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.

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.

A decent week, and more ahead

We’ve had all four runners so far this week in the money, if not as close to the winners’ circle as we had hoped. Layman’s Terms ran fifth in Le Lion d’Angers in a good race. She was not beaten far and she made tremendous progress from her disastrous debut in Lyon. She is a filly with a lot of speed, but she has been too hot-headed so far to run well. But she comported herself much better in Lion d’Angers, so we can look for better things from her. Once she gets it, she’s going to be a very nice filly.

We finished fourth and fifth yesterday in the claimer at St. Cloud, but not in the order I had expected. Golden Age ran very well and closed to steal fourth from her stablemate, Comment Dit. Golden Age ran so well I’m a little surprised she wasn’t claimed; she probably will be next time out, and I’ll be sorry to see her go. I had expected a much bigger run from Comment Dit, but she seemed discouraged by the long uphill straight and didn’t put in much of an effort. We’ll look for something easier for her next time out.

Today in Maisons-Laffitte, Sotka took fifth in a Listed race for only her second time out. She was only beaten three lengths and is showing tremendous promise.

Panisette went to Bordeaux this noon for her race tomorrow, and Runaway Sparkle and Twilight Allure will leave for Lyon shortly. I’m told the track in Lyon hasn’t improved since we last saw it, but we’re going ahead anyway because if we pull out at this stage, we’ll have to wait another eight days to enter and both horses need the run. Runaway should have a good chance, but I have no idea how she’ll handle the ground. In any case, we’ll all be in the same boat, so the mudlarks will win the day – whoever they are.