Long Before Dawn and Extending Into Night

 By Michele MacDonald

      Every champion has a routine in life that helps them be the best at what they do.

      For Royal Delta, a big part of her daily routine revolves around eating. And she approaches her meals with the same kind of enthusiasm that she has for running.

       “She eats as much as I’ve ever seen a filly eat,” observed Leana Willaford, assistant to trainer Bill Mott who has been riding Royal Delta every day during her journey to the Middle East in search of a historic win in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-gr. I). “She’s a big girl.”

       Mylor Rider, a stable foreman for Mott who also has traveled to Dubai with Royal Delta, fixes her five meals a day, beginning long before dawn and extending into night.

       Her first meal is served at 3:30 a.m., when she gets two quarts of grain, giving her plenty of time to digest the food before beginning her training regimen around 7.


Caption: Royal Delta and Lucky Chappy working at Dubai
Photo: Michele MacDonald

       After she has finished her exercise and has been given a bath, the filly known around the barn as simply Royal, is served another two quarts around 9:15. About three hours later, Rider serves her what he calls a mid-day snack of one quart.

      The stable’s queen has some time to rest before she goes out in the late afternoon for a stroll around the stable yard. Since Willaford and Rider don’t want Royal Delta eating the grass around the barn in Dubai in fear she may have a minor reaction to any kind of unfamiliar organisms in the soil or vegetation, they place alfalfa at several points along a walking ring so that she can stop and nibble some of the legumes as she pleases.

      Once the 16.2-hand bay with a vivid white star and a sock over her left hind ankle returns to her stall, it is time for dinner, and she gets her biggest meal of each day—four quarts—at about 5 p.m. Three hours later, Rider delivers another two quarts while bidding Royal Delta goodnight.

      Both Willaford and Rider say Royal Delta likes to have her own way and is not shy about being assertive. Mott describes her as determined and willful, qualities that serve her well on the racetrack while giving her a distinctive personality.

      “She likes to pick on Mylor at times,” said Willaford with a grin.

      “She gets a little fussy,” Rider conceded, smiling. “And oh, yeah, she’ll try to bite you.  She hasn’t yet on this trip, but she has gotten me before.”

       Royal Delta is both a high energy filly and one who can be relaxed and laid back, they said. She approaches most of life with a level attitude, although she often is not keen on leaving her barn without another horse for a companion.

      Once she has the chance to look around and take in new surroundings, she has no fear and displays no skittishness. She hardly turned a hair when vanning over to the Meydan grandstand earlier in the week for a lengthy schooling session that involved walking through a long tunnel to the saddling area and then exiting through the parade ring to the racetrack, duplicating the experience she will have before the world’s richest race on March 31.

      At this point in her Dubai sojourn, Royal Delta has done everything just the way Mott, Willaford and Rider would want her to do. Her Meydan gallop on March 29, with only two days to go until she enters the starting gate with 13 of the best male runners on the globe, “looked great to me,” Mott said.

     “We wouldn’t change a thing,” he added.

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