We’ve shipped just about everybody to Cagnes, and just in time – snow and freezing cold have moved into the Paris region, and we’re down here in much more reasonable weather. We haven’t yet seen as much sun as Cagnes is known for, but it’s promised tomorrow. Even when it’s cold here, it’s a dry cold, which makes it so much more supportable. All the horses arrived safely yesterday, and there has been the usual chaos settling them in and staking out our places, sweeping, organizing and setting things up. Only Blue Lilac was left behind, but I’ve managed to find another box, so she’ll ship down Thursday night.
Natalie and Agata were quite nervous about the first day out (Agata’s first words to me upon seeing the mix of trotters and gallopers on the track: “We’re all going to die here.”) But they found the courage to tackle it this morning, and we rode out with not too much trouble. I took Deep Ocean as the schoolmaster, and I can’t wait to race him. He knows exactly where he is (he got the same box he had last year, too) and seems raring to go. He’s already changing his coat and pranced out on the track like he owned it. Gorki Park is a bit fizzy and isn’t sure what is happening, and even Eternal Gift was a bit more on his toes than usual. Second lot consisted of Grey Falcon, Santarini and Magical Flower. None of them were thrilled with the passing sulkies, but none caused too much trouble, either.
Our first runners will be Friday, with Eternal Gift in the 1,300-meter handicap and Santarini making her debut for us in a 2,000-meter claimer. Eternal’s entry looks quite promising, and he should do well. Santarini was running shorter distances in England, but I think she’ll stay the trip. In any case, she will need the race because she’s been off for more than two months now. It will be interesting to see how she handles it, but I think she’ll do better her second time out.
The overall carnival atmosphere is picking up as all of the last horses arrive; the cantine is packed after night stable, the stable lads have set up “Joe’s Bar” in a saddle room and the Concorde is doing a brisk business in pizza and mojitos across the street. I managed to abstain since arriving Sunday night, but the English trainers hooked me into a couple of beers tonight. I did duck out before the party moved to the Concorde, though. I’ll save that for after racing.