Timelord was a very silly pony indeed yesterday when he backed away from another horse and managed to open a sewer drain cover and then fall right into it. He is very lucky to be alive today, if feeling quite sorry for himself. It all stated down on the all-weather track, where we have no choice but to go given the frozen ground everywhere else. Horses tend to get over-excited down there (see some earlier posts), and the fireworks started yesterday when everyone had to wait for the tractor to finish harrowing the track. There weren’t too many horses around when we arrived, but like badly managed airport security, no one was turning away horses at the main gate and the numbers started to pile up by the time the tractor was finished. Adding to that, we had a potentially explosive combination of horses – Hi Shinko, George and Timelord. When a horse decided to cross in front of Timelord to come into the holding area, he started to mess around and back up like a quarter horse, and none of us even knew that drain was there. It was tucked into the grass in the middle of the trotting ring, and in backing up Timelord slid the manhole cover off and then went in with his other back leg. In the next instant, he got himself back out; I called to Seb to jump off and to another trainer on the ground to call a vet because I was fearing the worst. For a horrible second or two, Timelord didn’t put the injured leg down, but then he did and walked a few steps, and we all let our breath out in a sigh of relief. There was plenty of blood, but it looked like there were no fractures. Our other horses, meanwhile, were putting on a rodeo; we had to get on with it or we would have more injuries. Seb hand-walked Timelord home and George and Shinko were able to do their work and let off a little steam.
Unfortunately, this means time off for Timelord. He’ll be in the box for 10 days or so – he has stitches in various places, sterile bandages that need changing and injections of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Then he’ll be going off to Normandy rather than going down to Cagnes-sur-Mer. France Galop has agreed to pay the vet fees and have put a mountain of sand over the sewer cap, so at least no other unfortunate horse will manage to do the same thing.
Timelord’s misfortune caps a year of freakish problems with my horses, and I’m very much looking forward to turning the page on 2010 and starting anew in 2011. New Year’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, and this year I think it has risen to the top of my list. The weather and the resulting disruption for the horses has been tough on all trainers, so I’m not alone, but I’m certainly ready for a change of luck. I end the year with 4 wins and 17 places from 71 starts, which is not as good as 2009 and not nearly as good as I had hoped. I will prefer to think of this one in percentages; 29.5 percent of starters in the money seems not quite so bad to me, even if it’s down from 34.4 percent in 2009.
So we’ll start again. Hi Shinko will be my first runner of 2011, running the second half of the Tierce in Deauville on Monday. Hope springs eternal.