Anguish and frustration have bizarrely mixed with satisfaction for trainer Alex Hales whose recent call for a winner has so far gone unheard.
Hales has been left surveying a long list of placed runners in the past 17 days.
Despite horses rattling the crossbar with loud and regular monotony, they keep finding at least one opponent too good.
“Of course I’m pleased they are running well but it is immensely frustrating,” said Hales. “At least three of them should have won.”
No-one can doubt the Trafford Bridge inmates are in rude health so it can only be a matter of time before near misses translate into first past the post.
No fewer than nine different horses have been placed in the current amazing sequence, with Stepover and Take Two managing that dubious distinction twice. Stepover’s short head second to Generous Day at Southwell on Monday left Hales sighing: “We really should have won that.”
Hales’ agony spelled delight for county owner Richard Whitehead as Generous Day is one of the seven horses he has with Worcestershire trainer Henry Oliver. Of those, Fairy Pol, Dr Des and Diamond Rock have already been successful this term.
Stepover was repeating a bridesmaid performance over course and distance 11 days earlier and in all, Hales’ operation has now sent out nine seconds and a brace of thirds in the past 17 days.
Hales was less optimistic about victory chances before Take Two’s head defeat by Snowy Winter at Kempton on Tuesday evening in a contest where Methag also had a preparatory outing before going hurdling once more. Take Two is a better horse on turf and was 0-15 on the all weather going into the race but he came mightily close to rectifying that statistic.
Hales’ runner-up prizes have also gone to the highly regarded Duel At Dawn, Topper Thornton, Running Wolf, Crafty Roberto, Take Two and Huntsman Son, with Florrie Knox and Shinooki taking thirds.
In his attempt to break the sequence Hales sent a brace of runners to Carlisle on Sunday where on his first outing for the stables, Topper Thornton was beaten a head at 22/1 by Harry The Viking in the 3m 2f handicap chase while Indian Native was short headed into fourth at 50/1 in a 2m 4f chase.
“I was delighted with both of those. That was a great run from a cheap horse (Topper Thornton),” he said. “I was similarly pleased with Duel At Dawn on his chase debut at Chepstow last Tuesday.
“Duel At Dawn will either run at Exeter at the end of the month or at Cheltenham in December. He will stay over fences unless he tells us otherwise.”
Meanwhile, Hales was relishing the chance of sending out recent 100/1 winner Isaac Bell in a higher grade all weather race over 1m 4f back at Kempton on Wednesday while another new recruit to the yard, Tower Of Allen, is poised to make his debut in a chase for the stable at Market Rasen on Thursday or Warwick on Friday.
Owner Steve Brown, whose Lactodorum Contracts concern sponsors the Hales yard, is taking the current frustrating run in good heart and quipped: “I even backed the second in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday!” (Johannes Vermeer).
A BUMPER winner for Tyringham trainer Stuart Edmunds in the form of Kaloci was the happy outcome at Fakenham last Wednesday, the five-year-old bay mare by Stowaway rewarding jockey Ciaran Gethings, who doubles up in this case as the owner.
Kaloci is syndicated out by Nick Brown Racing but had earlier shown promise when ridden by Gethings and trained by Kevin Bishop in the west country, finishing third at Uttoxeter in June.
This seems the obvious point to declare my own Edmunds bumper share as Queenohearts was due to contest the National Hunt Flat race at Chepstow on Wednesday.
The Flemensfirth filly had swerved five entries in the last fortnight, waiting for soft ground. She was joined in the horse box to Chepstow by Now McGinty in the 2m 3 1/2f maiden hurdle.
Edmunds also has high hopes for novice hurdler Clondaw Native, third at Uttoxeter last Friday in the race won by Who’s My Jockey.
It will surprise no-one to learn fellow country trainer Hales supplied the runner-up with Huntsman Son!
Molly Childers, one of the stars of the Edmunds team, has been pencilled in for Towcester on November 30.