New Year’s Eve, 2013. Hard to believe time is going by so fast – and anyone who chances to read this is likely thinking the same thing. It’s been five years since I took out my public license, and the numbers have gone steadily in the right direction. This past year was my best so far, and I’m confident next year will be better – perhaps much better. I had my first runners as a public trainer in September of 2008. I had only four horses in the yard, and we finished the year with two wins, seven places and 45,527 euros in earnings. In 2009, my first full year, we had five wins and 16 places for 90,930 in prize money. This year we had seven wins and 34 places for earnings of 238,141 euros. We have retained a faithful core of owners who have been with us since the beginning, and attracted new faces to the game. Everyone seems to appreciate the small, friendly ambience of the yard, and many of my owners have become friends – not just with me, but with each other. A few have dropped away, but that is inevitable. We wish them well and forge ahead.
Enough with the serious stuff. With a hat-tip to one of my favorite humor writers, Dave Barry, I’ve decided to try to undertake a short Year in Review, with the highlights – and the lowlights – month by month. I hope you all take this in the spirit it was intended.
January: Gorki Park becomes our first runner of the New Year, with a less-than-inspiring 10th place in Deauville. Magical Flower, on the other hand, shows a talent for sprinting and starts, miraculously, to make money. Blue Lilac starts off a short and fruitless racing career. She has many talented relatives, but sadly seems not to have inherited any of it herself. We move the crew south to Cagnes sur Mer, escaping Maisons-Laffitte just as the entire training center freezes solid. Those left behind are not amused to see us on Equidia, sunning ourselves next to the Mediterranean as Eternal Gift, Magical Flower and Deep Ocean all bring home checks.
I turn 50, and another trainer who thinks they know me better than they do decides to hire a stripper for the occasion. A good time was not had by all, but mercifully, the many cell-phone videos that are taken that night seem not to have made their way to wider distribution.
February: We start off the month with a road trip to Marseille, only to find that the racing actually takes place in a glorified bull-ring. Unless you have an inside draw, you’re cooked. Eternal Gift is drawn wide, and is not amused. Neither are we. Back to Cagnes, where Deep Ocean, Grey Falcon and the ill-fated Blue Lilac all run disappointingly. We decide it’s the jockeys’ fault and head to the bar for a mojito or three. Magical Flower saves the day with a come-from-behind win no one saw coming. We have more mojitoes, and decide we are in love with this jockey. Gorki Park shows signs of understanding the game, Blue Lilac shows no sign of understanding, Grey Falcon just gets prettier in the sun, many owners come to visit and many more mojitoes are drunk. I learn to drive trotters.
Santarini comes up with a chip in her right knee. So the vet clinic operates – on the left one. The following week they correct their mistake, so we get a two-for-one deal. When we pack up to go home, we leave Santarini behind to recuperate, and Blue Lilac behind to try her luck with another trainer. On the way back to Maisons-Laffitte, we make a stop in Lyon, where Deep Ocean returns to his winning ways.
March: Deep Ocean seems to like Lyon, so we no sooner get settled back in Maisons-Laffitte than we put him on a truck and head back in the same direction. Deep wins his second handicap in a row, and his owners think I am a miracle worker. I smile, toast the victory and enjoy the moment, which I know can’t last. Deep is riddled with arthritis and is operating at the limits of what he can do. I have explained that to his owners many times, but flush with victory, they are busy booking their table on Arc day completely over-estimating the situation. Eternal Gift and Gorki Park go to Amiens and find they don’t like it there. Eternal Gift asks to be relieved of the burden of manhood. We grant his request.
Magical Flower comes back from Cagnes with a slight suspensory injury, which wouldn’t necessarily have been career-ending, but we decide she’s rather be doing something else, preferably in the reproductive department. She meets the man of her dreams in Kendargent, and gets in foal on the first jump. We are not surprised.
