Friday, October 16, 2015

Very disappointing

Well, I would like to say that the trip to Fakenham today was indeed very exciting as predicted yesterday, but in truth it would be fairer to say that it was very disappointing.  Tommy's a grand horse as well as a really lovable one, but he has spent his life being a disappointment on (his infrequent) racedays.  I trained him for his previous owners as a two-year-old and three-year-old until he left here in June 2013 (when he was aged three).  He moved to David O'Meara and thence to Brian Ellison, but his regression continued more or less uninterruptedly irrespective of where he was living.  I bought him for 800gns at the Doncaster May Sale 17 months ago.

In the weeks after his return here I became increasingly unhappy with his feet.  He wasn't comfortable, and the upshot was that he'd been here for a year before I was happy to let him have a race.  He eventually resumed on 12th May 2015.  He has now (and we're now 16th October) had four official (and one unofficial) races this year, having not raced at all during 2014. In his first race this year he didn't try at all.  In his second, in first-time blinkers, he got involved in the race before weakening to finish fourth of six.  In his third he didn't try at all.  Then, after having had three runs in five weeks, he then didn't run for four months as his feet started playing him up again.  Finally, recently he has seemed to have had nothing troubling him at all, for the first time for God knows how long.

So he resumed racing unofficially on Saturday when he ran well in the Varsity Race.  One can take the form in unofficial races with a big pinch of salt, but his midfield run in a 0-80 level-weights mile race was good.  He was really thriving and he had a gallop four days later (ie two days ago) with the bang-in-form 78-rated Cottesloe and went very nicely, probably the first time I've ever galloped him and not been left with a nagging feeling that he wasn't going quite as well as I'd like him to be or as he should be.  So he went to Fakenham today for his hurdles debut.  He travelled round nicely for the first half of the race, then went from travelling nicely to going absolutely nowhere in not much more than a furlong.  Tim Donworth sensibly pulled him up more or less straightaway.  He'd bled, which is no big deal as far as he's concerned.  But as far as I'm concerned it's devastating.  It meant that within not much more than a minute I went from feeling that years of frustration-cum-hope might be within sight of finally coming good to realising that this lovely horse probably has no future as a racehorse.

It's just as well that we're pretty hardened to disappointment by now, because today was a classic reminder of the truism that this isn't a game for anyone who can't handle disappointment.  Let's hope that the two runners coming up (Zarosa, who should have a very good chance at Catterick tomorrow, and Blue Sea Of Ibrox, who should go very well at Pontefract on Monday - and they are pictured in the third and fourth paragraphs respectively, in the yard in the sunshine towards the end of last month) do not serve up similar dishes of disappointment, because there's only so much one can bear.  But if we do have two days similar to today (ie days when the disappointment was like a punch in the guts, but when the horse and the jockey both came back safe and sound) we'll just do what we're doing now, ie reflecting that it could have been worse, that no lives have been lost, and that the sun will still rise tomorrow.


Jason Coote said...

Great read, as always, John. It must be very frustrating, especially when that glimmer of hope signals what could be. Horse racing is fascinating because it is all about perspective and those differ so greatly from one person to the next. From the owner, trainer, punter et al. I always remember the words of an American horse breeder saying that every horse has its story to tell. Perhaps so often that doesn't register with many people because the focus is on one race on one day almost devoid of the past or future. Perhaps it only those who truly love their horses who see and empathise with that bigger picture. Certainly if every horse has its story to tell, every owner/trainer does too.

Best wishes,

David Winter said...

I watched the race knowing a bit of his background from previous posts and when he faltered so quickly I thought he might have broken down and the TVs pictures didn't give much indication of what happened to him. So it's a big relief to know that he is ok but obviously very disappointing for you John,that the bleeding will be problematic. What I find so upsetting is that you put so much thought,care and cash into trying to rescue him from Donny sales and give him a future and that things have turned out the way they have : you both deserve better but sometimes life twists in strange ways. Totally evicerating butI I hope you have adjusted somewhat to the situation and I am sure you have no regrets.

Kind regards. David.