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Conservative back in training following virus – latest update from Scott Dixon

11 Aug 2023

It’s been a testing and frustrating few weeks since Conservative’s last run in late June, as the horses at our Southwell base were hit by a virus.

Just prior to us establishing for sure that we had a problem, we had a few horses that ran too bad to be true. A few others were making a noise at home, although it wasn’t like they were showing snotty noses or anything, so it wasn’t immediately obvious what the problem was.

Once we knew for sure there was a virus, in one way at least it was a relief, as we knew we could pull up stumps for a short while and let it run its course. There are treatments out there, but they’re spurious to say the least. There's a lack of data on them, as well as being prohibitively expensive, so that was never an option.

Instead we gave them, including Conservative, gentle exercise involving plenty of walking and hacking around the surrounding fields for a change of scene, as complete box rest isn’t the answer either, some mild activity is vital to aid their recovery.

Conservative has put on a bit of weight during this period. He’s always been quite a chunky, stuffy horse so it’s nothing to worry about and now we’re stepping his work back up, he’ll soon get his condition back.

This week we actually cantered him the ‘right way’ around the track. Until now we’d been sending the horses clockwise around the Southwell course, as horses know when they’re racing or not and sending them the wrong way was a way of ensuring they don’t get too buzzed up, but now we’re at the stage where we can step it up again.

We’ll do this for another week and then we can step him up again to faster work, probably with Dale Swift riding him. We’ll bring in a couple of fit horses from our Wolverhampton yard to provide a good benchmark to work him against. At that point we’ll have a good idea of how far off a run we are, but my feeling is we’re looking at the next two to three weeks when we can look for a race.

As I say it’s been a testing time for us all, but these things happen to all yards. If there is an upside, it’s that the horses are all looking great now and we’ll have a group of fresh horses to send out in the second half of the season. 

Scott Dixon, Coral Racing Club Trainer

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