I'm afraid that last week's blog wasn't much use to anyone who likes to find winners in our yard as I didn't even think we'd be going to Salisbury on Thursday, never mind having a winner!
At the entry stage it looked unlikely that our two entries would get a run but just a couple of days later, the two races on the course's round track were abandoned due to unsafe ground which meant that more of the races on the straight track could be divided, including ours. This panned out well because it meant that we could run both Divine Queen and Raha without them running against each other and, as another plus, the rain came in time for their preferred soft ground.
The long trip down to Salisbury came the day after a late night at Kempton where War Empress ran another creditable race to finish third and Divine Queen was probably our best chance on paper, even though she was a 12/1 shot. She ran much better than that to finish a close fourth after looking the winner a furlong from home before running out of puff. I think six furlongs on soft ground is probably her optimum so I'll try and find those conditions for her next time to hopefully get a win out of her.
Raha was sent off an even bigger price at 28/1 despite only having one run this year when understandably she needed the run. She was a lot sharper this time and travelled through the race easily before wearing down the leaders to win by half a length. It was another much-deserved winner for owner Reyaz Farook who has been very patient in giving this big filly all the time she needed to fully mature and he has now been rewarded with a progressive horse who should win again.
We don't go to Salisbury very often and this was the first winner I have trained there so it's nice to still be ticking off milestones even after 20 years of training!
You don't need me to tell you that there has been loads of rain about recently and most of the country has seen its fair share this week. It means the ground is very soft across the board and that will affect our plans in the coming days.
I have three entries at Nottingham on Wednesday but the ground has gone heavy there so none of them will be declared to run as they wouldn't enjoy it.
Chelmsford on Saturday looks more likely but Joanna Vassa still needs to get into the race as she is rated quite low. It'll be her first run for us since switching stables and I'm looking forward to seeing how she goes. She has been galloping with Raha so she should be better than her current rating and she seems to have enjoyed life at our yard. We'll learn more about her after this but hopefully she can show some promise.
Alibaba will be given an entry at Goodwood on Sunday and hopefully conditions should be ok for him. He likes soft ground but wouldn't want it heavy as he is only a small horse. He has had a good season with two wins on the board so the handicapper might have him in his grasp now but he has a great attitude and might still have a bit more improvement left in him.
It's amazing how the weather can flip in just a few days as this Saturday saw us digging out the winter woolies to watch the gallops after almost being in t-shirts the weekend before. Autumn has certainly arrived and it seems like winter isn't far away either. The mission at this time of year is to keep the horses wrapped up and to prolong their sleek and shiny summer coats for as long as possible. We are battling against the inevitable though as all the horses will eventually grow a longer winter coat which will need clipping but it's nice to put that off for as long as possible. As much as some pundits like to think this is a sign of a horse's wellbeing, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a horse runs slower when it has a winter coat compared to a summer one!
The weather will determine where we head with our runners this week with a few entries coming up but unaffected by conditions will be our pair of runners on the all-weather at Kempton on Wednesday.
One Of The Girls ran a lot better when making the running on her third start last time and we'll try to repeat the tactics in a handicap this time. She's up against more street-wise rivals this time so it may be harder to make the running but we will give it a go and see what we can learn about her.
Going to Kempton as well will be War Empress. She ran well at the track last time after six months off the track so she should improve for that outing too. She is ready to win but needs a fast pace to chase and for things to fall her way as she is normally slow from the stalls so has to weave her way through in the finish.
Raha and Divine Queen are entered in the same race at Salisbury on Thursday but there are loads of other horses entered in the race and I doubt they will get a run. We're coming into the silly season now when everyone wants to run their horses before the sales so the races are all oversubscribed. Added to this, the turf meetings are starting to become few and far between so if you want to get a run on the grass it is hard to do so.