It’s not often you can say you had an enjoyable day when your horse finishes fourth and you spend 8 hours driving a horsebox in sweltering heat, but Saturday certainly went down as an enjoyable day, despite just those circumstances. We took Clearing up to Chester for a £10’000 handicap, and all the owners managed to make it up there, despite all being based in the South – the main reason being that as I mentioned last week Chester has a great reputation for looking after owners, providing them with a designated marquee close to the pre-parade ring, and a supeb 3 course lunch, as well as being a picturesque racecourse with a great atmosphere.We were a little bit up against it from the start as we were drawn widest of the 6 starters (those drawn 7 and 8 were both non-runners!), but she ran a solid enough race, particularly considering the saddle started to slip turning into the home straight, and then finally went after the line, resulting in Nathan being unceremoniously dumped in front of the stands. I have only had a saddle slip on around 3 occasions since I started training, and 2 of those have been around the tight turns of Chester, so I shall have to take extra precautions next time I have a runner up there. On this occasion it wouldn’t have affected the result as the winner won cosily. Nathan did well to keep her going to the line and I’ll lower her sights for her next run – I’m sure she’ll be able to get her head in front again this season.
The journey home fairly rattled by, aided by the superb commentary of Test Match Special. I’ve had one ear glued to the radio over the last 5 days for what in my opinion has been one of the greatest Test Matches I’ve ever known, with excitement spread over 5 days right up until the last ball was bowled on Sunday afternoon – those people that say Test matches are boring clearly haven’t been watching the same game I have!
Whilst my horses are not in the hottest of form just at the moment, it was lovely to see fellow Epsom trainer Simon Dow pick up a nice winner at Ascot on Friday. The lovely thing about Epsom nowadays (and apparently it hasn’t always been like this) is that there is a great sense of camaraderie between trainers and we love to see each other have winners. It’s been a great year for Epsom trainers already, with over 85 winners having been trained here so far. As I mentioned, my horses are just not quite 100% firing at the moment, but we were red hot earlier on in the year, and you can’t keep that sort of form up all year round. The key is not to start trying to change things round too much as it’s always cyclical and they’ll come back into form sooner rather than later. With 14 winners so far (and we only have 20 horses in training) I’d be a fool to be complaining too much.