Saturday, February 22, 2014


Most of the day was spent at the stables today, with Sophie keeping 'Jaguar' in shape, and Louis riding 'Orion' as part of their training for their All-Japan Championship campaign. It was a hard but enjoyable session for all concerned, and should pay dividends in the future.

On the racing side, the results were less fruitful. Divine Daughter looked good until the final straight, but had no extra acceleration to give on the way to the post, and finished a disappointing ninth, a long way off the pace. There are now thoughts of trying her in a shorter 1200m dirt race, either at Nakayama or Nagoya.

Irish Harp made a positive start, but there was no gas left in the tank on the final run-in. I can't say as I'm surprised, as this was a furlong longer than she's ever raced before, and her first time on dirt, which calls for extra stamina in any case. Add in the fact that she was 2kg heavier than her last race, when the trainer had noted that he was going to try and reduce bulk before the big day, and the fifth place she garnered isn't so bad on reflection. It should be said, though, that 'Harp' was 1.1 seconds off the pace, which is her worst losing margin to date, so the trainer isn't off the hook yet as far as I'm concerned. Thoughts on going two furlongs shorter next time make sense, and Cristian is saying dirt suits her, so there's maybe something to look forward to if all goes to plan.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Four Plus One

Four runners confirmed for the weekend, plus, looking a bit further ahead, Mistoffelees booked for a 1200m dirt race at Nakayama on the 1st March. On Saturday, we have Divine Daughter in the 1R at Tokyo (1400m dirt), and Irish Harp in the 1R at Kyoto. You can bet your life Cristian will be hoping to get some revenge for his last outing with this horse - at least this time it should be better prepared for him. And on Sunday, Sophisticate runs in the 3R at Tokyo, with Shu Ishibashi in the saddle, while Tenshinramman has got the green light for a 7R outing at the same meeting. It's a shame to see this horse slipping further and further down the card - that's all I'm going to say for today with regard to 'Tenny'!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

JRA News

A few more updates, as the weekend's racing won't get confirmed until tomorrow. Irish Harp and Tenshinramman are supposed to be running, along with Divine Daughter, although the latter's race has 16 gate slots and 47 applicants! Well, all you can do is wait, but it does prove my point about there not being enough JRA meetings. It's a shame, because apparently she's working out really well, and looks impressive overhauling other horses at a gallop. Daichi Shibata has been booked as the jockey, just in case her name gets pulled out the hat...

Meanwhile, Miracle Rouge has had her post-race check-up and has no signs of fatigue. Her weight is still up around that recorded before her last race (only 2kg lower), so this seems to be her new regular fighting weight. She doesn't seem to like long-distance travel, so Nagoya is questionable, although Nakayama is a clockwise track, and the trainer would prefer an anti-clockwise one (like Nagoya or Tokyo). It could have been the steep finish at Nagoya she didn't like rather than the journey there, of course. But at least there's some proper thought going into the next entry, and that's good to see - a few of the other JRA trainers should take note! With luck, we'll know a bit more tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NAR News

Two quick updates - Beat The Border, based at TCK, is expected to return home and race again soon, while Phosphorus is on course for another outing at the next Funabashi meeting, scheduled for the middle of March. More details will follow as soon as I get them, but for now, back to the grindstone...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Minor Miracle

I've had a stinking headache most of the day, and when a PC-based parts programme didn't work (whatever happened to parts books?), I threw in the towel and headed off to the stables for a refresher until people started rising from their beds in Germany. Sophie finished school early today, so she came with me and practiced her dressage skills with 'Jaguar' ready for a competition that's rapidly approaching. Sure enough, my friends in Stuttgart got the problem sorted with a typical level of efficiency that's almost as refreshing as playing with horses, and when I got back, I was able to continue my work again in an altogether better frame of mind.

Courtesy Carrot Club
It's also nice to report that Miracle Rouge (pictured here in her September 2013 outing) did the business today with Uchida-san, coming in in third, despite being a bit heavy by her usual standards and having to cope with race-rust. Due to the snow and resulting ground conditions, the race distance was changed from 2000m to 1800m for the day, and I'm not sure whether that helped or hindered her. Anyway, the bottom line is that the jockey, Uehara-san (the trainer) and myself are all pleased with her performance - this is a horse that always fights hard, and the next race should be something worth looking forward to.

Meanwhile, Agua De Vida's training has gone according to plan, in spite of the rough weather, and apparently she's looking good for the next Kawasaki meeting as a result. There's still at least two weeks before Kawasaki week, so hopefully there's still some time to do some more fine-tuning. At least her weight is about right, as she currently tips the scales at 462kg.