Thursday, 23 July 2015

Looking forward to the weekend

There are other things that I could do, but there's really nothing that I love as much as horse racing. ~ Chantal Sutherland

And ain't that the truth!

I have one more day in my 'normal' job and then it's three meetings in three days - a 7pm kickoff at Corbiewood tomorrow evening followed by an afternoon meeting again at the track on Saturday and I'm rounding it off with York on Sunday.

The reason that I am more excited than usual about this (because quite frankly the whole weekend is a recipe for me being exhausted when I return to work on Monday) is because tomorrow night at Corbiewood, our camp has 3 runners.  We only have three horses in the stable, so we're literally taking our tank.  Stevie (Young Stephen) races in the second race, a novice event; Bill (Wild Bill Hickok) is in the sixth, a maiden race, and Star (Shes Some Deal) makes her debut after two seasons off in race seven, a Class C drivers race for drivers who have won no more than 7 races lifetime.

Star requalified on Monday while I was in Wales at the Royal Welsh Show and Smarty made the executive decision (having been delegated control by me) to enter her in the race, as it is over a mile (all races bar the C Class, maiden and novice events are over 1m3f this weekend to simulate the distance raced at Musselburgh, which would have been this weekend were there not ongoing repairs to the racecourse).  George, who had been training her for me, was super keen to drive her however a horse that he trains, Killarney Howard, is in the same race being driven by his owner, Jackie Campbell, and the BHRC rules stipulate that a trainer/driver cannot drive a horse not trained by him/her in the same race featuring a horse trained by him/her.  This is why, if you look into it closer, that the top professional drivers do not hold trainer's licences - their wives/partners do.  For example, Mick Lord (driver), Sheelagh Lord (trainer); Rocker Laidler (driver), Alexis Laidler (trainer); Alan Haythornthwaite (driver), Teresa Haythornthwaite (trainer); and Andrew Cairns (driver), Joanne Cairns (trainer).  These women do in fact train the horses, but by holding the licence to do so, the men are free to drive outside horses in races featuring horses trained in their stables.

So with George out of the game, so to speak, we turned to Hugh O'Neil Jr Jr, a very good friend of George's (and ours), and the son of a friend of Smarty's.  I have connections to the O'Neil family from Ayr, firstly through being on the board of directors of STAGBI with Ryan O'Neil (partner in Ayr Standardbreds) and secondly through the horse that my parents bought in 2012 from them at Builth Sale (Fresh Ayr).  Smarty has grown up with the family, and has holidayed to America with both Ryan and his brother Hugh (father of Hughie) in the past.  It was an obvious choice for us, and Hughie was over the moon to have been asked.  Right now I genuinely don't know who is more excited about the race, although I can guarantee that Star most definitely isn't - all she is thinking about right now is her next meal!

Stevie and Bill head to Corbiewood as our strongest chances - after a poor run from Stevie at Aberystwyth, he returned to Corbiewood for a workout a week and a half ago and was placed in beside three open class horses capable of good times around the track.  Although they only raced in 2.08 (the pacemaker kept the pace slow and it appeared all four wanted to sprint finish), Stevie finished with the three horses and appeared to settle off the pace early which was the main objective.  Wild Bill ran well at Aberystwyth and will relish the return to the tighter track at Corbiewood, with him being slightly on the small side.

Realistically, all three are in with good chances.  A hat-trick on our first race outing in Scotland isn't out of the question, however it is pie in the sky kind of stuff.  If it were to happen, I'm not sure I'd be able to hold myself together!  My involvement in this sport has never been all about winning, but it would be a great feeling after all of the hard work we've all put in with our three horses.

On Saturday we get a day off; the Jockey won't be attending as he has a personal event elsewhere, the Gaffer and I will simply be spectating but Smarty will still be working.  I anticipate that I may be feeling slightly tender as there is karaoke in the bar after racing tomorrow night and I am the resident annoying person who sings too much in Bannockburn so naturally I will be obliging! On Sunday I return to clerking duties, which means I can keep an eye on the wayward bookmaker and make sure we remain on the right path...

So wish us well, whether you'll be there in person or not, and naturally I shall return with a brief report of the meeting as soon as possible.  I will post a link to the detailed race reports I will submit to Harnesslink for your perusal - here's the link to last week's at the citadel:

Happy reading.

Over and out,

#1 Scottish Groom

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