Tom Symonds’ diary: praying for rain

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  • If only Wordsworth could wander as a cloud, but rather than be lonely bring all his friends. An invasion of cumulonimbus clouds is much needed. There are indeed crowds of daffodils that dance in the serene sunshine, but all this dry springtime glamour turns a trainer’s mind into a habitat of turmoil. Sometimes it seems that every effort you make to ready horses for a race could be superfluous, as the ground will ground them to a firm halt. Complaining as I am, there is nothing to be done bar hope, pray or indeed – like Phil Collins – sing for a deluge.

    No one wants to be building an Ark, but without some rain, horses won’t be loading two by two or perhaps at all. Racecourses will be under pressure to produce safe ground and I do feel for the clerks of the course and groundsmen who are working overtime to produce safe ground. We are all in the same boat – an ironic saying if there was one.

    What was up with Carole’s Spirit?

    All the runners from Dason Court last week returned in good order. Carole’s Spirit ran a very strange race at Haydock. She looked outpaced all the way and then ran on for third.

    Although a third place is not bad, it was her style of running that flummoxed me as she had shown more speed last time at Warwick. The race was run in a very fast time and I think the winner – Lord Wishes – could be very smart.

    Owner Paul Murphy suggested that she could have been backing off the first-time tongue-tie, which is a possibility. If she had won, and raced in the same way, I would have still have been questioning her performance. An odd one, but after a thorough veterinary check she seems fine, so we are none the wiser.

    Better from Ballybough Gorta

    Ballybough Gorta ran a similar race at Hereford and, although it seems strange, I wasn’t disappointed, as I think he will be more competitive in novice handicap hurdles or chases. He hails from a family that love the fast ground, as does his sire, Indian Danehill, so he may come into action as a summer jumper.

    Damn that Venetia Williams!

    I thought Thursday would bring the winning tonic that I needed, but it was not to be. Apparently everybody needs good neighbours, but surely they don’t need ones who come and beat them doing handstands. While Valmari ran a very good race at Chepstow, her jumping could have been sharper. She would also have appreciated more cut in the ground, but she was beaten by a better horse on the day, pure and simple. Her belated hurdles career has brought about a new lease of life for her and she will jump fences next season too.

    Hurricane’s run explained by pus in the foot

    Young Hurricane put in a very disappointing performance in what was a hot-looking bumper at Chepstow. He did not progress one iota from his near miss at Hereford. If he had run mid-field I would have been happier, but he is much better than he showed on this occasion, so I was delighted that Nathan Cook found an immediate problem on his return home.

    Jockey Felix de Giles had suggested that he was backing off something and that he wouldn’t let himself down to gallop. While it was alarming he returned home lame, it was because he had pus in his near-fore foot, which could definitely have contributed to his abject display.

    I did not know of this immediately after the race so was rather disconsolate. My sister Bridget suggested that a ride on the waltzers at the fairground across the rode would cheer me up, and she was dead right. Perhaps every trainer may benefit from buying such a release to overcome the disappointments that racing often deals you.

    Saturday morning saw the invasion of the “Mumbo Jumbo” syndicate. Their filly – Liqueur Rose – has returned to Dason after a mid season break and they all came to see her work. She has certainly improved since making a winning debut at Bangor in January. I will find a small bumper for her and pray for rain. However, as I explained to the sunshine-basking crew, the exciting times lie next season with her hurdles career. She is still on the weak side so this year is a bonus and she has already schooled well when with Marcus Foley last year.

    Our thoughts turn to the Flat

    The Flat season creeps up so quickly after Cheltenham, and it is odd to think that the traditional curtain raiser – the Lincoln – is upon us already. There is so much to look forward to and so many questions to be asked of many talented horses.

    I am looking forward to an early-season clash between Frankel and Strong Suit in the JLT-sponsored Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May. Frankel will then be asked to step up two furlongs to 1m2f at some point. I am sure he will stay, and the scary part is that it may even bring about some improvement.

    The Aidan O’Brien-trained Classics favourite Camelot was asked no serious questions at his recent racecourse gallop at The Curragh, but looked to have matured very well physically. He is an exciting horse with a lot of scope to stay for one who has already shown us plenty of pace.

    So You Think tries to swell his already very international bank account in the Dubai World Cup at the crescendo of the many carnivals at Meydan, while the Derby market is as unpredictable as the Triumph Hurdle market.

    One trainer who will be hoping for a better season is Sir Michael Stoute, who endured a torrid time of it last year for one who so regularly churns out quality winners. I am sure that I am joined by many in wishing Freemason Lodge a vastly improved year.

    The final word will go to Mick Channon who, as one sagacious source recently reminded me, suggested that racing is the only sport in which you have to lose before you can win. Wise words indeed, but particularly when “sola fide” (through faith alone) is often the only means by which racing folk progress, because without faith hope founders, and without hope, the means to carry on in adverse circumstances is extinguished.

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