Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Ah, Christmas Eve.  We've got here, one way or another.  "Are you ready for Christmas?" has been the standard question for weeks, and the stock answer has been that I'm not even sure that I'm ready for the next day.  But now I do feel that I am almost ready for tomorrow, which is a lovely thought.  We've had a few shots at goal in trying to snare a pre-Christmas winner, but sadly that was not to be.  But one second, two thirds, one fourth and one unplaced (well, merely saying "unplaced" is putting it kindly, as Tommy finished a distant last) from five runners was not a disastrous prelude to Christmas.

It should, of course, have been six runners, but a cock-up meant that Zarosa was a non-runner at Fakenham on Sunday.  That was annoying and galling, particularly as she did go to the races, but, while cock-ups should never happen, from time to time they do.  Still, the world kept turning and she didn't fall off its surface, so she can run at Huntingdon on Boxing Day instead.  So that meant that our two runners at Lingfield on Sunday were our only two runners that afternoon, and both finished third: Koreen (first two photographs) a well-beaten and disappointing third after playing up in the stalls and getting off to a bad start in the race, and Cottesloe (third photograph) a typically bold and creditable third, beaten half a length.  He's now run 10 times from this stable and has been in the first four every time.

Tommy 'ran' at Wolverhampton on Monday, but saying that is using 'run' in its wider sense.  Unfortunately I think that even I have now to admit that, while he loves life, he doesn't relish the more arduous aspects of it; and that, as he knows that cantering around behind the others is an easier option than busting a gut to vie for the lead, that is the option which he is likely always to take.  He is a terrific horse, but he it seems as if he isn't ever going to be a terrific racehorse.  So we'll have to work out how he can spend his life.  I won't rush into it, as I want to make sure that he has as good a life as he deserves. And he's happy - you'll see him farther down luxuriating in the sunshine yesterday morning, totally unfazed by his pathetic performance.

So that left our final two runners of our busy three-day period on Tuesday.  Fen Lady finished fourth at Southwell on Tuesday, plugging on dourly and confirming that a fast-run mile is too intense a speed-test for her.  She'll be fine over farther.  Indira (pictured here in the parade ring, the darkness and the rain) ran at Wolverhampton the same day and finished a very good second.  The Irish-trained, Adam Kirby-ridden favourite was always going to be hard to beat, and we duly couldn't beat him; but she did her best, running an excellent race and failing by only half a length.  She has now refound her best form of 2015; and now that she has done so, I hope that she can string a few good runs together, just as she did when she was in good form in the third quarter of last year.

So that was that.  Today was our final day of normalish work before the Christmas period, and I had plenty to do to reach this stage of readyishness.  I only rode two horses this morning, and what was lovely was that both rides were a real pleasure.  Roy is such an idiot because he can be so sensible when he wants; but he generally clowns around, and couldn't be called an easy ride at all.  I usually take him by himself both because he seems to thrive best on very light exercises and also because he can upset the other horses when he fools around.

But today I took him with Indira and Zarosa and he was really, really good.  He has been fairly sensible in recent days, and I thought that it was worth trying him with the others.  He rose to the occasion magnificently, hardly put a foot wrong all exercise and was just so good.  I was really proud of him.  And the other lot I rode was great.  I rode my other usual ride, Blue Sea Of Ibrox, in an exercise of greys, going to the Al Bahathri with Roy's unraced three-year-old half-sister So Much Water, ridden as usual by Petra (who is seen on her in the final photograph, down by the stalls on the Heath last week).

So Much Water has never had much wrong with her, but she has just never been going well enough to run, hence the fact that, having been broken in as a yearling in 2013, she will start 2016 as an unraced four-year-old,  But, ever the optimist, I've kept the faith that she will get her act together eventually.  A couple of weeks ago I remarked to Petra that one day she would surprise us by galloping well - and my prediction came true sooner than I expected, because she broke the habit of a lifetime by winning a gallop about half an hour later.  However, that gallop was with Tommy (who does generally work quite well) and his run on Monday, when he was beaten 92 lengths in a 0-50 race, hardly advertised the form.

So today was the acid test as she went with a reliable yardstick, Blue Sea Of Ibrox, who won over 12 furlongs in October.  And (to my surprise, I must admit) she coped well with this test too.  I was so pleased, and as we pulled up I observed to Petra that the best Christmas present I could possibly receive was the one which I'd just had, ie the sight of So Much Water coming past me in the penultimate furlong.  We've had the odd lovely bright morning recently as three of these pictures confirm, but it's getting stormy again, and the heavens opened as we rode home.  We were drenched by the time that we got back to the stable, but we agreed that. however wet we were, it had been a very pleasing lot.  So, fingers crossed, the filly can finally make her belated debut at Kempton on 6th January, two weeks today.  And, with that nice thought, I feel nearly ready for Christmas.


bigalp said...

Merry Christmas to you all John & A Happy, Healthy and Sucessful New Year. Alec & Jayne

Charlie said...

Seasons Greetings & All the best for 2016

Tony Byles said...

Surprising that Tommy is not better, considering his Mum was a three times Group 1 winner, including the Kentucky Oaks. All the best for 2016. Looking forward to hopefully seeing Roy, in the flesh next year.