Tag Archives: Rue Debelleyme

The road to perdition…

…is paved with good intentions. That certainly was in evidence this past week, when a number of attempts at good deeds were fraught with unintended consequences. Where to start? How about the story of George.

I sold him to an organization called Ecurie Second Chance, which buys out-of-training racehorses, reschools them and then sells them on as riding horses. Sometimes, with the owner’s consent, they are placed again for racing. When I sold George, for just 500 euros, which is the going rate for retired racehorses, I said I wasn’t opposed to him racing again if a small permit-holder was found and if the horse had a much-needed break. George is sound, nice and could race next year in easier venues than around Paris. A week later, the man who bought the horse called me and said he had two possibilities that both involved racing: One in Martinique, and one in France, but for either one he’d have to move on immediately. Needless to say I wasn’t pleased with either choice, but in all fairness I had sold the horse, so I had very little say in the matter. Between a rock and a hard place, I said I prefer he stay in France. That week, he showed up declared in training with a public trainer with a yard of 25 horses, and a week after that he was entered in a sprint up in Le Croisé-Laroche, a dismal track near Lille that I would avoid racing at at all costs. George would have to endure a seven-hour truck ride each way to get from his new trainer’s base to race and back, not to mention it was a race completely unsuited for him even if he WAS in shape. He raced, and needless to say he finished last, poor kid. The next day I saw he was entered in a race at Amiens seven days later. That was when Kay, my American owner who had leased George while he was with me, and I took action. Long story short, we bought the horse back, and we’ve found a new home for him that will not include racing.

The man who runs Ecurie Second Chance was highly apologetic and I believe he sincerely did have good intentions, but just had no idea how to execute them. During our numerous phone exchanges, he would always complain that he was severely overworked, that numerous trainers were looking to “dump” their bad horses at the end of the season and that he couldn’t cope. These are the times that try men’s souls. Yes, there are too many horses, and yes, we’re looking, at this time of year, to move the underperforming ones on. But if Ecurie Second Chance felt overwhelmed by the task, he should not have bought the horse! I would have kept him until I found a suitable situation for him myself. Which brings me to the second story of the week…

…and the names are changed to protect the – well, not the innocent, really, but…a horse, let’s call her Sadie, was injured in a race at the end of September. The nature of the problem meant that she had to be on box rest for a few weeks, but she was a very nice-natured filly and would make an excellent riding horse; the injury wasn’t limiting in that sense. I immediately started looking for a home for her, but obviously it is hard to place a lame horse, even with good potential. So I was forced to hang onto her for longer than I wanted, and certainly far longer than the owner wanted, but I did eventually find a very nice home for her at the end of October. This meant the owner was being billed for the horse a month longer than he wanted to be. He paid, along with a registered letter saying how furious he was with my “extortionary” price of 30 euros a day for a horse out of training. I understand his frustration, but despite all, I applaud him for paying his bill and not ordering the horse sent to slaughter, which I suppose he could have done (for the record, I wouldn’t have done it, even if it meant paying the horse’s keep myself). In any case, this story ends well: I just got a photo from the new owner, and he is thrilled with her. And for the record, the price I charge is far from extortionary; there is no profit margin there. Hay and straw prices have skyrocketed this year, and while the horse wasn’t ridden out, she was kept in a clean box, brushed and fed daily. The standard of care doesn’t change when the horse can no longer race.

We soldier on. Going into winter is the worst time of year in the horse business. Magic picked up the dreaded cough right before her race on Monday, and I nearly scratched but didn’t and should have, probably. In any case, the distance of 2,500 meters seems just a bit too long on heavy ground, and I’ll look for something shorter for her once we clear up the cough. King ran a great second race at St. Cloud last week. He’s learning his lessons well and I want to get a couple of more races in this year, but we had to give him a flu shot this week, and of course, he’s had a reaction to it. I’m hoping it’s a brief setback, but don’t know yet.

