Down to earth with a bang

Talk about being brought down to earth with a bang. There were a couple of bright points but last weekend was largely disastrous, coming on the back of a tremendous period for the yard.

I have said it here on many occasions but racing is a great leveller. You’ve got to enjoy the good days because a kick in the face is always around the corner.

We lost Saludos last Sunday. A great servant to the yard, he suffered a massive aneurysm despite only being eight. He won races every year for us, including the Grade 2 Flyingbolt Chase and was a good horse.

It is tough for the owners and he will be missed in the yard as he had tremendous prospects over both hurdles and fences.

He was a particular favourite as we bred him ourselves and there is no denying the bitter blow.

In that sense, we can identify with Noel Meade and the rest of the connections of Go Native, after the Champion Hurdle prospect broke his leg in a routine canter yesterday. Unfortunately, these things happen in racing. They’re not nice but they’re part and parcel of it.

Oscars Well took a horrible fall in the Craddockstown and then headed for the road. Thankfully, neither he nor Robert was hurt, although both were sore afterwards.

It was a pity as he had been in great form beforehand and would have told us a lot ahead of a potential tilt at the Drinmore. Right now, I’m not sure where we’ll go next.

Because this week was going to be quiet, I went to France to visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren but I’m back today and will make a decision after I’ve had a look at him.

The race didn’t go to plan at all as Jenari was impeded by his stablemate’s fall and got a fright. He didn’t like being on his own either and ran no sort of race after that. So, again, I’ll wait until I get home to make a call on his immediate future.

The obvious fear is that both horses will suffer a loss of confidence as a result of their bad experiences. And we won’t really know that until race day.

Readers will recall that I was very optimistic about Chino Valdes’ chances in Cork on Sunday but it rained for two hours before the race and he just cannot handle soft ground. I was optimistic about Maller Tree in Cheltenham too but while he can handle it soft, the ground was terrible – which is why Beachdale Lad was withdrawn — and he was never looking likely.

The ground was also the problem for Alderway, who got his career under way at Punchestown. None of his family likes the heavy ground and he will go on a break now before hopefully having some proper summer conditions to race in.

Our other first-timer, Annie Oakley, enjoyed things much more on Saturday when third in a very hot contest won by Minsk. She was always up with them and jumped well. She was never going to be beaten for third either and we’ll have plenty of fun with her hopefully.

We were absolutely delighted with Bostons Angel over the banks. All the indications from schooling and from hunting were that he would love this and that was the case. We had felt we were getting there with him and certainly, the way he battled all the way showed that to be the case.

He was probably a bit unlucky to be on the outside of Arabella Boy in that final sharp turn into the straight as it cost him a length or so but we were over the moon and will head for Cheltenham now and then maybe Punchestown.

The Grand National is certainly in our minds as it might just be the sort of thing to interest him. There are plenty of options now and we’ll take it a step at the time.

I have no runners this weekend as the ground is going to be so bad and it will be quiet for the foreseeable future, although we might have a couple at the re-fixed Thurles meeting.

The next real target is Fairyhouse, when, if all being well, we might have Oscars Well, Jezki, Jenari and Citizenship amongst others showing up and giving us some good news.

But there’s a bit of work to do before then.

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