Pilot error

Hi Shinko lost a race he should have won today because of a bad decision by our jockey. I had to change jockeys because Fabien, our usual rider for Shinko, had another commitment more important (the problem of being a small yard is that I’m often low on the priority list). So I used Greg Benoist, a jockey I’ve had good results with in the past and who I do like. But today, he gave me one of the worst rides ever. The way to ride Shinko is to let him start how he pleases (which will usually be fast) then ease him into a position and keep it. If another horse passes him, he’ll stop. Shinko jumped out fast today and Greg didn’t want to take the lead, which was the right instinct, but he then hooked him back into sixth or seventh position, which was the wrong instinct. He fought with the horse for the first 200 meters or so, and after that Shinko found himself trapped inside with nowhere to go, so he went nowhere. Coming out of the turn we were in horrible traffic trouble, and even if Shinko did decide to participate, he couldn’t have gotten anywhere. So Greg did the sensible thing and dropped his hands and let him gallop out. Best that can be said is that maybe our handicap will go down a kilo.

Shinko came back hardly having broken a sweat, and was kicking down the walls and looking for food when he got home. It was all just a simple piece of gate training for him – he didn’t do much more and probably didn’t lose 500 grams. I’d like to race him back as quickly as possible, but we may have to wait a couple of weeks. I keep scouring the condition book, looking for something I may have missed. What a frustrating day. I’m usually more guarded in my optimism about my horses’ chances, but today I couldn’t see any reason we shouldn’t have been in the first five home.

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