I just got back in from changing the horses’ clothes for the fourth time today. I turned the heat on. Then swatted a mosquito. It’s mid-November.
When a friend of mine gave me an American Pharoah t-shirt on Arc weekend, I didn’t think I would get a chance to wear it before next summer. But this past week temperatures have topped a sunny 22 degrees (71 Fahrenheit). More than half the horses had already quite sensibly grown their winter coats. A couple have resisted. Turns out they had the last laugh.
The past two weeks have been a litany of changing horses’ rugs, getting them clipped, changing the rugs again, changing our minds and going back and changing them yet again, only to arrive the next morning to find some too hot, some just right and the odd one who managed to rip off his rug in an equine version of a hot flash but then regret it around 4 a.m., when temperatures reached their lowest. Personally, I much prefer this kind of autumn weather to the rainy cold we usually get, but I do fear that Mother Nature is going send us a walloping big bill for all this heat in a couple of weeks, with temperatures likely to plunge straight into the deep freeze.
November has always been a tough month in racing, weather aside. The main flat season is over, but the all-weather winter season has yet to begin. The days are shortening and we’re losing our light. Some horses are winding down, while others are getting ready for winter racing – some too quickly. King Driver hasn’t raced since April – he had a long lay-off after some minor knee surgery. He wasn’t supposed to be ready to race again until at least December, but he’s jumping out of his skin needing a run now and we’ve got absolutely nothing for him. We’re in the same boat with Gorki Park. He doesn’t act on the fibersand so we desperately need another turf race for him, but there’s nothing suitable left and he’s in fantastic form. We’ll have to try him at a longer distance again, because that’s all we have. He won at 2,000 meters last year, but a mile is his best trip.
Ray of Hope is coming off his vacation and getting ready at a more sensible pace. He’ll have a run in Deauville in December and then head south to Cagnes, his favorite track. Preparing for Cagnes is the focus in the yard at the moment, and we should be pretty well-armed this year. Ray and King are confirmed performers there, and we’ll add new horses for our High Street Racing syndicate, along with a few new three-year-olds.
Hopefully, the weather down there will cooperate. This past year was beautiful, but two years ago it rained so much we were swimming rather than training. The current strange weather has me a little worried about what might turn up in January!