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.

The week that was…

We entered last week optimistic. We had some good chances at the track, the horses in the yard are in form, and Gina had just returned from a successful trip to Royal Ascot.

Things, however, started to unravel mid-week. Mr Chuckles – Arcano and Caribbean Escape (Pivotal) – who is in peak form, was entered in a handicap in Maisons-Laffitte, only to be eliminated from that race. A new entry was found for the following week, but that one started to look complicated for him, so he will have to wait a few more weeks before running again.

Gina, hesitant to run at Longchamp for what are known problems with the track (unevenness of the ground that was not properly maintained during construction the last two years), decided to forge ahead there and so we went to France Galop’s Thursday night after-work meeting, Jeuxdi,  a nice play on French words and marketing effort that did actually succeed in getting a younger public to the racetrack, albeit most of them were nowhere near the racing and unaware that it was taking place.

Ray of Hope – Layman and Risque de Verglas (Verglas) – ran that night, his second race after more than a year off to repair a hind-leg fracture. The jockey who was supposed to ride, Mickael Forest, couldn’t make it because his flight was canceled. With much deliberation on the way to Longchamp, Gina reflected on her options of available jockeys. We weren’t sure that the rules of racing would allow the one she chose to ride, Mickaelle Michel, to take the ride. In the end, the stewards deliberated and she saddled up and did a fine job on such short notice.

Ray looked perfect, and seemed ready to race, but didn’t fire in the stretch. He will try again next week in Deauville on the surface that he prefers, fibersand.

Saturday we headed back to Longchamp to try and get our first results at the new ParisLongchamp, which reopened in April after two years of work to install new grandstands. This day we arrived with Eternal Gift – Layman and Get The Ring (Linamix) – who has won at Longchamp and Grey Sensation – Aussie Rules and Sensasse (Imperial Ballet). Eternal Gift was not the horse that we saw a couple of times earlier this year.  Gina had this to say the following day:

Eternal Gift has earned his retirement. I’ll never forget pulling him out of the box in Newmarket all those years ago (2012!) and what a stunning horse he was. He still is, but it’s now time for a second career. He’s won four races and placed 27 times in 65 races, and given many good memories to four different owners, particularly to Clément Rollin who has looked after him for nearly five years now. Ponito, as he’s known around here, will give someone many years of enjoyment to come. He retires with no health issues, four good legs and a kind heart. We’re looking for his next home, but we will take as much time as we need to find the right one!

Eternal Gift is available to a new home. You can see some photos of him in this gallery. Contact us for more information.

The second runner Saturday was the standard-bearer of the High Street Racing syndicate, Grey Sensation. Like Ray earlier in the week, we went into the race expecting good results, but this time with a cheering block as several High Street members showed up for the event.  

Grey looked every bit the part, but like Ray of Hope on Monday, simply didn’t fire in the stretch. Mickael Forest felt that the unevenness of the surface didn’t help so we’ll send him out again on a track that we know will suit him better.

We hope that we’ll have a winner at ParisLongchamp soon, but we’ll wait a while for the surface to get sorted out before returning to this track. We have other options.

So, what was supposed to be a good week for Ecurie Rarick, didn’t quite end up that way. But as the old saying goes, “That’s racing”.

 

Welcome Bleu Astral!

Bleu Astral at the October 2015 Tattersalls horses in training sales in Newmartket.
Bleu Astral at the October 2015 Tattersalls horses in training sales in Newmartket.

Bleu Astral is the first horse in the High Street Racing stable. Purchased by Gina Rarick for 12,750 guineas (18,600 euros; $20,500) at the Wednesday session of Tattersalls October Horses-in-Training Sale, he is a 3-year-old gelding by classic Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Astronomer Royal out of the In the Wings mare Passion Bleue, herself a 1 1/2-mile handicap winner at Longchamp.

Bleu Astral improved to win his last two starts going a mile in England this year, adding to three previous placings in six turf outings. Bred in France, he is eligible for French owners’ premiums.

Bleu Astral catalog page

Winner, winner!

