The turf season is just around the corner ...

No runners for this weekend

Friday, 17 February 2017

"Why does it take a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye?"


Walking over to the wooden starting stalls

It’s a mild morning once again and the forecast is for it to stay like this at least over the weekend. We have been getting on well in the yard with the horses going out and cantering and a couple, of what I think could be early two-year-olds, were put through the wooden starting stalls at second lot. We have got a good mixture of two-year-olds this year that will all develop at different stages, but it is nice for a change to have one or two sharper sorts. We have no runners over the weekend, but there will be one or two around the middle to end of next week. Mind you I ought to enter a few more as they were all mad fresh at exercise today.

Walking through for the first time

Our three runners all ran ok last night. Indian Red went in the stalls fine but we had a bit of trouble getting the hood off and he missed the break. This meant he was eight or nine lengths behind, but the boy didn’t panic, and, although finishing at the back of the pack, he was only beaten six lengths in a run full of potential. Mr Turner had very little chance from the draw but wasn’t disgraced.  I am still not sure what his right trip is and I think we will have a few different tries with him and have a run over hurdles on better ground. Topalova ran as well as I could expect to finish fourth. She had been off the track a long time and was only beaten under three lengths and will definitely be winning once getting back over further. 


There was plenty of noise coming from the Irish owners and trainers about weights given to the Irish horses in the Grand National. Phil Smith, the handicapper, can do what he wants with this race and has obviously upset the Irish trainers. Michael O’Leary of Ryan Air and Gigginstown House Stud fame thinks he makes the weights up as he goes along. Handicapping is always a bone of contention as we all want our charges to have the best chance, and a few pounds can certainly tell after a gruelling four mile race. Personally I think the Irish have got a good case here and there should be a proper investigation into it all.

Indian Red at Chelmsford last night

Phil on Friday

Many would say racing and religion are odd bedfellows but, as I wrote last week, the Duchess of Montrose was clearly worried about the possibility of divine intervention. She threatened to sack the vicar at the church she had founded when, after a long, wet start to autumn, he prayed for dry weather to help farmers. Her St. Leger candidate desperately needed soft ground!

American jockey Kent Desormeaux would have been on her side. When, on Easter Sunday, 1995, he became the youngest jockey to ride 3,000 winners the modest Desormeaux had this to say: “Who can forget the man upstairs? He has truly blessed me. He gave me some hands to communicate with these animals underneath me. So, on Easter Sunday, who can go without saying, Thank you Lord”.

A bit like Maradonna’s Hand of God, really.

The late Sir Henry Cecil put the sport we all love into rather better perspective when he once said: “You realise that God doesn’t actually care very much whether you win or lose. You look at the deprived, abused, ill-treated and starving children of the world and you get much more realistic”.

I am sure the forthright Sir Mark Prescott will not mind me resurrecting this gem attributed to him a few years back: “When I go to meet my maker he’ll ask me what I did in life. When I say ‘Racehorse trainer, sir,” he’ll reply, ‘What’s that, for Pete’s sake? We’ve got Mother Theresa in here’ ”.

Even if the possibility of heavenly influence on the outcome of a seller at Wolverhampton on a wet Saturday night can reasonably be ruled out, there have been some strange faith-related happenings in racing - one concerned a horse called In The Money, trained by the redoubtable, late Reg Hollinshead.

Successful in the early part of his career, In The Money developed a marked inclination consistently to finish second or third, or just out of the money rather than in it. Desperate after one particularly frustrating spell, his owner took some hairs from the horse’s tail and sent them to a faith healer. In The Money proceeded to win three times in the spring and early summer of 1996 and, despite a number of disappointments along the way, five times the following year!

Mercifully, the stewards didn’t ask Reg to explain the apparent improvement in form!