Friday, August 14, 2015

Grey clouds - with maybe a silver lining

Gosh, time flies.  I think that I last posted on Saturday, which only seems like yesterday, but was actually six days ago.  I can't say that I've achieved anything in the interim, but the time's been filled one way or another.  But we're now Friday and I have a less busy afternoon, so now's a good time to put finger to keyboard - not least because I won't be writing anything on here tomorrow afternoon as I'll be up at Ripon with Grand Liaison (pictured here alongside Roy earlier this week, with Fen Lady in the background) while Hannah heads down to Lingfield with Cottesloe.

It's not often that we have two runners on the same day, and it's even rarer for us to have runners at two meetings on the same day.  But tomorrow will be one of those days, and that's grand because each horse should have a fair chance.  Grand Liaison is still arguably a little high in the ratings, but she should have absolutely everything in her favour: distance, ground, fillies- and mares-only company, and class (this level, 0-80, being the lowest she is eligible for with her 76 rating).  And I think and hope that Cottesloe (pictured here earlier this week, with Roy again getting in the photo) is in a suitable contest too.

Cottesloe will be ridden by John Egan, who won on him on the horse's only previous visit to Lingfield, but Grand Liaison has a jockey who has never ridden her previously, let alone won on her.  In her five wins she has had Ian Mongan on board twice, and Franny Norton, Silveste De Sousa and Hannah once each.  Tony Hamilton will be in the saddle tomorrow, and that's very apt, for reasons which won't be instantly obvious bearing in mind that he has never ridden for this stable, but which I will explain.  They stem back 52 weeks, to this day last year when Indira and Graham Lee won the last race and the Giles Bravery-trained Puzzle Mistress won this race, which is the second last.

The pair had travelled up together, and Giles had explained to me that he had booked Tony Hamilton to ride Puzzle Mistress because, although he had never used the jockey previously, he had gone through the statistics and had noted that Tony Hamilton had the best strike rate at Ripon of any of the jockeys riding there.  Hence Giles had booked him, and he duly won on her - and so it was a no-brainer for me to book him to ride Grand Liaison in the same race this year when his agent Niall Hannity rang me yesterday morning to offer his services.  And, thanks to Giles' homework last year, I didn't even have to do any research into the figures.

We had some lovely weather still last weekend and at the start of this week (as the final four photographs confirm) but it's not so good now.  (Well, we've had plenty of rain, but it's still very warm).  Still, every cloud has a silver lining, and the silver lining of the recent rain-clouds for us is that we can run Grand Liaison tomorrow.  I had entered her on Monday morning thinking that we wouldn't be likely to be running; and indeed at declaration time yesterday morning it was still 'good to firm, good in places', and she would have been a non-runner had the going remained thus.

But the forecast was adamant that rain, and plenty of it, was on the way, and 22mm of rain overnight duly turned the ground to 'good to soft' by 9am today.  Now, six hours later, the latest update is: "Soft.  42mm of rain to 1445.  It has rained constantly since the early hours. Rain due to ease off through the afternoon, becoming drier by the evening.  2 - 5mm."  Grand Liaison has won (possibly twice, if my memory serves me correctly) on heavy so that's definitely a silver lining.  Still, nothing is guaranteed, and she does have plenty of weight, so we'll just have to wait and see.  Come what may, though, tomorrow will be a busy day; fingers crossed that it can be a good one too.


Brian Jones said...

John, your use of the word Mistress TWICE and not Puzzle TIME leads one to ask, have you anything extra you want to tell us all .....

neil kearns said...

now that was a performance and a bit dont know how sound cottesloe is but I would there will be a myriad of all weather chances over 1m 4 to 1m 6 over the coming months which looking at his irish form in particular is his preferred surface congrata to mr egan who as usual was excellent where would he be rated in the ranks if he had ever had one of the big stable jockey positions?