Toby Coles’ diary: a new way of saving time

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  • Last Tuesday was spent trying to find one’s way through the fog. Melody Belle and I left for Southwell rather early, leaving Sammy behind to deal with the motley crew known as Coles Racing.

    Melody Belle had left her band of brothers to fight in the mile maiden on the sand at Southwell. Thankfully, the fog had decided to lift by the time she was to take her place, as spotting a grey in the mist could have been quite tricky. Mrs Hamilton had made the journey from her home in South Wales to watch her two-year-old filly line up against at least one Derby entrant.

    The Godolphin runner duly obliged and came home an easy winner. Melody Belle, on the other hand, sandwiched the field by coming in at the tail. She had not had things go her way and was somewhat disappointing. Thankfully, today she was given a handicap mark and we will draw swords again some time in the spring.

    While at sunny Southwell I was met by a chap from Durham who introduced himself as a friend of a new owner of mine. He gleefully told me that he had been abusing his friend by telling him about how his trainer (me) was wearing the most ridiculous coloured trousers. I proceeded to inform him that at least he had noticed them!

    Emily joins the team

    Wednesday brought with it a new face, for I had just taken on a new member of staff. Emily is to work on the ground getting the horses ready for Sammy and I to ride, and do them up when we return. Something I learnt from school — the division of labour and the expression “many hands make light work” are, as I have found out, very true.

    This division of labour is not very English; it is something I learnt in both America and Australia and is massively time-saving. While Sammy and I are out on one lot of horses Emily can get the next lot ready for us, so that when we return we can go straight back out on the next lot while she can do the two up which we have just returned on. The system, at the moment, seems to be working well.

    On Wednesday afternoon it was time for Lycidas to take the plunge into the real world and start to be broken. For this we had some help from one of Rae Guest’s lads, Steve, who used to break most of Darley’s yearlings a few years back. Thankfully, Lycidas has taken to being broken like a duck to water.

    Thursday was not particularly interesting other than acquiring a job lot of rugs, something that it looks like we will be in much need of this next week, as Britain faces an arctic blast.

    Littlemisssunshine starts her second career

    Friday morning was a slightly early start as I was to take to the road with Littlemisssunshine. However, before this we had an entertaining morning in which a new addition to Coles Racing, Brent Pelham, decided he was going to try his luck. Poor Sammy was to take the brunt of his obstinacy, something that riles both her and me. A quick swap of mounts and an abrupt correction saw Brent Pelham on his merry way.

    Littlemisssunshine had now spent long enough in her box after suffering the injury in her last race and was now being taken to my parents’ for the rest of her recovery and, what will hopefully be, an exciting broodmare career. After some brunch with the parents I was back on the road to wind my way to Castle View Stud and Matthew Mackley, where Rich And Reckless and Nineteensixtysix were blissfully unaware of my approach. I think that they both knew full well what lies ahead as they entered the horsebox though — blood, tears and sweat, and hopefully success!

    On Saturday morning Main Beach and Charlie’s Boy had their last gallop before they take to the racecourse for the first time. Both were pleasing in their work and hopefully will be exciting prospects for later on.

    Dear Maurice injures himself

    Saturday also saw Dear Maurice return to the racecourse over a reduced six furlongs, this time sporting a pair of visors. Tom McLaughlin took the ride and was happy to be reunited with this old friend of his as Dear Maurice used to be with Tom McLaughlin’s main employer, Ed Dunlop. The race was somewhat rougher than would have been ideal. Dear Maurice was nearly brought to his knees but despite this ran on for a very creditable third place.

    On our return I just slightly questioned his wellbeing when coming off the horsebox. We left him for the night to reassess in the morning, when we discovered that our luck was out. He looks to have sustained a fracture somewhere in his hind end, which we will confirm on Wednesday when he is to be scanned. He will have sustained the injury when being interfered with during the race.

    Sunday was not as the man upstairs intended as we worked it as a normal day. After the morning’s work was done it was time for a deluge of owners and, hopefully, potential owners to visit my yard. First on the list were the owners of Brent Pelham. Second were friends who work in the City who originate from New Zealand. Third was a friend who had come up for the sales so that I could see what type of horse she liked so, when buying for her, I could make a decision without her having to be there.

    Monday was a spent mostly at the sales and in preparation for Main Beach’s belated entrée to the racecourse.

    Tuesday was that all-anticipated day when Main Beach made his debut. It was in a National Hunt Flat race over a mile and five furlongs at Lingfield on the all-weather, and looked on paper to be an extremely hot bumper. Dominic Elsworth took the ride and rode exactly as instructed, finishing a very game fourth having circled the field from last in the home bend.

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