It has all started to click into gear now. We got on the road this week, with a couple of visits to the track, a couple of yard visits, and a very exciting addition to the squad.
After a fantastic weekend in Cheltenham last weekend, we got our head down and put the mileage in this week. On Monday we headed north to see some foals. We have a great batch of youngsters at the Elms Stud but are always keen to add to their number if the right one comes along. We had a good trip up and enjoyed a lovely visit to one of the countries top National Hunt breeders and consignors. Sadly, we couldn’t get a deal done – but we are not constrained by borders and while we were driving back we did manage to land something a bit special in France. Those that have endured this blog for a while will know that I do pay close attention to the flat scene in France, with emphasis on the three year olds that have the right profile for a hurdling career in the UK. I tend to concentrate on fillys, and have sourced a number from over there over the course of the last few years. The likes of Yauthym and Volkovka have gone on to win multiple races and that ever valuable ‘Black Type’ so if a system works stick to it. As far back as April I spotted a lovely big daughter of The Grey Gatsby called Greyval win in Nantes, and put her straight in the tracker. I continued to follow her season, where she won again at the same track and put in some very nice performances, including a close second in a Class 1 event. As the summer progressed I became more and more convinced that she would make a lovely juvenile hurdler, and made enquiries to see if she could be bought privately. Sadly we didn’t get it done but the team behind her assured us that she would be on the market later in the year, and we just had to be patient. She was catalogued on the first day of the Arqana Autumn sale in Deauville on Monday, and after she passed a vet inspection we decided to make a play for her. As we drove back down the M6, we were on the phone to our man at the sales, and despite a fairly long bidding contest we managed to come out on top and get our girl. To follow a filly from her debut run of the season in April and land her for the team in November was more than we could hope for, and naturally we were absolutely delighted.More on her later.
Tuesday we headed down to the Cotswolds in driving rain, to visit Minster Stud just outside Cirencester. Minster Stud has been the home of Willy Carson since 1980, and it was super to see the great man looking so well a day before his 80th birthday. He was in top form, and is still very much hands on. Luckily the rain eased off just as we arrived, but there was certainly a lot of it, and hopes were rising that we would be getting some easier conditions on some of these courses, especially as we had a number of horses entered to run as the week progressed.
The first of those runners was Fortune Forever in the concluding mares bumper on Warwick’s Wednesday card. We were very lucky to be invited for lunch at the track, so to make sure that we got the most out of the day we headed up to Olly Murphy’s Warren Chase Stables for 7.00am to see the horses work. Tintagel Queen is in great order. Olly wants to give her a gallop on grass before her debut, and the plan is to get her down to Lambourn in the next week or so, to give her a spin on one of the turf gallops down there. After that she will be ready to run, and Olly has his eye on a mares bumper in Uttoxeter in December. Auditoria had a school, along with Itchy Feet, both of whom had entries at the end of the week.
Tintagel looking at Lewis Stones like most folks look at Lewis Stones!!
Our visit was cut short somewhat, but we managed to find a hotel for a bite of breakfast before heading over to Warwick. It was good to see so many of Fortune Forevers owners at the track – Warwick have gone from one of the worst tracks to deal with for badges to one of the best – credit where it’s due! Fortune Forever looked a picture in the paddock, she had made her debut over course and distance a couple of months previously, and as with all of our youngsters, had a good break and a spell at Ivy lodge Farm between that debut and this second start. We knew that there was lots of improvement to come from her debut, where she was as green as any horse Paddy has ridden for Fergal, and she had shown that that she had defintely come on for the initial experience in her work at home. She looked a picture in the paddock – but then again about 12 of the 18 looked like lovely fillies and mares, a big difference to the field she faced on debut. There was every chance that she would run a stone better than on debut and be beaten further – I was a bit nervous. I needn’t have been, she ran a blinder – in a race that was run at a relentless gallop she was placed in mid field and sent forward towards the end of the back straight, just as they quickened again. FF was very tough and was in between horses all the way up the home straight, just giving best in the last 100yards. This looks like a decent heat run at a relentless gallop – a bumper in which mares were actually pulled up and not completing, and Fortune Forever looks like she has lovely future. She is still very weak, so like a lot of ours she will remain in bumpers for the remainder of the season. She has returned to Ivy Lodge Farm, and will remain there until the New Year, after which she will have another run in a bumper and hopefully prove up to competing in one or two of the better races in the spring.
A lovely spot !
Fortune Forever in the parade ring
Fortiune Forever post race.
With her happy owners!
