I’m really disappointed in my ability to learn and retain good lessons. After riding three lots at home in Maisons-Laffitte yesterday, packing half the yard, myself and Prof and spending nearly nine hours driving south, what I really wanted at midnight last night was a drink. One. Seb, I and Prof headed over to Le Concorde, the bar across from the racetrack backside that is the favorite haunt of trainers, jockeys and hangers-on. At first we were turned away for being too late, but Seb talked us in, and once they realized we were here for the meeting, we were welcomed with open arms. We sat in the back, behind a table populated by a jockey I use from time to time, the bar owner, a trainer who was slumped over in his chair after too much celebrating, a decorative blond and a few other people we didn’t know (and I’ll refrain from saying who the jockey and trainer were). We had a drink. Then we had another one. Midway through the third round, there was a scuffle up front, and the entire table next to us emptied with lightning speed, especially considering how much alcohol was already consumed (except for the trainer, who remained blissfully oblivious to the bar fight and his surroundings in general). It was all over pretty quickly, and by that time I realized it was more than past time to be in bed. So the lesson I never learn is don’t start drinking after an exhaustively long day, no matter how tempting it is. Because this morning was quite a struggle.
Finding our boxes through the fog of a hangover was a surrealistic experience. Cagnes reminds me somewhat of the backside at Santa Anita, except it is more spread out, the boxes are nicer and there are no expensive vet vehicles parked at every barn. And then there are the trotters. At least half the boxes are given over to trotting horses, who share the meeting with us. They have a track dedicated to them, but in the morning, sulkies and galloping horses must cross paths to get to where they’re going. I’m not sure how my horses are going to handle this, but I have a pretty good idea. Not well.
The horses didn’t arrive until just after 11, mercifully, but we had to get the boxes ready for them first, and once they arrived we had to pull everyone’s shipping wraps, make sure there were no transport-related injuries and get them settled in with hay and water. Then we had to unload the truck: 15 sacks of feed, one bran, two trunks full of equipment, water buckets, forks, broom…and yes, thanks to Louise, Florence, Diana, Tim and Chantal for getting it all ON the truck in the first place. All of the horses seemed to travel well. With the exception of Shinko, they are all off their feed slightly, but that’s normal considering they’ve been shipped cross country and are in unfamiliar surroundings. I was off my feed slightly, too, but I seem to be back on track now. Prof is definitely not off his feed, and he’s figuring things out pretty well for an old guy. He likes the backside, but he’s not wild about the fact that the beach is stony rather than sandy.
Tomorrow, George races his claimer at 2,000 meters on the fibersand. I’m hoping for a place so he can get himself back over the earnings threshold and requalify for handicaps. Spidello, the horse we’re looking after for another trainer, is declared in the Tierce, but he came off the truck with some swelling in a leg so we’ll have to see how he is before going ahead. But first, tomorrow morning we’ll have to introduce Belle and Shinko to the trotters.