It was a very good year

Winners for Gina Rarick from the 2018 season.

Looking back

Time flies, and so it is the moment for a quick look back at the year that was 2018. We had 151 runners this past year, and 80 of them came home earning some money; Twelve of them won, and our total yard earnings topped 400,000 euros for the first time, finishing at 410,258. We never have more than 18 horses in training at any one time and started a total of 31 different horses. That makes those numbers something our team can be proud of. We had some sales-ring thrills this year, too, watching Ardara Belle top 200,000 euros in the Arc sale.

Looking ahead

In the 10 years that I’ve been a public trainer, the numbers have improved every year. We have every expectation that the trend will continue in 2019. We have some very interesting horses in the yard at the moment, and the search for even better performers never stops. But nothing can happen without our owners, and this is the moment to say a huge thank you for coming aboard and having the faith to stay aboard!

We are going to put every effort into making 2019 a truly spectacular year for our yard and our owners. As you all know, French racing is struggling and after next year there will be some serious questions about prize money and the situation going forward. So over the next year, let’s take all the money we can, and hope that France Galop can sort itself out so that next year when I’m writing my annual wrap, it won’t be an obituary for racing.

Heading south

We’re off to Cagnes-sur-Mer in two weeks to start the year with a bang, and after that, we have some very specific goals to reach. We need more winners and more black type next year. Stay tuned to see if we can make it happen!

July racing update

July was a very busy month at the yard. Avenue du Monde (Champs-Elysees) ran her final race, we attended the Tattersalls Horses in Training sales in Newmarket, two new horses entered the yard from claiming races – Never Compromise (Astronomer Royal) and Surewecan (Royal Applause) – and we ran the racing festival in Vichy.

Avenue du Monde’s last race

Avenue du Monde’s last race before becoming a broodmare was in Vichy on the 20th of the month, the last day of the festival. We were hoping that she would drop to the third division of the handicap that day but ended up in the second with Grey Sensation (Aussie Rules) and Gascon (Heliostatic).  Gascon proved to be the best of the three on the day finishing a good second while Grey picked up fourth and Avenue was just out of the money at sixth.  By then, we were running on a turf that was well worn from the week of racing and the heavy rain that fell the Monday before and again that day.

Ray Of Hope finds his form

Earlier in the month, we took Ray of Hope (Layman) back to Deauville and the fibersand and he ran much better than his previous outing at Longchamp. This time picking up second place, one of two that he would run this month.

Ray of Hope earing the yard its 19th second-place finish of the year in Deauville, the 31 July 2018.

Further notable runs included Gascon again, finishing fifth at Compiegne, Never Compromise was seventh in a Quinte handicap and Mr. Chuckles (Arcano) adding a seventh in the second division of that same Quinte handicap.

The Mickaëls – Forest, and Barzalona – did most of the riding except for Mr. Chuckles who was ridden by Delphine Santiago and Maxime Guyon who rode Gascon in Compiegne.

The best paying horse in July was Ray of Hope with his second place on 4 July, paying €9,90 for a one euro place bet.

Grey’s first outing

Grey Sensation came home sixth of 15 in his Cagnes-sur-Mer debut on Saturday in the 1600-meter (one-mile) handicap, the Prix du Val Carei on Fibresand. Towards the rear after breaking from an unfortunately wide number 12 draw, he made up some late ground to get within 2 1/4 lengths of the victorious Bucentaire, who covered the distance in a quick 1:38.18.

Sent off as the 2.40-1 favorite on the opening day Cagnes card, Grey Sensation was perhaps compromised by a fast early pace and the relatively sticky ground produced by the new Fibresand course at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur. The sharp pace of the race was confirmed in the next event, a good conditions race which was run .26 of a seconds slower than Grey Sensation’s.

Trainer Gina Rarick said: “The way he ran today shows he’d be more comfortable at 2000 meters (1 1/4 miles), and Alexis Badel agreed. He may go next in a handicap at that distance on Jan. 25.” In his previous race last time race at that distance, Grey Sensation had finished a fast finishing third at Deauville. A return to what appears to be a distance he now finds preferble should result in an improved effort.

