Toby Coles’ diary: light at the end of the tunnel

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  • The past two weeks have really shown both the ups and the downs of being a young trainer. Of our band of winter runners, it was becoming increasingly obvious that most of them would not run out of sight on a dark night. As a small trainer losing any horse is tough, but sadly we were going to have to cull at least four as they were not going to win, even on the all-weather in the winter (what my father describes as donkey racing on the beach).

    One could have quite easily kept them in training for another couple of months to pay some bills, but this, first and foremostly, would have been dishonest and disloyal to my owners who have shown me so much support, and secondly they would have done us no favours as they had little hope of being within sight of the winner.

    One is returning to Germany after refusing to go to the sales by getting an abscess in her hoof, another is returning to Ireland, one will become a lady’s hack and another an extremely well bred polo pony being out of a champion European sprinter by a champion miler!

    The loss of four paying guests in our luxury spa for horses has done some serious damage to the coffers, but one must look on the bright side. At least my owners know that I am honest and willing to pull the plug when needs be.

    First glimmer of hope
    It is February when the Nordic races suffer from depression and one can see why. The winter is beginning to drag on, but thankfully the daffodils have started to appear, the Six Nations has started and there is a little light at the end of the tunnel.

    Rich And Reckless provided the first glimmer of hope in her maiden at Kempton in coming a close third on only her second start. On her first start she had been beaten a country mile as she reared and bronc-ed coming out of the stalls. The team of owners whom she has gathered were seemingly impressed by the filly as she proved the first part of her name, “Rich”, and I had previously proved the second part of the name earlier in the day by being stopped by the Essex police and gaining a few points to my licence. Even though I had some great excuses up my sleeve, PC Plod was not best impressed.

    The next thing that had slightly pissed me off was the damn “cold list” in the Racing Post. It is the bane of any young or fledgling trainer to have one’s name blackened by statistics!

    Come on, Cotton King!
    Cotton King, a little quirky in his character, thankfully has taken a shine to both my long-standing stable lass, Sammy, who rides the beast every morning as he has a pension for placing me gently on the ground, and the delights of Wolverhampton racecourse.

    After proving an unlucky fourth, beaten just over a length by John Berry’s Rhythm Stick, he ran out an easy winner in Monday’s 1m 4f handicap at Wolverhampton. “Cotton proves right material to get Coles off cold list,” was the headline.

    It was a wonderful evening, not just for the winner, but also for Mrs Hamilton, who has proved my greatest supporter so far, and who was there willing her steed home. One winner with an owner in attendance is worth two without the owner present in the book of trainer’s tips!

    The last couple of weeks have proved that it really is a roller coaster ride from the highs and lows; thankfully, the highs far outweigh the lows.

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