April: Grey Falcon keeps getting prettier but not any faster. Gorki Park, on the other hand, comes into his own, just missing victory at Longchamp. Deep Ocean is forced to step up in class to the big Quinte-Plus handicaps, and starts what turns out to be a string of fourth-place finishes. His owners are starting to get unhappy with the situation, and I’m starting to think Deep’s best days are behind him. I claim Gold Knight for new English owners. It seemed like a good idea at the time…
May: Gorki Park finds the winner’s circle at St. Cloud and follows it up with a third at Longchamp a two weeks later. He’s definitely hit his stride. Grey Falcon comes around, too, missing victory by only a nose in Angers. Gold Knight, on the other hand, runs a clinker at Chantilly and buyer’s remorse starts to rumble in the back of my stomach.
June: Eternal Gift runs his first race as a gelding and finishes dead last, having slowed down in the final turn to look for his missing equipment. Gold Knight continues to disappoint, although I can’t find anything actually wrong with him. Hard Way makes his seasonal return out in the country in Durtal, taking Grey Falcon along for company. The Falcon takes another check, and Hard Way runs a respectable 6th; the race is too short for him, and the jockey takes nearly a lap to pull him up. Deep Ocean runs fourth again. Owners grumble. Gorki Park finds another paycheck in Chantilly and Eternal Gift starts to forget his past life, getting up for fifth in Amiens.
July: Good old Hard Way starts our best month off right with a victory at Longchamp – my first as a trainer. It turns out to be his only financial contribution to the yard for the year, but it was the one that counted the most. Grey Falcon again just gets nosed out of a win, this time in Maisons-Laffitte, and Eternal Gift knocks one out of the park – also at Longchamp, helping me make up for lost time. We head to Vichy for the week-long festival and in between spa treatments, Deep Ocean runs fourth again. Owners grumble. Gold Knight runs slightly less bad than he had been, and that, along with many cocktails, cheers up his owners – and me. King Driver runs his comeback race and is third, leaving me smiling for days. He is finally, finally turning into the horse I thought he could be.
Greatest joins the team from the July Newmarket sales.
Hard Way and Grey Falcon go to Chantilly for what turns out to be a fiasco. It’s 100 degrees in the shade, and neither horse wants any part of the proceedings. Grey Falcon manages to extricate himself from his racing bridle between saddling and going to the paddock, and Hard Way is performing airs above the ground. Miraculously, the horses are shoveled onto the track with their jockeys, but no good comes of it. We finish 6th and nowhere.
August: Deep Ocean finishes out of the money. Owners grumble louder. King Driver and Eternal Gift take a road trip to Moulins, and both come home with money. No such luck in Deauville for Hard Way and the increasingly frustrating Gold Knight, but King Driver hits the board again in Chantilly. We hit the road again with Not Bad for a Boy, a horse that was a good two-year-old but has shown no interest in racing since. The race we find is in Chateauroux, and the competition can’t possibly get any easier. There are only eight runners, and they are not holding Arc entries. One is a scratch because the jockey jumps off on the way to the start, leaving only seven. We manage to finish 6th. But a few minutes after the race, there is an announcement: The filly who finished 4th was disqualified because the jockey failed to weigh in. We erupt into cheers. We get moved up to 5th, meaning Not Bad takes a 350 euro check! We find Not Bad a new job, where he doesn’t have to run fast.
September: Gorki Park comes up with the goods again at Longchamp, but Eternal Gift shows he’s not really a sprinter, after all, failing to fire on the 1,400-meter course. Hera Eria, who came from another trainer, runs a catastrophic race in Evreux, apparently terrified of being between other horses. We lower our sites for Gold Knight and send him out to the country, where he manages to take checks in Craon and Sable-sur-Sarthe. Deep Ocean is out of the money again, and the owners are finally grasping that the end of his career is probably here. My miracle-worker status has, not surprisingly, eroded. Santarini runs a comeback race and makes it clear that despite knee surgery, she’d really rather not be a racehorse. We debut Greatest in an absolute bog in Fontainebleau, and nobody has a good time in the downpour. We give Hera another try, this time with blinkers so she can pretend she’s racing on her own. It helps, but not enough to get her in the money.
