All Hands on Deck

Pretty much the entire yard will get a chance to race over the next three days, which will give us a chance to see how what sort of team we’ll bring to Cagnes sur Mer this year. Most our horses are coming back after a break, and we are really looking forward to see how they’re doing because they’re flying at home.

The party starts tomorrow in Lyon, with Eternal Gift and Moughjim. Eternal is running over a distance of 1,800 meters, which is a furlong over his best distance, and he has an outside draw (what a surprise!), so we’ll make the best of it. He hasn’t run since August, he likes the fibersand and he usually does well off a layoff, so it should be a good run. Moughjim is coming back from a tendon problem and hasn’t run since April. His legs are fine now, but he is a big strong horse and has been very difficult to train. We spent a long time with a behavior specialist and while we were all skeptical, she has done a fabulous job with him and his attitude has really changed. It will be good to see him back on the track.

The festivities shift to Deauville on Friday, when Bleu Astral makes his debut run for our new syndicate, High Street Racing. He’s coming off two wins over heavy ground at a distance of a mile in England, and he’s switching surfaces and trying a longer distance here. He’s running a conditions race that’s really too difficult for him, but because horses who haven’t raced in France are the first to be eliminated when races fill, we don’t have a lot of choice. So his run is really more of a fact-finding mission than anything else. We want to see a good run, but we’re not expecting him to be in the money just yet. Grey Sensation, on the other hand, should have a good chance in his handicap. He’s stretching out to the distance of 1,900 meters for the first time, but we think he will stay. He does have an outside draw of 14 (surprise!), so we’ll need a bit of luck in running, but he is extremely fit and ready.

On Saturday, Ray of Hope and King Driver will run their prep races for Cagnes, and Gorki Park will try the fiber again even though we’re pretty sure he hates it. Gorki will be heading off for a winter break while the other horses go to Cagnes, but he is in such great form that we’ll give him a run on the fiber anyway, since there’s no turf racing to be had. He’s sound and happy, so either he’ll surprise us or he’ll work on getting his handicap mark down. Ray and King have both been off for good breaks to set them up for winter racing. Ray hasn’t been out since August and King since April. Both are in great shape – I don’t think I’ve ever seen King looking this good in the five years we’ve had him!

And last but certainly not least, we hope that Sainte Altesse gets a chance to debut in the two-year-old fillies race. There are 20 entered and only 16 can run, so we won’t know if she draws in until late tomorrow morning. Since she has never raced before we’re not sure what to expect, but she will certainly need a race or two to figure out what it’s all about. If she doesn’t get into the race on Saturday, she has a backup entry next week.

As usual with Deauville in December, we’ve gone down to the wire not really knowing if we’ll get in. King, Ray and Gorki are all entered in the same handicap, which will be split into three divisions, meaning 48 horses get to run (16 per division). But there were 136 horses start-declared this morning! Luckily, all three will make the cut – King only just. Grey Sensation had a similar situation in his handicap, but he was right on the dividing line between two divisions, so it was impossible to book a jockey until the last minute because we weren’t sure which race he’d run. But we’ve got things pretty much nailed down now, so it’s just a question of logistics and basically living in the horse box for the next three days. After this, we’ll probably sit tight until Cagnes, which starts in just five weeks.

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