Friday, October 30, 2015


I'm sure that I will have previously mentioned the fact that there's no place in the racing game for anyone who can't handle disappointment.  This week has been a good reminder of that truism for me: we've had three runners, all of whom carried some sort of hopes, and all of whom have run very poorly.  We'd  already had Indira's moderate run before I wrote the previous chapter a couple of days ago.  Since then we've had Russian Link yesterday at Stratford who was pulled up; and then today at Newmarket we have had Blue Sea Of Ibrox, who ran better than Russian Link but not significantly so.

Russian Link was very disappointing.  She jumped well and was travelling very easily at halfway.  A furlong later she was going nowhere, and was pulled up shortly afterwards after she had been hampered by a faller.  Wayne Hutchinson reported that she had choked, or words to that effect, which was surprising as I've never heard her make a noise.  Still, I don't think that it's a larynx problem, which would have been far more serious.  If it's a gurgling problem with the soft palate, just getting the horse fitter (and, sometimes, running on firmer ground) tends to sort things out.  If it's a choking problem - well, I don't know really.  We might put a tongue-tie on her and see what happens.

So that was disappointing.  Still, she did a few things right.  Which is probably more than one can say about Blue Sea Of Ibrox, who was grand beforehand but a big disappointment during the race.  She was too keen early on before making a move forward quite early in the race, but then cut out shortly afterwards.  She was going nowhere in the final three furlongs, and finished tired.  I was kicking myself because I'd also had her in the mile-and-a-half fillies' and mares' race on the same card but had elected to run her in the two-miler - and then it seemed as if she would have been better in the shorter race.  Clearly she would have been, but having watched the replay I'm more sanguine, because her action was very poor in the second half of the race and she just didn't look the same horse as the one who had won at Pontefract last week, and I think that she wouldn't have won a race at any distance today.

I hadn't been worried about the extra distance and I hadn't been worried about the prospect of racing on very soft ground.  My belief had been based on the fact that she'd been accustomed to racing over long distances and on bog tracks in National Hunt races - but that theory, of course, had overlooked the fact that she had invariably run poorly over jumps.  On balance, I think that, like Indira the other day, she found the very wet track too soft for her liking, and overall it was a very disappointing run - our third disappointing run from three runners this week.  Still, we're hardened to disappointment by now, so we'll plug on.

In weeks like this, though, one does start worrying whether one's doing things right.  But the answer is that one shouldn't really lose too much sleep on this matter because that's just a fact of life.  Nobody gets everything right - as I was reminded today when looking through the forthcoming AW programme, trying to work out where to run a couple of these horses.  You'll recall that we've previously touched upon the basic rule of race-programming, the one which says that every card has to have two races of a mile or longer whose distances together add up to at least two and a half miles.

Anyway, I've been taken recently that we're still having too many meetings which break this rule - but the real surprise of today was the realization of just how many of the meetings over the next month or so will break this rule.  So if the clerks of the courses and the BHA race-planning department manage so frequently to get this very basic thing wrong, we trainers probably don't need to feel too guilty when we get things which are much, much more complicated and difficult wrong once in a while.

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