It seemed appropriate on a cold frosty morning with the first proper snow dusting the hills of Northern Perthshire that I made our first declaration for the winter 2010/11 National Hunt season. We run Mrs Gammell’s Isla Pearl Fisher in the 5.00pm at Carlisle tomorrow, 9 run, Paddy Aspell rides and the ground will be on the quick side of good.
It took "Surf" a while to settle in last season and we didn't really train him very hard to begin with, then the big freeze came along and his preparation was far from perfect. We concentrated on trying to understand one of the best looking but enigmatic and puzzling horses that we have had here, he was quite tricky to train last winter, he has inherited a lot of Strong Gale "quirkiness" through his dam and was highly strung both out at exercise and in his stable. For the last couple of months however he has been much more straightforward and we have been able to train him properly, he is a much better horse now in every way and he is on very good terms with himself. Whether this translates into an improved performance on the track depends entirely on how he reacts to being back at the races, he is trying three miles for the first time and if he gets buzzed up and races freely he won't stay the trip, being his first run for six months this scenario is quite likely but I have every confidence that in time he will learn to settle in his races in the way that he has at home and when that happens he might just appear quite well handicapped....