Monday, 3 August 2015

The buzz is back.

Which means that on Thursday night I had a 'whole'.

It's been several weeks since I've returned home from a race meeting absolutely buzzing, unable to sleep, and then woken up exhausted the next day from the adrenaline overload the night before.  Suffice it to say that on Friday, I was shattered!
For the frst time, I think, since I've raced horses in my own name, I didn't get myself worked up or stressed out.  I was calm, relaxed, the sun was shining and I was able to tack my horse up to warm up at my leisure.  What a difference it makes having a horse that has no quirks or behavioural issues.  I can simply mooch about, chucking bits of tack at her, and she stands like a statue.  The Gaffer is equally as fortunate with his charge, Wild Bill.
Is it luck though?  I go around in circles thinking about this; both horses are homebred and therefore were well-handled by us when foals/yearlings. That set them up to be good horses to break, and subsequently train.  Both were easy horses to back and get going under saddle (I would ride Wild Bill more if I thought the Gaffer wouldn't be annoyed...he doesn't actually know I broke his horse in to ride yet...). If you put in all that work, treat your horse right and take time with it, the subsequent product is not a result of luck at all.  That's why Missile was such a challenge, because his early years and training were with someone else, and they say that you can't go back and change all that.  Smarty said we'd never have another horse on our yard that somebody else has broken in, and yet here I am typing this with him telling me he's going to bid for a horse tonight, straight off the track. We can't help ourselves!  What's one more horse between friends?!

Anyway, I've digressed terribly when what you probably want to know, if you haven't already seen the results, is how we got on.  Star was first up in race 1, drawn 3 on the gate (there are 4 on the gate at Corbiewood, maximum 8 in a race due to the size of the track).  I told the Jockey that what I wanted from him and Star was a 2.08 mile and if possible, a rosette.  I knew Camden Casper and Evenwood Ruthless were unbeatable bar a mistake from either of them, and had to respect Ayr Prestige drawn 1.  I respected all of the competition, but I thought I had the horse to beat the remainder.  The Jockey led out as Grant Cullen on Casper pulled back from the two hole for fear his horse would break; Dougie Mackenzie and Ayr Prestige thought they could lead Star out but she was clear of them by the 1/8 marker and settled in for a 31 first quarter.  They hit the half in 1.03 with Casper trying to join Star on the outside and put her under pressure.  Fair play to her, she dug in her heels and actually held her lead until the 3/4, at which point Grant and Casper passed her (I was stood talking to myself telling the Jockey to let them go), then Gordon Gilvear and Evenwood Ruthless (Rufus) passed us and loomed large on the leader.  I was cheering her home from the paddock bend for third and I absolutely bounced down the home straight leading her to collect my yellow rosette!  She'd finished the mile in 2.07.9, so my driver had done his job the perfection.  I told him he could have the drive on her next week for that!

After the third of the three heats, I found out that Star had qualified for the final as one of the fastest placed horses.  She was drawn 5, so the inside on the second line.  Again I knew there was no real chance of her winning, mainly because she was in beside some really good horses but also because she's never run in a final before.  Instructions were to take a tow around, enjoy it and try to repeat the time for the heat.  I didn't clock him but I was told he'd gone somewhere around 2.08, not that I was particularly bothered, and despite trailing in last I was still bouncing for just being able to be a part of a final.  The winner (Camden Casper) went 2.04, which is something Star is almost definitely not capable of, so when you're beaten by horses of that calibre and in races that go those sorts of times, you can't be disappointed in finishing at the tail end.

Star leads the field heading past the stands for the first time

Proudly showing off our yellow rosette - chuffed to bits!

I can almost see your puzzled expressions, as I referred to 'winning' in the opening sentences, and yet Star only managed a third.  Using the power of deduction, that must mean that Wild Bill Hickok lost his maiden tag, which he most certainly did!  I hadn't tipped him in the online tipster competition I'm doing as the only person in front of me had tipped his own horse, Mayrita.  To be tactical, and because after her 2.06 run the previous Saturday I genuinely fancied her, I took her as my tip in that .  race.  Wild Bill was coming in to the race off the back of two second-placed runs, and as per his last run at Corbiewood, was drawn 5.  He had no choice but to sit in the pocket for much of the race, and the Jockey spent that time hanging off the back of the cart as if struggling to hold the horse.  I was stood at the paddock bend with the Gaffer and asked him if his horse pulls (I knew the answer anyway), which he confirmed he didn't, so goodness knows how the Jockey managed to make him look like such a puller.  Desperate for racing room, as the entered the final quarter of the race the horse on his outside began to fade, and he was forced to go three wide as the horse first over in front of him was struggling to pass the long time leader.  He rolled off the last bend and jogged in in a very sedate 2.11.  Pretty easy win for the little horse in all honesty.  I was delighted, our first winner of the season.  The Gaffer went back to the box to finish getting Star ready for the final so the Jockey and me went down to collect our red rosette and have our photo in the winner's circle.  The photographer asked where the entourage was, and I told him I didn't think we were very popular as a camp.  He thought I was joking...

Wild Bill (outside) moves three wide to pass the field off the final bend

Jogging in to victory

Nothing was capable of taking the shine off Thursday night.  It's that buzz that keeps me going when everything else in the sport seems to be crumbling around me, which appears to be the case right now.  But that's a post for another day.

Keep an eye out for my report from Thursday on, it'll hopefully be finished tonight or tomorrow at the latest (UK/Ire section of the site).  Glad to be able to write about my own horses for once!

Over and out,

#1 Scottish Groom

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