Saturday, February 8, 2014


Just before I go back to work, having shifted a ton - maybe more - of snow, I thought I'd check on something that had been bugging me during the night. A friend of mine that buys horses from a rival club of similar size in Japan is clocking up wins at a staggering rate, and it seemed like a long time since I'd last had anything to celebrate. I'd noted a rather dry spell on the Carrot Club horses, and actually, looking into the numbers properly, it's more like a drought of biblical proportions.

From 15 horses currently in training, plus another five that I'd lost by the end of last autumn due to one thing and another (injuries and club policy), my last JRA win came in August 2013. That was also my last top three spot! Since then, results have been ranging somewhere between awful and disgusting, with the promise shown in some of the youngsters turning out to be a farce. A sixth for Tenshinramman is hardly reason to jump up and down with joy given the ferocious speed of this animal (a mate in the States even named his highly-tuned 911 after her!), and I'm certainly not buying Mephisto Waltz's performance as "an improvement" - a momentary glimmer of hope does not alter the fact that 14th was its lowest finish to date. It's all very well being positive in reports, but this level of flowery writing is more annoying than comforting, especially when you have to look at similar bullshit all the while.

On the local racing front, my last NAR win with Carrot Club was in October, and fifth has been the best from that horse since then. Four months of a dry spell is a long time, and six months - as with the JRA horses - is an eternity. I still pat my friend on the back when he wins with one of his nags, but it's getting harder and harder to stomach it, especially when you know half of the horses you have are not performing anywhere near their potential...

Snow Stops Play

No Tokyo races again today, meaning no run for Miracle Rouge. If the snow is as bad as it is here in my neck of the woods, a bit to the east of the track, then it's the right decision to cancel the meeting. Who would have thought you could hold the Winter Olympics in sun-soaked Chiba? We have palm trees! Except you can't see then under the six inches of snow at the moment...

PS. With luck, Miracle Rouge should be able to have that race on the 17th, although I believe all horses will have to be re-registered, despite the two Mondays (starting today) being allocated to make up the missing days over the weekend. And that snow - closer to eight inches, and up to my knees in places where it had drifted. The weight of the snow even brought a neighbour's carport crashing down!

Friday, February 7, 2014


Snow stopped play today, not only at our stables but at Tokyo-Fuchu as well. Not much fun, except for Sophie who is currently outside making a snowman! Me, well I'm cracking on with some work while the opportunity presents itself, which means taking the odd look at a dictionary and thesaurus every now and again.

Thinking about it, if I was creating my own dictionary, I would use the word 'Mephisto' to describe a slow moving object, as the image of Mephisto Waltz fits perfectly. The poor jockey has no need to apologize - he did his best this afternoon, following instructions to make the pace, but the beast ran out of breath on the fourth corner and finally came home a lowly 14th, 1.7 seconds down on the winner. I can't say I'm surprised, because I'm not. For ages, the trainer has been saying the horse's breathing is not brilliant, so I questioned the wisdom of running at a longer distance in the first place. All told, a magnificent Carrot Club failure - yet again!

As for thoughts on the next race, personally I wouldn't bother wasting the entry money, or the diesel getting the horse to the track. The sad thing is this is simply not a racehorse - it doesn't seem to have inherited one ounce of DNA from its famous predecessors, and is too slow to even make a decent dressage competitor. I suppose using it to walk kids up and down the beach is always an option...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Something For The Weekend

Given the freezing cold, with icicles still around after Tuesday's snowfall, I can't believe we spent most of the afternoon running 'Jaguar' around the outer track at Tokoro. Still, he was glad of the exercise and cookies, and it gave me a welcome break from the computer...

All sorts of notes coming through: Miracle Rouge is indeed booked for the Tokyo 7R on the 9th, with Uchida-san (an ex-NAR man who gave Miracle her first win) taking up the reins. Meanwhile, Mephisto Waltz has suddenly been entered in the 2000m turf race at Kokura on Saturday (the 8th), this time with youngster Tsubasa Iwasaki in the saddle. I wish the lad luck, but I think he's going to need it! Here's an interesting one, though - Cristian Demuro on Irish Harp in the opener at Kyoto on the 22nd. This is an 1800m dirt race, and while we don't know if the beast will take to dirt for sure, and a shorter distance might be perfect for her build, it does at least give Cristian a chance to work some magic, assuming the horse is in racing trim this time. Given that this was the horse I wanted more than any other from that year's batch of Carrot Club nags, this one means a lot to me.

Divine Daughter is being a bit of a rascal in training, but should be out on the track again soon. Tenshinramman is pencilled in for late February (Tokyo) or early March (Nakayama), although Tokyo seems to suit her better as far as I'm concerned, and Mistoffelees should run at Tokyo either next week or the week after.

The trainer has said he'd like to run Classic Curl soon, but the practice times are slow, and he's saying the hind quarters are still weak at this stage, which isn't a very encouraging sign. Harmony Fair has packed her cases and gone off for a holiday. Once again, the trainer has said dirt doesn't suit her, which is something we all knew before the last race - on dirt! Turf is mentioned as the best option for the future (hurrah!!!), but choosing a distance is still very much up in the air. 1800m has been mooted, but I wouldn't bank on her running at that distance, or even turf, until I see it in writing.

On the NAR front, Phosphorus is in action again on the 13th at Funabashi, booked for a 1200m dirt race. The jockey has yet to be announced, but that's normal NAR practice - the names are always filled in at the last minute. Finally, Agua De Vida is being prepared for a race at Kawasaki in the first week of March. So there we go - a news round-up that includes a little something for the weekend, and something to look forward to.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cold Enough?

Been busy the last couple of days scanning and downloading pictures for the new book, although after a beautiful spell of warmth (verging on heat!), the weather makes indoors a more sensible option anyway at the moment. It was hovering around 20 degrees on Monday, and yesterday it snowed! You can tell how cold it is by the fact that the snow that settled is still on roofs this evening, meaning the daytime temperatures didn't move much past the freezing mark all day.

Still no news on the post-race condition of Irish Harp yet, and, to be honest, nothing much worth mentioning from the Carrot Club reports that have come in. Belle Plage is going back to Miho TC in the next week or so, and Mistoffelees is said to be looking good and ready to race again soon. Miracle Rouge is out at the weekend with any luck, being booked for the 7R at Tokyo on the 9th. No jockey named as yet - just hope it's one of the ex-NAR boys or Cristian Demuro to give the beast a fair crack of the whip, so to speak, although Take-san would be a nice alternative!

On the Shadai front, Divine Daughter is almost ready to run again, clocking some reasonable times on an uphill run, and Phosphorus is doing nicely, posting times of 51.0 for 4F and 37.8 for 3F, naturally on dirt. He'll be in NAR action next week at Funabashi, which is something to look forward to. Meanwhile, on the subject of Phosphorus, today is Yano-sensei's birthday. I'm sure you'll join me in sending him best wishes...

Monday, February 3, 2014

They've Arrived!

The first set of my own racing colours have arrived from Gibson's in the UK, and I have to say, I think they look smashing - if you're struggling with the lighting in the picture, it's a combination of black with an orange vee and white sleeves. We will change the cap colour for whichever country they are used in, with grey and black quarters for Britain, and all-black for Australia so far. Let's see how far they get over the next few years...

I'll have to check, as I'd like to register with the NAR folks in Japan, but I'm not sure whether it's only jockeys that can have colours listed. The other thing is that I can't remember seeing anyone with orange on their silks in NAR. Is it an allowed hue? Finding answers to the questions will be an interesting homework project.