Cagnes: Week 2…and 3!

The past two weeks have been so busy I didn’t realize I’ve neglected to say what’s been going on! Backtracking to Deep Ocean’s race, which is where I left off: He finished only 5th, and I had expected better. Unfortunately I had to shoe him a few days before the race, and he has rather delicate feet. My farrier back home does a wonderful job, but the guys down here are, quite frankly, not as good. He got a too-tight trim, and I think he was slightly bothered during the race. In any case, he still tried hard, as he always does, and left his reputation as an equine ATM machine intact by taking a small check, anyway. He will run again next Saturday, and he seems in fine form. The foot has cooled out and I’m being very careful to avoid walking around on any roads because I don’t want him to need new shoes again down here.

We got a nice surprise last Thursday, when Elbow Beach ran fourth in a decent maiden race. She was very short of work, and I really had expected her to need the race as a warmup before doing anything serious. But she showed she’s got heart and ran very well. I’m not sure if she was helped or hurt by her pre-race performance: She dumped her jockey as soon as she was let loose on the track so she did a warm-up lap alone. Luckily, she was pretty cool about it and didn’t bolt off like an idiot, so she was able to line up to take her chance. She didn’t care much for the starting gate, either, and had to be really dragged in by the gate crew. But she ran well and came back well, so she’ll have another go on the 18th, this time on the turf. I don’t really care for the turf track down here, but she has pretty big, sturdy feet, so she’ll probably be fine.

The big disappointment of the week was Strictly Rhythm, who ran another clunker yesterday. I had expected her to come in the money. She looks fantastic, has a great coat, lots of muscle, veins popping out all over the place and has been galloping well. She spent three-quarters of the race galloping along with beautiful action on the rail just behind the leader, but when things got serious in the home stretch, she showed no interest in participating. I can’t find anything physically wrong with her, so I’m going to try to shake her up with a one-mile handicap and a proper set of blinkers next time out. I think she needs a tough race to wake her up a bit – she’s been enjoying the sunshine a little too much down here.

Milly, on the other hand, needs an easy training gallop to get her on track, and she’ll get one on Wednesday. I’m running her in a 2,000-meter maiden with Carla, who has been riding her in training, up. We need her to have a good, confidence-building lesson, and Carla will give it to her. If it so happens that she ends up running well and in the money, fine, but more importantly I just want her to learn.

Droit Devant, who has joined my team just for the meeting, also will have another run on Wednesday. She won on opening day, and seems to be in decent form.

I’ve had a string of visitors, and in all the commotion I can’t believe three weeks of the meeting have already slipped away. We have three places from six runners (Droit Devant doesn’t count, unfortunately, because she ran for her previous trainer on opening day), which is decent, but I’m still looking for a win or two. I don’t think it will happen this week, but Deep might come through for us on Saturday.

I’m very happy to be down here, because even though it has turned cold, it’s nothing compared to what the rest of the country is suffering. I understand there is quite a bit of snow back in Maisons-Laffitte, so it’s a good thing most of the horses are here. Hard Way and Triple Tonic have been doing very limited work. But at least Hard Way has been keeping fit by a bit of dancing in his box.

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