Thursday was spent in the office, but to say it was busy was an understatement. Our new girl Greyval arrived form France at 8.00am, and Jason was soon on the phone to tell me how much he liked her. She then blew his mind as he sent her round his lose school at lunchtime – she was simply amazing, taking to her new job immediately and proving to be very athletic and balanced. Jason was soon calliing again to let me know his thoughts! When I got the videos of her schooling I decided to drop them on our social media channels, and to say the response was unbelievable would be an understatement – I spent the rest of the day – until 11.00pm replying to enquiries, and by the close of play on Friday I had sold 90% of her – the final share was sold yesterday, (great to have Paul back in the 'NBR Family' - Paul enjoyed some great days out with Kikos a number of years ago, and it will be good to get racing with him again!) and we wish her new owners the best of luck with her. She really does look a bit special. She will follow a similar path to Yauthym, which should take her to some lovely meetings! I still can’t believe we have her. Her purchase and syndication has been a joint venture with Alex Fice, and he will very much be taking an active role in helping with the syndicate management. Thanks to him for his support and assistance.
New girl Greyval (Valerie) arrived from France on Thursday
Greyval - 3 hours off of the lorry, and schooling round the lose school at Ivy Lodge Farm
Friday we headed to Chepstow for Auditoria’s second start over fences. We have long felt that she would benefit from a step up in trip, but sadly the first time we tried it she capsized at the third last, and she still had not proved beyond doubt that she would settle and stay. Sean Bowen rode her, and settled her in rear, but we need not have feared, if anything she was too much behind the bridle and was a little slow and sticky at the first few. When she got into a rhythm she jumped fantastically and was gaining lengths through the air down the back straight. Sadly, she didn’t pick up as we had hoped when the pace lifted, but she did rally at the death to finish fourth. She has a plan mapped out for her and now that she has proved that she can jump very well and see out the trip she is sure to sport some headgear next time.
Plenty of owners at Chepstow - they were treated to a private box for the afternoon!
Auditoria in the paddock
Saturday we headed to Haydock to see Itchy Feet make his debut in our colours in the Grade 2 Graduation Chase. We were starting the season with a clean slate, cheekpieces off, wind op done, and new jockey. It was a good day. IF travelled and jumped as well as he has done for the last two years, and really seemed to enjoy himself. He was never going to beat the winner, but we thought it would be tight between the remainder, and so it proved, he ran really well, and would have possibly been second if he had not ‘munched’ the last and lost vital momentum. In the end he stayed on up the run in to finish a length off second place. It was good to see him run so very well over a trip that would have been fine if the ground was as soft as they made out, but was plenty sharp enough on it as it rode on the day. IF needs a stamina trip, either further, or very soft ground at that trip. His owners will have a lot of fun with him through the season! There is one share remaining in Itchy - he will go to the biggest meetings through the season - have a look at his details on the FOR SALE page and get in touch.
Itchy Feet owners in the paddock
Itchy looked a picture!
Volkovka was declared to run in Huntingdon in their mares novices chase, but sadly the ground didn’t quite come for her, and instead she heads to Exeter today, to a track that she has won on, and over hurdles. The hood is removed for the first time since her disasterous UK debut, she is in great form at home, and it will be good to see her back on the track. When we have got this run out of the way, we can then plot and plan a way forward with her.
Hidden Beauty heads to Uttoxeter this afternoon. She too is in great order, and after getting carried out on her last visit there last month, we hope to get a clear round today. Paddy was very taken with her the last day, and hopefully she can get her career back on track after her troubles last season and her unfortunate seasonal debut.
Of the others – Mamoon Star is in fine fettle and has an entry in Taunton next Thursday. Blue Bikini continues her progression back to full fitness after her enforced three-week break – she is fine and going nicely. Classic Ben is fine after his very brave run in Uttoxeter last weekend. Dino Bellagio has his first entry in a National Hunt Juvenile Hurdle in Doncaster next Friday. This may come a shade too soon, as Donald said yesterday – if he doesn’t run there, he will be making his debut within the following 10 days somewhere. Cloud Dancer did have an entry in the 3 yr old bumper in Huntingdon yesterday, but Gary just wasn’t happy with him earlier in the week and was also concerned about the state of the ground there. There is plenty of time for him, but he is a horse they like, and we are all looking forward to seeing him out.
At Jason’s, our yearling filly, Reflexion Faite is cantering away beautifully, she has the most perfect temperament and does everything right. She will head to Kevin Phillipart De Foy in the New Year. Intrepide Sud is still enjoying his holiday!
Next week we are racing with two clients’ horses in Southwell, and then we have Mamoon Star on Thursday and possibly Dino on Friday - more miles - more fun! There are a couple of shares available in Dino Bellagio – so if you would like to join us at the races next week get in touch – shares are just £25/week all inc. with no capital cost. Get in touch – 07909 518902 firstname.lastname@example.org