First Time Forever
The week started with the most moving and spectacular state occasion many have ever witnessed, the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II. If there is one thing this country does right, it is this sort of thing, and the Nation was glued to their television screens to witness the event. A clockwork display of military precision, timing, grace and decorum - made you very proud to be British.
Depsite it being a bank holiday there was a bit to be done on Monday - badges needed to be organised for the owners of Fortune Forever. Warwick, in the past have been anything but helpful - but a new season seems to have brought about a new ethos, and they were exceedingly helpful - all of the syndicate members that wished to attend were accomodated without a fuss - well done Warwick, keep it up!
So Tuesday was an exciting day - the debut of Fortune Forever in the concluding mares bumper on the Warwick card. FF was purchased at a May sale held in August (remember COVID?), in Fairyhouse last year. She is a really good looking mare - with a fine pedigree, being by Soldier Of Fortune, out of a half sister to the high class Royal Rendezvous. We were delighted to get her, and thought we may have had to pay slightly more for her than we did, so a good day all round. The whole story around her purchase revolves around Kevin Bishop, Kevin had been a huge part of The Ravenstone Partnership when it owned Molly Childers, and he stuck with her when she was retired as a broodmare. He really enjoyed racing his fillies and mares, and despite me buying and syndicating a number of horses after Mollys retirement from racing, he was adamant that he wanted to be part of a filly, and was willing to wait. He was exceedingly patient, our buying policy has always been one of patience, and waiting for the right horse at the right time, not just the first horse avaialble, and it took us many months to find the right one, but in the end we did, and that was Fortune Forever. She was broken in by Jason Maguire, and went into training with Fergal O'Brien. We had hoped to run her in the spring, but she proved to be too weak, and after being advised by Adrain Heskin, who had ridden her in a nice piece of work, to give her the summer off and return for an autumn campaign we did so. Sadly, over the course of those summer months, Kevin passed away, and he never got to see the filly, that was basically brought for him,run. His, widow Fiona and his family have decided to retain the shares that Kevin had in the horses, and although they sadly couldn't be with us on Tuesday, Kevin was certainly in the thoughts of all of us that were there to witness her debut.
Debuts are funny things, they make me very nervous. It doesn't matter what horses show you at home, unless they are very very good, or very very bad, you really don't know what to expect on their first days at the races. We new that Fortune Forever had a nice bit of ability, but Tuesday was a day of firsts for her - her first trip to the races, and being stabled at the track. Her first experience of a raceday crowd and the paddock etc, her first time even cantering on grass - she has never been away for a racecourse gallop, her first time going downhill at speed, and the first time she would ever be asked for maximum effort. If you rememebr your first day at school, or the first day in a new job, this is what it was like for her! She took it all in very well, the prelims went perfectly, she paraded calmly, only showing a glint of babyishness as Paddy was legged up on her back, and she cantered to post on an even keel. Once the tapes went up it was a bit of a different matter, the start is very close to the racecourse stables and she must have thought that this racing lark was easy, as I think she thought her job was done, and she didn't realise she had to leave the stables area again and run for a further 2 miles. She didn't know what was being asked of her and Paddy had to give her a good kick in the belly to get her to jump off. When she realised what he wanted she settled into her job, and got into a lovely rhythmn at the back of the field. Paddy will always ride debutants this way, as it teaches them all about racing, for the team at Ravenswell, bumper debuts are not all about winning, they are about education, and she certainly needed a bit of that. She was very green all the way round, and as the pace quickened at the exit to the back straight she was absolutely clueless. Things were not looking good as Paddy started to push and shove quite vigarously, with not much response, but when they straightened for home and he gave her a tap on the tail things started to change. The first reminder half woke her up, and when he gave her a second smack on the bum the penny really dropped. She realised what was required of her, and knuckled down and ran right to the line. Jumping a patch of ground adjacent to the last chase fence didn't help her cause, but she came home like a steam train to finish fourth, only 2 lengths off of second. Paddy was surprised as to how green she was, and stated that he had 'to virtually break her in on the way round' but was delighted with her finish, and felt that 'we would all see a different filly next time', and that 'she would be a lovely filly with the experience under her belt, and with a few more things in her favour.' It was a very encouraging start, her owners were all delighted with her debut, and I am sure Kevin would have been thrilled with her too!
Fortune Forever came out of her race fine, and on Wednesday she headed down to Jason Maguires for a bit of R&R. We always like to get the young horses away from the hustle and bustle of the yard after their bumpers if we feel it will benefit them, so FF headed off to Ivy Lodge Farm, to let the lessons of day 1 sink in, and for her body to recover.
Also on Wednesday I had a chat with Donald McCain and got an update on 'Dean' who continues to keep everyone entertained with his antics at home. Donald really likes him, and said 'he just makes me smile every morning.' His core fitness is now complete, and this coming week he will progress from his work on the deep sand circular gallop to the big hill gallop. Donald is very happy with him, and despite saying he must stop, he can't help but compare 'Dean' to a horse in the yard called A Different Kind - who is by the same sire, and who looks, and acts, exactly like him - let's hope the similarities continue, as A Different Kind won 5 on the spin last year, and is a horse that Donald thinks a lot of. More shares were snapped up in 'Dean' this week, and they are now getting a bit thin on the ground - they are just £25/week, inclusive of all costs, you get an owners badge every time he runs, along with 100% of the owners prize money that the syndicate receive, and there will be regular updates and stable visits. He will be ready to run in the next 4/5 weeks - so you don't even have to wait long for the fun to start. Donald recommends him! Simply email nickbrownracing@gmail for full details or give me a call or text on 07909 518902 to have a chat.
