The year began with the six week meeting at Cagnes sur Mer for which we had a team of four horses. We travelled south full of hope and confidence that the team had been well prepared and laid out for the meeting. It didn’t go well for us however, the horses just didn’t enjoy the place and performed badly, after a month we’d had enough and drew stumps! It was a relief to get back to leafy Lamorlaye and away from the high-rise apartments and cauldron of pressure that is Cagnes, we did have some fun though, some good craic with the Con Marnane team and Lucy from Eoghan O’Neills and also Joe 90 who was working for the German trainer Michael Figge, the meeting enabled us to recruit Joe who was looking to leave Germany for a new challenge. Joe whose real name is Graham Thomas has settled in well with us, he has an empathy with horses and a wealth of experience (riding nearly 400 winners all over Europe during his career). Joe took a week off recently to wind up his affairs in Germany, the week coincided nicely with a visit from our son Jack who rode a couple of lots each day. Jack is planning to ride in a charity race next Tuesday at Chepstow so has also been getting lots of practice riding out in Upper Longdon. His riding has really improved lately and he has more bottle than his father ever had!! We are both extremely proud of him.
On the horse front, flag bearer Flying Cape has unfortunately picked up a tendon injury and will sadly be out of action for the summer. The vets grade the severity of such injuries and his was relatively light, he’ll probably spend some time at Haras de Bois D’Agile, near Beauvais, that has an impressive water-walker and an excellent set of staff.
Calajani however has come good and followed up his win at Argentan with an excellent second at Maisons Laffitte last week, he looks progressive and there may be a possibility of a trip back to the UK with him later in the year.
Swift Reply was acquired at Cagnes but we have not found the key to him yet and he has suffered from jockey failure on a few occasions, on one such occasion he was entered in a handicap with bottom weight and with very few light jockeys available I requested the services of the gnarly old doyen of lightweight female jockeys, the reply came that she would be happy to ride him on the understanding that she would keep the ride on him next time when he actually had a chance! I thought this wrong on many levels not least of which was that I would be putting her on a horse she believed had no chance at all and to be honest she’s no Boudot or Pasquier! The girl who ended up riding him has the email address misslolita@hotmail, I should have suspected she’d be no good!
We lost Tree of Grace in a claimer last month, in a way it was a shame because he is a well handicapped horse and ought to be able to win soon, however he was always difficult to cope with in the morning and we got a reasonable price for a horse of his age and rating. France has a very lively claiming race scene and according to our farrier it is custom to warn another trainer if you plan to claim a horse, not so in our case, funnily enough later that evening as four of us ate at the excellent Japanese restaurant in Lamorlaye, said trainer was seated next to us, I think he probably had to hit the rennie once he got home with the rate he ate his sushi!
Latest addition to the string Stormy Angel is progressing well, an unraced greenhorn plucked from the bargain bucket at Ascot sales in February, he is no oil painting but is now showing a real competitive instinct and might just be a racehorse.
Dear old Essanar is on the come back trail after six weeks in the water walker (or spa as fellow trainer Gina Rarick aptly calls it) in the early part of the year and will hopefully be ready to step up to fast work shortly.
We look ahead to Deauville breeze-up sales in ten days time with the hope we might spot a bargain or two.
À la prochaine.