October: We head to Angers for what turns out to be a disappointing day: Santarini really isn’t interested in racing, and Deep Ocean can’t get out of the ground with his arthritic legs. He runs respectably, but it’s clear we should stop with both of these horses, so we do. Angers later in the month turns out to be the final venue for Grey Falcon, too, who is a victim of arthritis in both front knees. All three horses have found good retirement options – not easy for Deep, since he’s still a colt and not sound for riding. The Falcon and Santarini will both be in light work with owners who appreciate them.
On a better note, Greatest runs a decent race in Compiegne, and we add ear-plugs to Hera’s headgear, which seems to do the trick as she strides out for a second-place finish. Eternal Gift is our representative at Longchamp on Arc weekend, and he runs 5th in the handicap on the Saturday. King Driver places again and then finally hits the winner’s circle in Compiegne.
Charitable Act joins the team from the Newmarket Sales.
November: We decide to send Gold Knight to the sales, and the week before he miraculously hits the board in Lyon, which helped tremendously to move him along. Greatest still can’t quite make money, but does show some promise in Lyon, finishing in the first seven twice. Hera can’t confirm her second in Compiegne and seems to need better ground, and Hard Way just isn’t interested in racing at the moment, making November a tough month. Brightening things up slightly is the private purchase of Ray of Hope, a horse I’d had my eye on for some time.
December: Banker King Driver saves us again, running two places in Deauville. In eight races this year, he’s never been out of the money. Hard Way officially goes into semi-retirement. He may run again in the spring, but he may not. He’ll let us know. Hera turns in the most impressive gallop we’ve seen, and then pulls out lame the next day. Whatever has been bothering her from the start has become a much more serious problem, and she heads off to brood mare duties.
New recruit Ray of Hope runs a nice first race, finishing in the money even though we were sort of trying not to be; he came to us with a high handicap mark, and I wanted to see if he deserved it or not. Turns out he does. Charitable Act runs in the money, too, in his first race for us. Gorki Park fizzles, though, so will go on vacation for a few months to recharge for spring. Greatest still hasn’t made money, but I still believe he will.
We claim Melrand, a two-year-old filly who is a very nice prospect for the meeting in Cagnes, which is just around the corner. Two new yearlings go into pre-training and will join us in March….
Which brings us back to a new January. Hard to believe I need to be packing for Cagnes. One thing is certain this year: On my birthday, I’m staying home!
France Galop backed down in the face of a very strong labor movement and for now, they have taken closing Maisons-Laffitte off the table. They sure haven’t backed down on Longchamp, though, and briefly posted a very high-end (read expensive) video previewing the “New Longchamp” on their web site. The film was hastily taken down, probably in the realization that now was not the time for such propaganda.
But meanwhile, we have work to do, and it’s been a long time since I wrote about what, exactly, my horses have been up to. King Driver has been the star of the show, finally winning his race at Compiegne a few weeks ago and making him perfect for the season so far, with a check on every outing. He’s doing great, and will probably run again on Nov. 26 in Chantilly.
Gorki Park has had two off races, mostly because of the very heavy ground, I think. He also may have just lost his way a bit, so we’ll see if he finds it with a try on the fibersand in Chantilly on Tuesday. He seems to be fine, but he’s a small horse who always gives his all, so maybe he’ll just need a seasonal break. Tuesday will tell us more, although I’d rather stretch him out to 1,900 meters on the fiber and Tuesday’s race is just 1,600, which might be a bit quick for him.
Hard Way and new recruit Babaway will also run on Tuesday. Hard Way goes back on the fibersand, and as usual we really don’t know what he will do. Babaway is running the 1,300-meter handicap in his first race since getting gelded and changing trainers, so it will be a discovery mission. He’s a big bruit of a horse who prefers to pull first and breath later, so the prime objective will be not to fight with him and just see how he wants to run.
Gold Knight finally pulled in another check last night at Lyon, which falls well because he’s going to the sales on Monday. I hope he finds a trainer who will get him back into form, because I haven’t been able to find the buttons. He’s clearly got some ability, but I’ve had a hard time bringing it out. I have no problem admitting that perhaps someone could do better.
