No money but good lessons

Hard Way finished out of the frame at Compiegne yesterday, but he ran well and handled the whole procedure better than he has in the past, which gives us quite a bit to look forward to. It’s an hour and a half trip by horse transport from Maisons-Laffitte to Compiegne, and I had to ride in the back of the truck with him to avoid a repeat of his St. Cloud transport fiasco. Riding with him made a huge difference, though, and he settled and rode pretty well. He stayed pretty calm for showering and walking at the track, but still didn’t handle being in a box very well. Next time out, I’ll ask for a box bedded in shavings so we don’t have to use the “panier” to keep him from eating the straw. The panier seems to stress him out more than anything else, so we had to keep him out of the box and walking most of the time. The earplugs and iced cap went on with the bridle, and they seemed to really help. He was calm, cool and collected in the presentation ring, and he was pretty good behind the gate, too. I asked that he be loaded second-last, which worked well except that he missed the break a bit, so he was further off the pace than I had expected him to be. He also got a little startled on the turn by a horse coming up on his off side and jumped into the rail, losing some distance. But he came back well in the stretch to close and was running on past the wire, which is good to see. I think 2,000 meters is a little short for him, after all, and I’ll probably go back to 2,400 next time out. I don’t think 2,000 is out of the question, but I’d prefer 2,400. He recovered well, we had no major incidents on the trip home (although he did take issue when I fell asleep for a few minutes and wasn’t paying attention to him; he woke me up by threatening to rear or fall over, in that order). He ate up everything last night and took a walk around the park today with a calm, more mature look in his eye. I think he did a bit of growing up yesterday, and hopefully we can run back sooner than last time. The Compiegne race was only the fifth in his life, so he’s got plenty of races in front of him if he can learn to handle it all a little easier.

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