Monday Morning

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Disappointing weekend on the racing front. Just one runner, Valdez, at Ayr. Five of us huddled around Racing UK, ready for splendor. Instead, it was sputter.

Well, Valdez finished second, but beaten a long way and never providing the spark he showed earlier in the season. A month after Cheltenham, perhaps, that effort still lingering. The winner, Eduard, primed for it, nice horse.

So far, eight of the nine starters in the Arkle have returned to the races. The winner Western Warhorse finished a non-threatening third at Aintree and is out with a tendon injury. Third-place Trifolium finished third behind Balder Success at Aintree. Dodging Bullets finished last of five at Aintree. Grandouet finished last at Aintree. Brick Red was turned over at Ascot. Rock On Ruby, who nearly fell at Cheltenham, returned to run a blinder over hurdles at Aintree. Ted Veale, who fell late in the Arkle, returned with tepid sixth of seven at Aintree.

Champagne Fever, second in the Arkle, is the only horse who hasn’t returned to the races. Willie Mullins waiting for Punchestown in May.

It takes me weeks to recover from Cheltenham – clothes to the cleaners, the continuous discovering of betting slips and ATM receipts, the urge to drink Guinness at 10 a.m. – perhaps it takes Valdez longer than a month. Plenty of horses from other races have returned with big efforts (Uxizandre, Whisper, Grand National winner Pineau De Re…), but Valdez looked like a spent horse at Ayr. He’ll take the summer off and hopefully return for a fall campaign. The Cheltenham hangover will have passed by then. Good season, three wins, a second and a fifth in five starts.

Couple of runners at Middleburg Saturday. A few maidens to unleash later in the spring. Eagle Poise aiming at the Elkhorn at the end of the Keeneland meet.