Surrender

Le Post gave up three days ago; the jockeys threw in the towel on Saturday. I, finally, gave in today. Mother Nature wins. Maisons-Laffitte has been buried under a good coating of snow since Saturday night. We were shoveling and salting the yard until midday Sunday, when it was clear the snow was falling faster than we could remove it. The mail hasn’t shown up since last Friday. Racing was canceled on Saturday, but not before Turfani spent more than four hours in a truck getting to Deauville. Then she spent another three and a half hours getting home, and has been stuck in her box since. George (Email Exit), Timelord and Shinko at least got to race on Friday. In Shinko’s case, the trip was worthwhile. He finished fourth, beaten just two lengths by a horse carrying two kilos less than he was. Without the weight, he would have won. He’ll now run the Tierce handicap on Jan. 3, where he will, for once, not be top weight and should have a good chance. That’s if we can get him out of his box. The snow is supposed to stop later today, and should be melted by tomorrow. That should mean we can finally get out. All the horses, after three days of confinement, will be very, very fresh. Shinko will be possibly lethal. We will do our best.

I’m not sure when we’re racing next. Turfani and Belle should have had entries next Monday, but in all the confusion about whether or not we would race this week, I’ve missed the entries. Belle was eliminated for this Wednesday and will hold a priority for her next entry, which is likely to be Dec. 31. I may end up supplementing Turfani for next Monday, but I have to see how the week works out first.

As it is, we were lucky to get home Saturday. The jockeys decided they weren’t interested in racing after cantering the horses down to the gate for the second race. After that, chaos ensued. Is it canceled or just delayed? Will they reschedule? When? And what’s the transport situation for getting out of here? It took an hour for stewards to figure out how racing would be rescheduled, with the meeting split between Monday and Tuesday. We were given the option of staying in Deauville, but that didn’t make much practical sense to most of us, since we didn’t come packed with provisions for three days. Then there was the question of whether the heavy transports could leave, because the autoroutes were being closed off to truck traffic. And on top of it, the woman who was in charge of dispatching the STH trucks was at lunch. Do remember, this is France. Mealtimes are to be respected no matter what the crisis. Meanwhile, though, the snow was falling faster. The dispatcher was finally convinced to skip dessert, and a list of those wanting to leave was compiled. But the French ability to snatch chaos from the jaws of organization prevailed again, and the loading of horses turned into a typical mess. First come, first served. I could see this coming, and had Turfani packed up and headed to the parking lot within five minutes. No time for two trips, I dragged our trunk full of equipment in one hand and let Turfani pull me along with the other. We were an hour out of Deauville when the gendarmes started waiving trucks off to the side. Luckily, they let us and another horse transport behind us through. We survived a second roadblock a half-hour later, and made it back to Maisons-Laffitte in decent time, considering the circumstances.

Shinko, Timelord and George didn’t have it much easier on Friday night, with both trucks delayed for more than an hour by an accident further along the route.

All I can say is that in five weeks we head south to Cagnes sur Mer. That promises to be quite an expedition, too, but I’m definitely ready.

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