Hera Eria so far hasn’t been able to repeat her good run at Compiegne earlier this year, but she’s also been stuck on very heavy ground twice now, and clearly it doesn’t suit her. I really would like to see her get a try on the fiber before passing judgement, and she may get that on Nov. 26. Greatest, too, is finally improving, and he’s not really a fibersand horse although he ran decently at Lyon last night, finishing 7th after being forced to set the pace. He’s now qualified for handicaps and should be fine if I can find the right race for him, which so far I haven’t been able to do.
We’ve got a couple of new faces in the barn, with our unraced two-year-old filly La Mer making steady progress. She will hopefully be ready for a debut in Deauville, but if not will head directly to Cagnes sur Mer. New acquisitions Ray of Hope and Charitable Act are doing very well and both will be racing soon. We have some new owners for these horses, so we’re waiting for France Galop to finish the paperwork before we can start to get them entered. One leg of Charitable Act is still available, so contact me if you’re interested. He’s a nice solid horse and is nearly ready to race.
We’ve also turned a page at the yard with the retirement of Deep Ocean, which has been on the cards for awhile but now has finally happened. It was a tough decision, because while he was full of arthritis, he really loved to race and his heart overcame his infirmities most of the time. But we finally had to call it a day, and he has found a wonderful home in the Mayenne region, where he will even get the chance to do a bit of breeding.
I think that’s just about everybody. November is a very tough month because we’ve come to the end of the classic flat season and the winter racing hasn’t really geared up yet on the all-weather tracks, so we’re a bit stuck with entries. It seems we really have no horses that love the horribly heavy ground, so we’ll take the entries we can get for now and count on being ready for Deauville and then Cagnes later on.
Back when the Internet was very young and I was still working at the International Herald Tribune (which no longer exists, sadly), we only had one computer in the newsroom that was connected to this new marvelous invention. The concept of interactivity was new and fun, and we were all agog at even the most basic web sites (which was pretty much all there was back then). One offered a quick 10-question quiz and would then spit back the career to which the responder was most suited, in large block letters filling the screen. We all gathered around and took turns – “teacher”, “librarian”, “doctor”, the machine spit back, offering the same mundane responses to enough different people that we were pretty sure they were just on a loop somewhere. Then it was my turn. I answered the questions, the computer went searching for a few minutes, a small crowd of us waited, and then practically fell over laughing when the words “field marshal” filled the screen. Various other coworkers tried the quiz after that, but none came up with a similar career suggestion.
My colleagues at various places over the years have seen me as a leader, someone who speaks her mind, someone who probably complains too much but someone who, at the end of the day, is pretty competent and will get the job done. Some of them liked me, some of them despised me, but no one was without an opinion on the subject. My bosses have seen me as a complainer, a fomenter of revolution, and yes, someone who is pretty competent and will get the job done. Most of them were relieved when I moved on to another job and left them in peace. Most of them would probably liked to have fired me but very few were courageous enough to actually do it.
Which brings me to my current situation, which is a strange middle ground of being the boss of a few, the employee of many (my owners) and serving at the pleasure of an entity called France Galop, which is the governing body of horse racing. As a licensed public trainer, I am the master of my ship, the owner of my own business. Sort of. But France Galop sets the rules, and they give out the licenses. Which they can also take away if they so choose. And this is why most trainers walk softly and skip the big stick. One has to be careful of what one says, not to run afoul of the Powers that Be. The Powers that Be also fund most of the racing media – Paris Turf, the daily racing newspaper, and Equidia, the racing television channel, depend on France Galop for funding. Consequently, they are usually not the bearer of bad news – or certainly not anything bad when it comes to France Galop.
I’ve had no problem with France Galop, per se, since I started training. I got very good scores on the exams to pass the license, I’ve never broken the rules, my horses never fail a drug test and I pretty much keep my head down. But as anyone who knows me knows, I just can’t keep quiet if there is something that is bothering me that I think can be fixed. And right now at France Galop, there is quite a lot that needs to be fixed. As I write this, racing at my home track in Maisons-Laffitte has been canceled for the day because of a strike by track workers. This followed news last night that France Galop plans to close our track for good as part of budget cuts. The problem is, at the same time France Galop wants to spend 160 million euros to renovate Longchamp, in the guise of buffing up France’s international image.
