Thursday, August 31, 2017

To light the maps and diagrams that Leonardo made

It was a beautiful Bank Holiday, something like 28 degrees, and then Tuesday was lovely too.  We had a sharp deterioration yesterday (Wednesday) when it was colder and rained, but today is very pleasant indeed - even if one would have to call it a very pleasant autumn day, unlike the very pleasant summer's days which we enjoyed at the start of the week.  Still, autumn has to come, and if it comes with the breath-takingly beautiful starts to the days such as we enjoyed this morning (as you can see here, with White Valiant and his mate having a hurdles schooling session at the Links as the sun appears) then we won't resent its coming too much.

But back to summer.  It was lovely at Epsom on Monday.  August Bank Holiday Monday, on which day Epsom has been racing for decades, is now also the day of the Epsom Stables Open Day.  That seems to be a great success, not least because the Epsom trainers show us how it's done.  Last year every trainer in Epsom opened his/her doors for the Open Day.  Here there were something like 16 stables open when we had our Open Day three weeks later - which is pathetic when one considers that there are apparently something like 70 trainers here.  All too many here used the excuse that exposure to the great unwashed might place their precious charges at risk of falling sick.  Such a potential problem didn't seem to apply for Harbour Law, who happily won the St Leger 13 days after Laura Mongan had allowed the General Public to visit him.

Roy seems to be holding his form through the summer better this year than in the past two seasons.  He ran very well at Epsom on Monday, finishing a staying-on fifth.  When Ross Birkett rode him in the Amateurs' Derby last year, the field opened up like the Red Sea on straightening, and Roy was able to scoot through on the inside.  This time, ironically, they remained tight packed, which meant that Roy was boxed in when he needed to be starting to work forward.  He had to sit and suffer, but finished off the race very well.  With a clear run he might have been a place or two closer.

The only downside was that when we drew stall one yet again, I felt obliged to take yet another yellow card so that we didn't have to be loaded first.  That pushes us over the stall-test threshold again, so he has to have another one of those before running again.  That rules us out of what would have been a very suitable race at Brighton this Sunday.  If we had drawn an even-numbered gate, we'd have been fine and would have run in both races.  With the benefit of hindsight, now that we know that we were destined to draw the gate which we least wanted at Epsom, we would have been better not to have declared for that race, and gone straight to Brighton.

However, as is always the case, we can always be wise after the event.  But at the time giving ourselves the chance to run in both races, while ensuring that we would definitely run in one, was the sensible way forward.  Not declaring for Epsom would have guaranteed that we wouldn't have been able to run in both races.  As it is, we won't run at Brighton on Sunday, nor at any of Brighton's other few remaining meetings this season as, by the time that we'll be allowed to run again, the only remaining Brighton card won't have a race suitable for him.  However, we should get another couple of runs before the season ends - Salisbury early in October and Newbury later in the month - so an Indian summer would be even more welcome from Roy's point of view than it would be anyway.

Tuesday was a lovely day too, but yesterday was significantly less warm, significantly less sunny and significantly less dry.  Still, at least it was relatively pleasant at Kempton in the evening.  Wasted Sunsets has been here for nearly two years now since arriving as a yearling from France in September 2015.  She's been a very slow developer, so it was very good at last to get her career under way yesterday.  She ran respectably, finishing fourth of six, admittedly well beaten by the principals, and if she can build on this with more time and more distance, which ought to be the case, then she'll be fine.

Another horse who I hope can progress with time and distance is Sussex Girl.  She's further forward than Wasted Sunsets, having already had four races.  Tomorrow she shall have her fifth race, at Thirsk.  She's been working nicely and I think should run fairly well.  How well that is we shall find out tomorrow afternoon.  She has learned to relax and now finishes off her gallops very well, so it might be that she will progress further when she steps up from a mile to ten furlongs.  But even saying that, I hope that she will run competitively tomorrow.  As always, we'll hope for the best and expect nothing.

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