11 Jul Dancer’s Diary – Week 25
After a quiet week on the runner’s front, we had a highly satisfactory weekend which left me munching my hay contentedly on Sunday night, watching replays of the action. Toby (Bourbonisto) went off to York on Saturday, and whilst I was rather gutted to not be invited to lunch with his owners Derek and Christine Barclay, Daniel Shapiro and David Clifford (otherwise known as #TeamToby! (left)), I hear rather a merry time was had by all! Toby proceeded to be his usual highly relaxed self, yawning his way round the parade ring, looking rather backwards and burly next to the sharper two year olds in his 6 furlong nursery. He was just as relaxed in the race itself, and I was delighted with his run: stuck again on the outside (his curse this year), he settled nicely at the back of the field and went to go and try and win his race a furlong out. Still growing, he wasn’t quite strong enough to do so, but ran a really nice race to finish 4th, showing loads of promise for the future. He has a fantastic attitude towards his racing (clearly learned from studying me!), and we can’t wait to see what he can produce when he is the finished article.
Henry was devastated, as he was so excited to be also entered at the prestigious track, but the sensible decision was made to withdraw him after an onslaught of rain turned the ground to good to soft, a surface he’d already shown a strong disliking for the week before. Unfortunately, he is now sulking loudly, and demanding Ben find him a race immediately, which is highly exhausting for the rest of us poor souls who have to listen to him!
Sunday saw the new boy, the J.P. McManus owned Charles (Saint Charles) (right), making his debut for the yard in a 2 mile Novice Chase at Southwell, only his second run over the bigger obstacles. Now, I had to drill into him before he left that our jumps record is rather impressive this year, with a 57% strike rate and only one run finishing out of the top three. Couldn’t have him letting the side down could I! Whilst his race lacked quantity, with only three runners, one of his opponents looked formidable enough, and our lad had come with a reputation for pulling very hard, so we could only pray he settled – or he would have been in all sorts of trouble when he got home! I needn’t have worried, as the brilliant Richie McLernon, the cause of our impressive strike rate, was back in the saddle in those green and gold colours, and he had Charles settled at the back of the field immediately, turning him into absolute putty in his hands. He proceeded to put in a quite spectacular round of jumping, coasting from fence to fence, before simply cantering to an easy victory. We were thrilled, and so excited to be lucky enough to have been sent such a fantastic looking athlete – let’s hope his cool and calm demeanour continues to come to the fore! Our sincerest thanks must got to Nicky Henderson, as he looked top notch when he arrived in the yard two weeks ago. Andy, our newest human arrival to the team, was over the moon as they have made quite the bond at home already.
Let’s hope the flat team have been paying attention to the jumpers, and can haul themselves out of their consistently placed efforts into the winners spot! We have a few goes this week, starting tomorrow with the impossibly complicated Charlie (Camanche Grey) (left) and the rather more ebullient Bopper (Lord Bopper) heading off to Thirsk to strut their stuff. Charlie is going for the race in which he was victorious last year, a 5 furlong seller, and we were delighted to secure the skills of Graham Lee, who seems to be the only man going who can get the boy motivated! He has won on him twice now, and we can only pray he will get the magic done again. The horse looks fantastic to be fair, and I was rather surprised to see this usually half asleep character having a bit of a dance around on the Moor last week – hopefully a sign of well being!
Bopper heads for the 5 furlong maiden, after showing plenty of speed at the same track a couple of weeks back over 7. Whilst he probably won’t be challenging the favourites, who look very competitive, we are hopeful he can put all he has learned to good use for his wonderful owners Carol and John Aldridge. He is jabbering away in excitement about his trip out tomorrow, and seems to really be getting into the swing of being a racehorse now – the penny is dropping slowly!! Robbie Fitzpatrick, who is getting to know him rather well, takes the ride.
Wednesday will see the box making the short journey to Catterick, where poor Violet (Violet Mist) (right, practicing stalls with Ben), faces the rather Herculean task of taking on a Frankel filly on her debut. Not just any Frankel filly, but one who has already won at the course before finishing 3rd at Royal Ascot – I think it gave us all rather a shock to see her declared here for a 5 furlong Novice fillies event, but there we go! Owned by the fantastic Ontowinner, Violet came from the Goresbridge Breeze-Up’s, and has impressed me with her attitude and enthusiasm for life. She has been doing everything nicely at home, but I feel she will learn plenty from the experience. She has bags of speed, but just needs to listen to me more on how to harness it to its best effect: I am sure she will know what I mean by Thursday! Robbie, who rides her plenty at home, will be on hand to guide her through it.
Joining her is Lotty (Charlie’s Approval), who runs in the 6 furlong seller – I have been nagging Ben every day for a week to remember blinkers and not a visor are the way forward! Easily distracted, this big filly can only be seen to best effect when under tunnel vision conditions, and hopefully we will see a replay of the ability she showed when finishing 3rd at Thirsk 2 starts back.
Moving onto Thursday, we could well find ourselves in Scotland, with Maggie (Mrs Mags) (below) and Joy (Any Joy) lining up for the 6 furlong maiden. Mags hasn’t been seen since last year, when finishing down the field in two maidens, but I have been giving her many pep talks since then about her attitude. Previously a bit of a sulky teenager, she is blossoming out of the juvenile delinquent phase into a positively well mannered and enthusiastic student: lets hope the same applies to her on the course!
Joy had a small break after Chester, which she didn’t handle at all and where she got pulled around a little. However, she is back raring to go and looks fantastic, having grown loads in a short space of time. If she can show the same form she did first time out at Doncaster, where she ran an absolute blinder, she should have a big shout here. She has a fantastic group of owners, with Marcus and Dee Rees, John and Sue Milner, and Alan and Fiona Kent forming a formidable support team!
We could find ourselves wishing we’d taken our tents and camped overnight at Hamilton, as Percy (Prancing Oscar) and Op (Operateur) may also be running there on Friday, so long as the rain arrives. Percy was desolate this weekend, as his intended debut got put off when the going description had firm in it (a big lad who hits the ground hard, this wouldn’t have done him any favours first time out), only to watch the rain turn it soft – so frustrating, but even a legend like me can’t control the weather! Anyway, if weather permits he may go for a 6 furlong maiden here for owners Middleham Park Racing and Spee Fox-Andrews, which he is already bucking and squealing about: always advisable to stay out of the way, as one of his leaps covers about 20 metres! He also got very above himself last week, when Joey Haynes rode a piece of work on him, before speaking very highly of him: there is no end to his ego! Must be a Sir Prancealot trait!
Poor old Op is already dreading the lorry journey with him, but is also delighted to be finally heading back to Hamilton, the scene of all four of his flat wins to date! After a much improved effort last time out, he has managed to stick to his diet since, and is really looking forward to taking on the 1 mile 3 furlong handicap here. If he makes it five, I swear I will never hear the end of it!
Until next time, and wish us luck!