Longchamp is filled to capacity for only one day a year: The day of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The rest of the time, the place is practically empty – like most racecourses in France, which is another problem. The nationwide betting handle has gone up for years and now has stabilized, but on-track attendance has plummeted. There are plenty of reasons for this – it’s easier to bet at home online, for one, and Equidia does such a good job with covering the racing that you can see more at home than you can at the track, too. Going racing isn’t very attractive when you can’t see what’s going on, there aren’t enough windows open to get a bet on if you wanted to and – most importantly, if you ask me – there’s nothing decent to eat. Despite all this, though, betting is still very strong in this country. It did edge down just slightly in the past year, which is causing the wholesale panic at the PMU national betting monopoly and at France Galop, which is funded by the PMU.
The situation reminds me very much of the plight of newspapers when the Internet was born. Owning a newspaper used to be a license to print money along with the latest gossip. But then the Internet came, and all of a sudden profits stabilized, and then they started to drop. And then the panic began. Newspaper dynasties thrashed about looking for the next profit stream. They sponsored conferences, they developed web sites, then tried to make people pay for the web sites, all the while cutting the budget nonstop – from the bottom, where the core of their product was produced.
France Galop seems to be doing the same thing. In closing Maisons-Laffitte to help pay for Longchamp, they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. At the same time, they’re spending money on absolutely ridiculous ventures like sponsoring a race meeting in China that turned out to be nothing more than a hastily put-together party in some Mongolian corn field with horses that Coolmore considered castoffs and so could be sacrificed for the one-way trip to Neverland. There has been no disclosure on just how much this little venture cost.
France Galop also has decided that recruiting new owners is a priority. The ethics of this decision astound me. If the governing body of French racing is recruiting owners, to which trainers will they send them? Since they have decided to close the track at Maisons-Laffitte and seem to have a similar disregard for the training center here, I can’t imagine I’ll need to sit by the phone and wait for owners sent by France Galop to ring up.
There are two departments within France Galop that are, ostensibly, there to help new owners and take care of existing ones. I don’t know what the budget of either of these departments is, but I DO know that I’ve tried to solicit their help on various occasions with getting new owners approved and through the dreaded “dossier” process, and not once have I had any luck. I called the famous “departement des proprietaires” three weeks ago with a question on the owner application process. No one could answer the question, but they took my name and number and promised to call back. Still waiting.
And let’s not even get started on the famous FRBC, or French Racing and Breeding Commission, which, according to its mission statement, “is to provide you with information on racing and breeding in France.” I don’t know what their budget is, either, but I do know that their primary role seems to be to send attractive young ladies in very short skirts to man a table at French sales and hand out hats. At one such sale, I had a prospective owner with me who was very keen to get started. I went to the FRBC table. “This man would like to be an owner. Could you please sign him up?” “Ah, mais non,” came the reply. “That’s France Galop. It has nothing to do with us.” Ah. I see. Nice hat, though.
While France Galop ponders its role in looking for new owners, I’ve personally deposited the “dossiers” of more than a dozen new owners in the past five years. They have all been for non-French owners, and each one has been an ordeal of paperwork that I have had to fill out and explain to new owners, trying all the time not to discourage them with all the ridiculous formality. Instead, I should be able to pick up the phone to the famous “owners’ department,” tell them that Mr. X wants to own a horse with me and THEY should take care of the rest. As it is, you can’t even get them to answer the phone.
It seems, rather, that France Galop is living in a fantasy world, where a fairy godmother is going to wave a magic wand and Longchamp will be filled to capacity every day it has race meetings. Rich owners trailing money will send top-class horses to fill the stables of the big trainers in Chantilly. Syndicates, English-style, will take up the rest, sending second-tier horses to only slightly smaller trainers. In this fantasy world, there are no bad horses, small trainers or small owners. Only the biggest and best will do. The only trouble is, the inhabitants of the Ivory Tower in Boulogne have forgotten that horse racing is actually a pyramid, and without the base, the pyramid collapses. There are very few Group 1 horses in the world, and very few owners who can afford them. There are, though, plenty of less-talented animals, and those are the ones who fill the cards and keep the PMU money coming, because bettors love big fields. A four-runner Group 1 race at Longchamp doesn’t bring in a fraction of what a 20-runner handicap at St. Cloud will provide.
