Tote Inside Track – Darren Bunyan – 2nd July 2016

Hope you’ve all had a great week.

Delighted to get our blog back on track this week. Apologies we had to take a break last week since, in addition to our normal workload, I was kept busy with our visitors for Derby weekend at the Curragh. It was fantastic to welcome all our visitors from home and abroad and while my skills on the BBQ were (justifiably!) called into question on more than one occasion I hope everyone enjoyed their time at our stables, our tours around the training grounds and 3 great days of racing at the Curragh.

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Some of our horses strolling home from work on the Curragh on Derby weekend

Our guests also had a good time on the betting front on Derby day when two horses we’ve followed in this blog did the business. None more so than Harzand who became the 18th horse to do the English-Irish Derby double. Great performance by a classy tough colt and for those who enjoy an ante post flutter I think he’s an interesting bet at the available 7/1 for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on 2nd October. They regularly have an ease in the ground in the Paris region around that time of year and that would be right up the street of this leading 3yo. One of the earliest nuggets of wisdom I remember getting as a young boy from my late Dad Arthur was that a good 3yo will generally beat the older horses in the annual clash of the generations in The Arc. 15 of the last 20 winners of The Arc have been 3yo so I think he had a good point. In the current betting on The Arc, Harzand’s main rivals are 4yo and upwards and I think a 3yo of his calibre is well equipped to beat them. This year the race will be run at picturesque Chantilly due to the ongoing redevelopment of it’s usual home at Longchamp and it is yet again sure to be one of the great spectacles of the season.

Epsom Saturday
Harzand (Pat Smullen) wins the Derby Epsom 4.6.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker

The other winner on Irish Derby day was the 2yo Medicine Jack who I thought put up a striking performance in winning The Railway Stakes. That performance saw him jump into the top 5 in Timeform’s European 2yo ratings (alongside our own Mister Trader) and is a horse who looks very progressive. It won’t be surprising to see him land another big prize before the season is over.

As we move into the second half of the year we’re getting towards what I’m expecting will be our most exciting time of the season. A little over a month ago I put a number of horses out to grass for a break. It was great this week to bring them back in to training. For the most part, they were young horses who needed a bit of time to strengthen and I’m delighted with the progress they’ve made both physically and mentally. Hopefully, our patience in giving them that time, rather than rushing them before they were ready, will be rewarded during the coming months. Our old favourite Grey Danube, who has won 7 for us, has also returned from his annual summer break looking great. I’m very much looking forward to having a full string to run for us from 4 to 5 weeks time onwards. Exciting times ahead hopefully.

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Grey Danube looking totally relaxed before returning to training after his holiday

We’ve also been making great use in recent times of the equine swimming pool next door to us at the Irish Equine Aqua Centre. Robbie Osborne and Charlie McCreevy Jnr are doing a great job there and have a fantastic range of facilities in addition to the pool. I find that swimming is great to give horses a bit of variety in their training and also for horses returning from injury. Most of them seem to love it and I’m sure it must freshen them up in the same way as a swim would for ourselves. One of our unraced and currently unnamed 2yo’s (a lovely colt by Exceed and Excel) is making quite a splash there, and the lads reckon he does faster laps than any horse they’ve ever had in the pool. While of course it doesn’t mean he’s going to gallop fast on the racecourse it’s further proof of the great athleticism he has shown to us on the gallops and it’s clearly something he’s enjoying. If he was a human we would be dreaming of a swimming gold at Rio! 🙂 When his owners are choosing a name for him they might need to consider names such as “The Baltimore Bullet” after the great Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals (18 gold) in the pool. If our lad can be that successful on the racecourse we’ll build him his own private swimming pool when he retires!

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“The Baltimore Bullet” doing his stuff!

Another horse we’ve been following in this blog (The Gurkha) looks the part in the feature race of this weekend’s racing, the Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday. While his odds might be a little prohibitive (available at even money), a short priced winner is always better than a longer priced loser as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the weekend’s card looks quite tricky to me and I don’t think I could suggest others with any degree of conviction. Maybe the Gurkha will finance a free bet on Harzand for The Arc!

Have a good weekend! You can keep up to date on our website www.darrenbunyanracing.com

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