A dismal day at Ayr yesterday on almost every front, heavy cold rain with a fierce squally wind, a dark day and a brutal setback when former Festival winner Pause and Clause broke his leg on his debut for the stable. As classy a horse as I have had the privilege to train this was a cruel blow for everyone, most particularly his owner Sarah, Toni who looks after him and his former owner Robert Cohen. Earlier in the afternoon The Flaming Matron found the step up to 3 miles on such testing ground a bit too much and the weather probably scuppered Daasij’s chances as well – the only positive to take out of the afternoon was the performance of Frankies Promise who showed plenty of class to overcome a sloppy round of jumping to finish 3rd of 18 in the maiden hurdle.
The elation of last week followed by despair yesterday. I find it hard to rationalize the contrasting emotions and their close juxtaposition is almost unnerving; among the large number of winners we have had over the past 12 months we have lost six horses and that is six too many. At this moment those six incidents stick in my mind much more strongly than the numerous winners, it would be all to easy to brush them aside with a few glib remarks about the nature of the sport but that is not my way, despite all of these being essentially freak accidents I continually turn things over in my mind as to what I could have done differently, the answer is nothing apart from not have run them in that particular race, but there is no denying that it is difficult and I therefore ask myself why I do this. I don’t make my living from it, I don’t bet, I don’t know whether I especially enjoy going to the races (although I love going when I don’t have runners!).
The reason I do it is simple; I love horses, always have and hope I always will, but therein lies the contradiction that I find so hard to reconcile. Training racehorses allows me to run a business that combines the physical involvement with a sport that challenges intellectually at a number of different levels, I have a wonderful team of staff that look after the horses fantastically well, all of us working with the common aim of trying to create the conditions whereby everything aligns and an individual horse can excel by winning races, that is profoundly satisfying for everyone but there were times yesterday when I really wondered, really wondered and I’m still wondering. So why put this all down on a blog? why put really quite private thoughts out there in cyberspace? I don’t know, it’s cathartic in a funny sort of way, a sort of public confessional, thank you for reading….
Well, enough of that maudlin, an hour out at evening stables has me looking forward to the morning on the gallops, schooling I hope but the first frost forecast, and the winter hat back on.