Toby Coles’s racing diary: remembering I’m not Superman

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  • Pipit Nest, somehow, managed to finish with one behind her on Tuesday at Lingfield and returned to Newmarket full of the joys of spring. Unknown to her the decision had been made to cut short her racing career and start her, now flourishing, polo career! She will forever be dodging a 4in white rocket and 13-stone men wielding mallets.

    Littlemisssunshine, despite our best efforts, had no intention of running in the 5 furlong handicap at Doncaster on Wednesday. The night before she had had a little heat in her off fore hoof, by the morning the heat was gone, however, she now had decided to tear half her nose from her face so she did not have to run! Eight stitches later and a call to the British Horseracing Authority announcing her scratching, she was now a definite non-runner. All being well she will run again either on the 23 or 28 September, minus a large chunk of her left nostril!

    The lorry had been hired for the day so, in order not to waste it, I took off for South Wales to collect, yet another, steed from the “wonderful” Mrs Hamilton. This time a four-year-old National Hunt horse, by Mutamarkiz. The four-year-old grey gelding and I hopped back into the, now, very well known two box and set sail for Northamptonshire. Charlie’s Boy will spend the next couple of weeks with Matthew Mackley before heading into full training here in Newmarket. While at Matthew’s I was able to get a good look at Eastern Chariot, now flourishing, due to her return to work.

    New jockey and new horse

    A pleasant surprise awaited me on Thursday morning in the form of a baby-faced conditional jockey cowering behind my long-suffering stable girl, Sammy. Trevor Whelan had been dragged from his pit at 5.30am to come and ride for this, unknown, flat trainer. I can only imagine the thoughts going through his head, namely, “Why do I have to ride these things? What happens if I fall off? Is my boss going to kill me? If I don’t ride these supposed lions, my girlfriend [Sammy] will think, not only am I wet but lazy as well!” It is commonly known, the wrath of a woman, is far worse than that of a boss! Fortunately, for all parties, Mr Whelan was a success, he has good hands and can ride to instructions. Thank you Mr Ian Williams!

    Thursday afternoon and I was back on the road, this time to the Doncaster St Leger Festival Sales to see the 90 or so yearlings go through the ring. From what had seemed a very busy premier sale, this was decidedly quiet. Lot 59, a Royal Applause filly (pictured top right) from Dunhill Stud in Montrose, Scotland, caught my eye and after further inspection had ticked all the boxes. After a quick word with Mr McTaggart of Doncaster Bloodstock Sales to check my credit rating(!) I cautiously approached the ring, knowing that I would not get anywhere near buying her. However, the one man and his dog who were at the Sales were obviously having a cup of tea when she went through the ring. She has been bought for a new owner with every intention of running at Ascot next year! Without tongue in cheek, I am seriously happy with what we have got in her.

    Yet another night where I did not see my bed until gone midnight. It is all part of the life of a fledgling trainer where every moment brings a new adventure. After riding four lots on Friday morning I tootled back to Doncaster in my now, second home, the two box I hire from Nigel Hardy, to collect next year’s Queen Mary winner and take her to Limestone Stud where she will spend the next couple of months before being broken in.

    By the time I got back to Newmarket, realization had set in. I needed both fuel and sleep! The only problem was that my loyal head girl had left for Ireland for the weekend! Six lots later on Saturday morning it was time for me to have a little rest.

    The Sunday visit

    Sunday came and with it a visit from my parents. One knows when one has done wrong because they don’t give you a bollocking at the time, they send you a letter! The one thing about my father is that when he is angry he goes quiet. I don’t think that a word was spoken for the whole of Sunday!

    In his letter, however, his concern was more advice than a bollocking. As predicted the week had taken its toll and I had pushed my body to the brink, something that my parents did not wish to see again! It’s all well and good being champion trainer in waiting but no good being a dead one!

    The lesson has been well learnt: I owe a responsibility to all my owners to stay fit and healthy so that in turn I can make sure their steeds are at their pinnacle. It is an unfortunate fact but my middle name is not Superman, possibly Danger Mouse!

    Sammy returned first thing on Monday morning and things are back to normal.

    Cotton King was given a handicap mark of 60 — six pounds higher than I had expected. There will be other times when I clash swords with the handicapper but this will not be one of them!

    Until next week, Toby

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