Sunday, July 24, 2016

Further unwelcome temptation

Our trip to Chester yesterday could easily have been far worse than it was - nobody died, or was even hurt - but, even so, it was fairly anti-climactic.  We had made three previous visits to Chester this season for a win and two very good seconds, but yesterday was a wash-out.  I had expected Cottesloe to start second favourite behind the Michael Bell-trained recent hurdles winner Instant Karma, but an avalanche of late money saw him shorten in the final minutes from 5/1 to 7/2 favourite, with Instant Karma drifting out to 9/2 second favourite.  If that was an omen, it was a poor one: neither horse was in contention at any stage of the race.  Instant Karma finished eighth of the 12 runners and we were ninth.

To add insult to financial and spiritual injury, Cottesloe was dope-tested after the race.  And to add injury to insult he somehow managed to pull his near-fore plate (which had only been put on the previous day) off in the dope-box.  So he finally left the course lame as well as down-hearted (well, I was down-hearted, even if he wasn't, although I suspect that he was a bit too, as he didn't enjoy a pleasant passage through the race) although I presume that he will come sound again tomorrow morning when he is re-shod.  I'd begun the day riding Roy (spot the ears) shortly after daybreak, had driven the horse-box nearly 400 miles, got home around 10.15 and to bed at midnight - but then we need downbeat days like yesterday to make the good ones seem so special.

Of course, any day is better for having good weather, and we still have that, even if it was less hot and less sunny over on the west side of the country yesterday than it has been here.  Today is another lovely day and, although I'm feeling tired and am enjoying the opportunity to have three relatively inactive hours during the middle of the day after a morning less busy than the week's other six, it was a true joy to ride two lots this morning: Roy cantering up Long Hill with Hymn For The Dudes, and Kim's Star galloping on the Al Bahahtri with White Valiant (pictured during the gallop, with Clare Alexander).

Roy enjoys every day, of course; and, while I'm inactive in an armchair at present, he's busy out in the field, taking care of business (as you can see here) and starting to 'get in the zone' for his intended trip to Epsom on Thursday.  He should be our only runner of the week, notwithstanding that I had another 'Reoffered Race!' text at 10.02.  I'd entered Hope Is High for a race at Yarmouth on Tuesday, a mere five days after her first run of the year.  It was never likely to be a suitable option, but the entries closed before her race last Thursday, and one never knows what's going to happen: it was not impossible that I might have wanted to run her in it, notwithstanding that that was highly unlikely.

Sure enough, although she ran very well three days ago (so well that, on form, she would probably have started favourite on Tuesday were she to be backing up over course and distance) she had a hard enough race for me not to want to back her up so soon, simply out of consideration for her welfare and out of a desire to look after her, not only for humanitarian reasons but also for the long-term good of her overall career.  It was tempting, simply on the 'bird in the hand' line of reason, but it would have been wrong - hence, again, it was bloody annoying to have the BHA rubbing my nose in the fact (which I already knew) that the race had not attracted a strong field, and thus trying to tempt me to run her in it against my better judgement.  When one is training horses, there is enough pressure anyway without having the further pressure of the BHA trying to persuade one to sail even closer to the wind when one is deciding just how often and how frequently one should be taking the horses to the well.

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