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 year off to finish third. Grey Falcon dropped in a check, too, confirming that the yard is definitely in form.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. Hard Way followed exactly the same pattern as he did last year: After his comeback race out in the country, he was ready to tackle Paris and found his favorite jockey, Christophe Lemaire, who rode a perfect race to give me my first winner at Longchamp. It was a 3,100-meter handicap, and Hard Way aced it carrying top weight of 60 kilos. His efforts got him back into the Bloodhorse magazine in America, with his longtime fan John Gilmore doing the honors. The next day, Grey Falcon stepped up in class and distance when he ran second division of the Quinte handicap in Maisons-Laffitte, trying 2,400 meters for the first time. He nearly wired it, just getting caught at the post to finish second by a short head. He has been really unlucky not to win yet, but he’s knocking on the door and it should happen soon.

Eternal Gift finally stepped up his game at Longchamp last Saturday, winning a mile handicap by a neck. I knew he was progressing, and he certainly showed us that he preferred the good ground and galloping track of Longchamp to the muddy traffic circle he found in Amiens. It was his third race back after gelding, and I think he’s going to be a useful horse now. He picked up three kilos in the handicap ratings, which isn’t great, but he still has margin for progress.

We barely had time to get him off the truck Saturday night before we loaded up Deep Ocean, Gold Knight and Not Bad for a Boy for the trip down to Vichy and the week-long racing festival there. Deep Ocean finished fourth in the Quinte on Sunday (we were all sure it was third, but there was just the shadow of a nose in front of him), but Not Bad didn’t distinguish himself in his claimer. It was his first race back in a year, though, and he has been a bit sore in the back, so he deserves another chance or two. Gold Knight showed quite a bit of improvement in his claimer on Monday. He didn’t get up into the money yet, but he did give us hope that we’re on the right track.

The star of the week, though, was King Driver, who was coming back after year off almost to the day. He had some serious health problems last year, and I was never able to get him to his potential. He showed that those seem to be behind him now, though, running a strong third. It was a very easy field of 18, and he would have won if he had kept to the rail instead of coming out to the stands side. He is still very green, having run only six races in his life before Wednesday, and there was a good crowd at the track and it was a night meeting, so once he hit the front, he just looked at all the people rather than pay attention to racing. He has come back very well and is likely to run in Deauville in early August.

In between the racing, I went to the Newmarket sales, where we found an addition to the yard optimistically named Greatest. He is a four-year-old gelding by Anabaa out of a stakes-winning mare, and he seems to want soft ground to run his best. So we’ll build him up and get him ready for a fall campaign. A half share in him is available, so contact us if you’re interested.

Next up might be Hard Way and Grey Falcon on Thursday in Chantilly. I don’t particularly want to race them against each other, but they are in the second half of the Quinte handicap and there aren’t many runners declared, so it might be too good to pass up. In any case, I’m pretty sure Hard Way will go, but I’m still undecided about Grey Falcon, who might prefer softer ground. Hard Way is really a soft ground horse, too, but he doesn’t really care what he gallops on as long as he feels good and wants to run. Both will gallop tomorrow morning, and I’ll decide for sure then. All of the horses are struggling a bit with the heat, and storms are forecast for Tuesday, which might make the going a little easier.

After that, we’ll gear up for Deauville in August, although we’ll probably have fewer runners than in July. Competition is tough there, and unless we have very good entries, it makes more sense to wait until September. In any case, the horses will tell me what they want to do. All I have to do is listen.

November: Why?

When T.S. Eliot penned “April is the cruelest month,” he obviously had forgotten about November. But then again, he probably wasn’t involved with racehorses. For those of us who are, November has to be the most miserable time of the year. The days are so short that you start work in the dark and you finish in the dark. Thankfully, this year hasn’t been nearly as cold and snowy as last year, but it has featured bone-chilling high humidity. A thick fog has blanketed Maisons-Laffitte for the past few mornings, and it gets heavier in the hour after sunrise, already the coldest of the day.