I’m not sure where the action in Maisons-Laffitte today will lead, but it does seem to be the opening salvo in a much-needed revolution. Being a foreigner and serving at the pleasure of the King, I’m not sure what role I might get to play in this conflict. But if the chance arises, perhaps I can once again try to live up to my job description.
We’re still recovering from another Arc weekend, but it was a great party and what an amazing race. Our paddock-side group grew to 28 people this year, as we gathered owners, potential owners and breeders from far and wide – a few Americans, plenty from England, a dash of Luxembourg, some Canadians (!) and even a couple of French people for good measure. We had a great corner table overlooking the parade ring, giving everyone a pretty close view of Treve, Orfevre, Intello and the rest.
We had a bit of racing of our own around the big day. Eternal Gift ran very well in the mile handicap on Saturday, settling for 5th (and another check) but giving us a good yell in any case when he hit the front just a little too far from the winning post. Hera Eria ran 2nd at Compiegne last week, rewarding a somewhat audacious try at a mile after usually running nearly double that. And King Driver had to settle for fourth at Chantilly on Monday, again a race he could have won easily with a better trip. This time we had the other extreme – rather than running too fast out front, he got stuck in traffic and couldn’t get out in time. With a decent trip, he will win, but it’s frustrating to not quite get there.
Hard Way goes to St. Cloud tomorrow for a 3,100-meter handicap. The competition is tough, but it is raining, and every drop helps his chances. He seems well, but Hard Way never really lets us know what he’s going to do until he does it, so we shall see. Gorki Park goes to Chantilly on Friday, and Gold Knight will race in Maisons-Laffitte on Saturday. We would very much like at least one of these guys to bump up the win column. Meanwhile, we’ve got Grey Falcon in the wings for next week.
This blog has become like the letter to an old friend that you really want to write, but there’s so much to say you keep putting it off. Tonight, I’ve conquered my procrastination so here we go, starting back to front.
This has been a tremendously tough week, because we had a lot of runners and not many real chances. Unfortunately, you can’t always run to win. Sometimes, you’re on an exploratory mission instead, bringing a horse back from a long layoff or trying one out for the first time. Santarini, Hera Eria and Greatest all fell into that category.
Santarini, if you’ve been following along, is a huge four-year-old filly who had knee chips removed in February down in Cagnes sur Mer. Knee chips, plural, because the vet clinic operated on the wrong leg first, then had to do the right one. No matter, both knees were bad, so while it was technically malpractice, in reality we got a two-for-one knee deal. She’s been on the rehab trail since, and finally ran her comeback race last week at St. Cloud. The race was 2,100 meters long, but it turns out Santarini really can only stay about 1,600. Her pedigree says that, and her past performance says that, but she is the size of an oil tanker and looks for all the world like she’s built to run a mile and a half – or maybe even two or three. But no, it seems she only wants to run a mile after all, so that’s what she’ll do next time out.
Greatest debuted for us last week in Fontainebleau. He was bought at the July sale, and seems to be a very nice horse that needs soft ground, and probably a shorter trip than what he’d been getting in Ireland. Because he is an import, we don’t have many choices for entries for the first few races here, so he ran a 2,600-meter claimer. And while I was looking for soft ground, what we got was a bog, with several days of rain before the race and plenty of rain on race-night, too, just to add to our pleasure. He came back with a good knock to his hock, but otherwise relatively unscathed and will run slightly shorter next time out, when he’ll be entered in a 2,300-meter race in Le Mans. It’s still a bit too long, I think, but we have to take what we can get.
Hera Eria is a tougher kettle of fish. She’s a big, four-year-old filly who came to us over the summer desperately needing to build up some back muscle. She did, and now looks fantastic, but it turns out she also has some serious issues, chief among them being she’d rather not gallop next to other horses, thank you very much. She ran a debut race for us like a filly that had never seen a racecourse before. That embarrassment earned her a set of full blinkers, which seemed to help a bit and she ran much better at St. Cloud. We’re still figuring her out, and I think ear plugs might come next, but I really hope we can get to the bottom of her because she is a lovely horse with a bit of ability, and it would be a shame to waste it.
