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March 29th 2013 - Lessons learned are never forgotten.
The sun is shone again in HQ today and whilst it is very welcome the temperatures did not rise much all day and the wind chill factor was positively cutting. The string all seem fresh and well but I must admit they were all well rugged up against the elements at exercise. The cold is easier to combat against rather than the rain but some warmer temperatures and a shower or too would be very welcome at the minute. There has been no significant grass growth so far this spring and some of the areas across racecourse side are looking decidely brown. The cold temperatures and frosts have taken their toll and I think it will be while before we are riding out in short sleeves.
We declared Our Jonathan yesterday morning in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster for Saturday. There are 10 runners and Andrea Atzeni rides. He is drawn in stall 4 which puts him a little bit out on the wing but hopefully that means he can get a clear passage down the outside and not get in to any traffic problems. From watching lots of his previous races he is looks more of the type of horse that needs his head puitting on the line rather than a burn up speed orientated sprinter. However I think this is more due to him having a really good cruising speed and as a result being a very laid back type of character. In fact he is that laid back, I would be fairly confident he would get seven furlongs if we found the the right race for him. You certainly wouldn't rush to drop him back to 5f and the 6f at Doncaster looks the ideal starting place for him.
I would imagine the ground at Town Moor will ride a bit "dead" as it has dried out a bit all week from heavy ground and is officially soft. Whatever the official desription it will take a bit of getting thats for sure. I would imagine we will look to ride him just behind the pace, as one of the things I learnt a long time ago is that in testing ground you can give away weight but not distance. In life we learn something new all the time from different sources and this lesson was drilled home to me a long time ago.
I used to ride a horse at exercise called Exeat during my time with John Gosden. He was a very good two year old, winning his maiden and being placed in two Group Ones in both the Prix Morny and Prix Salamandre. As a three year old he missed the bullseye but still plyed his trade at group level and wasn't beaten far in the 2000 Guineas.
I recall riding him in his work as a four year old at Manton and in the early spring we used to work the horses along the Barton Gallop which was a straight grass gallop over a mile. He worked one day that spring with horses of considerably less ability and I was instructed to sit third of the three and let him join his galloping companions with two furlongs to run and then sit together nicely on the bridle. I foolishly gave my lead horses far too much rope and thought I would pick them up with ease. How I was proved wrong, as I gave the horse a unduly hard time because I gave him far too much to do in soft ground. There were a pair of senior stable men on the two other horses in the gallop and their words will ring in my ears for a long time as we walked off the gallop. "now then lad" one of them said, "you will always be able to giveaway weight in ground like that but never distance, remember that son and you won't go far wrong".
The next week he galloped on the same gallop with the same work companions and it was a very different story as we cruised up to them hard on the bridle by sitting on their coat tails and not being to far out of my ground in the early part of the gallop. Lesson duly learned and understood.
Hopefully OJ as he is affectionately known in the yard can sit of the coat tails of the pace and go from there. Whatever happens though, we will learn a bit more about him as in this game you never stop learning.