Ella ran a pretty gutsy race for her first try in Group company yesterday in Chantilly. She finished fifth, in the end, picking up our first paycheck in a Group race, despite a less-than-ideal trip – both on the racecourse and in the truck getting there.
No one wants to see your best horse walk off the horse box with blood streaming down their face, but these things do happen. About midway between Maisons-Laffitte and Chantilly, Ella lost her balance. Maybe something startled her. Or maybe she fell asleep. Or maybe she was reaching to find that tiny blade of hay that might have been tucked waaaayyyy down in the corner. For whatever reason, she fell on her nose and smacked the top of her head, opening up a tiny wound just where a vein passes. It was superficial, and she walked off the truck like “what? What’s everybody looking at?” But she did look like she’d been in a boxing match, or like a kid who fell of a bicycle.
By the time we cleaned her up and stopped the bleeding, it was clear she was suffering no ill effects from her stumble. She was on her toes and ready to run – probably a little too ready. The first four races of Ella’s career were run in relatively quick succession – the longest time she had between races was three weeks, after we bought her, and she won her Listed race not even two weeks after winning her conditions race. This time, she’d been off the course for more than five weeks, and it showed. She was more keyed up than usual, and we let her decide how she wanted to race rather than have a fight.
She ran just off the shoulder of Antonoe, the winner, for three-quarters of the race. Antonoe is an extra-terrestrial, with a stride a mile long. “We were taking three strides to every one of hers,” our jockey said after the race. When the serious work started in the stretch, Ella gave it a game try but couldn’t stay with the others. Still, she never stopped trying and was beaten a total of six lengths. In her wake were Penjade, who she already beat once before in Vichy, and Alinstante, the English rader. She was making some effort to close on the fourth-placed horse, but wasn’t going to get there.
Ella was blowing a bit after the race, but she came back fine overall. This morning, she was supple and sound, and did some hack cantering like nothing had happened yesterday. She has a bit of racing ahead of her yet this year. The logical step would be to go back to Listed company in the Criterium de Lyon on Sept. 24. If she runs well there, a try in the Marcel Boussac is still a possibility if the ground turns soft to heavy. If not, she has other Group possibilities between now and November, when she’ll go on her winter holidays.
She’s a game filly, and she proved she has a right to take on the best. And for her next trip, she’ll be wearing her crash helmet on the truck.