Worrying times for everyone with the Coronavirus taking its toll
As Alan said in his column in the Racing Post Weekender this week, “the Coronavirus has cast a sombre shadow over everything in racing at present”, but he was quick to stress that “all our thoughts are obviously with families who have lost loved ones and for all the businesses that are likely to go to the wall.”
Things are also very worrying at Barbury, with racing grinding to a halt until the end of April at least, and we can only hope that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prediction yesterday that “we can turn the tide with the virus in 12 weeks” will come to fruition.
Alan had his best ever Flat season last summer and had made an encouraging start with his few runners on the level on the all-weather this year, and we were looking forward to seeing Rainbow Dreamer run a big race in the Marathon at Lingfield’s £1m polytrack meeting on Good Friday.
We were also planning a few high-profile runners in the early weeks of the turf season, and Beringer was a possible for the Lincoln, in which he finished third last year, though races like the Royal Hunt Cup and some of the valuable 10-furlong handicaps could be on the agenda when racing does resume, while Alan is hoping he can also make his presence felt in Listed races.
And we are all very excited about the improving Trueshan, who won four of his five races – he was runner-up in the other one – in the space of less than three months last season, his rating rocketing up 18lb to a mark of 109.
Plans to start off Trueshan in either the John Porter Stakes at Newbury or the Further Flight at Nottingham obviously had to be scrapped when racing ceased, but Alan is hopeful that there might be one more handicap in him, the £1m Ebor at York in August.
And let us not forgot that popular veteran Chatez, one of the few horses in the yard who actually wants soft ground. He was facing retirement but he was showing plenty of his old sparkle in pre-training so with underfoot conditions looking to be in his favour we were considering either the Lincoln or the Newbury Spring Cup, which he won last year.
However, those races are now out of the equation, but we still hope that he will win another race during the summer granted some soft ground.
Reflecting on last week’s blank at the Cheltenham Festival, Alan said:”We don’t seem to have the firepower to cope with the Irish at the moment, but with one exception all my horses came back from the meeting fine, which is a big plus.”
The one exception was Deyrann de Carjac, who fractured a knee in the Plate, but Alan is hopeful that he will be ok in time, though he definitely won’t run again this season even if jump racing returns.
As Alan feared the majority of our runners were not suited by the soft ground. He added:”Sceau Royal could not go a yard on that surface in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and was a beaten horse after the first fence, while soft or heavy ground over jumps is totally different to what it is on the Flat, and that eventually counted against Who Dares Wins, who ran well for a long way in the Ultima.”
And while Edwardstone has form in the mud, Alan is adamant that he is a good ground horse as he is not short of speed, so, in the circumstances, he felt he wasn’t disgraced in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, in which he finished sixth, while he was also pleased with The Glancing Queen‘s run in the bumper in view of the fact that she had anything but a straight forward preparation.
And finally Lisp and Ballywood came home side by side in the Grand Annual finishing sixth and seventh. Alan pointed out that it was only Lisp’s fourth run over fences and that he looked as if he was crying out for two and a half miles, while Ballywood was always going to find those underfoot conditions against him.