Rounding up

Obviously lots has gone on since I’ve been back here…catching up where I left off, let’s start with Hard Way. He got a better ride last time out with Christophe Lemaire back in the saddle, who at least tried to follow orders. Unfortunately, Hard Way did indeed learn a bad lesson last time out and jumped out to the front again. But unlike last time, Christophe slowed him down and tried to ride a smart race with what he was dealt. But as soon as he was headed after the final turn, Hard Way decided the race must be over. Christophe did try to convince him otherwise and he did pick up the pace again to finish 7th. We know he can do better, but we absolutely have to sort the starting gate out and get him to break a little less enthusiastically. Usually, I ask for him to be loaded last because he won’t wait in the gate. But next time out, he’ll go in with a few horses still to load, so he’ll have to wait a little, which may be enough to have him miss the break a bit, which in his case would be good.

King Driver, on the other hand, needs a bit more gate training so he doesn’t miss the break. He ran his comeback race in Chantilly on Sunday and I hadn’t bother to school him in the gate first. My feeling on starting gates is that they are highly stressful for a horse, both mentally and physically, so once the horse knows what it’s about, there’s no need to go back to it when not racing. I had forgotten, though, that King is not horribly courageous and when we schooled him originally, he was spooked by the noise of the gate opening, so he stood back before breaking. He did the same thing when he debuted as a two-year-old, but he had learned the lesson for his second race and it wasn’t a problem. Apparently he needed a refresher course, though, because he was fractious before the stalls opened and when they did, he propped back from the noise. Consequently, he was left several lengths behind the pack, which he showed no enthusiasm to join. He ran very green, and in the backstretch he almost decided to go visit the chateau rather than stay on the racecourse. But Fabrice Veron bravely got him moving in the stretch, and he did pass a few horses once he decided to gallop straight and play with the others. He is a lovely big horse and will certainly run much better next time out, which will be in about two weeks. But he’ll go to the gates again first.

Deep Ocean runs tomorrow in Chantilly in the second half of the Tierce. He hasn’t raced in nearly two months; he needed a bit of a break after being on the go all winter, and we also took the time to remove a small sarcoid tumor near his eye that had been bothering him. Entries for him are somewhat limited, because we need 2,000 meters on a right-handed track, with relatively decent ground. All the rain will keep things pretty soft tomorrow, which might not be to his liking, but he ran very well at Longchamp on soft ground, so I’m hoping for a good race tomorrow.

After that I hope to give Fibs and Flannel another try, this time at Amiens on Saturday, but we need a few more horses to forfeit before we’ll have a chance to get in. At the end of the month, Surrey Storm is likely to go to Longchamp for a claimer. I’d rather have a nice small handicap for her, but the racing calendar isn’t cooperating, so we’ll have to go with the claimer.

For the moment, the focus is on Deep tomorrow, who will be ridden by his usual jockey, Gerald Pardon. We’ll get to see how Deep likes Chantilly.

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