We’re also still trying to figure out Gold Knight, but he seems to be coming around a bit, running two places down in the country. He’s looking pretty well and still may have some back issues, but hopefully will be ready to tackle a race in Maisons-Laffitte in early October.
Most of the other horses are doing pretty well, but we’re just waiting for the right races. Eternal Gift had two off runs, but both were over courses I wasn’t sure would suit him but wanted to try – the famous 1,400-meter “tobaggan” at Longchamp (just a bit too slow for that) and the 1,600-meter straight at Maisons-Laffitte (the lack of a turn does not favor a front-runner, unless you’re super-horse, and sadly, he is not). He’ll go back to Longchamp on Arc weekend to run a mile handicap WITH a turn, the same course he won on in July, and he should appreciate that better.
King Driver is doing great, taking home money in all four of his starts this year. Only problem is he should have won last week at St. Cloud and finished only 5th, partially because Olivier Peslier forgot he was sitting on a nice handicapper and not the next Sea the Stars. He set too strong a pace out front, and couldn’t quite hang on. He wasn’t beaten far, though, and he’s knocking on the door for a win, which should come soon.
Gorki Park came back from his summer vacation ready to work, which he showed us by finishing a nice 2nd in his comeback race at Longchamp. He now has two nice entries in October, and all indications are that he’ll be a very fun horse this fall.
Hard Way and Grey Falcon are waiting for the right races to come along, and both of them have good chances coming up in October. Deep Ocean is more of a puzzle, because I’m not sure where we are with him. We were going to retire him because his arthritis is starting to take a toll, but now he seems to have regained some form and will stay around for a bit longer. He is a tough horse, but also tough to place because there aren’t any great entries for him at the moment. The best chance will be back at his favorite track in Lyon, but that race isn’t until November, and he’ll need to do something in between. Not sure what yet, though.
And there have been some comings and goings: Not Bad for a Boy convinced us he really didn’t want to be a racehorse when he finished only 6th in a very easy country race. He was promoted to 5th after a jockey in the money forgot to weigh in, which gave him an oh-so-tiny check, but there was really no point in insisting. He has found a very happy home doing trail riding and some show jumping, and his new owners love him, so that’s a story that ended well. Meanwhile, we’ve added Babaway, a three-year-old who is coming back from a late gelding this summer and a change in trainer, and La Mer, a very promising two-year-old filly who will be prepped for the Cagnes sur Mer meeting.
That sort of catches things up in a nutshell. There’s a lot more that could be said, but then I’d just be putting it off again!
Our movable racing feast will move South on Saturday when Eternal Gift and King Driver race in Moulins. Everybody else seems to be in Deauville, which seems an ideal time to go elsewhere looking for winners. Eternal will run a mile handicap and try to confirm his victory at Longchamp. He should race well, because . . . → Read More: The Party Moves South
I’ve waited years to finally get a winner at Longchamp, and this month we got two: Hard Way won his handicap two weeks ago, and Eternal Gift followed it up with a win last Saturday. Hard-working Deep Ocean was in the money again this past week, and King Driver ran a fantastic comeback after a . . . → Read More: Winner, winner!
We’ve passed into July, and the weather has finally caught up with us. Summer, finally, is here. I’m actually wearing shorts and a t-shirt at 8:30 at night and not freezing. We’ve been able to leave the horses naked overnight, and they’re happy. While the weather up until now has been dismal, our results haven’t: . . . → Read More: Status report
The white pigeon showed up about four weeks ago. The yard lab Vladamir the Impaler was the first to notice him, of course, and sat fixated on the roof where the pigeon perched, looking out of his element trying to grip the clay tiles that the ordinary pigeons navigated with ease. I pointed him out . . . → Read More: It’s bad luck to be superstitious
It’s hard to believe it’s almost June, when the weather says November. But the yard is rolling along, and we are making big plans for the summer, in the hopes that it one day might come.
Grey Falcon has finally turned the page, and while he is still galloping quite green, the jumping in training . . . → Read More: Progress