The horses don’t appreciate it much, either. They change their coats, pushing out winter wool, which we then have to clip off so they can work and sweat without catching cold. The heavy rugs have come out, but get alternated with the lighter polar fleeces during the day, because the winter rugs are too hot in the afternoon. Changing their clothes three times a day adds to the work load, and wiping all the runny noses and seeing to the coughs and sneezes are keeping us running, too. It’s the time of year when we need to decide who should push through a winter campaign and who needs a break. The turf racing is almost over, and the all-weather races in Deauville and Cagnes-sur-Mer are ahead.

We’re counting the days until Dec. 21, when we start to add back those precious minutes of sunlight that make such a huge difference. By then, too, the horses will have adjusted to winter. The coughs and niggling health problems that come with the change of season should be behind us – to some extent, it seems we’ve already turned that page, because most of the horses seem to be coming up in form. All that Vitamin C and echinacea extract has paid off.

Satwa Sunrise has started galloping without the aid of Lasix, and seems to be completely fine. We haven’t done head-to-head work with her yet, but will start that next week, and she should run in two weeks (or at least she has an entry – we’ll have to see if she gets in. Magical Flower seems to be recovered from her brush with a cold, and even Triple Tonic seems back in form, except that she popped a splint on her near fore and will have to have an easy week to let it set.

Deep Ocean is a lovely horse, and the infiltration and Tildren treatment seem to have made him pretty comfortable. He had a gallop yesterday that was quite impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing him race in December. He has to switch boxes and go to a bed of shavings, though, because he has threatened to colic twice in the past week after trying to eat his entire straw mattress.

Little Milly (Surrey Storm) is giving us no trouble at all, and seems to be balancing up a bit better. Hard Way is training up so well I’ve had to cut his feed back because I can’t hold onto him any more. He was supposed to be spending the winter as essentially the stable pony, and he’s only eating pony food, but he thinks he’s ready for Longchamp. I had forgotten what a magnificent stride he has – even going slow he opens up huge distances from the others. Anyway, we’ll try to keep him turned down to simmer for the moment.

The enigma has been King Driver, who just doesn’t seem to have a great immune system. He ran two nice races, but then we had to give him a flu shot, after which he promptly got a fever and a cough. Just when I’m ready to pick up the phone to call the vet to come and geld him, though, he seems to stage a miraculous recovery. He’s not quite 100 percent yet, but he’s fighting hard to get there.

Pretty much everybody can race in December, I think, and then we need to decide who goes to Cagnes. Strictly Rhythm will come back into training in December to get ready to go down south, and Sunrise, Magic and Milly will probably also go. Deep Ocean can’t because he can only run left-handed (Cagnes runs right), but King and Triple can go if they are healthy. I have six boxes, so the final roster will wait awhile to be determined.

Meanwhile, dreaming of Cote d’Azur sun will get us through November, which, apologies to T.S. Eliot, really is the cruelest month.

Apres-Arc detox

Our last visitors left today after a great week of racing, touring, eating and drinking. The Arc weekend was fantastic, as usual, plus the weather was more like Deauville in August than Longchamp in October. Put simply, we roasted. It was wonderful. Our party took over a good part of the paddock restaurant, and we couldn’t have been better placed to have a look at all the Group 1 horseflesh on offer. No one saw Danedream coming. The crowd of 50,000 were stunned into silence by her record-breaking victory. Even Frankie Dettori, on third-placed Snow Fairy, couldn’t believe it – and who could blame him? He was sitting pretty going into the home stretch, with only Sarafina’s leader and some unknown orange silks in front of him. But Sarafina’s leader, Shareta, ran the race of her life and the unknown orange silks happened to belong to a feat of German engineering called Danedream. Frankie settled for third.

It was also too bad to see Goldikova get headed on her last appearance in France, but she’ll still go to the Breeders’ Cup, where I suspect she still has some ass to kick. Nice to see Sole Power take a good third in the Abbaye; he is Sotka’s half-brother, and this bodes well for her season next year. And another one to keep a close eye on is the undefeated Dabirsim, who showed amazing acceleration in the Grand Criterium.

