Toby Coles’ racing diary: who needs sleep?

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  • When we look back at the time we spent at school, many of us remember how our parents told us that time passes us by at great speed. This past week has been a perfect example of that.

    Pipit Nest ran last Tuesday at Folkestone, this time with a young girl (Sophie Doyle) on board. Despite the gentle handling, Pipit found her customary losing post with much vigour. She tailed the field 30 lengths behind the winner, a 14-length improvement on her previous run. If we have this much improvement every time she runs, bring on the Arc!

    On a saner note, she runs today (Tuesday) at Lingfield in a Class 5 Median Auction Maiden and I’ll be extremely happy if she can somehow put her nose within a length of the next last horse…

    Day of doom doing the accounts

    Wednesday saw what is absolute hell for any young trainer — the day bills are paid. I think it preferable to rub salt into an open wound than take the wrath of my bank manager, who I think takes great pleasure in seeing me squirm like a worm on a hook about to be dipped into a pool of starving piranhas. The secretary is often most tiresome but very good at making cups of tea. In fact my mother is a saint who can turn her hand to most things, but a day at the books can be trying for us both!

    Littlemisssunshine had a small gallop on the grass on Thursday. I am now seriously frustrated, as trying to find the right race for her is like trying to find that all-elusive needle in the haystack. She is entered in races from Wednesday through to Tuesday. The best of these will come on Saturday, but the weather forecast seems unwilling to lend me a helping hand. She has, therefore, been declared for Doncaster tomorrow in a cavalry charge. Knowing my luck, the supposed rain clouds will evaporate for Saturday’s race and the going will be firm after all. Thankfully, my co-owner, Mr Oakes, is very understanding and stands by any decision that I make.

    Owners present — and hopefully future

    After evening stables I jumped into the iron horse and went to visit a former master of some famous packs of foxhounds, and in turn was taken to see an array of bloodstock, which included a nice Kalanisi yearling filly out of a Selkirk mare and a striking three-year-old Royal Applause colt out of a Danehill mare. Now for mission impossible — persuade their owners to send them to me!

    The amazing Mrs Hamilton arrived on Friday morning, after a three-hour drive, to watch her two-year-old filly by Verglas gallop on the Summer Gallop next to the Rowley Mile racecourse under Tom McLaughlin. Both she and Tom seemed happy with the filly and I was able to wipe the sweat from my brow as the filly went as expected.

    In the afternoon I went to visit one of Mrs Hamilton’s other horses, Eastern Chariot (an anagram of her daughter’s name, Henrietta, and the filly’s sire, Oscar). Eastern Chariot is spending a couple of weeks with my version of Monty Roberts — Matthew Mackley. His baler twine belt and Wurzle Gummidge appearance belie a consummate horseman.

    After viewing this Champion Hurdler in waiting, I headed to my parent’s home to see two more of the troops — Rich And Reckless and Nineteensixtysix, who look amazing. I was given a good feed and an evening’s duck flighting before returning home to pour some more oats down the untamed lions that grace Chestnut Tree Stables.

    Todd still a class act

    The weekend went with relative ease and I even got time to watch a little of Burghley. It was nice to see Mark Todd back on form on the cross-country course. It was an honour to meet him last year at the Karaka Yearling Sales in New Zealand. I think, from my brief attendance at university, we call the shrinking of international boundaries globalisation.

    Monday and the return to reality. A 3am start followed by a 5hr drive to Newcastle, where Cotton King took his place in another mile maiden. He should now be qualified for handicap races.

    The return journey saw yet another 5hr wrestling with the steering wheel in what felt like a Force 10 hurricane. When home I don’t think that my head had touched the pillow before I was chasing sheep around the land of nod. The 41/2hrs sleep I had last night may well be one of the longest for a while.

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