As regular readers will recall, he had a fall a few months ago and had been in a halo and then a hard collar to protect his neck, where he’d damaged some vertebrae. We thought everything was going along fine but it didn’t turn out that way when he went for his check-up yesterday week.
He had to have a whole slew of tests and there was a lot going on, which is why I wasn’t able to do my column for last Saturday. The intervening week has been fairly stressful to say the least and Johnny had an operation yesterday
The good news is that it was a success and he came through it well. He is much better today than he was going up for the operation so he’s getting there. They fused his neck so he will be in hospital for a while and it will be a long process to rehab after that.
It’s nice to have the horses as a distraction in such circumstances but it’s been a long week. In terms of runners, we haven’t had too many again with the ground fairly gluey right now. I was pleased with the six that did make it to the track since Saturday.
In Thurles, Feabhra was fairly green in her first hurdle race and ran much too freely early on, so it was no surprise to see her tiring badly at the end. She will head to another hurdle race in the next few weeks.
I was delighted with Saville Row, who finished third in the three mile beginners chase. He would have been closer but for a bad mistake three out but that was a good race, with Berties Dream winning it easily enough. What’s more, Saville Row wouldn’t have liked the sticky ground. He has his handicap mark now and I think it’s a fair one so he’ll have a good chance when we take that route next time.
Espresso Lady ran very well to be third in the maiden hurdle as she would have liked better ground too. She would have preferred a stronger pace and stiffer track as well so I think she could go close next time as she settled so well and jumped great.
In Naas on Sunday, we had the first of our four-year-olds to make it to track this year, Directors Forum. He travelled very well into the straight before getting very tired in the ground, which was a bit heavy for him. He is a big baby and will improve a lot for the run.
On Wednesday, Pontiac ran well on his reappearance after a while, jumping well before tiring again and it was great to get Imperial Cascade back on the track for the first time since October 2009. He had two bad injuries in that time but seems to have retained the ability that won him the Goffs Land Rover bumper just under three years ago.
The great thing was that he jumped really well, which he didn’t do in his only run over hurdles. He just got tired but hopefully next time, he’ll go very close with the benefit of that run in his locker.
We’ve had a few coming back after long absences and it’s almost like getting new horses in. I only have two runners over the weekend and both have had their problems.
Hugo De Vindency hasn’t run since beating Rubi Light over hurdles in February 2010. Prior to that he was third in a race in which Quito De La Roque was second. He was also second to Quel Esprit before winning his maiden hurdle by nine lengths and he won his bumper first time out by seven lengths.
So that is very good form but look, let’s just get him back racing before we start thinking too far ahead. It’s been such a long time, like Imperial Cascade, you just want him to get a run under his belt and come back well.
Tomorrow, Spanish Auriga takes his chance in the beginners’ chase and he was another that was out a long time – around 18 months – when finishing third to Perfect Smile in a Fairyhouse novice chase last month.
That was very good given how long he was out, and I was very pleased with how he jumped. He has improved from that and improvement is what you’re looking for. Certainly, improvement would put him in with a good shout here.
Meanwhile, a lot of the flat horses have started coming back in, including Princess Sinéad, Silver Sycamore and Backbench Blues. Dragon Pulse arrives at the end of the month and Bible Belt will be back at the beginning of next month. They’ve all developed again and are looking well. I’ve seen Dragon Pulse a couple of times and he is looking amazing, he has really strengthened up.
We wouldn’t be doing a whole lot with the ones that have arrived this early, just some trotting and the odd hack. Their year is all ahead of them.
Finally, anyone that wants to keep up to date with what’s happening with our horses during the week can follow me on twitter (@Jessica_Racing). I’m just getting to grips with it at the moment. It seems light-hearted enough but it’s a good avenue to keep people informed as I get better at handling it.