Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Always trying

Happily, the grey clouds at the end of last week did indeed have one silver lining for us, Cottesloe (pictured back home at bedtime that night, tucking into his supper) winning comfortably on Saturday evening under a typically sound John Egan ride.  It was more surprising that he didn't start favourite than that he won, as the Mark Johnston-trained favourite (who finished second) could only boast very unremarkable form, whereas Cottesloe's form this preparation was rock-solid.  It's lovely that it's still rock-solid - even if we should temper our bullishness by remembering that the place-getters are both fairly exposed maidens, notwithstanding that the Al Shaqab horse who finished third had been a 250,000-guinea yearling.

Hannah took Cottesloe down there on her own, and did a really good job of making sure that everything ran smoothly there.  Things probably ran smoothly enough up at Ripon, whither I headed with Grand Liaison (pictured after the race) even if the result was less good.  She didn't run badly, though, finishing fifth, but things didn't really go her way.  It was beautiful ground, but less soft (ie less suitable for us) than one would have expected at a racecourse which had received 45mm of rain the previous day, whose non-stop rain turned out to have been a remarkable contrast to the extremely pleasant conditions (illustrated in the third paragraph) which prevailed on Saturday.

If the discovery that the ground wasn't soft had lowered my expectations, those expectations were lowered further still immediately before and just after the start: she had jumped really quickly at Newmarket on her previous outing, and she tried to do the same at Ripon but got it wrong.  She jumped just before the gates opened, giving her head a hefty bang and then finding herself going backwards when the gates opened and the others jumped forward.  So she missed the start, and thereafter was never really where one would have liked her to be.  But she still ran creditably, bless her, and did her best.  Always trying.

The weather has still been up-and-down since then, with a lovely day on Monday (shown here, with the sun rising over Warren Hill) being followed by a very damp one yesterday (as we know from the fact that Gleneagles isn't running at York this afternoon).  Even in his absence, though, the Juddmonte International will still be a wonderful race - but I'd have to say that, whatever happens there, we've already had the result of the day.  Josh Pearce, formerly of this parish where he worked for Neville Callaghan for a while and then in Darley's pre-training yard on Hamilton Hill for a few years, is one of the hardest-working and most genuine lads in the game, and it was lovely to see him ride his first winner in the opening amateurs' race at Carlisle this afternoon.  This long-awaited victory was very, very deserved.  Always trying.

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