Blowy and on the chilly side down here in the Cotswolds, fantastic racing, fantastic horses, fantastic people, the usual maelstrom of emotions, oh to have runners at this most extraordinary of race meetings – one day I hope.
One more night in the pub and then we will hit the road home in the morning and one runner tomorrow up in the Northumbrian hills at Hexham where the ground will be heavy. McGintys Dream in the 2.25, making a quick reappearance after Carlisle last week, he’s been fresh and well since then and this is an excellent opportunity for him, a repetition of his course and distance effort in November should see him go close, Grant rides and four run.
Fine and mild today, a slow Sunday, whilst it was disappointing to lose Kelso again it’s been a blessing to have a quiet day in the office catching up ahead of a busy week.
I have to admit to feeling a little battle weary as I headed out to the yard this morning; after the awful weather we have then been very busy racing and with the horses running well we ought to have had a winner or two but for various reasons we didn’t quite – anyway I was quickly cheered up by the energy, chatter and laughter bouncing off the team as they set about their day – I came back in much happier.
On a Sunday without any racing we have five of the team in, they make sure that all 42 horses in work have a 40 minute spin on the walker, are mucked out, fed watered and rugged up; some are turned out (not so many in current conditions), plenty of minor wounds to tend to, medications and treatments of various sorts to administer and a chance for a good tidy up – their approach is fantastic and by the end of Sunday it feels as if we are well set up for the week.
Pleased with our Ayr runners, all made the winners enclosure apart from The Rogue who fell, he’s fine thankfully and yesterday Bertalus took another step back in the right direction to be 3rd and Elvis Mail gave plenty of cause for optimism in the bumper, fingers crossed he will be a very nice horse in time. Minimal action on the racecourse from here as all eyes turn to the Cotswold’s but we intend to be busy again at Newcastle on Saturday then Kelso, Wetherby and Haydock through the first half of the following week – hopefully all our gallops now back in action as we give 12-14 runners their final preparation. I will be speeding down to the Cheltenham for a couple of days – like these 48 hour declarations, need to go to the pub to study in peace, unbelievably good racing, enjoy!
Cold and wet this morning, the East wind back, at least its not snowing, always look on the bright side…. back to Ayr today where the ground is soft though may ease if the rain arrives as forecast. We have two runners, Bertalus in the 2.45, a step back in the right direction last time and his last win was in similar conditions off a much higher rating, blinkers on for the first time so will hopefully run well, Grant rides and 7 run.
Elvis Mail is declared to run in the bumper at 5.35 though he may be withdrawn if the ground goes heavy, he’s wearing a hood having run too free last time and is a nice long term prospect, only 4 runners but they could all take a bit of beating including the favourite who won as he liked last time.
On to Kelso tomorrow with three declared runners, ground heavy and raining so meeting subject to inspection today. A somewhat reluctant declaration for Buffalo Ballet in the 4.20, he’s been running well enough to be runner up on heavy on his last two starts but I’d prefer not to be asking him again on this ground but the opposition aren’t in great form on paper so on balance I felt we had to have a go, he’s very well, Grant rides and 5 run.
Slightly similar scenario with Silk or Scarlet in the 4.50, didn’t really fancy it on the ground but small field countered that, he will improve for the step up in trip and I’m not sure any of the field will be at home in the conditions so again worth a shot, Grant rides and 6 run.
Then Christmas in USA runs in the 5.20, 8 run, he won’t mind the ground at all and the form of his recent Wetherby 2nd has worked out very well so we travel with high hopes – Grant rides.
Our four runners at Ayr all ran well though we didn’t have a winner – The Orange Rogue put in a bold display up from and was disputing the lead when stumbling on landing at the 3rd last, Lake View Lad was just done for a turn of foot and stayed on to finish a close 2nd under top weight, Massini’s Lady’s jumping was found out by being in among a bunch of seasoned handicappers on her 3rd start over fences – she ran well enough to be 4th in the circumstances but we will look for a novice chase again for her next time and Another Mattie put up much his best effort of the season to finish 3rd, only beaten 3l by two good horses. Team Kinneston excelled themselves with all four runners winning best turned out which at £100 a pop is well worth having.
Snow slowly disappearing but in no hurry and frost this morning unhelpful. Off to Ayr tomorrow with four runners, ground soft with heavy places, and we start with The Orange Rogue in the 2.50, 7 run and Grant rides.
He’s been disappointing this season and didn’t really appear to stay last time at Wetherby, back in trip today and slipping down the weights so could run well if the recent hold up hasn’t affected him.
Then we run Lake View Lad in the feature race on the card at 4.00, conditions should suit and he’s on pretty well the same mark as he won off at Haydock three weeks ago, he should go well again if this doesn’t come too soon.
That would also be a concern for Massini’s Lady who won last time out 16 days ago at Wetherby, she’s also got a 9lb higher mark to contend with and this is a better race, so a follow up will be tricky but she seems in great heart and should like the track, going and trip, Brian Hughes rides and 7 run
Finally we run Another Mattie in the race he won last season at 5pm, Kit rides and 6 run, this looks a better renewal but he should been trained for the race – so far as we could manage! Today at Carlisle McGinty’s Dream ran a little better to be 3rd, remains a frustrating horse though and we will see how Killer Crow goes later in the 5pm.
Milder today, thank goodness, like everyone we have had a really tough week weather wise and the team have done a marvellous job of keeping the show on the road in some of the worst conditions I can remember, no fun at all and the farm and gallops are now a complete mess with remains of snow drifts, ice, water and mud everywhere compromising our ability to train the horses as we would like.
I’d guess it will be another week before normality returns and we can work the horses as we would like; plenty of runners coming up in next few days and I wonder if they can perform to their best with such an unorthodox preparation. We saw the weather coming so everything worked on Tuesday of last week, since then it’s been tricky with us being unable to ride at all on Thurs & Fri and restricted to steady cantering thereafter….. diets are adjusted of course and it is interesting to see which horses have put on weight, particularly those that are running over the next few days, inside information? There are certainly a couple that I am concerned about.
So Carlisle tomorrow, ground heavy, two runners starting with McGinty’s Dream in the 2.50, Grant rides and 6 run – hmm, a nice race for him – ground, trip, track and company should all suit – fingers crossed he is up for it because we were very disappointed with him at Newcastle last time.
Then Killer Crow in the 5pm, Kit rides and 4 run, outsider of the field I see, not sure why though he does have 8l to find with the fav, back in trip today & hood off, think that gives us at least a chance of reversing the places. After tomorrow hoping to be at Ayr on Friday and Saturday and then Kelso on Sunday prior to the annual pilgrimage…