Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Twilight Zone

We might as well look inwards, rather than outwards, for once.  (And I am aware that regular readers of this blog might feel that introspection is the norm, rather than the exception).  But we'll look either inwards or even more inwards (delete as applicable) and just run through the state of play of this string.  We're always very quiet in the final couple of months of the year.  Every horse that we had running during the proper season is either resting or just in slow work at present, but they'll (mostly) be back in training in January to start preparing for next season.  It's usual for us to have few runners in the winter, and this winter is no exception.

The only two horses we have near racing at present are Freediver (with Ivona yesterday in the sixth photograph) and Amenta, neither of whom we were racing over the summer.  (Amenta did have two runs, but Roger Charlton trained her then).  They have each had one run this winter, and I hope that they will each run again later this month.  Freediver is likely to run at Wolverhampton on Friday night (not evening - but we'll come to this oddity anon).  Then Amenta is pencilled in to run at Lingfield on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year, ie 30th December.  I'm looking forward to running both fillies.

There are then three unraced horses who are inching their way back into strong work and who I hope might make their debuts at some point in the first couple of months of 2018: Irene Wilde (three-year-old filly by Silver Frost, with Ivona one day last week in the third photograph and with Nicola on Sunday in the fourth and fifth photograph), Das Kapital (two-year-old gelding by Cityscape, with Jana in the second photograph) and Sweet Charisma (two-year-old filly by Motivator, with Jana in the first photograph).  All three would have run during the turf season if feasible, but none of them turned out to be ready in time.  But I hope that we'll start to make up for lost time during the second half of the winter.  All three are nice horses.  Das Kapital and Sweet Charisma comprise 100% of our allocation of two-year-olds of 2017, so once again I will have failed to run a two-year-old during the year.  That seems to happen quite often - and I'll leave you to decide whether I should be proud or ashamed (or neither) of that!

I hope that White Valiant (with Jana this morning in the final photograph) will be ready to run at around the same time.  He's had a hold-up since running at Fontwell in early September, but he's cantering nicely at present and we'll step his work up during the coming weeks.  He's in very good form at present, and after a period of frustration I'm very happy with how he's going.  We also have a new horse called Solitary Sister (with Abbie and Gus in the seventh photograph) who came from the Horses-in-Training Sale.  She's had it easy since the sale as she had had an active summer, but we'll get her going again and I hope that she'll resume late winter (possibly February 2nd, if she's ready in time) and then run on through the season.  I'm excited about her.  There's also Roy (ears visible in the penultimate photograph, just before daybreak this morning) returning to work, hopefully to resume on 16th January as part of his fine-tuning in advance of the first Brighton meeting of 2018.

I'm also very happy with Delatite, who had a near-death experience towards the end of October.  He's come back from that really well, better than one could have hoped, so far, so let's hope that his convalescence continues to go so well.  We are still a long way off being ready to make concrete plans for him, but let's hope that we get there eventually.  He picked up remarkably quickly after his life-saving surgery, and within a month one would have had no idea that he had been so ill so recently.  Massive kudos to all at Newmarket Equine Hospital, not just for the fact that he's still alive but also for the fact that he returned to rude health so quickly.

I'll just leave you with a question.  What is a twilight meeting?  Racing used to shut down for two or three days before Christmas, so one might have thought that that Friday evening, 22nd December, was the end of things before the break.  But this year the only blank days are Christmas Day and the previous day, Sunday 24th December.  Anyway, we're planning to run at what is described as a twilight meeting at Wolverhampton on Friday.  Emma asked me a few days ago what time the race would be.  My answer was that, whatever time the race was, we wouldn't be too late because I'd noticed that the fixture is a 'twilight', rather than 'evening' fixture.  That makes a massive difference.  Anyway, I've looked to see the time of the race.  8.45. What the hell?!

Twilight fixtures (and I understand that to mean that they begin around tea-time and run through the first part of the evening, and in winter that generally means starting about quarter of an hour after the final afternoon race) as opposed to proper evening meetings are hugely appreciated by those involved in putting on the show.  I assume that they are also hugely appreciated by the betting-shop community as they flow seamlessly on from the afternoon's action, rather than having a long hiatus late afternoon of a couple of hours with no racing.  So it was good to read that that Wolverhampton fixture is a twilight one, rather than an evening one.

Anyway, that afternoon there is one Flat meeting (Southwell) and two National Hunt meetings (Ascot and Uttoxeter). The last race at Southwell is at 3.20.  The last race at Uttoxter is at 3.30.  The last race at Ascot is 3.40. The first race at Wolverhampton?  3.50?  3.55?  4.00?  No.  The first race of Wolverhampton's seven-race "twilight" card is more than two hours after the final race of the afternoon.  (And a couple of hours after twilight!).  It's at 5.45 (ie the same time as the first race at the 'evening' fixture there last Saturday).  The last race is at 8.45.  How does this qualify as a twilight meeting?  I suppose it could be that it ends at 8.45 (having merely seven races) as opposed to the 9.15 finale last Saturday (when there were eight races; or, correctly, seven races, one of which was run in two divisions).

If that's it, that's too fine a distinction for me to grasp fully.  (Plus the descriptions of 'evening' and 'twilight' are dished out weeks or months in advance, and it is only known two days before the meeting whether a race is going to be divided - I suppose that we could end up with one divided on Friday, which would presumably see this 'twilight' fixture conclude after the 9.15, ie our race!).  Although I suppose that when we get home at half past midnight, we'll be able to console ourselves that, had it been an evening meeting, we'd still only be at Huntingdon at that time.


neil kearns said...

happy new year to all at the yard - has your computer died ??

Brian Jones said...

not even a Roy update/preview!