We left the crowds of Longchamp far behind on Monday to head off to Argentan with Magical Flower, where she finished 5th in a maiden and took her first check in France. She is now qualified for handicaps, and there is a good one for her next week, if she gets a low enough rating. I’m reluctant to enter in a handicap straight away, but this would be the best race for her. She has to be rated below 32 to qualify. Based on what she’s done so far for us, she shouldn’t be rated higher, but sometimes the handicappers do unreasonable things.

While we were out in deepest Normandy, we took the opportunity to stop by and see my other horses near Orbec, where Triple Tonic is recovering, Hard Way is bored in a field and Well Done Clare is happily in foal to My Risk. Triple Tonic will be ready to come back in early November, I suspect, and I’ve decided to bring Hard Way back home. We’ll see how he goes, but it’s not out of the question that he could race again.

Anyway, in all the excitement this past week, I haven’t gotten a chance to say that I’m very pleased to be part of a new alliance of bloggers called Turf. Have a look at the web site. It includes some very well-written blogs by people in and around the thoroughbred racing business all over the world. I’m very pleased to be part of the group, and it will give me a chance to address wider issues now and then, in addition to the laundry list of what the horses in my yard are doing. There will be various themes tackled by all of the bloggers in the group (and the current one is the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m behind…so stay tuned!).

Lucky, in a way

Strictly Rhythm is either the luckiest or unluckiest racehorse out there, depending on how you look at it. We went to Lyon on Tuesday with a good chance; according to the form, the worst that could possibly happen is we would run third. But racing is racing. It has been unseasonably hot and dry in France, which can turn some synthetic tracks, like the one in Lyon, to mush. Fearing just that, the groundskeepers poured water on the thing all morning and then sealed it, and sealed it good. The tractors were rolling nonstop for three hours Tuesday morning. I thought they would have to then follow with a harrow, but no, they were going to leave it like that, the president of the course said. I thought the surface was awfully hard, and didn’t like it, but Jean-Claude Rouget, who was running the favorite against us, said he thought it was safe. “We’ve never had an accident,” the president chimed in. Famous last words.

Strictly was laying second behind the leader coming out of the final turn, and just as they started to accelerate, the horse in front of us shattered a leg in one of the ugliest accidents I have ever seen on a racecourse. Strictly avoided the crash by millimeters, thanks to quick thinking by Fred Spanu, our jockey. Strictly ran on well, but the bobble to avoid the accident costs us third place by a short head at the line. Rouget, of course, won. Strictly still brought home money, and she came back sound (and alive, which is more than the connections of the other horse can say). So we were very lucky. But we’re still looking for her first win. The bright side is that her handicap mark has now dropped to a reasonable 32, which means I can now place her in some easier races. She will probably go to Compiegne in just under two weeks.

Meanwhile, we’re off to St. Cloud today with George, who will get his blinkers this time. This probably really WILL be his last race, so we just want to have fun and come back safe.

Then it’s on to Longchamp for a weekend of being a spectator for the Arc and associated group races. We have lots of out-of-town visitors and we’re planning quite an Arc party. I can’t get too carried away because I have to get Magical Flower to Argentan for a race on Monday.

Newmarket success; victory in Vittel

I came back from Newmarket on Saturday with three new additions to the yard: Fortunateencounter (Fortunate Encounter, for those of you who weren’t able to make the split), a three-year-old French-bred Muthathir filly; Magical Flower, a three-year-old Oasis Dream filly with solid form, and a still-unnamed two-year-old Majestic Missile filly who we hope will soon be called Original Cyn. The three-year-olds should be ready to go for the Deauville season in August. The two-year-old will take a bit more time, but should definitely run this fall.

All three arrived Sunday morning early, just as we sent Comment Dit down to Vittel, where she won. Runaway Sparkle traveled north to Le Touquet, where she finished third. Hold That Emperor was in much tougher company today in Chantilly, where he could only manage 6th. We’ll look for something easier for him out in the country next.

Next out will be Strictly Rhythm on Thursday, where she will again tackle the Tierce handicap, this time at Longchamp.  It is an evening meeting, which also features the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, a big garden party and after-race fireworks, so it should be a fun night all around.

With the new horses from Newmarket, there should be a busy summer ahead for the yard.