Leaning into the wind

Winter has taken hold way ahead of time here, and the Paris area is definitely having a white, frozen Christmas. All pretty from the holiday standpoint, but absolute hell for horse training. There was an article in this month’s European Trainer magazine about those hardy (and completely insane) Scandinavians who will happily ride their racehorses through piles of snow and race all winter despite having to harrow the piste about every two minutes to keep it from freezing solid. The point was supposed to be how resilient a thoroughbred can be. Agreed. But these are thoroughbreds that put up with this every year, so they’re used to it. On top of it, the Scandinavians seem to be far better-equipped for this nonsense than we are. I don’t know where they get their clothes, but somebody give me a web site, because they don’t exist in France. I go out in the morning with more layers than the Michelin tire guy and I freeze. But I digress. In the midst of all of this, there are some occasional race dates and we have horses ready to run, so off we go. Versaki debuted for us today in a 1,900-meter condition race for young jockeys, and ran respectably but the race was far too long for him. We knew it, and had him double-entered for Saturday in the race we really wanted to run that was 1,500 meters and we could have put a more experienced professional up. Unfortunately I wasn’t available at deadline time to juggle the entries, and he had to settle for today’s race, which was a shame. (At the entry deadline, I was actually having an MRI on my head because I was convinced I was having a brain hemorrhage of some sort after three days of a migraine turned into something much more ugly. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that this has been a strangely difficult autumn/winter season, physically speaking. I seem to be on the mend – again – now.) In any case, Versaki put in a good effort, finished his race and came home fine. He didn’t get the best of rides, but it was much better than poor Email’s catastrophe.

DerringBay has his chance tomorrow. He has everything going for him, so I’m really curious how he’ll do. Mathias Sautjeau, who rode him in Lyon, is up for tomorrow. We have a far outside draw, but I’m not too concerned about it because in Deauville, the winners are almost never coming on the rail.

Meanwhile, almost everyone else is staying inside because it’s very dangerous to go out. The tracks are being harrowed, but it’s not keeping up with the weather and there are ice chunks everywhere. One bad step could set a horse back for month or worse. We trucked Email and Bay off to the fibersand so they could stretch their legs a bit (particularly important for Bay since he’s running). Turfani and Belle got a sort of bizarre trot/hack canter working on whatever part of the regular tracks we could find that were usable. We need to keep Email and Turfani ticking over for their races next week. Belle is less of a priority because like Pixie, she almost certainly will not get a run in soon because of her earnings exclusion. This kind of weather makes me wish we could set up a satellite operation in Florida, but playing by French drug rules. Not in my lifetime, I suppose.

4 Replies to “Leaning into the wind”

  1. I saw the pretty pictures of Paris under snow. Well we are bracing for “the storm of the century”. It is suppose to start snowing tonight (Friday) around 9:00 and end around 6:00 or so Sunday morning. They are talking 14-20 inches with maybe higher accumulations in some areas. We have received snows like this in January and February, but not December. Come on global warming!

  2. The Versaki that you purchased for 4,000gns at Tatts is a 3-year-old Irish-bred by Verglas, who finished the year 3rd on the French general sire list. At one time he was promising, winning his debut and then going straight to a G2 next out. Did you know that Verglas also has another 3-year-old colt named Versaki? This one is undefeated in 6 starts and runs tomorrow in the Indian 2000 Guineas in Mumbai. Already an Indian G1 winner, he was purchased in utero by Hugo Merry at Goffs in 2005.

    Two Versakis by then same sire, and the same age! The Jockey Clubs need to speak to each other more, I think.

  3. Sid – Yes, we know about Indian Versaki. We were amused; it would be interesting for them to meet, but it seems Indian Versaki would leave us in the dust. Verglas is well-known in France because he started his stud career here. We had a decent Verglas over the summer called Tarruji, who was sold on for double what we paid for him a month after he came. He’s doing well.

  4. I’m a big fan of the sire myself and think he’s great value for 10,000 euros in 2010. He had 4 2yo SWs in 2009, which put him in heady company in Europe. I did a piece on him recently and John Clarke at the Irish National Stud where he now stands emailed and told me trainers love his get because they are so honest.

    I hope your Versaki will come around under your handling and show some of his early promise.

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