Weblog: The wife of leading all-weather trainer Alan McCabe with her weekly diary.
Caspar's win gives us the right to dream of Classics
It's been quite a week. We've had sales, racing, winners, more sales and we're still just about upright.
On Thursday evening, Alan and Tom Malone bought a lovely Speightstown colt for the Wentworth's at the Tattersalls Craven breeze-up sale. It was a bit of a case of history repeating because at the same sale last year they bought a bonny little Dutch Art colt for the same owners, who was subsequently named Caspar Netscher.
A May foal, he wasn't the biggest horse to come back from that sale, but he could shift a bit and he became one of our first two year old runners. We ran him first time out in a maiden at Beverley the day before his actual second birthday and he won by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths.
It was fairly obvious he was above average and so his following engagements included the Youngsters Conditions Stakes at Pontefract where he finished second, then a clutch of Listed Races.
First was the Woodcote at Epsom's Derby meeting, where he nearly came a cropper leaving the stalls but still ran on to finish fourth, then came the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot when he was a game third to almost-stablemate Frederick Engels and The Rose Bowl at Newbury where he improved his placing one higher to second.
We then decided to step him up to Group 2 company as he is the kind of horse who thrives under tough conditions and loves a strong gallop and a good fight, so he went all the way to Goodwood for The Richmond Stakes where he once again finished in the money, being third behind talking horse Harbour Watch.
He seemed to be loving his racing and after each run came back stronger and brighter and so his season continued. Being a May foal, his early runs had just been a bonus and it was only as the season kicked on a bit that he really began to flourish as his physical strength caught up with those born earlier.
His final three races in Britain of his two-year-old career consisted of two Group 2 wins in the Gimcrack and The Mill Reef (he was the first horse to do the double, conceding 3lb to his rivals) and an unlucky fifth, beaten just over a length and finishing like a train after an interrupted passage, in the Group 1 Middle Park at Newmarket.
We took him to the Breeders Cup and he ran in the Juvenile Turf on horrible, tacky ground and he was the only horse in the field not running on Lasix. He pulled too hard and, combined with the ground, couldn't find enough at the business end of the race.
He came home for an enforced holiday, which he hated and was glad to get back to work in January. We entered him for the Guineas - not just the British version, but also the French, the Irish and the German, and decided that his prep would be The Greenham, but we made a contingency plan of an entry in the Craven.
As the week drew closer, we were quite sure that a run in the Greenham would be best and so he was declared, but then everything started to go against us.
The rain fell relentlessly, softening the ground to an official state of 'soft', the race was the fourth on the card on the second day of a two-day meeting, so there would be no nice virgin ground to find and two of the main protagonists withdrew, leaving an insubstantial field of only five runners.
To many, this may appear a blessing - after all, fewer horses to beat, but when you've been working hard teaching your enthusiastic horse to settle and longing for a good, true pace and plenty of cover, such a small field is exactly what you don't want.
He was largely overlooked in the preliminaries and with Richard Hannon Jr declaring pre-race that Bronterre was a very good horse who had readily acquitted himself in a Newbury Racecourse gallop against stablemate (and Craven winner) Trumpet Major who also had solid soft-ground form, even I was beginning to wonder if Caspar could do it.
All I had wanted to see was a solid effort and proof that he had trained on. To say my nerves were shredded before the race was an understatement - I don't think I have ever felt so stressed out in my life, so when he coped with all that was thrown at him, bounding through ground Shane Kelly reported afterwards that he had 'hated' and thrust his handsome little head in front, winning by a length from Boomerang Bob, I'll admit, tears were shed.
We now plan to go to the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and have had alot of support from alot of people. There are still those who will find fault with our horse and plenty of the impartial will argue the case for why he could not win.
I, however, am very partial and will keep the faith with our stocky little bay colt whose great pleasures in life are galloping, eating and lots of sleeping.
He may not win, but he might just do it. He hasn't let us down yet and, win or lose, we could never, ever be disappointed by him. When all those bidders put their hands up at this year's exceptional breeze-up sale, this was the type of horse they were hoping to find.