Toby Coles’ racing diary: balancing the books = grey hairs

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  • Not a very exciting week began with a day paying the bills. Once again one wishes money grew on trees. However, it does not, so with the abrupt truth staring me in the face I sat down with a large mug of tea and began number crunching. Thankfully I am not too bad with sums, and somehow, God knows how, we washed our face last month. Despite not having a winner, it was a good month!

    With the sums somehow levelling up, it was time to do something I hate nearly as much as the bills — clipping. Most people in the Flat racing world do a trace clip. I, on the other hand, am not most people, and decided to take the whole lot off. I keep the horses very heavily rugged so it does not make too much of a difference to them, and when out of the stable a full clip looks very smart. But to be honest the main reason is convenience; without a long coat, the sweat and mud is far easier to clean off.

    Although it important to make the job slightly easier where ever possible, corners should never be cut in the process. To once again go back to my mentor, Sir Mark Prescott once told me that at all times your horses should look as good as they can. If they are useless, they should still look at their best. As well as looking great they must be smart, as if they look both well and smart, even if they do come last someone would have noticed them. So all have to be fully clipped — well not all of them. The yearlings I have will not be clipped; they will be left lightly rugged until January.

    Thursday and Friday were full of the same, clipping and keeping the horses ticking over. It had taken nearly two weeks for Main Beach to get over his little tumble on the road. He was stiff each and every morning, but this stiffness was getting less and less each day, and it took until last Thursday for me to be satisfied fully with the way he was moving.

    A good work morning

    Saturday morning was slightly more interesting — it was a gallop morning for most of the horses in the yard. Main Beach and Dear Maurice (pictured) worked together on the flat gallop on Racecourse Side. Both were kept on the bridle, and worked well within themselves. Saturday was the last day the flat gallop was open, and we got every penny’s worth we could! Charlie’s Boy and Eastern Chariot worked together on the Cambridge Road all-weather track.

    Richard Collinson, a name from my past in the point-to-pointing world, came to ride Eastern Chariot as he rides her on Wednesday at Huntingdon. I was impressed with Charlie’s Boy’s work out and Eastern Chariot showed her gall and is unlikely to ever give up in a fight. If you were going to war, you would definitely want her on your side. She is knee height to a grasshopper but has the heart of a lion.

    Two brilliant girls

    Saturday evening was the highlight of the week. The Breeder’s Cup was on the TV, and some of the world’s very best horses were on show. It was actually the girls that were the main attraction. Goldikova and Zenyatta are arguably the best fillies in the world. Goldikova, under a perfect ride from Olivier Peslier, showed why she is regarded as one of the best milers ever as she made light work of a world-class field. Gio Ponti, an old friend of mine, ran second to her, and lost no pride in defeat.

    I think everyone’s heart went out to Zenyatta; she was very definitely the best horse in the race, and arguably one of the best horses ever to grace a racecourse. I will leave you to watch her race on a computer if you have not already seen it. It is amazing and horrible in the same sentence.

    Where’s that millionaress?

    Sunday was back to the realm of reality, and not the dreams of the night before and the wish of a horse like Dangerous Midge, who had won the Breeder’s Cup Turf. Dianne McDougal, my accountant, came to see if I had done my sums correctly. Thank goodness they were not too far out, but the stress had taken its toll. Looking in the mirror that morning I noticed a single solitary grey hair. It was swiftly removed and no more will be said on the matter. I was relying on the fact that I would still look like a baby faced 24-year-old when I am 40! Unlikely to be the case now, so I had better get my act together and find a beautiful millionairess to keep me in horseflesh for the rest of my days.

    Monday was as every Monday morning usually is — the horses had come through their respective gallops without a blemish and were feeling “top of the morning!” Dear Maurice, who had politely put Sammy on her feet three times last week, thought it a great idea to do the same to me. I am rather like many trainers in Newmarket — I love seeing loose horses, it means they are feeling well, and rather happy with themselves. Monday also saw the arrival of some truly hideous weather at about mid-day, and thankfully Sammy and I were done by the time the heavens opened.

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