And. Away - no we didn't spend the week fishing with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse - but just imagine how much fun that would be! The lastest series is airing now - and is just the loveliest half hour of television in the week! In this instance,And. Away has a few meanings- latest bout of Covid left me last Sunday, so it meant that I could get in most of the things I had planned the week before, and all of the ones planned for this. It was also a week when plenty of the winter horses had away days - to put them spot on for the their seasonal debuts whenever the rain arrives and there is suitably soft ground.
First port of call was Ravenswell Farm on Monday morning, rain on the drive down, and it felt like the weather was finally turning - a false dawn, as the sun came out and it was a sunny, warm and breezy day. Hidden Beauty schooled first lot and was once again very good, she has always been a natural over hurdles, and we are really looking forward to seeing her make her debut over them. Fergal and the team at Ravenswell Farm take the issue of horses and gastric ulcers very seriously, and this week there was another round of gastroscopes done. Although she looks fantastic, Hidden Beauty was found to have devloped a few ulcers, and will have a course of medication to help her. Ulcers are very common, and I know several yards that have gastroscoped a few recently and been really surprised by some of the results, horses that looked great have been suffering very badly with them. Ulcers can have a significantly adverse effect on performance and well-being and I believe it is hugely important to know if horses are suffering with them or not.
Hidden Beauty schooling under Jack Hogan
Hidden Beauty after cooling off
Second lot and another to school was Volkovka - who was up over the chase fences. She too was very good, and has taken to them really well. Her schooling did make us consider a slight change of plan, which was always to start over hurdles to just get the freshness out of her as she can be a bit gassy, but she schooled so well we went back and had a look to see if there was an option to start straight over fences. Sadly there were not many suitable chases for her to begin her season with, so we will stick to the original plan and start in a handicap hurdle somewhere when it rains and the ground is suitably soft for her.
After second lot, Blue Bikini headed off for a three week break at Ivy Lodge Farm - she needs a short spell to get over the atrial fibrillation that had affected her on the previous Friday. One to make the return trip on the same lorry was Fortune Forever who had had a break after her debut run in a bumper in Warwick last month. The start of any horses career is all important, and we do like to give them plenty of time between their first few runs if we can, especially if we think they are the sort of horses that need it mentally. FF has had a few weeks of R&R - paddock, spa and water treadmill, and has now settled back into her work life at Ravenswell.
Third lot and we jumped in the cars and headed of to Martin Keighleys yard in Condicote, where Fergal was taking eight horses away in two groups of four for away day gallops. Mamoon Star was in the first group, so Ferg jumped in with me and gave me a little tour of the cotswold lanes and showed me some villages and places well off the beaten track. Paddy Brennan, Jack Hogan, Liam Harrison and Tom Broughton arrived in Fergs car shortly after us and the four went off to work. All four worked well, they were a nice bunch made up of a couple of decent handicappers and two bumper horses - there will be plenty of winners between them this season for sure and that piece of work should have put Mamoon Star spot on for his seasonal debut which is scheduled to be in the bumper in Cheltenham next Friday - but like so many others that have that meeting on the radar, he will only run if it is suitable ground. He will not go there if it is in any way on the quick side. He is another that was gastroscoped and he too was found to be suffering with gastric ulcers - not badly but enough to need a little treatment.
Mamoon Star after his work.
After we had watched the second group of four work, Fergal kindly offered to buy breakfast at the nearby Farm Shop up on the Evesham Road - sadly when we arrived we found it was shut on Mondays - another bill O'Brien has dodged! I will get him soon!
Tuesday morning, and another early alarm, as we headed up the M6 to Donald McCains to see young 'Dean' and chat through Donalds thoughts, and the plans he has for him. Always a warm welcome at Bank House, and it was good to see everyone in such good form! Dean was his usual exuberant self second lot - he really is a character, and Donald says he makes him smile every day. Dean has now progressed to work on the big hill gallop and goes well - Donald is very pleased with him and says he hopes to have him ready for the start of November - so we 'had better crack on and get him named.' At this stage he will be aimed at one of the new National Hunt Juvenile Hurdles, but could switch to a junior bumper if that's the way things fall for him. It was a chilly start to the morning, but it ended up being another dry, bright and breezy day - with little or no rain!
Dean warming up
Dean on the big hill gallop
Beautiful Bankhouse view!
Wednesday I had hoped to get out to Newmarket where the second week of their annual yearling sales were well underway with another round of very strong results. Week one, is set aside for the flagship Book 1 event, with week two consisting of three days of Book 2, Thursday and Friday set aside for Book 3, and Saturday Book 4. Strong results across the board again - turmoil with the domestic and world economies seemingly not detering purchasers. We do intend to purchase a yearling this year, and have an exciting plan that looks like being an awful lot of fun - more of that next week, and we did have a couple inspected last week, but once again the vendors valuations did not meet ours, even when they had been led out of the ring unsold. I didn't get over to Newmarket myself - my day getting tied up as we started the naming process for Dean, and also welcomed more members to NBR, we wish them all well with their new horses. Always nice to be recommended by former members!
