Thursday, May 04, 2017

Guineas week

It was nice to go to Yarmouth on Tuesday sitting atop the 'Hot Trainers' table in that day's Racing Post, on 100%.  One can't have a healthier figure than that.  (The table is done on the trainer with the best winners to runners percentage over the past two weeks, trainers having had to have sent out at least two winners in that period to qualify).  One can, of course, I should add, have a healthier version of the same figure, ie it's better to have had a 100% strike rate over the past two weeks from, say, 20 runners than from the two runners (White Valiant and Roy) whom we had had.

Still, I'll settle for small glories.  I would like to say that our strike rate over the past fortnight is still 100%, but it isn't.  It is now 50%.  That's a figure which would still see one taking high order in the Hot Trainers list, but of course it won't see us doing that.  By the time that we have another runner (which should be 11 days from now: Delatite, seen in paragraph five, this morning, at Towcester on 15th May) our figure will be down to 0%, White Valiant's and Roy's triumphs having disappeared by then off the bottom of the fortnight-long screen and only Sussex Girl's and Hope Is High's fourth places remaining on it.

Anyway, at Yarmouth both horses ran adequately.  Merely saying that Sussex Girl finished fourth is actually flattering her: she was fourth of five (two of the seven declarations ended up as scratchings) and was well enough beaten, but that's OK because she was racing in company hotter than she will eventually have to face (ie maiden rather than lower-tier handicap) and over a distance shorter than will ultimately prove ideal (five furlongs, rather than something longer).  The lowest part of her performance wasn't actually her run but her behaviour before the race: she was very cheeky down at the start and for a while looked as if she wasn't going to go into the stalls.

Happily, all was well that ended well, and I'd like to think that henceforth she will take, or try to take, fewer liberties rather than more.  So that was OK.  As was Hope Is High's run.  Her fourth place was more respectable: fourth of 11, and beaten less far (3.75 lengths).  She probably had more than 3.75 lengths' worth of things go wrong during the race, the consequence of being drawn very wide; and all in all it was a pleasing performance on her first run since September.  I went into the day believing that she ought to be set for a rewarding season, and I still hold that view.  But then, as we see all too often, I am an optimist by nature!

So that was Tuesday, and the first four photographs illustrate the two horses' day.  As is often the case, conditions were considerably more bracing over at Yarmouth than they had been when we had left here.  They've been even more bracing than that here since then, with a chilly wind from a direction (north-east) which thankfully we don't have to suffer too frequently.  Still, there's plenty of daylight by this time of the spring so the weather will inevitably settle down and get warmer, with this weekend's Guineas Meeting, or QIPCO Guineas Festival as it is formally called, likely to take place in fairly pleasant conditions.

It's always an enjoyable weekend in Newmarket, and it looks as if we'll have a particularly good 2,000 Guineas.  I shall, though, devote at least as much attention to the Friday cards at Chepstow and Lingfield as I have a shift on At The Races tomorrow afternoon, which I'm looking forward to.  And I'll keep half an eye on what is going on in Tattersalls tomorrow, where White Valiant's full-brother will go through the Guineas Breeze-Up Sale as Lot 131.  I wish I still owned him, but I don't, having sold him as a weanling.  He's a lovely horse, as is his full-brother and as are his winning half-brothers Grey Panel, Dream Walker and Roy Rocket - the quartet of horses (ie including White Valiant, who is pictured in this paragraph, a couple of days ago) having won a total to date of 30 races.

However, the quickest way to the poor-house for any trainer is to own too many horses; and the quickest way to the poor-house for any breeder is to keep every horse which he or she breeds.  So some of Minnie's Mystery's offspring over the years have headed off to the sales as unbroken youngsters - and at least in the case of two of them (her current three-year-old Rock On Dandy, a son of Rajsaman who is trained by Harry Dunlop, and this horse who is by Youmzain) they did so at a worthwhile sum.  And the lovely thing as a breeder is that they're still your children whether or not you still own them - so I'll be keeping a paternal eye on this lovely fellow (beautifully prepared and presented by Ballinahulla Stables) tomorrow to see how he sells and where he'll subseqently be heading.

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