Chugging toward the weekend

Racing today in Cagnes didn’t involve me, but my English stable-mates had plenty of runners so I helped saddle and run errands for them. They finished with a winner and two places, and the winner was claimed, so everybody was happy. My own horses are idling awaiting their weekend entries. Belle worked yesterday with Spidello, but she really called it in and I’m not very optimistic about her chances on Saturday. Physically, she is great – looking shiny and well, veins popping and fit to go. Mentally, she just doesn’t want to know. She will have blinkers this time in the hopes this might wake her up (or make her angry enough to run faster). Theirry Thulliez said he was happy enough to give her another crack, so let’s hope he can find the button this time. Hold your bets, though.

Shinko has been doing very little because he only gets a week between races. That said, he certainly doesn’t seem tired. Because the four other horses all had work to do yesterday, he was the odd man out and that left me to ride him on my own. This is a bad idea for a few reasons, but the biggest one is that Shinko is really a coward and doesn’t like to go anywhere without a buddy, certainly not into a situation that involves dodging trotters. So we did it American style. I walked him in hand to warm him up, then when I hopped on, Bertrand led us down to the track, let go at just the right moment and I hacked him all around the outside (not without a few arguments over direction). I pulled up where we started, turned up the off ramp and then jumped off. Just in time, too, because a packet of sulkies came down the track behind us and Shinko launched into a bucking bronc routine that would have made any rodeo proud. I managed to get him home, unsaddle him and walk to cool out. He was a little confused over the routine, but he got to stretch his legs and nobody got hurt.

Turfani and Strictly Rhythm worked together and both went very well. I rode Turfani and had all I could do to keep her speed down to a reasonable work. When Strictly Rhythm came upsides at the head of the stretch, we flew home, and that’s with Turfani carrying at least 15 kilos more than Strictly. They both seemed well-primed for their entries next week.

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