Saturday, January 10, 2015


Harmony Fair was totally useless at Nakayama today, coming 15th out of 16 runners, and the only reason she wasn't last was because the nag at the back obviously had a problem. Amazingly, the trainer has come to the conclusion that she doesn't like dirt - something that I could have told him a year or more ago! Although she has improved under his guidance, the problem is finding a turf race for her. After today's performance, it will be even more difficult to get a berth - and let's face it, she'd be running on turf now if the opportunity was there. The way I see it, with a mediocre horse that only likes the green stuff and a piss-poor JRA turf calendar, there is no alternative but retirement. Talk of next races and R&R sessions is just wasting time and money...

PS. This is very interesting, so I'm leaving the original text intact. I read the trainer's report using a translation programme, as the missus was out of the house, and either the wording has been changed or my translation machine is as useless as Harmony Fair. Or both, of course! Anyway, according to the wife, the report states that dirt is not a problem, which may be so from a traction and stamina point of view. However, if the horse hates sand in it's face, it's like saying that a set of snow tyres work really well until they melt on contact with ice. 

And if the sand being kicked up is a problem, why wait until race day to see if anything has changed? You either run the horse like Shun Ishizaki did the other day until it gets used to it, or you throw in the towel. Unless you are blessed with a rocket start and stay at the front, sand is unavoidable in a dirt race. Period. Naturally, there is the other option of staying so far off the pace that nothing bothers you, which seems to have been today's tactic as soon as the chips were down.

The trainer is also saying it was a much better performance than last time, but trailing in at the back of the field does not deserve a pat on the back for anyone or anything involved in today's race - far from it. Positive thought is great, but there's a point where it slips into either gross naivety or bull. Having been fed a constant stream of BS by JRA trainers in the past, I guess that's what it is. Persistence is great, too, but the guy who keeps trying to get blood from a stone will only be laughed at. 

To rub salt into the wound, the horse is going on an R&R session, which means no real training. It will still hate sand, but will now come back to the track in high-tension mode, meaning it will fluff the start. I have been patient with the new trainer, as he made a difference, but my patience has worn decidedly thin. A fighting effort is all I ever ask for, but 15th shows no effort whatsoever. I suppose the trainer doesn't care about results, as he's getting paid, and Northern Farm will get their allotted pennies. But does Carrot Club have no pride? Simply making up numbers in a race does the club image no good at all, and owners - including me - get seriously fed up. Mistoffelees was dropped in his second season, and he was a far better prospect than Harmony. If you put a 56kg jockey on my back, there is more chance of me winning than this horse. Give up!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Dates

Harmony Fair will run at Nakayama on the 11th, being booked for the 1800m 7R on dirt; Hiroshi Kitamura is at the controls. With luck, Tenshinramman will be there two weeks later.
On the NAR front, Pop Label is in action on the 16th, running in the 10R at Funabashi, while Phosphorus is also due out at his home track; Beat The Boarder is penciled in for the TCK meeting during the following week.

PS. Phosphorus has been confirmed for the 8R at Funabashi on the 15th...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Going through the Carrot/JRA reports, and there's nothing really worth passing on. The only good thing is that we should be able to improve on our disappointing results from the 4th, as both horses involved in that fateful day are set to run again soon. We'll hopefully learn more tomorrow, although no immediate plans have been mooted as yet.

On the riding front, 'Bugatti' keeps taking everything thrown at him in his stride, and I'm delighted to say that 'Jaguar' is doing well in his retirement home. It looks as if one of his old stablemates will be joining him soon, too, as another Tokoro member has also found that time waits for no-one. Rather than try and keep competing between enforced rest sessions, it's better to quit while the horse is still fit enough to enjoy its twilight years...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Harps & Belles

Here was me, looking up at the photo frames that contain all the Japanese winners in my office, and thinking I'd have to shuffle them about a bit to make room for Belle Plage's third and Irish Harp's second win. No problem - each frame holds three pictures, so all I'd have to do is move Irish Harp's one to a new frame shared with Massabielle, and everything is sorted...

Well, Irish Harp made a bad start, and although there was a strong finish, the times don't show that, as the young jockey got himself blocked on the run-in. Granted, fifth is a lot better than the 12th recorded by Belle Plage, but finishing a huge 1.4 seconds down on the winner is hardly something to celebrate (even Belle Plage was only 1.2 down at the back of the pack). Race-rust is still a problem as far as I can see, otherwise the start wouldn't have been so painful to watch, and hopefully it will stay at the stables and fight again very soon. As for Belle Plage (pictured here), the start was good, but the rest of the race was basically a half-hearted practice run. Given that she'd been on holiday for so long and was carrying a fair bit of extra weight compared to before, she was probably in too strong a field (all male, virtually all older) for a comeback race. Let's hope she also runs again soon, because, on paper at least, that was an extremely disappointing performance by any standards. Meanwhile, Massabielle has shot off to Northern Farm for a break, but unlike so many of the JRA horses that go on overly-long package holidays up north, he deserves it after that traumatic debut.