Thursday morning the Jukebox Jury 3 yr old that has been in pre training with Jason Maguire left Ivy Lodge Farm and headed to Gary Moores' Cisswood Stables in Sussex. Everything has gone to plan with him, and the couple of bits of quicker work he had done down at Tom Georges' had been very good. He has a wonderful pedigree, being by a very good sire, out of a 4 times winning full sister to a Group 1 winner on the flat - and he should give his owners, The Keysoe Partnership an awful lot of fun! He arrived with the Moores at 11.00am on Thursday morning, and had a day off in a pen to settle in.
On Friday he was ridden for the first time, and Jamie Moore rode him himself. I spoke with Jamie in the afternoon, and although Jamie is never one to get too carried away about things, he was quick to say that he was really happy with him. He had had to sit tight for the first few seconds, but after they got on the same page he had cantered him on a variety of surfaces at the yard, and in his words - 'I was very pleasantly surprised, and he gave me a great feel - I said to Houli (Jockey Niall Houlihan)- 'you know what, I think this is a really nice horse'' Great to hear - and it looks like we are in for some fun with him - He will be given a couple of weeks to settle into the Cisswood regime and then they will crack on with him - he will be aimed at junior bumpers or juvenile hurdles - wherever Gary and the team think he is best suited. Can't wait!!
More positive news on Friday - Louise got in touch to say that Savingforvegas had been scanned and was confirmed in foal to Golden Horn. I am so delighted with this covering, and can't wait to see what she delivers us in the spring - can she make it 6 from 6 bay colts?
On Saturday we all headed down to Fergal O'Briens for our Owners day there. Originally planned for the 10th of September, it had to be postponed due to a 'trainer error', but as everything transpired it would have been postponed anyway out of respect for the passing of the late Queen. So it was hastily rearranged for Saturday 24th, which meant that we were slightly down on numbers this time with around 35 folks able to change plans at late notice. They got to see three lots on the gallops, and have a good few hours wandering around the yard, seeing the horses and meeting the team.
All the horses looked fantastic - Fortune Forever even popped back to have a canter in front of them all. Mamoon Star really is a star this year - he has certainly matured and grown into the most beautiful horse. He will start his season in his fourth and final bumper next month, the timing of which will very much depend on ground. Blue Bikini is another one that has really matured this year - both physically and mentally. She is in great shape and will have entries from around October 10th, she will start over 2m4f, but is fully expected to step up in trip as the season progresses. Hidden Beauty is still a beauty. This lovely big mare is showing all the signs of being back to her brilliant best - she looks fabulous and is working great. Fergs head man Kevin still adores her, and is really happy with her. She will not be out until the mud is flying in November. Another one that will wait for soft ground is Volkovka - who will start off over hurdles before going novice chasing. Up until now she has had to go right handed and it will be interesting to see if that remains the case this time round, as a chance to go left handed would really open up the programme book for her! She is in great form! It was a fantastic morning at the yard - great to catch up with those that could make it to the rearranged date - some of whom we have not seen for a good while. The morning was once again captured on film by the amazing Debbie Burt, who got some great photos of the visit. Debbie does such a good job and is one talented lady - check out her website https://equinecreativemedia.com/
Elsewhere - Classic Ben is striding out nicely at Fences Farm - It was great to see them bag the Prelude Hurdle again in Market Rasen yesterday! Classic Ben will be out in around 4-6 weeks all being well.
It was good to catch up with Olly Murphy at Warwick on Tuesday - he is delighted with all three of the horses there. Auditoria schooled great again this past week, and will head away for an away day gallop in the next week. He is really pleased with Tintagel Queen who has all the core fitness work done, and will be stepping up soon. She is pencilled in for a racecourse gallop in mid October, along with about 25 unraced 4 yr olds at the yard, and then a plan will be put in place for her afterwards. Itchy Feet is in great order, Olly and regular pilot Izzy are so happy with him - he is a renowned odd ball, but they actually think he has started to 'grow up' a bit - Olly sent a video update to his owners in the week, and he is looking forward to getting going with him in November. He will take his new owners to some of the biggest days in the jumps calendar - should be a lot of fun! There are still just 2 shares left in him - again get in touch for the full details - racing on the big days with a 150 rated Grade 1 winner - what could be better??
Sunset Melody continues on the road back to full fitness with Jason, and Intrepide Sud is just chilling out, basking in the glory of his win and close second in the summer! He will be back in the spring!
As every week passes the team get that little bit closer to their seasonal debuts. that exciting time when we start to put a few plans in place, and target some races for the season - let the games begin!!
Have a great week- whatever you are up to - catch up next Sunday!!