Kicking Off Cagnes

Grey Sensation will debut High Street Racing’s new yellow and green colors on opening day of the Cagnes sur Mer winter meeting on Saturday when he takes on 14 rivals in the Prix du Val Carei. The 1600-meter (one-mile) handicap, with a value of 19,000 euros will be a drop down in distance for ‘Grey’, who will carry co-highweight of 60 kilos (130 lbs.).

Trainer Gina Rarick was unconcerned on both scores. “He’s run well at this distance in the past and the weight will not be a factor as there is only 3 lbs.separating top from bottom.”

Alexis Badel returns to the saddle on Grey Sensation, having ridden him twice before but not last time when he finished a strong closing third in a 1900-meter handicap (one-mile, 1 1/2 furlongs) at Deauville. Grey Sensation will break from the 12 post in the 15-runner field. He was scheduled to arrive at Cagnes sur Mer early Friday morning after a 14-hour van ride from Maisons-Laffitte along with High Street Racing’s second horse, Bleu Astral, and four other Gina Rarick trainees. The fourth race on Saturday’s card, the Val Carei will go off at 2:15 pm (1:15 pm GMT, 8:15 am EST).

Bleu Astral shows improvement

Bleu Astral showed marked improvement in his second outing for High Street Racing at Deauville on Monday as he finished well to finish ninth in the Prix de Balme, overcoming a number of obstacles in the process.

Cutting back to 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) and breaking from post 14 in the 15-runner claiming event while carrying co-highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.), ‘Bleu’ broke much more alertly than he did last time, but was taken back by rider Alexis Badel, who angled him over to the rail in a ground-saving move. Still next-to-last approaching the straight, ‘Bleu’ was closing well as the line drew near. In the end he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetting winner Super Nothing, who clocked a quick 1:16.80 for the 1300 meters.

“This was a much better effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He was much better out of the gate and carried his head better. It was a promising performance and he should do well next time at Cagnes-sur-Mer going left-handed at a mile or even longer.”

Gina reported that Bleu Astral had come out of the race in good order and suggested that he may be even better when switched back to turf.

Considering his wide draw, the heavy impost which saw him spotting his 14 rivals up to 22 lbs., a 6 1/2-length defeat to a winner who was carrying 15 lbs. less than the High Street Racing inmate must be considered an encouraging performance. At a longer distance and carrying a more competitive weight, there is every chance that Bleu Astral will continue to improve.

Bleu Astral returns to Deauville

Bleu Astral makes a quick return for High Street Racing on Monday when he goes in the Prix de Balme on the Deauville fibresand course. The 1300-meter (6 1/2-furlong) claimer is worth 20,000 euros (10,000 euros to the winner).

The race is three furlongs shorter than Bleu Astral’s High Street racing debut at the same track on December 11 when he finished tenth in a 1900-meter (9 1/2-furlong) conditions race, and is also a step or two down in class.

As trainer Gina Rarick explained: “I would have preferred a distance closer to a mile, but we don’t have another entry that is suitable at the moment, so we’ll have to takes this one. I have added sheepskin cheek pieces to help keep him straight and focused. We should look at this race as essentially a second training gallop counting toward his eventual handicap mark.”

“‘Bleu’ did a nice piece of work Thursday,” Gina continued, “and I expect to see a better showing than last time.”

Bleu Astral has been entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros but Gina does not expect him to be claimed. Carrying highweight of 61.5 kilos (135 lbs.) as he continues to carry a French penalty due to his two victories last summer in Great Britain, he has drawn post 15 in a field of 16 three-year-olds. Post time is 12:15 pm (CET), 11:15 (GMT) and 6:15 am (EST). Alexis Badel retains the ride.

Welcome Grey Sensation!

Grey Sensation is the latest addition to the High Street Racing stable. The 3-year-old gelding joined Bleu Astral in the High Street fold on Monday in a private deal from previous owner Michael Nelmes-Crocker.

