In only a few weeks we hope to be back on a racecourse but things never start as soon as you think.
A look at the fixture list shows there are very few good races before November (Paul Webber says we should get Key Cutter out early while there is not so much opposition) and I bet we will soon hear the reasons why it would be wise to hold back for a bit longer before we go to the starting line.
Among many plausible reasons I expect our trainers will try a few of the following: "Let's give it a couple more weeks to get the right ground", "he was going really well on the gallops until Tuesday when he might have got a bit of a leg – we'll check him out and whatever the vet says leave it until the Warwick meeting in late November" and "I've pulled her out of Haydock I don't want to destroy her confidence by starting in a hot race".
Against their better judgement most trainers do a bit of marketing by having an open day at their stables. As they describe each horse while it parades round the ring they have to spin a positive version of the truth. Wise words that won't disappoint the owner but don't hide the facts.
Here are some of the phrases to listen out for:
Reasons why last season was a touch below par –
'He's an enthusiastic four-year-old who is simply a bit too backward'
'We discovered why all was not well when he produced a dirty scope'
'With all that rain the ground went too soft on him"
'He was just too green to run last year"
'She ran at the wrong track, she is a galloping filly that found the turns too sharp'
'He found the ground too quick at Newbury'
'He got a sore shin at Doncaster'
'The owner has been very patient. He struggled with wind problems, had a leg when falling when about to win at Folkestone and then cracked a pelvis in training'
'After a promising start he went a bit backward on us'
'We had great hopes until he ripped a shoe off and gave himself no chance'
'We probably gave him one run too many'
'It jarred him up when he ran on fast ground at Cheltenham'
Very occasionally a trainer is brutally realistic – 'he promised the part, looked the part, but, sadly, never plays the part'
But the optimist can turn misfortune into good news by claiming that we are bound to do better next season –
'Given time he will come on well'
'She should make amends at Fontwell'
'We will no doubt benefit from a step up in distance'
'He is almost certainly one of those late developing horses'
When the yard has a really promising horse the trainer finds it impossible to hide his enthusiasm –
'I really feel all his troubles are behind him'
'It could be a big day in December at Haydock'
'You should be seeing a good staying chaser next year'
'He will be a very, very good hurdler over 3 miles – he is my dark horse to follow'
But most experienced trainers spice their optimism with a degree of caution –
'He was disappointing over fences at Bangor so before we see the true horse something will have to be done with his wind'
'He finished last season by winning what was probably the worst handicap hurdle ever run at Towcester'
'He won two bumpers but has hidden his ability ever since'
'He needs give in the ground so once the season is underway I expect a step up in class'
'He is full of promise but needs a bit more meat on his rear end'
Very occasionally trainers drop their guard and come up with the sort of remarks that could send you rushing to the bookies for a big ante-post punt –
'He has a great record but I still don't think we have seen the best of this horse'
It is great to know, despite all the setbacks of the previous season our trainers can be in such optimistic form. It certainly helps us owners to pay the monthly bill with confidence.
By all accounts the Alex Timpson string is looking good so I will see you all in the winners' enclosure at Cheltenham in March.