It’s hard to believe another Arc weekend has come and gone. As usual, there were big parties, lots of fun and great racing. Our usual table of 24 in the owners and trainers restaurant went well as usual, and put us ringside for some of the best thoroughbreds in the world. Many of our owners were there, and for those of you who missed it, mark your calendars for next year. The hope is always, of course, that we might have something good enough to run that weekend ourselves, and you never know – maybe next year’s the one.
We did have a horse in the money on Arc weekend a couple of years ago when Hard Way was third in the handicap. The racing calendar has since change and his handicap no longer exists, so this year we had to settle for racing on the Monday after the Arc – when good old Hard Way showed he’s still a fun racehorse by finishing second in his handicap there. Surrey Storm also had a run but didn’t care for the bottomless ground (which Hard Way loves). She’s had two off races now and has had a long season, so we are deciding whether to race again before she goes to the breeding stock sale in Deauville in December. At the moment, I think we will try another time, because she is not training like a horse that’s gone over the top. Her jockey in Chantilly, Christophe Lemaire, also didn’t think she was running like a tired horse, but rather like one that would prefer better going. Nothing is on the cards for her at the moment, since she’ll have to go on the fibersand at this point because it’s been raining nonstop and there’s no good ground to be had in France at the moment.
Hard Way, on the other hand, is ready to go again, but there’s no good entry for him until mid-November at Fontainebleau, so we’ll have to wait. Even now, I am dreading the thought of that race – not for him, who should have a good chance to win – but for us, since there are few more dismal places I can think of than the Fontainebleau racecourse in mid-November! I’m still scouring the condition books to make sure there is nothing more hospitable that I missed.
Magical Flower ran a second race on Monday at Compiegne, and it didn’t go too well. She didn’t really like the ground, but she’s just not much of a fighter. She has great action and plenty of ability, but when challenged by other horses, she seems to just say “right, go ahead then, if it means that much to you. See you back at the barn…” She is working very, very well at home, so we’ll next bring out the sheepskin cheekpieces to see if we can’t motivator a bit more, before moving on to blinkers if we have to.
Deep Ocean ran yesterday at Longchamp in a race that was too short over ground that was too heavy. But he is too highly handicapped, and we have no choice but to race until the handicappers show mercy. We only need to come down a pound to run in the race I’d really like next week in Chantilly, and I’ll find out tomorrow whether that can happen. Fingers crossed, because the horse seems to be in fine form and I’d really like to find a nice little race for him.
Meanwhile, our unraced horses are coming on well, and the two three-year-olds are just about ready to try something. Grey Falcon has transformed himself over the past two months, toning up and learning to gallop. He went through the starting gate last week along with Blue Lilac, our unraced Irish filly. The work went well, although the Falcon hardly fit in the gate and I think he was afraid to jump out for fear of taking it with him. He did figure it out, though, and I don’t think either of them will give the gate crew any trouble on race day. They may both go to Chantilly on Nov. 9 for a maiden race over a mile.
King Driver is still recovering from the intestinal mess his bought with tapeworm left behind. It’s been a long battle, but it seems we may finally be coming out on top. He is such a lovely horse and this setback has been a real blow. We hope very much to have him right for Deauville in December and then on to Cagnes.
Gorki Park is coming along, too; we had to back off for a bit because of shin problems, much as I had tried to avoid that, but I think he’s just about ready to pick up fast work again. I hope to get him out at two in Deauville, and then he, too, will have Cagnes as a primary target.