The move is a cosmetic one for Grey Sensation as he has been under the care of High Street trainer Gina Rarick at Maisons-Laffitte since Sept. 24. He showed immediate improvement after the move, earning a check in all four of his subsequent starts, most recently on December 11 when he was a fast finishing third in a 1900-meter handicap on the Deauville fibresand.

“He’s extremely consistent, sound and tough and is effective over any distance from 1500 meters to 2000 meters (7 1/2 to 10 furlongs),” Gina said. “He seems to love the fibresand but he’s also fine on turf where he needs the top of the ground.”

Like his High Street Racing stablemate Bleu Astral, Grey Sensation is the son of a French 2000 Guineas winner, in this case Aussie Rules, who also won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. Out of a mare by Royal Hunt Cup winner Imperial Ballet, Grey Sensation possesses a solid one-mile pedigree that frequently translates into a more versatile foundation.

For his High Street Racing debut, trainer Rarick will aim him at a 1600-meter (one-mile) handicap at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Saturday, January 16, opening day at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur, and the first of 19 days of racing at the seaside winter meeting which runs through February 27. We hope all High Street Racing shareholders- and prospective shareholders- will be able to join us at Cagnes for a closer look at both Grey Sensation and Bleu Astral.

Grey Sensation, number 14, finishing third in his most recent race at Deauville.
Grey Sensation, number 14, finishing third in his most recent race at Deauville. Scoopdyga

Bleu Astral’s first race

Bleu Astral’s first race for High Street Racing at Deauville on Friday resulted in a tenth-place finish, and while that may be disappointing on the face of it, there are a number of positives to be taken from the effort.

Slowly away in the 1900-meter (one-mile, 1 1/2 furlong) Prix de Villepelee on fibresand, Bleu Astral quickly moved up towards a bunched up group at the front, while drifting a bit left under rider Alexis Badel. Never far behind through the backstraight, he faded late as Badel rode him out to the finish. Sent off at 16-1, ‘Bleu’ came home 15 lengths behind the victorious One Foot in Heaven.

“This was a learning experience,” said High Street trainer Gina Rarick, “and we learned something. He needed this race as he hadn’t run since August 28, and he needs a stronger pace than he got today. He came out of the race fine. Before Cagnes-sur-Mer next month, we’ll look for another race at Deauville at 1500 meters (7 1/2 furlongs), which is closer to the one-mile races he won in Britain. We need to get three French races into him before he is given a handicap mark.”

Badel sounded an optimistic note. “He’ll be fine. He has ability,” he said. “I’d ride him again.” The rider also suggested that ‘Bleu’ would do better on a left-handed track like Cagnes-sur-Mer.

One other factor to take into account is that in carrying co-highweight of 59 kilos (130 lbs.), Bleu Astral was spotting his twelve rivals up to 12 lbs., thanks to the odd conditions of the race which dictate that he had to carry a penalty for his two victories last summer in Britain, races that were clearly of a lower value than the Villepelee. There were no earnings gleaned today, but there is promise for the future under different conditions.

Bleu Astral to run at Deauville

High Street Racing will have its first runner at Deauville tomorrow (Friday) when Bleu Astral takes on twelve rivals in the Prix de Villepelee, a 1900-meter conditions race on fibresand worth 29,000 euros, 14,500 euros to the winner.

Purchased for 12,750 guineas at the Tattersalls October Horses-in-Training Sale, the 3-year-old son of French 2000 Guineas winner Astronomer Royal will be making his first start since August 28 when he completed a British double while landing a one-mile conditions race on heavy turf at Ffos Las.

On Friday he will be stretching out an additional 1 1/2 furlongs against a rather accomplished field. Bleu Astral has been working well of late on the Maisons-Laffitte gallops, and while trainer Gina Rarick expects a good effort, expectations of victory right off the bat may be premature. First time out we are looking at this race as a re-entry point to determine future races.

Post time is scheduled for 12:30pm (CET), 11:30am (GMT), 6:30am (EST) for American early birds. Bleu Astral will break from an ideal draw of four in the field of 13. Alexis Badel has the ride.