Stuart Edmunds sent a message on Wednesday to say that Classic Ben had been another who had had an away day - as he had travelled up the road to Edgecote where he had worked. Ben, like a lot of us is getting that bit older now, and definitely like me, is just struggling to shift his summer tummy! He went well in his work, and the trip will have done him the world of good. He will be ready to run around early November, and is another that needs soft ground and a big galloping track!
Thursday morning and we headed off to Olly Murphys to see the squad there. Olly is playing the patient game and is waiting for suitably soft ground to run the bulk of his string.It is a real test of patience as a good number of them are ready to rock and roll, but news of other trainers regretting running their horses on watered ground at this time of year simply hardens the resolve not to do so. The whole string look really really well, and he looks to have a superb team to go to war with this season. There are a number of young horses in there that look to have a very bright future. Second lot we saw Tintagel Queen have a spin around the round gallop. She looks great, and although she is still a bit on the weak side, she continues to develop and everyone is really happy with her. She is still the apple of regular rider, Lewis Stones' eye, and has also been picked as a dark horse in plenty of lists in the yards 10 to Follow competition. She will head away for a racecourse gallop in the next week or so, which will put her spot on for her debut next month. But she is another that will need suitably soft ground.
Lewis and the 'love of his life' Tintagel Queen
TQ looking fantastic!
At 10.00 o'clock we all jumped in cars and headed down the road to see no less than 47 of Ollys string have an away day gallop. The first lorry load headed off ahead and the the work riders which included Sean Bowen, Adrain Heskin, Will Kennedy and Fergus Gregory were soon in the saddle and ready for work. The next few hours were spent watching horses work, emptying the local shop of sausage rolls, crisps, soft drinks and chocolate, and enjoying the sunshine. Auditoria was having her final piece of work and went very well - she worked great, and is now ready to run when the rain arrives. In addition to this away day she had also schooled over fences again earlier in the week, and was another that was so good that Olly is considering altering plans of an initial spin over hurdles and going straight over fences with her. We will see where the races fall, and where the most suitable ground is. Itchy Feet had his first trip away of the year and worked very nicely, again looking full of the class that we know he has. It was a really enjoyable day - and we got to see some lovely horses work, including a few unraced four year olds, which really took the eye!
Itchy Feet far side
Auditoria far side.
Friday was a fun day - as we headed of into London to Minster Court, for a lunch at Balls Brothers. A really good table at what are always excellent events, this one billed as the Haka Lunch with the legendary All Black skipper Sean Fitzpatrick as the guest speaker. It was one of the best I have been to (and I've done a few!) - Fitzpatrick a really interesting and entertaining speaker -giving us all insights of his youth, and his profesional career. As ever with these lunches, we do seem to drag them out a bit and the afternoon rolled on - quite literally for some of us! It was another fine day - and my head on Saturday morning would suggest I enjoyed myself!
This got messy!!
On Saturday I had planned to head down to Gary Moores to see the newly named Cloud Dancer and meet up with his owners, but having chatted with Gary earlier in the week we put that visit back a couple of weeks as the horse had got himself a bit of a cold and was on light duties only. Horses are very much like young children changing schools or heading back after the summer holidays, they are exposed to a mass of new bugs and are almost sure to catch one. He has, and is on antibiotics to clear him up. He will be fine and we are looking forward to getting everyone together in a couple of weeks. Jamie did ring in the week, and reiterated what he had said about him the last time we had spoken - he thinks he is very nice, and with all the jockeys in the yard, including Tom Quelly, who he had legged up on him the week before, all sharing his opinion we are all hopefull that this lad has a nice future.
At Ivy Lodge Farm Sunset Melody continues her work back to full fitness, and Intrepide Sud is on his break.
Next week we will be making another trip to Doncaster for their October Sale - a mixed bag selling on Wednesday - nothing there for us, horsebox duties only, and it could be a quiet day up there as the bulk of the bloodstock world will be over in Deauville for their Ocober yearling sale, which runs from Monday to Friday. The sale over there looks to be another crammed with quality, but we have a sneaking feeling that there could be some value to be had, and our man is already inspecting yearlings on the sale ground. We hope to get our names on the purchasers list, and look forward to our first proper foray into the flat. Should we be succesful, full details of the new syndicate including, horse, trainer and plans will be announced here next week. Lets hope we manage to get one this time. Also in France we are getting to that time of year when the three year olds from the flat are coming to market. As owners purchase yearlings they need to make room for them on their teams and therefore move on their older stock. We have a whole list of horses that we earmark through the French flat season as potential high class national hunt prospects should they ever appear in a claimer or in a sale, and we will also be trying to buy another one off of the flat to add to the national hunt team. We have given our man in France plenty to do - hopefully something comes off! Depending on what we can get our hands on, we may also be adding another trainer to the ranks - watch this space!
Also next week I will be popping into The Elms to see the stock there, and of course it is the first Cheltenham meeting of the year - where if the ground is suitable we may have at least one runner!
If you do nothing else this week - do a rain dance - anything that makes it rain! The neighbours already know you're mad as they hear you shouting at your television when the racing is on - so the sight of you hopping around in the back garden will only reinforce their opinions! Here's hoping for a wet week - catch up next Sunday - when hopefully we will have lots of exciting news!