Cagnes: It’s a wrap!

Where do I start? We finished the Cagnes season with a win, six places and just over 22,000 euros in prize money, so it was a success. We would have liked to find the winner’s circle a few more times, but most of the horses ran well and they’ll be far ahead in their training for the spring races around Paris. Alongside the racing, there were plenty of episodes of  “As the Stable Turns” playing out on the sidelines.

Who would’ve thought two months ago that Magical Flower would be the star of the show? She was placed twice and then won in her three starts here, and she won in a way I never would have believed: lapping the field from behind in a 1,300-meter sprint. She’s been having a bit of a break since and is likely to try to do the same back in Deauville on March 15, although she’ll have to go 1,500 meters. She is incredibly well placed in the handicaps, still rated 25.5.

Deep Ocean will run in Lyon on Wednesday on the way home, and he should have a very good chance to win. There were only two races for him here in Cagnes, and he was second once and unplaced in the other, for my part more due to jockey error than anything else. Deep seems to love Cagnes – he’s practically changed into a summer coat and feels better than I’ve ever had him in the morning, so we’ll see what happens in Lyon, where he has already won once before.

Eternal Gift ran a couple of places and then got lazy, so we’ll have to do some fine-tuning to wake him up. He needs, of course, the ultimate equipment change, but I really don’t want to stop and geld him now if I can avoid it. We haven’t gone to blinkers yet, and I’ll be making some changes to his morning routine once we get back to Maisons-Laffitte.

Grey Falcon has been slightly disappointing, but I’m confident we’ll get him on track. When he came last year, he was hugely overweight and unfit. Now he’s gone too far the other direction, and is looking very much like a greyhound. He’ll need to build up a bit of muscle and put some weight back on now before he’s at his best, but he’ll get there this spring. We’re still finding his best distance, too.

The baby of the team, Gorki Park, is improving well and opened his bank account with a fourth place in the three-year-old handicap on closing day. He beat some nice horses and will be better running on the turf than the fibersand. He’s still growing and building back muscle, so I think he could be a fun horse this spring.

Santarini came out of her race with a bone chip in her left knee, which explains her bad performance. She went for arthroscopic surgery at the clinic here last week. It went well, except for the fact that they operated on the wrong leg. I’m not making this up. When the vet called after the surgery, he explained that they had found quite a bit of arthritis, which they hadn’t seen in the x-ray, and a chip or two. Not surprising that they hadn’t seen the arthritis in the x-ray, since we didn’t take any of that knee. Well, what’s done is done, and I have no doubt that her right knee probably wasn’t in great shape. In any case, they’re going to operate on the left one tomorrow, so when she’s finished, we’ll have two repaired knees for the price of one. To ease the trauma of what she’s already gone through, we found a convalescent stable near Cagnes, so she will not have to make the trip home for now.

Blue Lilac has been disappointing and clearly has some issues, so she is moving to another trainer in the area. She’ll need a few weeks of rest, I think, and then maybe she can tackle some of the easier races in the South. Paris-area racing would be too tough for her, so we wish her well down here.

The team leaves for the North on Wednesday morning; we’ll stop and race Deep in Lyon, and then head home to Maisons-Laffitte. It’s been cold and raining in Cagnes for two days, which makes is slightly easier to leave, even though it’s freezing where we’re going. For most of the meeting, the weather has been wonderful, and the sun has been good for all of us.

We’ve had a great time, and there are plenty of stories to tell. I would’ve been telling them here, except that my computer blew up about two weeks ago and I’ve been a bit stuck since. For the moment, I’ve commandeered the computer of my assistant, Agata, and I’ve only figured out how to long in to my blog today. The computer speaks Polish sometimes, and French sometimes, and Tim has managed to get the keyboard to speak English, so I can type even though none of the labels on the keys match up to what I’m typing (which is fine with me – there’s no logic to a French keyboard).

So perhaps I’ll dredge up a story or two of Cagnes in the coming days. Maybe the one about the singing trotters, or the skiing, or the stripper (not my idea), or the wheelbarrow wars. Maybe.

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