Bugging out

Five water buckets, five mangers, 10 rugs, two saddles, pads, bridles and a partridge in a pear tree. We’re packing for Cagnes. As I suspected last year, it’s come around again before I could blink. I can’t believe we’re making the expedition south again.

I feel better prepared this year, since I know what I’m in for. We’re taking the right horses, for the most part, I think. Satwa Sunrise is already on the road; she left tonight at 5, and will be there at 5 a.m. Florence went on ahead as a scout – she’ll make sure Sunrise gets there OK and has a proper bed and blanket when she arrives. I’m leaving tomorrow, and Deep, Milly and Strictly will follow me down on Monday night, arriving Tuesday morning. Elbow Beach, our newest arrival from England, will have another two weeks in Maisons-Laffitte before she joins us.

With the exception of Elbow (not sure what, exactly, to call her yet), they are all ready to run. Deep just finished 4th at Deauville, beaten just half a length. The horse is practically an ATM machine – he’s always up there. He usually runs right-handed, and he’ll have to go the opposite way in Cagnes, but it’s certainly with a try. He seems in fine form, and in racing, one has to strike while the iron is hot. Sunrise is also coming off a place in Deauville, and she will race on Monday, opening day. I am not expecting her to win yet – it’s a claimer, so I’d rather she didn’t, actually. The race will qualify her for handicaps later in the meeting.

Milly will run a maiden race next Friday. This is a complete unknown. She’s a tiny, scrappy horse with a great paper (by Montjeu out of a black-type Dansili mare ), and she ran three places as a two-year-old in England. We will be up against the usual future stakes horses from Rouget, so we’ll see what happens.

Strictly Rhythm is coming back to get the victory that escaped her last year. She is working well, and will have a prep race with an amateur jockey next weekend before getting serious in the four-year-old handicaps. Elbow Beach is the big question mark; she seems to be a very nice filly but is a bit short of work. I’m really hoping she comes to hand quickly, because we only have her for a short time and it would be nice to win one with her.

But before all that comes the Big Move, which is always an adventure. If all goes well, we’ll end up at the Concorde tomorrow night; let’s see if the jockeys get into a scrap again this year. Nothing like a good old-fashioned bar fight to start the meeting off right!

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