Cagnes: Week 4

We’re turning into the home stretch here, with some horses running their final races this week. The last few runs have been disappointing, but there have been some good reasons. Deep Ocean ran a handicap on Saturday in which he should have had every chance to win, but it was on the turf, which is in horrible shape here and he didn’t travel a step. It was his first finish off the board in eight races, which of course is disappointing, but it was all due to the ground. He has fragile joints, and not only was it hard, it was pitted full of holes. Some trainers decided not to run, and they were the wiser. I wish I had done the same. That said, our jockey wisely didn’t push Deep, and he came back in great form. Not only was he calling for dinner, he was stamping his feet for hay as well. I rode him out on Sunday and it felt like he hadn’t raced. So we will try again either this coming Saturday or Monday, depending on how accommodating the handicappers at France Galop are. The Saturday race is an open handicap, back on the fibersand at 2,400 meters. The Monday race is the same course and distance, but limited to horses rated 26 and under. We’re currently sitting at 27, but I’m hoping that since he hasn’t won in a bit, they might give us the kilo. The reality is, though, that we’re probably going to have to settle for Saturday in open company.

Milly ran on Wednesday and it went exactly as I had hoped. Carla gave her a very good lesson without asking for anything, and while she only beat one horse, she really didn’t find her action until 100 meters from the post and then she ran on well. She came back in great form and has been eating and working very well since, so she’ll have another run this coming Wednesday. It’s still a 2,000-meter maiden, and she will eventually need longer to win, but I’m hoping to see some progress and maybe, just maybe, pick up a small check. She is a very tiny horse and won’t probably be in her top form until later in the spring, but if she makes progress down here, she’ll win something in the Paris region eventually.

Coming up we’ve also got Elbow Beach back on Saturday. She is double-entered in the 1,500-meter maiden on the turf and the 1,600-meter “D” race on the fibersand. In theory, the maiden should be much easier, but the D race actually looks inviting, too. I’ll sit tight through forfeits tomorrow before deciding which way to go.

Strictly Rhythm will have another go Saturday as well, but we’re dropping her back to a mile for the first time. Unfortunately, she showed a bit of respiratory trouble after her last race, and I’ve been treating her in hopes of getting a win down here before she goes off to breeding. We’ll see what Saturday gives us.

I’m gearing up for my influx of visitors on the weekend. I’ve got friends and owners from America and Maisons-Laffitte all coming down, so I hope we’ll have a good showing on Saturday before we all head off to watch the opening of the Nice Carnival on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the rhythm of track life goes on. Apparently I missed a good bar fight at the Concorde the other night, when a trainer (who I won’t name) went after a jockey (whose name I don’t know), the culmination of a longstanding dispute. It all happened past my bedtime, I’m afraid. I have been doing my share of hanging out at the cantine after night stable, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit. Something about all this sunshine, even if it’s cold, brings out the craving for cocktails…

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