We always look forward to Ebor Week in York - a fantastic week of racing, at the best run track in the country on the edge of a simply stunning city that has just about everything! It is right up there as one of our favourite trips of the year - and this year certainly didn't disappoint.
Before we headed north - we made the early morning trip down to the Cotswolds to see the team at Ravenswell and Ivy Lodge Farms. Good to meet up with Nick down at Fergs- he was in to see his horse Blue Bikini go upsides for the first time this season. I have said it before in these weekly bulettins - BB is like a different mare this season - the management of her ulcers has resulted in a masive change in her, both physically and mentally, and Nick couldn't believe the difference. Fergal leaves no stone unturned, and after being plagued with a very nasty respiratory infection around Christmas, that she really did struggle to shake off, BB now has a change of stable - and lives in one of the yards 6 'top boxes', that are open to the elements on the top of the hill, where they get plenty of fresh air. A lot of thought even goes into which of the 6 boxes each horse goes in, and BB just loves life on the end where she can see everything going on around her! It's the little things that make the difference, and Fergal and his team are always tweaking things to get the very best out of each horse.
Blue Bikini - pleased to see Nick
Another happy BB
All of the other horses in training at Ravenswell are in great nick too - Fortune Forever is going very nicely, and went upsides Blue Bikini in her work - she should be ready for her bumper debut next month. Mamoon Star has really grown up and matured, and looks great - a starting point for him will be decided in a few weeks - he has the option of running in one more bumper, which may serve as a pipe opener for his season, or he may switch straight to hurdles. The work has already been done on that score as he schooled over every imaginable obstacle when he was broken as a two year old - so he can go down either route.
Fortune Forever (nearside) upsides Blue Bikini
After a really enjoyable few hours at Ravenswell I popped down the road to see the team at Ivy Lodge Farm. Our Jukebox Jury 2 yr old filly had left the day before and returned to The Elms. She had done really well, and her spell at 'Primary School' had gone very smoothly. Breaking and training the horses that we aim to retain for our syndicates at 2 years old is something that we started a few years ago, and the benefits are huge. We see a real difference in the horses that we get going that year earlier, to the ones that we buy unbroken at three - it makes a huge difference to their early racing careers. She will be no exception, and being a half sister to a black type hurdler already, she is one that we are really looking forward to adding to the racing squad and syndicating next year! Her departure from Jasons left four there - Hidden Beauty and Volkovka started their work at Ivy Lodge and were both cantering away. Both look in great form, and Jason is delighted with them. They were both getting a good spell of trotting in the huge new arena, before a few spins around the round gallop and once up the straight - they both moved on to Ravenswell on Thursday.
The Jukebox Jury 3 yr old that is heading to Gary Moore is also coming along really nicely, but Jason is at pains to take his time with him. He is just going through a growth spurt, and he doesn't want to ask him too many serious questions at this stage. He also needs to mature mentally, and the best thing for him is to do this in the peace and quiet of the Cotswolds before he moves camp to Cisswood. Jason still likes him a lot - and he gets better every day, but is mindful of how hard he pushes him at this stage.
Sunset Melody will be assessed by the vet in the next few days, and will hopefully get the go ahead to start work again, and Intrepide Sud is chilling out and being the laid back dude that he is. He will spell down at Jasons before returning to training in the new year. He is only a 4 yr old - with what looks like a very big future ahead of him, and patience now will be rewarded in the future for sure.
On Wednesday we headed up to York - what a horse Baaeed is - great to see him win the way he did on his first try at the trip. We stayed somewhere we have never stayed before - an apartment hotel between Bishopthorpe Road and the river, called Roomzzz - yes the spelling is correct. It is the perfect place for a racing break - the rooms are apartments with a small kitchen area, and as a result there is no bar or restaurant, but this modern hotel, has spacious clean rooms, and is a 15 minute walk from the city centre and a 30 minute walk to the racecourse, with the added bonus of a fantastic cafe up on Bishopthorpe road called Robinsons, that really do serve the best breakfasts - not a full english to be had - but a twist on all the the classics - and it really was a treat. Wednesday night we had a booking at La Vecchia Scuola in Petergate up by the Minster - a fantastic night, a bustling, busy restaurant, with great food and service, the night made all the more memorable by happening to be the 'once a month' visit of a Frank Sinatra tribute act - he was actually very good, and the more the wine went down the more we sang along!! Great fun!
Up early Thursday morning - it's not all play you know! Andy and Claire who I work with on the horsebox sales, part sponsor the big sales race on the Thursday with main sponsors Goffs UK - as part of the package they offer a free horsebox to the winning trainer of the race for next season, and we take a 'branded' box up to the track as part of the promotion. This has to be in place opposite the stands by 8.30 in the morning, so we are up and about to get it moved from the horsebox park over on stableside, to the track. After we had it parked in the exact spot required it was time for a bite of breakfast in the aforementioned Robinsons Cafe, and then a wander into town. At midday we made our way to the course, and had a wonderful afternoons racing and socialising with the Goffs UK team - thanks very much to them for their usual hospitality! Richard Hannon winning the sales race, and the box for the 2023 flat season - congratulations to him, and great to chat with him post race, it looks like we will be speaking a lot more regularly in the future. Alpanista's win in the Yorkshire Oaks a real highlight of the day! Thursday evening we ate in Tomahawk - a steak house and cocktail bar - one of our favourites in York - another fun night - no 'Frank' though! We were up early again on Friday and got the horsebox back over to stableside again, before another Robinsons breakfast. We were lucky to get another invite back to the races, and more hospitality later on in the day - but took the decision to head back home. I must be getting old and sensible! If you have never been to York, make sure you do - you will not regret it!
On Thursday evening Yauthym ran in a flat race in Leicester. She has to go right handed over hurdles and needs a sound surface, and with all of the summer jumping tracks being left handed, options for her in that sphere are limited. She had not stayed the 2m around Kempton on the flat on her penultimate start, and we had hoped that the stiff 1m4f finish at Leicester would help her run well. Dougie Costello rode, and in a race run at a fierce gallop she was the first one off the bridle and was beaten a long way from home before actually keeping on one paced at the end. She was beaten miles, and we will now have a good think about the future for her. I will be in touch with her owners next week, and we will decide what to do, but it could be that she moves on to the next phase of her career. More on that next week.
Elsewhere - as you would hope at this stage of the season all the winter horses are in good shape. Classic Ben has started cantering, and Auditoria and Tintagel Queen with Olly Murphy are both doing one and a half mile canters every day. Itchy Feet is also cantering away, and his canters will be extended on a weekly basis as he builds up to full fitness. We had been down to our last available share in him - but sadly we have been let down by a man who had reserved three shares in him - so there is still the chance to get involved in Itchy Feet, and book yourself a ticket to the best meetings throughout the winter. Sad that we were let down - we like to think that folks will come through when they give you their word that they are going to do something - but not to be - it's not the first time either - and probably won't be the last.
Up at Donald McCains - Dean is in great order - cantering away the finest - Donald really happy with him, and he is very much on course to make his debut in one on the National Hunt Juvenile hurdles in October.
Early next week will be spent in Doncaster at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale. Heading up there on Monday, returning on Wednesday evening. Later in the week I hope to get up to both Olly Murphys and Donald McCains to see the horses there.
I will be in touch with everyone during the week regarding stable visits - we are just putting the finishing touches to mornings with Fergal and Olly, and will be able to give you the dates of these in the next few days. The mornings will involve seeing your horses work on the gallops, along with a cooked breakfast, and the rest of the morning to amble round the yards at your leisure. Last year these were very well attended, and we are really looking forward to catching up with a lot of you very soon.