Sunday, October 22, 2017

Brighton Rock

I've always loved going to Brighton, but this year it has been particularly kind to us.  Brighton is generally known as a lively, friendly town, and its racecourse operates in similar vein.  From the moment one arrives (enters the box park, unloads, crosses to road, enters the stableyard, heads up to the weighing room to declare, has lunch in the canteen ...) everyone involved in running the racecourse goes beyond the call of duty in being friendly and helpful.  And it has a strong local following of regular racegoers who give the course a wonderfully genial sporting atmosphere.

Recent years have seen one excellent clerk of the course (Edward Arkell) succeeded by another (George Hill).  Last Thursday's meeting was George's last at the racecourse's helm because he's moving across to Lingfield, and he can be proud that it brought the curtain down on what appeared to be a very successful season during which the turf on the track has held up very well.  So it was a good season for the racecourse there - and a good season for us there too, which was great.  We have run four horses there this year (So Much Water, Roy, Kilim and Parek, ie Sussex Girl) for form figures of 0155152321, with Roy, Kilim and Parek all finding their way to the winner's enclosure.

The most recent to do so was Parek, whose victory there on Thursday was very, very pleasing.  She always was going to take some time to find her form as she's always looked younger than she is, but all the way through she showed enough to suggest that she might start to come good during the second half of her three-year-old season.  But, of course, the theory doesn't always become the practice.  So it was great when she finished a close third at Brighton's penultimate meeting of the year two weeks ago, thus finishing in the first three for the first time - and even better when she went back there nine days later for the course's final meeting on Thursday and got off the mark with a really tough, gritty win.

I didn't see the race as I go down to the start with her (not that I need to do so now that she has grown up; but when she was younger she used to be a bit difficult, and it seems right to continue with a routine that is working) and it's always less tense watching a race when you already know the result.  But, even knowing that she had won, it was still thrilling as she had to dig really deep in the final strides to come out best in what wasn't far off a five-way photo-finish.  Her sister was a wonderfully tough and determined little racehorse, and Parek looks to be developing into her sister's sister, if that makes sense.

Once again I thanked my lucky stars that we had Nicola on board: just as when she had won on Kilim at the same course in the summer, the horse would not have won without getting top-class assistance, and her 7lb claim really is just a gift.  And if we are (rightly) praising Nicola for her part in the win, we should hail Jana even more so.  Jana's regular rides get treated like real favourite children, and her two particular pets are Hope Is High and Parek.

The former has had an excellent season and I'm so pleased that Parek has won too now.  Jana deserved to have the filly win a race - as, hugely, did Dan Tunmore.  Dan had enjoyed no luck with us whatsoever since becoming an owner in the stable around four years ago, but he has been kind enough to suffer in silence!  So I'm delighted finally to have seen his colours in the winner's enclosure, a just reward for his loyal and patient support.  So, all in all, it was a very happy occasion in every respect.

Having gone to Brighton believing that it would be our last opportunity to run Parek on grass this year, I found that, thanks to her winning and picking up a 6lb penalty for next week, she actually has another option.  I had entered her for a race at Yarmouth on Tuesday, but she clearly had almost no chance of getting in.  However, with her weight raised 6lb she can now sneak in there.  She seems to have taken the race very well so I've declared her and she can run.  She's in good form and it has taken all year to get her to that stage, so it's good to have another opportunity to run her before the season grinds to a halt when, almost by default, she will go off for what we can, now that she has won a race, describe as a well-earned holiday.

Unfortunately Delatite will have to be a non-runner at Pontefract tomorrow (he was sound on Saturday morning when I declared him and then when I rode him later in the morning, but much to my surprise and disappointment he was lame at evening stables) so Parek on Tuesday will be our next runner.  And, lest anyone has been reading the Racing Post and believing what they read there, I should add (which ought to go without saying) that this was a huge disappointment, as it is any time that we declare a horse and are forced subsequently to scratch him/her.  Hopefully the problem won't be too long-term, but his next race definitely won't be this month.  Let's hope that next month is a possibility.

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