The new fillies from Newmarket are doing well, and Triple Tonic, back from her convalescence in Normandy, is jumping out of her skin. It’s great to have Hard Way back. He seems better than ever and hasn’t lost a step – if you don’t hang onto him in the morning he’ll be off like a shot. And we have a new colt, Deep Ocean, who came to us from Marseille. He can only race right-handed because of stringhalt in his left hock, which makes him a challenge, but he’s a lovely horse who clearly always tries his best (he’s had a win and six places this year). All of them are being aimed at some winter racing on the fibersand in Deauville and later in Cagnes (except for Deep, who can’t go to Cagnes because it is left-handed).

Already, November this year has been paradise compared with what we had to put up with last year. I don’t know how long we can escape the freezing temperatures, but I’m treasuring every day I don’t need to put ten layers and gloves!

Coming and Going

We had a frustrating time at the races over the past few days. George ran quite well at St. Cloud last week, but I had wanted to put sheepskin cheek pieces on this time to motivate him a bit more. These now need to be declared, and through various missteps didn’t get declared, so we couldn’t use them. I am convinced that kept us from getting a check. George was lying fifth on the outside for the bulk of the race, accelerated a bit in the home stretch but switched off when the going got really tough at the end and couldn’t quite hang in there. The form says we finished 9th of 18, but it was the usual cluster at the end – the photo shows 5th through 10th places separated by not even a length. Good old George has really turned into a tourist at the track these days, and I really do need to retire him. He keeps conning me into giving him one more chance. We’ll see.

On Friday, Tuna (Fortunateencounter) and Rue B (Rue Debellyme) ran in the same claimer. I wasn’t keen to run Rue B, because I’d rather have waited for something a bit easier, but the owner was keen so we went ahead. She came back lame behind, on the opposite side of a similar injury she had this spring. So the message is clear: She is retired, and will be sound for riding and even some show jumping. She is just not cut out for speed. Tuna, on the other hand, ran a great race but hung badly right in the home stretch. Since she was running left handed this time, her path took her toward the rail rather than away from it, and she cut off a horse that then fell behind her. She flew on to finish third, two lengths clear of the fourth-placed horse, but she was disqualified because of the horse falling behind her. On top of it all, she was claimed, so I finished with no horse and no prize money. It was a good deal for her owners, though. She was bought for around 5,000 euros at Tattersalls in England in July, and she was claimed for 18,000 euros, which is a tidy profit in a short time. The next sale is coming up at the end of October, so we can try to do it again.

Tomorrow, Strictly Rhythm goes to Lyon with one of the best chances of her career: We have only eight runners in a maiden over 2,400 meters on the fibersand. As usual, there is a horse from Rouget who will be the favorite; we are second choice. We’ll try to prove the handicappers wrong.

Sales behind, runners ahead

It was busy at the end of last week with the La Teste sales and Birs in Lyon. First Birs: He finished 8th, but ran very, very well despite bad traffic. He was drawn 3, and Flavien had to fight with him to keep him from galloping on top of the other horses. (When you want the outside, you get the inside, and vice-versa, it seems.) Birs is a very, very big horse and wasn’t very happy inside. Once Flavien got him out, he galloped on to close nicely, and was only beaten about three lengths. In any case, the owner wanted him sold, so I made a deal with another trainer and he has now left my yard. He will run in Maisons-Laffitte next week, I hope, and I’ll still get the trainer’s percentage even if I don’t get to race him under my name. There are 80 entries, so we’ll see if he gets a run. He’s a nice horse, though, and one to watch.

