Monday, August 22, 2016

I am military

Our trip to Bath on Saturday was not totally satisfactory, notwithstanding that Hope Is High finished 3rd of 11, which isn't bad.  I had been hoping for a fair bit of rain, and 10mm the previous day/night with the promise of more to come during the day seemed fine.  But it rained and rained and rained, very hard at times, and turned the course into a far wetter and far looser surface than I or the filly would have chosen.  I didn't walk much of it because I don't like being cold and very wet, but the bit I did walk (outside the stables) was, in my opinion, good to firm the first time I had a look, and then good, beautiful ground, an hour or so before the first race.

That would have been perfect, but it kept on raining very hard.  The first two races opened the ground up, and it was not a good track at all by the time that we ran in the third.  To compound the problem, she was drawn six, and the horse in stall four jumped violently right on leaving the barriers.  That knocked the horse in five into her, and she ended up being thumped between the horses on either side of her.  Then, three strides later, she stumbled, and she looked laboured all the way thereafter.  As Josephine put it, "She was murdered coming out of the stalls, and she was never comfortable afterwards."

From halfway it was clear that she wasn't going to win, and I thought for most of the race that she would do well to finish in the first six.  But, bless her, she showed the fighting spirit of a champion to box on for a very dour third place.  (By the way, the bit about a her showing the fighting spirit of a champion isn't a misprint: I know that she isn't a champion, but it never does any harm to correct a myth often propagated by the pundits by pointing out that the difference between a genuine top-class horse and a genuine lower-grade horse isn't that the former tries harder, but that the former has more ability).  She tried her heart out and had a very hard race (and there's not much of her anyway) so she won't be running again for a handful of weeks, but she'll bounce back.

Anyway, that was all slightly dispiriting, and I had to keep reminding myself of the truism which I often cite that when a horse runs well and he/she plus the jockey both come home safe and sound, it hasn't been a bad day.  And the journey was straightforward: the only bit of congestion we found on the roads, on the M25 on the outward journey, was where I had predicted that it would be, so that was fine.  Mind you, the journey running like clockwork was no less than I would expect: it seems currently to be fashionable in racing circles to parade one's service record, so I might as well point out that (on the basis of having eventually risen to the rank of lance-corporal in the Wellington College CCF) I am military, so I expect to be obeyed.

If only life were that simple.  If it were that simple, I would merely have to command Magic Ice (pictured in the final paragraph waiting for her tea last night - and the final four photographs, all taken yesterday, show that the weather here is much, much, much better than it was at Bath) to win at Chelmsford tomorrow.  She had had me scratching my head two weeks ago when galloping pathetically (for no obvious reason other than pulling too hard in the first half of the gallop: she is 100% sound, and she didn't bleed, externally anyway) but last Wednesday she went a lot better.  Later that morning I was long-reining a young horse around the bottom of Warren Hill just before noon, ruminating on the subject of Magic Ice as I did so.  My ruminations eventually led me to the conclusion that I probably ought to make an entry for her as soon as a suitable race presented itself.

My Eureka moment came when I looked at my phone and saw that it was 11.58.  I quickly went on to the Weatherbys site on my phone (bear in mind that I was still long-reining this young horse on the Heath, so don't try this at home, as they say on the TV) and saw that the entries for two local meetings would be closing in just over one minute's time.  I quickly clicked on Yarmouth, only to see that there was nothing suitable there.  Chelmsford - bingo!  A seven-furlong 4yo+ 46-60 handicap, a race in which I immediately entered her with no more than 10 seconds to spare before the deadline.

Only ten entries (so if I'd missed the deadline there would only have been nine, and it would have been re-opened) so it was a no-brainer to run her, especially when she galloped pleasingly again on Saturday.  So she can run tomorrow and we can see if she is ever going to have a future as a racehorse, which the form book suggests is unlikely to be the case.  Anything, though, is possible - but realistically we'll be travelling much more in hope than confidence.  You can see that realism has ruled my thinking because, while I would have loved to have had Josie ride her, I am even keener to see Josie win the apprentices' title; so when her agent said that she also had the chance to ride Mark Loughnane's runner, I immediately said that she should do that as that would almost certainly give her a better chance of a winner, without even pausing to see whom Mark is running and what, if any, chance his horse has.

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