Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mores Wells travels well for Canadian International

Mores Wells is such a tenacious traveller, Hank Snow’s I’ve Been Everywhere, Man could be his theme song. The seven-year-old Sadler’s Wells-Endorsement horse has raced at 18 separate racetracks while having his passport stamped in Ireland, England, France, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sweden and last year he finally made it to Canada finishing second, defeated a head, in the Pattison Canadian International.

Here's looking at you, kid! Mores Wells and Julie Harrison at Woodbine

Julie Harrison, the assistant trainer to Mikel Delzangles, is responsible for helping the old pro settle in at Woodbine for his second appearance and she’s thrilled with his post-flight appearance.

“The horse has traveled for so many years now, he knows where he is and what he’s doing,” smiles Harrison.

While other horses may travel with teddy bears or bouncy balls, this horse needs no such comforts.

“He doesn’t mind not being at home,” says Harrison. “He loves travelling, so I don’t really have to worry about making him at home.”

The bay, instantly recognizable by the thick white stripe that runs the length of his snout, certainly seems to be feeling fine as he snorts, whinnies and generally makes his presence known in his temporary home on the Woodbine backstretch.

“He’s the king of the castle,” laughs Harrison. “He wants to show you who’s the man.”

Mores Wells demands to be heard

All kidding aside, travel can be a tedious thing for a horse.

“They have to travel well and not panic too much and not lose too much weight,” explains Harrison. “It’s normal that they lose some weight, but not too much. It’s important that they settle in well.”

To that end, Harrison is charged with keeping a sense of calm around his stall and a consistency to his routine upon arriving at their new destination.

“I make sure everything is calm around him,” says Harrison. “He shipped very well and is in good form.”

Harrison, endearingly polite, speaks with the goal of getting to the end her statement as efficiently as possibly.

Does he have a preference of footing?

“He prefers good ground,” comes the quick reply.

How was his last race?
“He started in the middle of the pack,” she hurries, adding, “He’s always a late finisher up the straight kicking on.”

Mores Wells on post parade at Woodbine

Mores Wells arrived at last year’s International on the back of a Group 3 win in the Stockholm International Cup - - and he was largely ignored by the betting public who let him leave the gate at odds of 20-1.

The race cavalry-charged to a thrilling conclusion with a quartet of horses vying for the wire as Joshua Tree took the spoils, a head better than Mores Wells who was a nose better than Redwood who was a half-length better than the impeded Al Khali.

And yet, despite the disappointment of that loss it was a significant campaign for Mores Wells who earned in excess of $600,000 on the season - - nearly half of his lifetime earnings.

Mores Wells, at age 7, strikes seems to have come into his own. He’s a fierce competitor at the mile and a half distance with four victories, six seconds and a third from sixteen attempts.

Mores Wells was a head from glory in last year's International

Many handicappers, myself included, theorize that Woodbine’s E.P Taylor Turf Course is well-suited to European horses. Harrison is not so sure as she considers, and then re-thinks her position.

“Yes…no…not really,” hedges Harrison. “It’s similar to some European courses but it’s flatter. When you go to Enlgand, there’s a lot of up and down. He did real well on it last year, so I’d say it suits him. It’s not too tight a track.”

More important in Harrison’s mind is the trip.

“Good pace, not too slow. And then kick on again a bit like last year,” she says.

As we complete our conversation, jockey Sebastien Maillot arrives at the barn fresh from his flight.

With Harrison as translator, the jockey speaks quietly of Mores Wells who has followed the same training program while being pointed to Sunday’s race. This year, as in 2010, he competed in the Stockholm Cup International, this time finishing second, defeated just half a length.

Mores Wells wins the 2010 Stockholm Cup International

“I was travelling in fifth position all the way around, and then up the straight he came up to the third horse and kicked on courageously,” says Maillot. “He finished very strong.”

Maillot and Mores Wells get reacquainted at Woodbine

Maillot is flexible with regard to tactics, his concern focused instead on the horse.

“It depends on the pace of the race,” starts Maillot. “But when you ask him to accelerate (with the other horses) he accelerates with them. The key is to make him feel comfortable with himself.”

In a moment that is, perhaps, lost in translation, I ask about Mores Wells best quality as a racehorse.

“When the horse feels he has enough power,” says Maillot. “That gives him the willingness to go head-and-head and fight.”

And at 15-1 on the morning line, I’m willing to open up my wallet for the horse that’s been everywhere, man, and ready to put up a fight.

Hank Snow's been nearly as many places as Mores Wells


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