The agony and the ecstasy of social media

So it seems this blog is all but dead. My fault. Facebook’s fault. I resisted, in the beginning. I hated the idea of Facebook (not least because that was what the New York Times called their personnel directory, which seemed insulting and…well, impersonal). But a few years ago I cracked. My excuse was that I needed to be on Facebook for marketing purposes, which turned out not to be wrong. Facebook has been a useful tool for that. It also has been a colossal time-wasting addiction, but I digress. And it has also eaten my blog.

Facebook, for better or worse, is an extremely quick and easy way for me to update anybody who cares or claims to care about all the comings and goings in the yard, the races, the results and just random tidbits (that would contribute to the time-wasting part). I have a pretty large following there, and I have been resorting to communicating that way instead of by blog, which some of you have actually noticed. To those of you who still check back here regularly, I apologize. And once again, I will try to do better. Meanwhile, if you’re not already signed on to Facebook, just do it. It’s really not so bad. And if you’re paranoid that signing up to Facebook will open your entire private life in every intimate detail to cyberspace, don’t be. Facebook only knows what you want it to know, so just don’t tell it anything. They don’t need to know your birthday, your address or anything else pertinent. You need an email address and a name. That’s pretty much it. Sign up, “friend” me (yes, Facebook has verbed the noun) and I’ll add you to the Gallop France group there and you’ll see everything that’s going on.

Right, so some of you are still resisting. For you guys (all five of you, so I hope you appreciate it!), here’s what’s going on in a nutshell: Hard Way has resisted retirement yet again, and ran a comeback race down in the country yesterday at the ripe old age of nine. He finished third of eight runners. I had hoped he would win, because to say the competition was weak would be the nicest thing you might say. But third still requalifies him for handicaps, and he probably needed the run after six months off. Despite rock-hard ground, he seems to have come back OK.

Gorki Park also ran his comeback race, finally, after nearly six months off, and he came 4th in a 20-runner handicap in Maisons-Laffitte. He looks like he should be just as useful this year as last. He’s grown up a bit and will stretch out in distance this year – if we can find him a decent race, which is easier said than done at the moment. King Driver, our other stable banker, is just back from a short break. He finished third at St. Cloud in mid-May, but chucked off his jockey (twice!) and ran loose for quite some time around the racecourse before he got down to work. That was him telling us as clear as he could that he was ready for a vacation, so he got one. He’s back in training as of tomorrow after having spent a month at the spa  – a stud just north of us that specializes in massages and has a great water-walker to keep the muscle tone while on vacation.

Melrand and Pahlavan also had short stays there, as did Risk Well Taken, an unraced two-year-old who went for two weeks after coming up with sore shins. Risks’s stay there was nothing short of miraculous – she came back nearly 20 kilos heavier and bulging with muscle. Our other unraced two-year-old, Impulsive American, was almost ready to debut when he picked up a virus of some sort, which will set us back a few weeks. Pahlavan and Ray of Hope also got it, but they all seem to be on the mend now.

Charitable Act has been retired; his iffy joints were getting the best of him so we decided to stop while he was still sound enough for pleasure riding. Greatest has also moved on to greener pastures, but is still racing and just finished 2nd for his new connections. We wish him well – I always thought he was a good horse, but we were persistently unlucky with him. Clearly, a change was in order!

La Mer seems finally on track after having just about every problem a growing horse can have. She is back galloping, and will hopefully run a maiden in Deauville in early July. Eternal Gift has finally come down in the handicap to a mark he should be able to win from, and he’ll get a try in Amiens on Saturday. Gut Instinct also should be able to win a small race soon, but she would be better on softer ground. She has some good entries coming up, though, so I’ll have to decide whether to brave the good ground or not.

That rounds up just about everyone, I think. And reading back, I see the other problem Facebook has caused. Since I no longer write much more than a sentence at a time, it seems I’m losing the knack. I’d better get back to it, or I won’t be able to write that novel I’ve been talking about for the past two decades!