In our last episode, Deep Ocean was going to try for a second straight victory in Lyon, but he ended up in the first division of the race, which I thought might be harder to win. It wasn’t. He won, and won well. The handicappers at France Galop were not amused. They walloped him with a four-kilo bump in his rating, sending him up to 34.5 and effectively ending our chances to win again soon. With that rating, and the amount of money he’s earned so far this year, we have two choices: Claiming races, which are off the table because the owners don’t want to risk losing him, and Tierce handicaps, which are fiercely competitive and damn-near impossible to win.
The plan after Lyon was to keep him ticking over and run the Tierce handicap at Longchamp on April 28. Deep doesn’t have the best legs in the world, and he was pretty stiff for a few days after his last race. But that was only for a few days. After a week, I could hardly hold him in the morning, and he clearly did not understand that there wasn’t a race around the corner. So we had a change of plans, and he now will run the Tierce at St. Cloud on Tuesday instead of waiting for Longchamp (which he will probably run, too). I’d love to give him a bit of a break as a reward for recent efforts, but he’s not interested, so we’ll kick on.
Deep is better right-handed than left-handed, and St. Cloud is a left-handed track. He’s also better on the fibersand than on turf, and St. Cloud is turf. He’s gone up seven kilos in the handicaps in the past month, and he’s running against company that should easily outclass him on Tuesday. But he doesn’t know that, and he will try his best, as he always does. His owners have been fantastic, and they’re just happy to be racing at this level, so they understand if he doesn’t bring home money this time. I hope. It’s pretty easy to get a little spoiled with a horse like Deep.
As for the rest of the yard, we have some work to do to get everybody else up to speed. Grey Falcon ran yesterday at Compiegne and it went pretty dismally. He’s not back to form yet from Cagnes, but we need to get his handicap rating down a bit so we went for a grass gallop. The only thing is, I had a tough time find a jockey so I put up an unknown apprentice. The Falcon was running his first race on a track that wasn’t flat. Compiegne is on a hill; the backstretch goes down and the home stretch goes up, and the ground was – well, hard to say what it was. Horses were sinking in and kicking up huge divets, but the ground was dry so it was like galloping in a grass-covered sandbox. The Falcon bowled down the hill with the poor kid hanging on for dear life. He really needed steadying up and collecting a bit, but he got no help from the saddle and when he changed leads in the stretch the kid very nearly fell off. He quickly dropped his hands in surrender and practically trotted over the finish line. Grey Falcon, for his part, tried his best but manged to strike into himself on both front legs just below the knee galloping like a rabbit in the bad ground. He’s feeling pretty sorry for himself today (although that didn’t stop him from eating). He’ll be fine in the long run, but he needs more back muscle so he can carry his big frame properly. He’ll come to form in a couple of weeks, I think, and then we can look for more from him.
Eternal Gift ran decently at St. Cloud last week over a mile, but the distance was probably a little too long and we’re going to finally accept the fact that he really needs to be a gelding if he’s going to be an effective racehorse. He’s scheduled for the equipment change on Wednesday, and if all goes well he’ll be back to racing in about two months. He won’t really lose too much training time if we don’t have any complications from the surgery.
Gorki Park will run Thursday at Longchamp if we’re not eliminated. We’ll know tomorrow whether we make the cut. He’s working well and will definitely appreciate Longchamp more than Amiens. The race is likely to be split into two divisions, and if that happens, we should have a good chance. He hasn’t done too much so far, but I like this little horse, and I do think he’ll start to hit the money soon.
Hard Way is on the comeback trail and training well, and his target remains May 4 at St. Cloud in the same race he won last year. He has all-American owners, and we like to keep busy on the first Saturday in May!
Lastly, a big welcome to our new addition Gold Knight, who I claimed yesterday for Foxtrot Racing, a partnership in England. He’s a lovely little horse, and I think we’ll have a lot of fun with him in the coming months. He has 9 places from 13 runs, so he’s a useful horse. Once he settles in, he’ll be one to watch.