France Galop backed down in the face of a very strong labor movement and for now, they have taken closing Maisons-Laffitte off the table. They sure haven’t backed down on Longchamp, though, and briefly posted a very high-end (read expensive) video previewing the “New Longchamp” on their web site. The film was hastily taken down, probably in the realization that now was not the time for such propaganda.
But meanwhile, we have work to do, and it’s been a long time since I wrote about what, exactly, my horses have been up to. King Driver has been the star of the show, finally winning his race at Compiegne a few weeks ago and making him perfect for the season so far, with a check on every outing. He’s doing great, and will probably run again on Nov. 26 in Chantilly.
Gorki Park has had two off races, mostly because of the very heavy ground, I think. He also may have just lost his way a bit, so we’ll see if he finds it with a try on the fibersand in Chantilly on Tuesday. He seems to be fine, but he’s a small horse who always gives his all, so maybe he’ll just need a seasonal break. Tuesday will tell us more, although I’d rather stretch him out to 1,900 meters on the fiber and Tuesday’s race is just 1,600, which might be a bit quick for him.
Hard Way and new recruit Babaway will also run on Tuesday. Hard Way goes back on the fibersand, and as usual we really don’t know what he will do. Babaway is running the 1,300-meter handicap in his first race since getting gelded and changing trainers, so it will be a discovery mission. He’s a big bruit of a horse who prefers to pull first and breath later, so the prime objective will be not to fight with him and just see how he wants to run.
Gold Knight finally pulled in another check last night at Lyon, which falls well because he’s going to the sales on Monday. I hope he finds a trainer who will get him back into form, because I haven’t been able to find the buttons. He’s clearly got some ability, but I’ve had a hard time bringing it out. I have no problem admitting that perhaps someone could do better.
Hera Eria so far hasn’t been able to repeat her good run at Compiegne earlier this year, but she’s also been stuck on very heavy ground twice now, and clearly it doesn’t suit her. I really would like to see her get a try on the fiber before passing judgement, and she may get that on Nov. 26. Greatest, too, is finally improving, and he’s not really a fibersand horse although he ran decently at Lyon last night, finishing 7th after being forced to set the pace. He’s now qualified for handicaps and should be fine if I can find the right race for him, which so far I haven’t been able to do.
We’ve got a couple of new faces in the barn, with our unraced two-year-old filly La Mer making steady progress. She will hopefully be ready for a debut in Deauville, but if not will head directly to Cagnes sur Mer. New acquisitions Ray of Hope and Charitable Act are doing very well and both will be racing soon. We have some new owners for these horses, so we’re waiting for France Galop to finish the paperwork before we can start to get them entered. One leg of Charitable Act is still available, so contact me if you’re interested. He’s a nice solid horse and is nearly ready to race.
We’ve also turned a page at the yard with the retirement of Deep Ocean, which has been on the cards for awhile but now has finally happened. It was a tough decision, because while he was full of arthritis, he really loved to race and his heart overcame his infirmities most of the time. But we finally had to call it a day, and he has found a wonderful home in the Mayenne region, where he will even get the chance to do a bit of breeding.
I think that’s just about everybody. November is a very tough month because we’ve come to the end of the classic flat season and the winter racing hasn’t really geared up yet on the all-weather tracks, so we’re a bit stuck with entries. It seems we really have no horses that love the horribly heavy ground, so we’ll take the entries we can get for now and count on being ready for Deauville and then Cagnes later on.