Thursday, June 23, 2016

A sunny island of joy in a sea of rain

Tuesday is such a happy memory.  The weather really is extremely poor - very warm, but very, very wet, with absolutely torrential rain this evening on top of the torrential rain we had earlier in the week, and it's really depressing - but Tuesday was a ray of sunshine literally as well as metaphorically.  All the horses we have entered over this week and next  (Roy, Cottesloe, Indira and Hope Is High) much prefer fast ground, and generally we are struggling to find suitable ground for them.  It didn't look promising for Roy at Brighton with the racecourse having been drenched the previous day and the ground being given as 'soft'.  However, we had luck on our side: Tuesday was a lovely day, in Brighton anyway, and we weren't in until the last at 5.45, so there was plenty of time for the track to dry out to something close to good going for our race.

We also had luck on our side in that we drew an even number, and a high one to boot (six of eight) which meant that we were set to be among the last to be loaded, which is a massive stroke of luck with Roy who is very, very difficult in the stalls once he has been in them for more than about 15 seconds.  Having to go in early is one of my worst nightmares with him, so each time I declare him, the first thing I do when the declarations are out is look to see what we have drawn.  Six of eight, thank you very much!  I know that conspiracy theorists like to note non-runners who have drawn high and then tap their noses knowingly - but 16 of 16 would do me just fine for Roy.  (Stall one, however, would be a completely different matter!)

Anyway, it was lovely just to be down at Brighton on Tuesday - and with Roy winning, well that was blissful.  John Egan rode him in his three victories there last season and that fact gave me great pleasure, as our friendship is a long-lasting one.  I was similarly pleased for similar reasons this week that Ross Birkett won on him, and not only for the fact that it's always pleasing to have a horse ridden perfectly and to the letter of the instructions (which is what happened).  Ross' family is one which I've known and liked for as long as I've been living in these parts (which is longer than Ross has been living in these parts, notwithstanding that he was born here) so his winning on Roy gave me great joy.

Any raceday with Roy is a pleasure (as long as he doesn't do something really stupid and have me tearing my hair out, which has happened on occasions in the past) for two very big reasons.  He's my favourite horse who is a great character, whom I bred and whom I ride pretty much every day of the year; and I own him with dear friends with whom it is a pleasure to race a horse.  So when, on top of that, the weather is lovely, he's ridden by someone good and he wins, well that's pretty much a recipe for a perfect day.  And our good friend Aaron Lau (shown here, after the race; and in the penultimate paragraph on Long Hill yesterday on the subsequently-mentioned White Valiant) is back with us again this summer and he was there to help, so that was the icing on the cake.

That's now 21 wins for the progeny of my broodmare Minnie's Mystery.  Her first foal Grey Panel has won 11 races in Jersey for Tony Le Brocq (who had previously raced Minnie's Mystery).  Her second foal Dream Walker has won six races, one when trained by Ian McInnes and five from Brian Ellison's stable.  And Roy, her third foal, has now won four races, all at Brighton.  So the achievements of those three put pressure on the rest!  Her fourth foal, who would now be aged five if she were alive, had a paddock accident at the stud as a yearling and did not survive.  Her fifth foal is So Much Water, who is here and has run once (in the same colours and for the same partnership as Roy) to date, aged four.  And then we have White Valiant (three, unraced, here), her two-year-old Rock On Dandy (twice raced, with Harry Dunlop) and a yearling full-brother to White Valiant whom I sold last autumn.  She has no foal this year, and has been covered by Rajsaman.

Roy has come out of the race very well (even if he did award himself a lie-in yesterday morning to rest from the previous day's exertions, as the previous paragraph's photograph confirms) and is entered at Brighton on Tuesday.  He would go there in great heart, but we'll have to keep an eye on the weather as there will have been further deluges at Brighton since we were there two days ago.  Between now and then we have Cottesloe at Newmarket tomorrow (although the current teeming rain is making me feel very uneasy) which is an option which I chose instead of Chester on Saturday.  They'll both be wet, Newmarket probably more so, but at least we won't be travelling 370 miles to run on unsuitable ground (if we do actually run).

Aside from that we had Indira entered at both Newmarket and Windsor, but she won't be running in the quagmire at either track.  And we have Hope Is High (pictured here with Jana, alongside Cottesloe on the Al Bahathri yesterday) who is entered at Bath on Wednesday, but she's so lowly rated that she won't get in unless the ground firms up and the field-size falls away.  And she wants fast ground anyway.  Ah, troubles and troubles - but I suppose that if we end up with statistics for the fortnight of one runner for one winner, it won't be too bad.

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