Two saddles, two bridles – no three. Exercise sheets. Feed. More feed. Vitamins. George’s special plant treatment for his ulcers. Belle’s herbal hormone treatment. Carrots. Pitch fork, broom, water buckets. Racing tack. Hoof grease, bandages, silks, passports. And that’s just for the horses. Then there’s Prof – blanket, food, heart medication, collar, leash (the last two he hasn’t had to deal with in years). And me. Clothes. Work clothes, racing clothes, sweaters, riding boots, work shoes, running shoes (I live in hope). Contact lenses, oh, and my computer. And my horrible, horrible new phone.

If those of you have traveled with small children think it’s a hassle, imagine packing for three 500-kilogram babies (plus Prof who weighs in at 26 k) whose needs can change day by day. Cagnes sur Mer is 1,000 kilometers across the country, so if you forget something, it’s hard to go back and get it. The best way to get there is to fly, of course; the Nice airport is within spitting distance of the racecourse. But if you’ve got cargo, you’ve got to drive. Sebastian and I are heading down in his car (with Prof) tomorrow, hopefully around noon (those of you who know me can laugh now – and bet on the time we actually pull out of Maisons-Laffitte). Before we can go, I have to pack up the horse gear (can’t do it yet, because I have to ride three tomorrow before we leave) and throw the last-minute stuff into my own suitcase. The horses, and as much gear and feed as the STH will let us pack into the transport, will leave tomorrow night.

None of this would be that big of a deal, except that this is the first time I’ve decamped half my yard across country to do the meeting. Trainers who have done it for years have a system, and bigger yards have more staff and money than I do to make sure it all gets done. Getting through the next 48 hours will be the hardest, then we’ll settle in and get to work – and see what we forgot to bring.

It looks like George will get a run on Wednesday, thankfully, because they’re splitting his claimer into two races. I’m also looking after another horse, Spidello, for the meeting, and he also runs Wednesday. Hi Shinko is double-entered for Friday, and I’m most likely to run him in the Tierce at 1,500 meters. But that race is on the turf, and it depends on the ground. I’ve also got him in a 1,600-meter condition race on the fibersand. Then Blessing Belle will run in a 2,400-meter handicap on the fibersand on Saturday. The distance and category will suit her better than her comeback race, so we’ll take this one a little more seriously. All of this depends, of course, on how they handle the trip down and settle in. Shinko will spend a good part of the ride kicking the truck to pieces, which is why I haven’t replaced his hind shoes. Instead, we’ll wrap up his feet and hope he doesn’t do too much damage to himself or others, then get new shoes on him before he races. Watch this space…

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