Toby Coles’ racing diary: the Main man

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  • It has been a couple of weeks since my last update and there have been a huge number of things going on. It began with the “Heath Run”, a charity race, run around Newmarket training grounds. Under some duress and peer pressure I was seconded into coming out of retirement and putting one weary leg in front of the other for 6.5km.

    There was a strong turn out from both the racing community and the running community of Newmarket and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, I had left my trainers at my parents’ home after running at the Golden Button in January, so I was going to have to do it in plimsoles which most of my friends found rather entertaining. Half way round the pain from the plimsoles was unbearable so they were removed and I ran the rest of the race barefoot. I believe that I finished a respectable 10th or thereabouts out of a field of about 150.

    The next morning I pulled out very lame — not so much from running barefoot, but just very stiff. If I were a racehorse I would refuse to leave my box after a race for at least two weeks, would only run once every three months and be particularly difficult to train, as press me slightly too hard and I would pull out lame once again! This would probably resulting in me being gelded and sent to America where I could run on ‘bute…

    Another day for Brent Pelham

    Brent Pelham was due to run at Brighton on the Monday but, unfortunately, developed a couple of spots that morning and was withdrawn as I did not believe he was at his peak. However, that same day a good friend who has recently joined the training ranks, Hugo Palmer, trained his first winner at Brighton, Steady The Buffs, in a two-year-old five-furlong maiden. Brighton will, therefore, hold a place close to both our hearts as it was 11 months ago, and also over five furlongs, that we won our first race with Littlemisssunshine.

    Lycidas catches the eye — and ear

    Our boisterous two-year-old colt, Lycidas, has spent the last couple of weeks trotting, getting him used to both Newmarket Heath again and the barrage of horses that come from the depths of Darley. He is the apple of my eye, as I have said before, but is also fast becoming a firm favourite of many others. He is very distinguishable when out on the Heath as he has a tremendous presence and when he whinnies he sounds rather like a Harley Davidson starting up, terrifying every filly and semi-scared stable lad or lass within half a mile!

    It was the turn of Main Beach to take to the racecourse again. This time he was running on the grass for the first time and I was dropping him markedly back in trip, something for which I took quite a large amount of flak before the race.

    Another winner!

    Main Beach has not been the most simple of characters to get to the races and it has been a massive team effort to achieve it. My vet, two farriers, unfaltering head girl Sammy, and “pony” Bulbury Hill have all played a huge part. There was an air of anticipation as he had been going rather well at home. Stevie Donohoe had the ride as he had come in prior to this outing to gallop him in the morning, to get a feel of him, something I thought imperative.

    Main Beach is somewhat unruly at the races and had the pleasure of Bulbury Hill, our “pony”, as a lead in the parade ring, and was wearing a stallion chain, regardless of the fact that he is a gelding. It was an entertaining visit to the stewards’ room before we ran to ask firstly, please could we saddle in the stable yard, secondly, please could we use a “pony” to lead Main Beach to the start, thirdly, please could we go to the start early, and fourthly, please could we use Mr Witheford jnr [an expert in dealing with difficult horses] to put him in the stalls.

    The stewards’ parting quip was, “Mr Coles, you must remember this is not a circus and you had better be good at taming lions.”

    Well, Main Beach knows he is bigger and stronger than 99% of all other thoroughbreds! We duly made it to the start and managed to squeeze him into the starting stalls. He was, however, slow to get away, just like last time he ran. That was the only bit of the race I saw as I was at the start having ridden the “pony”. Having run two furlongs and with just four left to travel he was still 12 lengths off the pace. Stevie, riding with uber-confidence, was unhurried. On scything through the field he met with trouble in running but, the size he is, he swatted away the competition and forged through the smallest of gaps to win by an extending half a length at the line. None of which I had seen!

    The joy on my parents’ faces was something I will never forget.

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