Monday 1 February
Time And Place
They say there is a time and place for everything - and on Friday it was Doncaster for Volkovka. Therein lies the tale. Volkovka was claimed out of a Toulouse claimer in September, she was to be our filly for the juvenile hurdling division this season, and was claimed with a predetermined programme in mind. So you can imagine how we all felt when she was pulled up after just a circuit on her hurdles debut in Fakenham. The whole plan seemed doomed - as she had shown that day that she had to go righthanded and was practically unrideable going left - all plans of running in her first big target race in Doncaster were firmly put aside. Since Fakenham she has slowly improved, winning in Market Rasen, and showing improved form in a very close second place finish in Taunton. It was shortly before Taunton that I had another look at the Listed hurdle in Doncaster, a race that we had targeted last years filly, Yauthym at, and had managed to secure third place and valuable black type. I remembered how on that day the hurdles had been situated right on the outside of the track, with the running rail hard on the horses right hand side for the entire length of the home straight. So even though the track is lefthanded, and the 'wrong way round' for Volkovka, the fact that she would have the rail close by on her 'right' side meant that the race was back on the radar. A chat with Fergal, Paddy and Connor confirmed that my mad scheme was not as mad as it seemed and we gave it a bash. We went there with the aim of securing black type, and Paddy gave her the perfect ride to do so, Ridden very cold in rear. Volkovka travelled and jumped well, apart from a sticky leap at the first and a small mistake 2 out, and stayed on well to finish third and earn the all important black type. This was the one day of the year she could have run in that race on that track, as it is the only time the hurdles are in that position right on the rail, so it all worked out in the end. Another personal best from 'Vodka', but probably the last time you will see her running lefthanded for some time. She will have another couple of runs this season, and will head off for a well earned rest when the ground starts to get quicker in the spring. This was the third running of the listed fillys juvenile hurdle in Doncaster, and the second time Alan King has won it, and the second time we have finished third in it - last year, Yauthym filled that spot, and on Thursday she made her handicap hurdle debut in Fakenham. With a hatrick of third places under her belt, she had been aimed at Fakenham as she had shown that she was a doubtful stayer on stiffer tracks, so we felt the track and race was ideal. Sadly the recent rain meant that the ground was heavy, placing more emphasis on stamina again, and she was sadly found out on it. She ran a personal best - getting outstayed and finishing second. She will be well suited to flat easy tracks, and better ground, and will be winning when she gets those in the spring. The third member of the team in at Ravenswell Farm is San Seb, who is having a short break after a very hard run when just touched off in Leicester in his last appearance. Hidden Beauty will make the switch to the yard soon to bring the team number to four. At Fences Farm - Classic Ben is OK after his Ascot run, he should be out again in February, and we will look at the Eider Chase in Newcastle for him. A marathon trip is what he needs, and the timing is right for him to have a crack at big prize. Go Millie Go will head to Doncaster in early March, she is in good form, and is ahead of schedule for her return, after being treated for bad ulcers. Blue Bikini is also in good order, and having discussed things with her owner/breeder, Louise this morning we have a plan as to her next possible outings. Hi Ho Silva Lining has been off games since returning from a routine gallop very lame a few weeks ago. Oddly nothing showed up in tests, and gradually improved - and it was good to hear that he had resumed cantering last weekend. We have seen the last of Our Bubba in the red, white and black, and this lovely horse will run in the colours and ownership of his two owners Colin and John in the future. It was a transfer that I first suggested to them a couple of months ago, and now seemed the right time for them to make the change. I have always had the utmost belief in OB, and I'm delighted that a possible reason for his recent disappointments has been found, and I'm sure he will repay their patience very soon. We wish them all the best with him. Up at Olly Murphys - Auditoria is progressing really well, and she should be making her hurdling debut later this month. The way she works and especially the way she has schooled over hurdles has made it a very much looked forward to event! We can't wait!