Jockey disaster for Hard Way

Where do I start? I will try to write this omitting the stream of obscenities I spouted after Hard Way’s race on Saturday, when Stephane Pasquier single-handedly flushed a year and a half of patience down the toilet by allowing Hard Way to bolt along out front, serving as the leader for the field and then practically crossing the finish line at a trot. We were supposed to have Christophe Lemaire in the saddle again, but at the very last minute, his agent pulled him off to ride for a bigger trainer. I was stuck without a pilot and all my usual suspects were already taken. With a 20-horse field, that happens. Of course, when Lemaire’s agent said he could ride, there was absolutely no doubt, so I didn’t bother looking for a backup. So there we were, screwed, and Pasquier was available. I was actually thinking about scratching, because I’d never used Pasquier before and he appeared to be the kind of jockey I try to avoid: One who can ride a fantastic race if he is so inspired, but who seems not to give a shit if he’s not so inspired. Oh don’t you worry, madame, his agent said, he’ll give you a good ride. Ah, words. He rode like a bad apprentice, setting a nice pace for his buddies behind him. Turning into the stretch, he dropped his hands and let the horse hack home (which was probably the least offensive thing he did at that point, because Hard Way had set a blistering pace and probably wouldn’t have had much left to give).

I usually hold my tongue with jockeys, because I never know if I might one day need them again. This was not the case on Saturday, and I made it clear that I was extremely unhappy. Angry. Furious, really. It’s quite probable that not only did Pasquier get the message, but most of Maisons-Laffitte did, too. Ah, well. Two British owners of another trainer overheard my diatribe and quickly got interested. “Do you always swear like that,” they asked? “It happens,” I replied. They took my business card.

Hard Way came back fine, if perhaps somewhat confused. He had never raced in Maisons-Laffitte before so he was surprised to find a racecourse at the end of our walk over. He was allowed to do as he pleased during the race, and then he had plenty of grass on the way home, so I’m hoping he didn’t come away with too bad a lesson. The handicappers didn’t see fit to take off a single ounce after our performance, probably because the ride was so bad they assumed I was trying to lose. That leaves our target still Longchamp on June 11, but we will most certainly have a change of jockey. Again.

7 Replies to “Jockey disaster for Hard Way”

  1. Andy Serling says that the jockey does not matter. Excuses, Excuses. Grow up. The jockey never stops a good horse

  2. I disagree. A bad ride can stop a good horse, but a good ride can’t make a bad horse faster.

  3. If the jockey does not matter, why put anything at all on the horse, which this case may have been better?
    I don’t know a lot about racing but even I can see a purpose in following the trainer’s guidelines to the jockey to hold Hard Way back in the interests of reserving his energy for the end.

  4. Every dog – or should I say horse, has his day, or off day. Yjat’s why owners and trainers have to cherish the good days, as they are few and far between.
    Horses are not machines- and in any case the race was considerably more competitive than the previous one, irrespective of the jockey not following instructions.
    Perhaps with hindight it’s better to take these things on the chin and put it down to experience, rather than blow up, even if it’s sometimes hard to swallow.

  5. Fred, I don’t know who you are nor do I know who Andy Serling is, but neither of you know what you are talking about.

  6. It reads as if the jockey, not the horse, had an off day. So Hard Way got a fast workout instead of a race. It would have been interesting to know what Pasquier was thinking, just in case he had something useful to contribute. But owners love a trainer who is so invested in the horse and entered expecting a competitive performance. Hope they use that business card!

  7. You tell him, Gina! Something good will come out of this. You’ll know never to use him again for one thing.

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