As for the sales, the quality of horses on offer from Osarus is better than ever and there were some very nice yearlings through the ring. One of my owners did a bit of bidding and came away with nothing, and it was frustrating not to be able to bring a couple home. I particularly liked Lots 34, 78 and 93 – all very different styles of horses. No. 34 was a Layman colt who looked like he could race tomorrow. Very precocious and compact, he sold for 8,000 euros to Delcher-Sanchez, a trainer in Southern France or Spain – not sure which. No. 78 was a Great Journey filly, whose sister was a Listed-placed filly in Switzerland and France. She was a lovely model and went to Con Marnane for 11,500 euros, which means she is likely to come back to race in France (although I have no idea if she’ll come to me – my guess is probably not). My favorite horse of the sales was No. 93, a Carlotamix colt that went for only 11,000 to Michel Gentile. I figured he would have gone for a lot more, so maybe I missed a problem of some sort. Two of his three siblings are Listed winners and he was a nice horse, if a bit on the light side. The weak spot on the page, like it is for many French-bred horses, is the sire, of course. He did win the Group 1 Criterium International at St. Cloud, but didn’t do much else. He has eight winners from 45 foals of racing age, and he usually doesn’t get very good mares.

France suffers from a lack of decent sires, but it’s a vicious circle because breeders aren’t willing to pay high stud fees. The highest stallions in France stand for 15,000 euros, and that’s peanuts compared with many other places; Carlotamix stands for 2,500 euros.

In any case, it will be interesting to follow my three yearling picks to see what becomes of them.

The organization of the sales was excellent; the Osarus gang is the antithesis of the Arqana snobbery that goes on in Deauville. The Osarus team is very welcoming, and they put on free breakfast and lunch the morning of the sale, plus Champagne during the sales themselves (they’re not stupid – well-oiled buyers tend to drive up prices!). I’ll definitely be back.

In racing this week, George (Email Exit) will go to St. Cloud for a handicap on Thursday. I really need to retire him and find him a new job, but since I haven’t really moved on that yet and he’s here, eating, cantering and seeming well enough, he can race until I decide what to do with him. Tuna (Fortunateencounter) will go to a claimer here in Maisons-Laffitte on Friday. She was entered in a handicap at St. Cloud on Thursday but didn’t make the cut, so we’ll have to take another risk. Rue B. is entered in the same race, but I don’t think we may wait for a better chance for her.

Debuts, progress and one bad trip

Catching up the week’s runners: Agata made her jockey debut on Sunday and she’s alive to tell about it, and so is George, so all is well. Agata has good instincts: The race was 2,500 meters long, which was very tough for a first time out, and when she got off the horse the first thing she admitted was that the horse could have done better; it was the jockey who was cooked! Very true – first time past the stands all was well, but when she came around again for the home stretch, it was clear that poor Agata was just a passenger at that point. But it was a great experience for her, and it will bring her on tremendously as a work rider as well. I hope she has another few rides soon, because she will make progress. George, meanwhile, will probably be retired, but I may run him one more time with a jockey. I’ll decide in the next week. He’s sound, seems happy, is here and is eating, so he might as well race.

Rue B made her debut Sunday as well, and tried her best in a race that was far too short for her. On the plus side, she galloped straight, ears pointed and had a tremendously good mental attitude through it all. Not too bad for a first time. She’ll get another try soon at a longer distance, which will suit better.

On Monday, Fortunateencounter (Tuna) ran a cracker to finish 2nd of 17 runners in St. Cloud. She lobbed along relaxed and happy for most of the 3,000 meter race, then closed like a train all by her lonesome in midtrack after Tristan, her jockey, decided to take her wide (we’re still not sure why). She missed the win by a head, and we’re very happy with her. Magical Flower had an outing, too, but the field was much tougher for her. We don’t have many choices for races for her, because she hasn’t passed 3,000 euros in earnings so is the first eliminated under French rules. Very frustrating, because she’s placed four times in England. But because the prize money is so bad there, her earnings only barely top 2,000 euros. The same performance in France would have had her well tipping over 10,000.

Tuesday, Strictly ran the Tierce, my least-favorite race in France, and we were absolutely screwed by a jockey who did not follow orders. I was forced to change jockeys because Strictly had a low weight of 53.5 kilos, and most of the guys I use can’t ride that light. I told our replacement to put her just behind the leaders. Behind. He went tanking off in front, serving as the rabbit for three-quarters of the race, then gave two pushes in the stretch before he dropped his hands and let the horse lob in with all the other losers. Then the jockey came back and said we should shorten the horse back to a mile. She’s been just off the win at this distance five times, but no matter. Clearly not only did he not follow orders, but he didn’t do any homework. Sigh.

