Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sense Of History

A good friend of mine that shares a real passion for racing kindly gave me this letter set from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the pictures showing the early development of the Happy Valley track, some of the shots being taken over 150 years ago. I love this sort of stuff!

No pictures of 'Bugatti' in training yesterday, as he was wild-eyed and crazy with the strong wind and excitement of having his family around him for the first time in six days, apart from flying visits. There's no way we'd be away from him for more than a couple of days normally, but the timing has been off this week for all manner of reasons. Anyway, today he was in a much better mood for training, and worked up a nice sweat whilst allowing us to try some new front protectors - carbonfibre construction, with gel padding, air vents, and magnets for improving blood circulation. I'm pleased to say that they passed the initial test with flying colours, and I look forward to trying them in hotter weather.

Seventh, But Content

Belle Plage was seventh at Tokyo today, and having watched the video, I can say that I'm happy enough with her performance. This is where some people will question my policy - how can I be happy with a place almost halfway down the field? Well, there's seventh in maths, and a fighting seventh that could easily have been something better. She was only 0.4 seconds down on the winner, and I'm sure she would have been even closer had the final run-in not been so crowded. It was also her first race on turf in seven months, in a field of classy nags. So, in my opinion, it was a good, solid run.

No pictures of 'Bugatti' from this morning, though, as he was a little crazy for a long time today, and photography was not really an option. Let's see what he's like tomorrow....

Friday, February 13, 2015

Odds & Sods

Only one runner in JRA over the weekend, as everyone continues their endless holidays. I can't believe Miracle Rouge has gone straight back into R&R mode, as the last race was supposed to be a foundation for a new campaign.  Going by the last two gaps in her outings, that means we can expect to see her again in May, or possibly June or July, which is frankly a ridiculous situation.

Anyway, Belle Plage is out tomorrow with Yutaka Yoshida in the TV Yamanashi Hai race at Tokyo (the 1600m turf 9R), and with luck, Massabielle will run on the 28th - the same day as Eclat De Reve gives it another shot. The latter is lined up for an 1800m turf run at Hanshin, while Massabielle is being booked for a 2200m turf run at Nakayama with Miura Kosei in the saddle. Now that should be interesting...

On the subject of interesting, Raining Dollars (pictured) is looking good in Australia, and my plan to revive the Lady Jockey Series (LJS) in Japan is taking shape, slowly but surely. I'll keep you updated with any news or progress as and when it comes along.

Painfully Close

We had a couple of decent results yesterday - a second place that was painfully close to victory, and a strong third. Phosphorus (pictured) started as favourite, but the second favourite was also very well-fancied, and the gate draw ultimately determined the outcome - the #1 held on to the inside, while Phos had to go the long way around thanks to yet another outside gate draw (I must be a record holder in this respect!) and lost by 0.1 seconds, or half-a-length. It was basically a match race, as the third-placed pony was six lengths down! At least we know he can compete in C1, despite his youth, as he beat an ex-JRA winner by ten lengths, and I'm also fairly sure having his regular jockey would have helped push him along that bit extra, knowing his character from day one and by taking up the pace. His record now stands at 4-3-1, and there's a lot to give as yet - as usual, he couldn't wait to tuck into his meal, which is hardly a sign of over-exertion...

If I sound a little disappointed with Hiroto Yoshihara with Phos (he is my favourite racehorse after all, and I hope to take him on after his racing career finishes as a stablemate for 'Bugatti'), well, there's no complaints with his race on Pop Label. His record moves to 3-0-2 thanks to a third place, which is the best position so far since coming to the Kanto area after a very long recovery from injury. In reality, he lost almost a year of his career, and he's improving nicely considering the level he's having to fight at due to the wins in his early career. A better start might have seen a better result, but he didn't fluff it to the extent he has been doing of late, so that's something. However, I reckon we really need a Tokyo run to show him in his best light. Unfortunately, the slots are always booked, and I guess we'd get the outside gate anyway! At least we're getting there.