Sunday, July 10, 2016


I was doing OK on this blog, but then I didn't manage to post a chapter all last week.  We aren't running many horses at present simply because we don't have many to run, which this week confirms as we only have one entry (Hope Is High at Yarmouth on Wednesday) and she has a fair chance of being eliminated.  But last week was a hectic one as I was away from home four afternoons out of five.  Roy ran at Brighton on Tuesday, I had an afternoon shift on ATR on Thursday and then went to Ascot on Friday with Indira and to Chester on Saturday (yesterday) with Cottesloe.  The first week of the month means accounts have to be sent out, so that meant that there were too many tasks and not enough hours - so no blogging.

My afternoon shift on ATR with Darrell Williams was very enjoyable (for me, anyway, even if for no one else) with Doncaster the only meeting on the channel, Newmarket's July Meeting and wherever else was racing being on the other side.  The three trips to the races were enjoyable too.  Roy (pictured in the first paragraph, in the stableyard after the race on a sun-kissed Brighton evening) ran adequately, even if becoming one of our few unplaced runners of the past few months.  It was a tougher race than his previous contests, and he was racing under a 6lb penalty.  More pertinent, though, was that the favourite enjoyed a very soft lead, meaning that the backmarker (ie Roy) couldn't get involved.  That was three consecutive Tuesdays at the races for him, so he can now have a three-and-a-bit-week gap before going to Epsom at the end of the month and then to the Brighton Festival early in August.  'E'll be right.

Ascot on Friday was really thrilling.  Darrell Williams had seemed rather taken aback on the TV the previous afternoon when I'd said that I wasn't expecting Indira to win, but I wasn't.  I was expecting her to run well (which should have gone without saying, of course, as she wouldn't have been running in the race if I didn't think that she was ready to run very well and that it was a race in which she could run well) but it was the strongest race she'd ever contested, she had a big weight, and she was racing off a mark 7lb higher than she'd ever won off.  (Or, bearing in mind that whatever Josie claims is a gift, one could even view it as a mark 9lb higher than her last win, because Josie had been claiming 5lb when Indira had won at Newmarket off 83, but she is now only claiming 3lb and Indira is rated 90).

Anyway, both of my expectations were fulfilled: Indira (pictured pre-race in the second paragraph and post-race in the third) did not win and she did run well.  In fact, she ran more than well: she ran a magnificent race.  A furlong from home it looked for a few strides as if she could win, but (perhaps with her lack of recent racing taking its toll) she couldn't quite go on with things in the final 100 yards and she finished fourth, beaten 1.25 lengths, neck and neck.  She was, as ever, so very genuine, and Josie, as ever, rode her perfectly.  It wasn't Royal Ascot, but any raceday at Royal Ascot is a big occasion, and she rose to the occasion splendidly.  We are very lucky indeed to have her.

We're very lucky also to have Cottesloe (pictured pre-race in the fourth paragraph and post-race in this one).  He too doesn't know how to run a bad race.  I feared the worst driving up to Chester as the rain started before we got to Birmingham, and continued, often very hard, all the way to Chester.  It was just starting to abate at Chester when we got there which was fortunate as it meant that the afternoon was pleasantly warm and dry and we didn't get wet, but the damage was done: half an inch had fallen and the track was in a mess.  Cottesloe found the loose ground a real problem and went through the first two furlongs looking as if he was going to be hopelessly tailed off, but his determination and his ability combined to see him work his way to an honourable second place.  So that was lovely: visits to two of the best racecourses in England in two days meant a real treat, and the horse running so honourably each time was the icing on the cake.

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