Wednesday, May 05, 2021


Tomorrow will be a day to look forward to: Kryptos runs at Chester.  The form of his first-up run at Nottingham has worked out very well, and you'd hope that he'd have a decent chance tomorrow.  I'm wary of running him on ground significantly firmer than good (because of him previously having had tendon trouble) and I was hoping and thinking that the dry spell would have ended in time to ease the ground there, and that has indeed happened.  But, as always, just when you think everything is running perfectly, something always crops up - and in this case that something cropped up when we were allotted a double-figure draw.  That doesn't make it impossible to win, of course, but it does make it much harder.  Kryptos will do his best, though, and so will Nicola, who has just won the first race of the Carnival, the Lily Agnes Stakes, on the George Boughey-trained Navello.

Aside from that, we seem to have gone straight from early spring to autumn.  We've had a cold, stormy start to May, which isn't very nice, but we'll get to summer eventually, so we won't worry too much about that.  Weather is always the big story in my mind - particularly when, as now, there's quite a lot of it - but really there's only been one story in the past week, ie the Kentucky Derby being won by a colt who cost $1,000 as a yearling.  Isn't that wonderful?  Gives hope to us all.  How on earth a $1,000 yearling (who still wasn't expensive in the greater scheme of things as a ready-to-run two-year-old, when he cost $35,000) found his way to Bob Baffert's barn while still unraced is anyone's guess, but that's by the by.

But the most remarkable thing is that how such a good horse could have cost so little.  Nowadays buying horses has become a profession in itself, with a large body of people doing nothing else other than sifting through the stock in all the sales.  It may possibly be untrue to say that none of them realised Medina Spirit's quality as the person who bought him as a two-year-old may conceivably have done so, but even then there's no guarantee that that was the case.  Instances of people buying a horse for $35,000 while genuinely believing that they are buying the best horse of that generation are rare.  That person might have realised; but nobody else did.  Certainly not the vendor who sold him for $1,000, and certainly not the person who bought him for $1,000 and then sold him for $35,000.  And certainly not all the other people who declined the two opportunities to buy him.  It's heartening, really: we all realise how little we know and that we're just feeling our way in the dark, so it's reassuring to discover that everyone else is also working on nothing more reliable than vague guesswork.

Looking ahead, it's a case of vague guesswork regarding what I'll be doing next week.  The plan is to have runners on three consecutive days (Eljaytee at Windsor on Monday; Das Kapital at Chepstow on Tuesday; Cloudy Rose and possibly Turn Of Phrase at Bath on Wednesday).  However, one can't make anything other than provisional plans for Tuesday as Das Kapital looks doubtful to get in: rated 55, he has at least 25 horses ahead of him in the ballot order for the 46-65 handicap, which has 37 entries.  There were eleven runners when he won over course and distance (a mile and a half) last summer and 15 runners when he was placed over course and distance in 2019 - and yet the safety factor for Tuesday's race appears to be no higher than ten.  

It's hard to understand why this should be, particularly when the two-mile race (which has a shorter run to a more difficult first bend and whose final 12 furlongs is the full extent of our course) has a safety factor of 13, and the six-furlong and eight-furlong races up the straight have a safety factor of 17.  Strange.  Our only realistic hope of getting in is if the race is divided, which could well happen as, while it is only third preference to be divided, the two races ahead of us in that order of preference don't look likely to have enough declarations to be divided.  So he may or may not get in (thank God for 48-hour declarations as at least we find out two days, rather than one day, before the race whether we're running) and I'm guessing that he will - but, again, it's just guesswork.

By the way, we keep hearing about the supposed problem of small fields.  Well, you wouldn't be aware of any such problem if you were trying to run horses in Class Six races.  (And even Kryptos' race tomorrow, a Class Three contest, had two horses eliminated from it).  Emma had marked down a Class Six race at Salisbury's first meeting which she thought might suit Dereham.  As it turned out, Dereham wasn't ready to run when the race came around, which was mildly disappointing, but the consolation was that he wouldn't have got in anyway.  I didn't look to see how many were declared and how many were eliminated, but there was a full field and the bottom weight was rated something like 10lb higher than Dereham.  So worrying about the so-called problem of small fields isn't at the top of my to-do list.

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