Tom Symonds’ diary: a week packed with runners

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  • It’s been a busy week at Dason Court Stables and we’ve had some pleasing results.

    Wednesday: Doncaster

    Wogan showed a lot more zest on quicker ground and at his favourite venue, Doncaster. He jumped very well in first-time cheek-pieces. These enabled him to travel and concentrate better. He got tired as he hadn’t run for a bit, and ironically probably traveled a little too keenly early on.

    Thursday: Lingfield and Huntingdon

    We had three runners at Lingfield and two at Huntingdon on Thursday. It was a case of “ride as many as you can” before heading off to the races. I went to Lingfield and Elsa (aka The Glamour) drove the box and officiated at Huntingdon.

    Trojan Sun is learning to settle much better. He ran a good race as he jumped well and his wind sounded less of a problem. I am sure he will more competitive in handicaps and on better ground.

    Fleur De Vassy was disappointing as I think she likes to get her own way, which was always going to be difficult in a bigger field than at Ffos Las. In addition, she also found the ground on the tacky side.

    Mirific wants even further and very soft ground – practically unraceable would suffice.

    Meanwhile at Huntingdon Zennor’s owners, Paul Murphy and his daughter Amy, had feared that Zennor may not be getting the trip over hurdles. In her prep run over two miles at Kempton she appeared not to get home. Having never run over so far on the Flat before, it was a foray into the unknown.

    Generally, two-mile Flat performers are usually said to appreciate further over jumps, while a mile and quarter or mile and half performers are usually the speedy two mile hurdlers.

    Zennor has always showed bags of speed at home so it is not a total surprise that this is the case. It is a shame as she has a very good hurdling technique, but there are no mile and half hurdle races.

    Prince Buster pleased me more than any runner recently as he has been difficult to get right so far. I have been sure that he wants two and a half miles, but his tendency to pull too hard means that he is probably better off over two miles to begin with.

    He had put in a very bad bit of work in January and a trach wash revealed that he was full of mucus. After a period of convalescing in the field he perked up and started looking better.

    Jockey Alain Cawley dropped him right out the back and he settled beautifully. Momentarily I wondered whether he was too far out of his ground, but he ran on behind two talented performers to finish third. He also confirmed my thoughts that he would need two and half miles. I hope he stays healthy, physically and mentally, as there is no doubt that he is a talented performer with a very enthusiastic, and not to mention patient, gang behind him.

    Friday: Warwick

    Friday’s Warwick card featured the debut of Carole’s Spirit, who is the latest foal out of Carole’s Crusader. Therefore, this makes her a half-sister to Mad Max and the ultra-tough Carole’s Legacy. I saw her in the field two years ago and have been excited ever since. She wasn’t quite ready for the race but, as a qualifier for the Mares’ Bumper Final at Sandown on 10 March, I was keen to run.

    She looked outstanding, traveled well throughout the race and performed with credit in fourth place. I am as sweet on her as an individual as I am her pedigree.

    Pedigrees are something that I have always been passionate about, although I am not sure where this came from. While riding out for Venetia Williams, I can remember trying to memorise all the door names with sire, dam, date of birth and owner; perhaps it hailed from that early information sponging.

    My worst nightmare is having a thoroughbred stood in front of me and not knowing what it is by or out of. Some wise old sages would say that you train the individual horse and not the pedigree. This is, of course, very true but there is nothing more that I appreciate than a family – National Hunt or Flat – that produces good racehorses!

    A quiet Saturday

    Saturday was a quiet day as we had no runners, but I did enjoy the racing from Kempton and Newcastle, where Denis O’Regan displayed his depth of skill in the saddle aboard Portrait King to purloin the Eider Chase.

    Kempton also featured a fine effort from the Tom George trained Nacarat to win his second Racing Post Chase (I am not about to start calling it the Racing Plus Chase thank you very much).

    Richard Lee also produced another horse in Hector’s Choice to run well in a staying handicap. His team continue in good order.

    Sunday: Fontwell… and Howick

    The Sabbath included a lovely trip down to Fontwell with Duc De Regniere and Abruzzi. The results were very pleasing as Duc appeared to enjoy himself and was just headed for second place and Abruzzi ran a much better race than he did at Kempton.

    I think Duc preferred the better ground, smaller field, turning track and cheek-pieces. Sir Peter and Lady Gibbings were ecstatic that their “Darling” was reverting to his usual type. Importantly, he seems to have come out of the race in good form and I will look for his next assignment.

    I chose Fontwell for Abruzzi as they have unusually long bumpers there. A two-mile, two-furlong bumper seemed ideal for a horse who, I thought at Kempton, looked like he needed a stiffer test. His all-weather debut wasn’t ideal but it also wasn’t a waste of time as the improvement he showed at Fontwell was astonishing. He was doing his best work at the end and simply ran into a very nice horse of Nick Gifford’s. His team of owners were absolutely thrilled as he traveled impressively and shouldn’t be too long in going one better.

    Dason Court team member James Nixon had a book of three rides at the Curre and Llangibby point-to-point at Howick on Sunday and, although his finishes were more alphabetical than numerical, he and the horses enjoyed themselves and live to fight another day. He also got farther than I ever did!

    In Biblical speak the best advice could be that “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” or perhaps “gloria victis” (glory to the vanquished). These of course all come with the necessity of Sir Henry Cecil’s still-echoing advice, “Patience, patience and more patience…”

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