After a very long two months of quarantine, racing in France is BACK ON as of Monday!
It was touch-and-go for a while, and we almost had a last-minute change of heart from the government, but we are now cleared to start again.
We won’t be wasting any time: We have two runners on opening day at Longchamp. Aborigene and Mister Mario will run in the 9th and 10th races of the day. Aborigene has been banging down the door to race – he’s put just about everyone off in the past couple of weeks, including me! The saying in France is “un chute appel un gagnant, » or « a fall brings a winner,” so we’re due. Mister Mario is having his first race back since he was brought down in Chantilly; he had a short break and might be missing a bit of work, but he’s still looking well and might surprise us.
Both horses will have to contend with the ground, which might be on the soft side after a deluge of rain in the past 24 hours. Hoping for Aborigene’s sake it isn’t a bog, because he hates that. Mario might not care so much.
Our third runner of the week was eliminated for St. Cloud on Tuesday. This is something we’ll have to contend with because there is a severe backlog of horses needing to race, and more are eliminated than get in at the moment. We might end up running some less-than-ideal entries just to get them moving again, but we’ll take it as it comes.
The best news is that while other countries have cut back drastically on prize money, France has managed to maintain a large share of the allocations on offer. An initial plan to cut all prize money by 20 percent sparked a revolution among owners and trainers, and the syndicates representing these groups held France Galop’s feet to the fire, and they came up with a better plan.
Prize money for all races with a value of 19,000 euros or less will remain at 100 percent. Races offering more money than that will be cut back 15 percent, but there will be no Premium races run for less than 19,000 euros total. And the prize money will stay at the first five; they won’t rob Peter to pay Paul down to 150 euros for 10tth place, which had been part of the original plan.
Now we’ll have to hope that everything runs smoothly so that we can keep the racing program going. We have a very strict set of rules for now: No owners or breeders are allowed on the course, and the yard is allowed one lad per horse and the trainer, but no one else. We have to give the names and arrival times of all staff, and everyone must wear masks the entire time. This will not be an easy rule to follow, but we absolutely must so that racing going forward is not jeopardized.
Here’s what our entries look like going forward – keep in mind that entries might not pan out because of eliminations or other circumstances:
- Monday, 18 May, Chantilly: Asian Queen, My Sweet Boy
- Thursday, 21 May, Longchamp: Dubai Empire, My Sweet Boy
- Monday, 25 May, St. Cloud: El Viso, Asian Queen
- Tuesday, 26 May, Dieppe: Space Ace, Minnipa
- Saturday, 30 May, St. Cloud: Dubai Empire
When the quarantine started, we kept just six horses in the yard and sent most out to Kimara (Horsefield Aquacenter) for either a break or for her to keep them ticking along in the country. We brought back five nearly three weeks ago, and we’ll bring back another four this coming week. Some of the horses need a break and some didn’t, really, but we made sure to do what’s best for the horses and what was best to keep training bills down until we knew when racing would start again.
That approach might put us a couple of weeks behind some of the yard that kept the horses moving the entire time, but I think this was a good approach and sets us up well for the coming months.
Other exciting news:
As many of you are aware, we have put our yard in Maisons-Laffitte up for sale and have scouted a property in Lamorlaye we hope to buy. We can’t say too much more yet because the deal isn’t done, but we will update you with more news as soon as we can. We have been in Maisons-Laffitte for more than 20 years and it was a very difficult decision to make, but we believe this decision will allow us to step up to the next level of the game. Stay tuned – exciting times ahead!
A snapshot of our current roster:
Dubai Empire (5 YO gelding) has stayed in training during quarantine and hopefully has put the setback of a stone bruise behind him. He looks great and should be back to racing soon.
El Viso (4 YO gelding) also stayed in training and has entries in a couple of weeks.
Asian Queen (3 YO filly) has stayed in training and is desperate to build on her racing debut which happened right before quarantine. Looking forward to getting her out soon.
Aborigene (4 YO gelding) had a short break and is now more than ready for his comeback race in Longchamp tomorrow. Shame about the turn in the ground!
Mister Mario (4 YO gelding) had a three-week break that he deserved after surviving a horrific fall in Chantilly. He seems to have put that completely behind him and while he might be missing a canter or two, he should run a good race at Longchamp.
Myklachi (4 YO gelding) has come back from a long winter break and is looking very much the better for it. He was found to have some bruising in his knees last fall so never was able to debut for us. He seems definitely in form now and should be about a month away from a race.
My Sweet Boy (3 YO gelding) never got the chance to run for us yet because we claimed him just before quarantine. He was thwarted again when eliminated for a race in St. Cloud this week, but he has backup entries on the horizon. Looking forward to seeing him out!
Ray Jr. (not his official name – 2 YO gelding) has come into full training now and seems to be an absolutely lovely horse, which is not a surprise given his family. He’s a very big boy, though, already measuring 1.58 meters, so he’ll likely need plenty of time.
Miss Mimi (also not her official name! – 2 YO filly) is now back in pre-training with Kimara Hoste, who tells us she’s changing every day for the better. We’ll see if she’s ready to come in for more intense work in a month or two.
Minnipa (3YO filly) had a break during quarantine and is now back up to cantering. Hopefully she’ll be ready to run by the end of the month, but she might need a week or two more.
Space Ace (3 YO filly) is in the same situation as Minnipa, so we’ll have to let her tell us when she’s ready to go. Both fillies came back from vacation in good order, but Minnipa seems more advanced physically than Space Ace, who is missing muscle on her topline after another growth spurt. She now stands 1.60 and is quite a big girl!
Pantomime (8 YO mare) went on break after a slight injury when she “lost” her hind end on a turn in the track. It appeared to be a muscle pull and she seems in good order now. She’s had two weeks on the aquatrainer after her break in the field and should come back to full training next week.
Quiet Zain (6 YO gelding) also had some time on the aquatrainer after a break and is ready to come back to work. He had a nagging foot injury that showed up in Cagnes and we are hoping that’s behind him now. The forced break will have done him good.
Starstruck (4 YO filly) went on a break after tying up during a routine canter. Not sure why this happened because she’s not prone to it, and she seems to be absolutely fine now. She’ll come back this week.
Folle Passion (5 YO gelding) had a break and now is in light work with Kimara. He will come back with Starstruck this week. Both of these horses prefer soft ground, so it’s not an ideal time for a comeback, but they are both in form so we will have to see what the weather brings us.
Hermano Bello and Kaillistos (3 YO geldings) were both colts when the left the yard and will come back as geldings, which means we can get down to more serious work! Both are in light work with Kimara and we’ll bring them back when they are ready for more intense work, probably in two to three weeks.
Shares in Ray Jr., Miss Mimi and Myklachi are still available, so let us know if you’re interested!
We’ve just gotten word that all the video from Equidia is being offered for free. So go to the web site or download the Equidia app on your phone. You might be stuck at home rather than at the track, but you can follow along easier now!