Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Nine days now between chapters.  Should be better.  Has been worse.  I still don't know where the time goes.  It certainly doesn't, mostly, go with my sleeping.  I seem to be permanently exhausted at present.  But that's better than struggling to fill the days.  We had Turn Of Phrase and Dereham running last week.  Turn Of Phrase ran a very nice race, finishing third, which made for a very pleasant trip to Nottingham. Dereham ran less well, although not badly.  Again we knew our fate a fair way from home when all the runners were still on the bridle.  He has far more stamina than speed, and a sprint home up the straight - even up a long straight as at Chepstow - is never going to bring out the best of him.  And I can't see that he'd be good enough to achieve anything bar being the pacemaker for the others if we set out to make the running.

What was lovely about the trip to Chepstow was that, it being a Friday and my having learned from past experiences that a trip by motorway to a Friday evening meeting at Chepstow in the summer holidays can be painfully slow, I took the scenic route and thus found myself enjoying a very special drive down the Tintern Valley from Monmouth to Chepstow in perfect weather.  It was glorious, easily the most enjoyable drive I have had this year. Those little villages along that road would be lovely places to spend a holiday, although realistically we saw the valley at its best, and if planning a few days in that part of the country one would need luck on one's side to have the blue skies and sunshine which prevailed last week.  

We had five entries this week and I'd usually hope that that would yield five runners, but it's turning out only to be three.  Against my better judgement, I put Turn Of Phrase in a race at Bath on Friday simply because its conditions are tailor-made for her, but within hours common sense kicked in and I reminded myself that she's better with a bit more time between her races than that would have given us.   The other horse who was entered without running was more of a cock-up than that.  I rode three horses on Sunday morning (all of whom were due to run within the next couple of days) and it just happened that the order in which I rode them meant that Eljaytee, who was entered for Yarmouth two days later, was the third of them, pulling out just after ten.  Thus I'd already declared him by that time.

He'd had what looked like a bit of bruising appear on the inside of his near-fore leg a couple of days previously, and I'd assumed that he'd just knocked himself when galloping.  I wasn't concerned.  However, as soon as I set off trotting on him at about 10.10 on Sunday morning, I discovered that he was very slightly lame on that leg, and I really hadn't been expecting him to be.  Ah well, declarations had only closed ten minutes previously, but he clearly needed to a non-runner.  Nobody wants me to be running a lame horse, least of all me (or the horse).  I'd scratched him by 11.00 that morning, still more than 48 hours before the race.  Had he been the first or second horse whom I'd ridden that morning, he wouldn't have been declared, but that was just the way it worked out.  It's hard enough to get three horses ridden by 10 am Monday to Saturday; even more so on a Sunday morning (on top of all the other things which need to be done in the stable) when one likes to snatch an extra half an hour in bed if possible.

So that left Broughtons Mission to run at Lingfield on Monday, Beryl Burton to run at Yarmouth on Tuesday and Cloudy Rose to run at Nottingham on Thursday (tomorrow).  I could hardly have got the first two more wrong.  Broughtons Mission can be extremely headstrong and, although he has been really settled at home recently, I was worried that on the racecourse he might try to do all his running in the first half of the race.  That certainly didn't happen: he was outpaced throughout before staying on well to finish a never-nearer third of 13 at 150/1.  That was great, notwithstanding that he was beaten over 14 lengths, which obviously tempers one's enthusiasm for his achievement.

Continuing to give the impression that I know nothing about the horses whom I train (and in particular about the horses whom I ride every day, as is the case with both Broughtons Mission and Beryl Burton), Beryl Burton also did exactly what I wasn't expecting her to do.  She's quite a buzzy, active horse, but cantering or galloping her is fairly straightforward.  She's certainly not a hard-pulling horse - on her homework she's too green to be that, as she tends to concentrate on anything other than what she is doing - and I feared that, going on how she gallops, she might get a bit behind in the first half of the race just through greenness.  Ha, ha!  What actually happened was that she did what I'd feared that 'Harry' (Broughtons Mission) might do the previous day: she jumped out of the stalls like a rocket, pulled far too hard for the first three furlongs before inevitably weakening very badly  I'd thought that a straight mile might give her time to get organised and work into things in the second half of the race, and exactly the opposite happened.  I can't believe I got her so wrong - and, as I say, that's doubly inexcusable as I ride her every day.  Unbelievable!

Let's hope that I can get things less wrong tomorrow.  Having said that, I am making no predictions about what to expect.  The step up to two miles will suit Cloudy Rose very well, as will (I think) the fact that she's had a month between races.  She seems to be thriving at present.  Set against that are the facts that the ground will be less soft than I'd ideally like, she'll be 3lb out of the handicap, and will probably carry 2lb overweight.  (You might wonder why I'm running in a race in which she will run off a rating 5lb higher than her own one, but there is no choice, bar not running for several weeks.  All the staying handicaps now are for three-year-olds and upwards, and none has an upper rating lower than 65.  So we'd be in a similar boat wherever we ran in the next few weeks.)

Looking at the wider racing world, we have the Racing League beginning tomorrow, but you've already read more than enough about that.  Otherwise, we've seen good results for two good jockeys who work for one of my neighbours, William Haggas.  Howard Cheng rode his first winner of the year last week, winning on Turquoise Kingdom (whose form looks to have improved since Howard has got on him) for Simon and Ed Crisford up the straight on the turf course at Lingfield last week; and Adam Farragher, a very good apprentice who has come over from Ireland, rode his first British winner at Redcar this afternoon, on Sweet Believer for his boss.

Another local rider who should be mentioned in dispatches is Fletcher Yarham, who works for Ed Dunlop, most notably riding John Leeper every morning.  I happened to watch the last race from Redcar this afternoon, a handicap for amateurs who had ridden no more than three winners at the start of this season, and Fletcher was riding in it for Joseph Parr.  He didn't win (his mount Transition finished second) but he looked far more proficient than one would generally expect from someone eligible to ride in such a race.  John Leeper, a headstrong horse who needs a good rider, is clearly in very safe hands when he heads out to Heath each morning.  


glenn.pennington said...

Great to see Howard Cheng ride his winner last week. He has some determination to keep coming back and deserves his success.
I had a a couple of shillings on Broughton's Mission to be placed at 75/1 on Betfair - very nice run John.

neil kearns said...

That back way to Chepstow is a really pleasant drive (unlike the motorway) and recommended especially if you have time for a pitstop or two

neil kearns said...

Well John that was a really good ride from Amy Collier and a great effort from the horse well done to all of you congratulations

Brian Jones said...

I can see why there was no pre race blog now,

14.0 overnight on Betfair wins at 3/1 fav, some punt that.

Well Done Team Berry.

PS them Das Kapital blinkers need to go on Hidden Pearl next.

Unknown said...

Well done John berry , from William brindle's nephew in hull

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