As much as you may think this is a pointless and boring historical Welsh lesson, it bears relevance to this forthcoming weekend. Due to the nature of the boggy ground in that part of the country, and the notoriously wet summers that seem to afflict the United Kingdom and in particular Wales (Tregaron is in the shadow of the Cambrian Mountains, and for anybody who has any grasp of physical geography and weather, in basic terms rain usually falls on high ground), once again Tregaron's race meeting has been conversely affected.
In 2010, which was the first year I met Smarty, I can recall it being wet on the Thursday of the meeting (back then it was Thursday/Friday/Saturday as opposed to Friday/Saturday/Sunday in recent years). The only reason I can recall that is that when I met him I know I was wearing a waterproof coat, and the following day I once again took shelter in the beer tent. That's about all I can remember though (with beer tents comes beer...).
In 2011, after two days of wet racing on the Thursday and Friday, the Saturday was abandoned.
In 2012, heavy rain leading up to the meeting forced the organisers to relocate to the hard track at Amman Valley for a reduced 2-day meeting.
In 2013, the format of the 3 days changed, so that instead of Day 1 being the lowest grade handicap (Cors Caron), Day 2 being the middle grade handicap (Strata Florida) and Day 3 being the highest grade handicap (Welsh Classic), it became Strata Florida/Welsh Classic/Cors Caron. The Cors Caron day moved from the Thursday to the Sunday, with the theory being that if the track only stood up to two days worth of racing, the day that would be lost would be the 'weakest' of the three. Too many Welsh Classics were being affected by the rain and the amount of racing prior to the final on the third day.
In 2014, the format remained the same, despite the crowd being drastically reduced on the Sunday. With many owners and trainers entered for the Brough meeting at Appleby on the Bank Holiday Monday, a lot travelled home on the Saturday night or the Sunday itself as the majority of horses racing on the Sunday were from Wales.
Here we are in 2015, and once again Mother Nature is causing havoc. There has been torrential rain in Wales almost constantly for a week; Boughrood was abandoned on Sunday which came as a surprise to us up in Scotland as for a change we had had relatively nice weather, and on Sunday itself as we drove back up the road from Tir Prince the night before, there was glorious sunshine all the way up the M6 and M74. However, even on Sunday it was pouring it down in Wales - as my mother described it, it was 'like a monsoon'.
With this in mind, the committee behind Tregaron had to make a decision. Following a track inspection on Monday evening, they announced on Tuesday that the meeting WOULD run at Tregaron (Amman Valley had once again offered the use of their track), however it would be reduced to two days (Friday and Saturday). The Cors Caron Cup has been done away with, so the Strata Florida handicap is now the middle of Grade 2 and up. The Grade 1 horses, of which Young Stephen was one, and the Grade 2 horses that did not fall into the handicap heats, were balloted to run in races across the two days as not all could race. Our luck was such that Stevie was balloted out, and worse still, is the last of the reserves. In the event that there are non-runners in the race for which he is a reserve, he will be the last reserve to get in.
Fortunately Smarty and Michael had the forethought to enter him for Amman Valley on the Monday, which has previously failed to get a card on what with three days of Tregaron immediately preceding it. He is also entered to race at Tir Prince on Tuesday 8th. There is always next year after all, and I'm sure we will have a crack at a handicap heat and final at some point in the future.
So all roads lead to Tregaron after Corbiewood on Thursday night. We will have a 5am start on the Friday to get there for just before midday; we are staying in Aberystwyth overnight, racing on the Saturday and then heading back to Scotland on the Saturday night. On the Sunday, we have plans to attend an Open Day at Lucinda Russell's yard which is raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund, a charity that I regularly donate to through their Christmas merchandise, before heading to Brough on Monday and then Kilnsey Show (my favourite trot!) on Tuesday. What would have been six trots in six days becomes five trots in six days.
As for Cowboywood...Star is in a non-winners race of six, for horses that have not won their last six starts. She is guaranteed a position on the gate, and I hope she gets pole position for the first time in her life. The Jockey is off gallivanting and can't be there, so I have called up Scott Murray to drive her for me. He told me I'd made his day yesterday when I asked him to drive, and then even more so when I asked if he would also drive Wild Bill Hickok in the Grade 1 race. I'll need to be there early tomorrow night to talk him through it, but I couldn't put him on an easier horse to handle and The Gaffer will tell him everything he needs to know about the little horse. I must admit I'm looking forward to it; for the first time really since she started racing up here, she is in with a real chance of winning. I really do hope tomorrow night is the night.
Before I sign off, just wanted to post another couple of photos of the horse affectionately known as Big Ears:
|Shes Some Deal aka Star aka Big Ears|
|Jogging Star on the weekend|
Over and out,