.  The weather is picking up again nicely, and the track is clearly going to dry out, but I had a walk on the July Course this afternoon and it was absolutely beautiful ground.  It'll be a bit firmer by 5pm tomorrow, but it'll still be safe ground, and that'll be good enough for me.  It worked out well for me to have an inspection of the July Course, because we had Jamie Kah staying on a brief visit to HQ, and it was good to take her up to have a look at the two racecourses at the end of the morning.

Jamie, of course, is one of an elite band of riders to be champion jockey while still an apprentice, having won the premiership in Adelaide a couple of years ago while simultaneously being champion apprentice.  She's been having an extended holiday in Europe, which comes to an abrupt end next week: she flies home on Tuesday, and there are trials the day after she arrives, and she'll be riding in most of them.  So the opportunity to see the world has been good for her, and it was very nice to be able to give her a look at the place where the game all started.  I took her round to Michael Stoute's stable and she rode a couple of lots there, and then rode one for us (pictured on Tommy this paragraph and the previous one).  Michael Stoute's stable was perfect as she rode a couple of nice horses, going to different parts of the Heath and with plenty of friendly faces in a string which is always full of good people.

So that was nice - and another nice thing today was watching Dubday win at Goodwood.  I've been seeing Dubday (pictured) most days through the summer, and he's a great character: very cheeky and boisterous, but no harm in him.  JP Guillambert rides him every day, and he rides him very, very well.  The handful of Qatari horses seem to be stabled in John Winter's old yard, Highfield, halfway down the Bury Road.  They have a nice foreman who walks out with them in the mornings, and I generally pass the time of day with him.  I went past them earlier in the week, and Dubday was looking very cheeky, prancing around naughtily (with JP typically unpertured).  I remarked to the foreman, "Gee, Dubday looks ready for a run", to which he replied with a smile, "He runs Friday".  So I was delighted to see him win.

1 comment:

David Winter said...

Well, things you have to do !!!..I am in awe of your honour in abiding by the rules...not many would . It is not an inconsiderable inconvienance, both monetarily and time wise to journey to Nottingham [ six hours i imagine ] and especially when you have a stable to run, Mayoral duties to attend to and write your racing columns . Fingers crossed Newmarket turns up trumps, well deserved !