Tuesday, December 08, 2015

It wasn't really wasted time

We ended up having a good week last week.  Three runners: Zarosa fourth, Cottesloe fourth, and Indira second.  Indira (pictured here in Hamilton Road having a light exercise first lot the day after her race) was particularly good, and good old Cottesloe (pictured in the second paragraph, in the parade ring before the race) maintained his record, after nine starts now, of having always finished in the first four for us every time.  That suggests that the horses are running well, so we'll do what we can to 'get the Christmas money'.  We have six horses ready to run at present, and I hope that all six will run between now and Christmas.  First of those will be Koreen at Lingfield tomorrow, who I hope should have a decent chance.  Fen Lady should be the second, at Wolverhampton two days later, but she is odds-on not to get in.

So I hope that Fen Lady will run instead next week.  And then in Christmas week we should have four runners.  Cottesloe should run at Lingfield on the Sunday (20th) and Zarosa should run at Fakenham on the same day.  Then at the two-day Wolverhampton meeting on the 21st and 22nd, the last two days before racing (although not training, obviously) shuts down for three days, we should have Indira running on one day and Tommy (Platinum Proof) running on the other.  I keep being asked if I'm "ready for Christmas" - well, Christmas is the last thing on my mind and I don't think that I'll even be ready for it come bedtime on Christmas Eve, but I hope that I (and the horses) will be ready for those racedays when they come along.

The nice week with our runners wasn't, surprisingly, spoiled by the weather.  It was dreadful elsewhere, as the reputed 400mm of rain in a two-day period at Thirlmere in Cumbria suggests.  That's terrible, and unimaginable.  When we have a really grotty day and it rains all day, we find that we have ended up with about 15mm.  Getting an inch in a day (25mm) is as bad as you could find - so 400mm in two days is, well, unimaginable.  For the poor people who had it - well, they don't need to imagine it, because they suffered it.  And we, who haven't seen it, can't imagine it - especially as we didn't get any rain to speak of last weekend.  We had very strong winds for a day and a half, but very, very mild temperatures; and it was dry.

Even knowing that it's been very mild the past week or two in south east England, I was still taken aback yesterday to see some daffodils in flower on a roundabout in Windsor.  That was one of the trio of highlights of my trip to Ascot Sale with Russian Link.  The second one was related (sort of) because it also (sort of) suggested a micro-climate: a couple of miles farther on, while driving through the Great Park, I saw a flock of green parrots fly past me.  I saw either the same parrots or their friends in that area a while back while driving along the M4, so this wasn't a total surprise.  But it was rather nice anyway.

The third highlight was seeing much of Tattersalls' top brass at Ascot Sale.  This was the second Ascot Sale since the Brightwells/Tattersalls take-over, and some of the Tatts boys felt moved to put in an appearance to see how the other half live.  I was rather pleased with the greeting with which I favoured them all: "Come for a reality check?".  Mind you, the final day of the December Breeding Stock must have given them enough of a reality check as it was.  The overall statistics for that section of the December Sale were 680 horses sold at an average of 68,402 guineas and aggregate of 46,513,500 guineas, with a median of 28,000 guineas.  Very healthy, eh?

Well, sort of.  That was over all four days of that section.  So the first three days were grand.  And the fourth, where Tattersalls put the less obvious horses?  120 horse sold (out of 186 offered, and 242 catalogued) for an average of 5,396 guineas and aggregate of 647,500 guineas, and with a median of 3,650 guineas.  Merely to describe it as a two-tier market is understating things, because that does not even begin to highlight the width of the gulf between the two tiers.  And that gulf will remain for as long as it remains official policy to maintain such a massive gap (in absolute terms, and in comparison with pretty much any other racing nation) between the huge prizes on offer for the elite races, and the pitiful stake money for the run-of-the-mill bulk of contests.

Anyway, I took Russian Link down to Ascot knowing that logic said that she wouldn't attract a bid, but clinging to the notion that formerly one always used to find a buyer for any horse there.  Those days seem to have gone now: there were far more horses than potential purchasers there (and seemingly more Tattersalls employees than purchasers too - although I'm sure that that won't last once the novelty has worn off) and the non-racing sector of the 'buying bench' seems to have gone from significant to non-existent.  Anyway, I'm such a softie and she's such a sweetie that by the time it was our turn to go into the ring I was secretly hoping that nobody would bid.  Which is indeed what happened.  So I came home slightly less dispirited than I should have been about the fact that I'd had an expensive and completely wasted day.  And she came home to enjoy an unplanned supper with her avian friends.

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