There’s no doubt that after a holiday in Australia and a trip to the races in America, Barry has officially grounded me! We are extremely busy here, gearing up for the start of the jumps season and at this stage the horses look fantastic.
America was amazing, and I hope to repeat it, but just with a horse that’s more tailored for the experience than Casino Markets. He travelled over there brilliantly and settled in straight away to his new state side surroundings. He never stopped eating and along with Laura, who travelled with him, loved the whole adventure.
The problem for Casino was that although he enjoys better ground, he just couldn’t handle it as the turf is very quick out there and he was not happy to let himself down on it. Also, in American jump racing they take the last hurdle out on the final circuit, which means the race from the last fence is just over four furlongs at Saratoga and at Belmont it’s closer to six. So, for a two and half mile staying handicap chaser it is not helpful. The jumps races there are designed for the nippier flat horses, none the less until you experience the process for yourself, it is hard to be certain what the ideal horse is and the ideal preparation. Having done it now, the Halpern’s who own him, and myself are very keen to nail it next time. For quarantine reasons Casino Markets is still out in America and may or may not have one more race before coming home at a track with different conditions. Although, now he is at a spa in America, and feel I would be rather happy to trade places with him!
As far as runners here are concerned they have continued to be few and far between but we are not a million miles away from having plenty more. However, what horses we have run recently I have been really pleased with, with Vendredi Trois who was third and Balibour who finished fourth. Vendredi Trois was running in a 0-120 at Worcester (30 August), after winning a 0-100 and I think put in a better performance than when he won. He is a fun horse and if a continues to run like that, another contest should fall his way before the ground goes.
Having not finished out any of his races last season, Balibour certainly stayed all the way to the line at Worcester on Sunday (3 September). He will now probably go over hurdles over two and a half miles, and as he was at the last chance saloon at the end of last season, he has given himself the opportunity to keep going for a bit longer. He is a horse that shows us so much at home so I really do hope that he produces it on the track.
I think it will be end of September beginning of October when we start to have a real flow of runners, but they are coming along superbly and we are looking forward to a very exciting season ahead!