Friday, July 22, 2016

Get thee hence!

I note that it is ten days since I last wrote a chapter of this blog.  I can't really think why it's been so long, although we can always use the heat as an excuse.  It's been lovely - I think that 31 degrees is the best we've had here, on Tuesday.  The following morning it was 23 degrees at 6am, so we really have been enjoying been proper summer conditions.  That's lovely.  We spend too many weeks of the year (50 or so) wishing that it was warmer/drier/sunnier/whatever - so it's lovely not to have any such complaints.  Long may this glorious weather last!

We began this week with high hopes of having three runners.  As happens all too often, high hopes turned out to precede disappointment.  Indira has just had a slight setback, which isn't a great deal in the great scheme of things, but does mean that she needs a break as she has an injury which would worses were she to remain in training.  It's now the second half of July, so realistically that's the end of her racing for 2016.  Were she a gelding, she'd return to training next year and the likelihood would be that she would put the problem behind her and resume racing, probably in the second half of the year.

But she isn't a gelding: she's a five-year-old mare who has put together a solid CV, so realistically the decision might be taken to quit while she and we are ahead, by allowing her next spring to begin the breeding career which she has earned.  She was entered today for valuable handicaps at both Ascot and Newmarket.  These will have fields of six and three respectively, which makes it particularly hard to swallow that she's spending the afternoon sunbathing in a pen out in the middle of the yard.

She's sound, and a more ruthless trainer would have run her, and she'd probably have run to something like her best form, and might well have won; but in doing so she'd have turned a very small problem into a big one, and for me there was no decision to take.  So that's that.  Bloody disappointing, but only a problem for her connections: she's happy as Larry, other than the fact that, probably unaware that she has anything wrong with her, she's probably wondering why she hasn't been ridden the past couple of days.

So that's taken our three runners down to two.  Of those, it's one down, one to go.  The one who has already run in Hope Is High, who finished second at Yarmouth yesterday afternoon (as seen here).  She went into the race with no worthwhile form to her name and was racing from 5lb out of the handicap on what was her first of 2016 and her first start for this stable, having been bought by Emma at the February Sale for 800 gns.  Her prospects now look less bleak because she ran a lovely race yesterday, finishing second to the Luca Cumani-trained even-money favourite, an impeccably-bred who has never been through a sale but who would have fetched considerably more than 800 gns had she done so, being by Dansili out of a full-sister to St Nicholas Abbey.

The week's other runner, God willing, is tomorrow: Cottesloe, returning to Chester.  Let's see if he can go one place better than in his two recent runs, at Newmarket four weeks ago and at Chester a fortnight ago.  He isn't the bravest horse in a race and doesn't like being crowded (hence him wearing blinkers) but he's in great heart (as one can tell from his beaming face in the photograph in this paragraph, taken this morning when he was cantering up Long Hill with Clare Alexander - and don't let the lack of blue sky fool you: it's been another lovely day) but if things go his way he should have a very good chance.

So that's the view from here: satisfaction from Hope Is High at Yarmouth, anticipation regarding Cottesloe at Chester, but overwhelmingly disappointment at Indira's setback.  And with that disappointment came annoyance at my usual gripe: the re-offering of races.  I received a text from Weatherbys at 10.15 on Wednesday morning telling me that the Newmarket race had been re-offered as it had attracted such a weak field.  As mentioned above, there are many trainers who would have run her, and she might well have won.  However, it would have been the wrong thing to do - but the temptation was there, and having it waved in my face by Weatherbys was hard to swallow.

When we enter a horse in a race, we do so hoping to run.  When we don't declare, nine times out of ten it is because we are not happy that the horse is fit to run, or are concerned that the conditions will not be kind to him/her (eg firm ground for a horse of questionable soundness or suspected fragility, soft ground for a horse not strong enough to cope with it).  When, having entered, we take a decision not to run, it is usually taken with regret but out of consideration for the horse's welfare.  To have the authorities try to talk us out of that decision is hard to swallow.  Let us hope that in these circumstances we can continue to have the strength to say to the tempter, "Get thee hence!".


kim pop said...


Very sad news about Indira lets hope breeding works out well.

Dennis & Alison.

John Berry said...

Thank you very much. She might return to training - we'll see.
And thank you for the lovely card which arrived this morning. It was a pleasure to have you visit.
With best wishes

neil kearns said...

Tough one for all John - sure you have made the correct decision - ridiculous the number of runners in the two races you have highlighted as well as York's group 2 race makes you wonder what connections want ?

David Winter said...

Exactly the right decision John, well done. It is so very tempting in this hard industry when a pot or place is almost there for the taking, but the horse must always come first and hopefully you will be training her and her offspring in due course.