George, Timelord and Shinko will all hit the road Friday for Deauville. Timelord and George are in the same 1,900-meter claimer – we’re hoping for a dead heat for victory. That will be a bit of a stretch for George – it’s not the best entry for him, but as usual, there are way too many horses looking for a race and we have to take what comes. I’d have preferred him in the handicap on Saturday, but he was No. 110 on the list, so obviously would get eliminated. He is in great form at the moment and needs the run, so off we go. He is rated 26 and is up against horses in the 30s (including Timelord, who is rated 33 at the moment), but he is working well so you never know. Shinko, meanwhile, is top weight in his handicap, carrying a whopping 62 kilos. That said, bottom weight is 57.5 kilos, so it’s definitely a race for heavyweights. He has a good draw – No. 10 of 16, which will let him go to the lead on the outside. Greg Benoist is up, and he hasn’t won a race for me yet this year, so it’s time. I’m putting sheepskin cheek pieces on (the French call them “Australian blinkers”) just to remind him to get down to work. He’s had three very easy races with me to try to get a decent handicap mark (unsuccessfully) and now he needs to know it’s time to move.
Weather-wise, we’re in the deep freeze (like much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, from what I gather). We’ve been gritting our teeth and trudging down to the fibersand every day. This morning, it was minus 16 Centigrade down there, with the usual north wind whipping across the plain. It was not fun, but now we’ll get to see if it was all worth it.