I’m off to the yearling sales in La Teste tomorrow, and then to Lyon on Friday, where Birs will run a claimer. He’s a lovely big horse that just needs experience, and probably more distance. We’ll see what happens.

Oh (expletives deleted)

It all started with a f*cking flu shot. A day later, Triple Tonic started coughing. No big deal, we thought; she’s a two-year-old having a bit of a reaction. A little vitamin C, slow down for a few days and it will all be fine. But she didn’t get better. After about two weeks of intermittent coughing, in a completely unrelated incident, she decided to unhook her metal water bucket with her head, necessitating five stitches (and a change to a plastic bucket). Fine. She had to have antibiotics for this, so maybe we kill two birds with one stone and clear up the cough. One week and seven injections later, her head was perfectly healed, but she was still coughing, and the stuff coming out of her nose was not pretty. A sample was sent off to the lab, the vet was sure he had the right antibiotic and we started again. Ten days later, no change. Off to the clinic for a scope and possibly a head x-ray to make sure it wasn’t in her sinuses. Bad scope, but clean sinuses, another lab test and a third kind of antibiotic. No luck, but poor Tonic was starting to feel like a pin cushion.

Meanwhile, despite doing our best to keep her isolated and disinfect everything that came in contact with her, King next door started coughing, and Rue B down the line thought she might join in. We put all the horses on a course of a broad spectrum antibiotic to try to contain things. I have never, ever done this because I hate to compromise the immune system and contribute to the development of resistant strains of crap. But this time it seemed called for. Triple Tonic, meanwhile, will move to the country tomorrow for an old-fashioned, unpleasant but effective treatment: The “abces de fixation,” a provoked abscess in the chest cavity that draws all the nasty stuff into it and is then drained. It’s akin to leeches, and for me it is definitely a method of last resort. But pumping more chemicals into this poor filly’s system just seems the wrong way to go.

King obviously is a scratch for his debut tomorrow; we’ve given him a second dose of Iodure, an IV iodine designed to clean out the respiratory system. He will be rescoped on Thursday, when we’ll send swabs to the lab. So far, it looks like we might catch him before it’s too far gone. He’s also more advanced in his work, and might have a stronger immune system. Let’s hope. Rue B, too, seems to be fighting it off. For now, all the horses that have raced seem fine. They are tougher and older, so they might not come down with…whatever it is this is.

 

 

Catching up (again)

I’m a bit behind on blogging; spent the week with some sort of gastro thing (I’ll spare you the details) and packing what was left of the Irish contingent off on their way home.

Deauville went as expected; Shinko ran like a horse who needs a break, so he’s getting one, and then he will join Regis Reveillere in the Mayenne. Regis is a permit holder and a breeder, who just happens to be the breeder of King Driver. The change of scenery will do Shinko good, and I wish Regis the best of luck with him. George, too, will move on to other things, but not before debuting my assistant Agata in an amateur rider race on Sunday in Evreux. Birs stays on the team. He’s a big baby who is just getting started, and I’m sure he will improve with a bit of distance and experience.

That leaves us with a yard of nine at the moment. Six of the Irish horses have gone back for the fall/winter. We ran a very intense, but successful, four-month campaign with them. Rendition is back for another try, so we’re pretty heavy on three-year-old fillies at the moment, with five of them. Good thing they don’t all run the same distance.

The event of the week is the debut, finally, of King Driver on Wednesday at St. Cloud. He was bought at the yearling sales at Lion d’Angers last year and is a stunning horse, but will probably be better at three than two. Still, it’s time he gets a taste of what it’s all about. He’s still a colt, and he’s getting a bit bossy, so the experience of a race might settle him a bit.

After that, it’s George at Evreux on Sunday, possibly along with Rue B, who worked well out of the gates on Friday and seems just about ready to try something. I’ll decide whether to run her on Wednesday.