Worth Every Mile
The week started with a decent road trip - Our homebred 3 yr old Dino Bellagio declared in the Junior Bumper in Ayr on Tuesday - his racecourse debut - and as he was the first horse we bred, and the first to reach the track - I was not going to miss it. I well remember the late Renee Robeson telling me that 'owning a winner is very special, but to have also bred that winner is something different altogether' - we headed north! To be fair - we didn't head to Ayr with any expectations of winning - it was just a case of seeing Dino make his debut, and to meet some of his owners who were at the track. Dino is the first horse that we have had with Donald McCain, and ever since he arrived Donald has been smiling - for no other reason than Dino keeps everyone entertained - he is a very happy horse, and spends his life bucking a squeeling as he goes about his morning work! He has been ridden in most of his exercise at home by Will and Charlie Maggs, two 16 yr old twin brothers, who have done a great job with him. All the way through, Donald has told me that Dino has ability, and that he doesn't lack for 'toe' - but he had not had the chance to get him away for a racecourse gallop, and he only had him just about ready to run. The original plan had been to run him in one of the new National Hunt Juvenile hurdles, but this 3 yr old only bumper was in the programme, and as there were only a handful of entries we thought it was a good opportunity to give him a nice introduction to racing - for him to learn about the job, and for us to learn about him - without 8 flights of hurdles getting in the way. Dino has schooled very well at home, and the transition to hurdles will be plain sailing when it comes. On my only other trip to Ayr I had driven up there and back in one day - a trip that Mark Hodgson and I will always remember (Mark has recently taken a share in Reflexion Faite, after a few years with no horses - and we look forward to catching up with him and the family again soon). This time I decided to break the trip up slightly, and headed up to Penrith on Monday afternoon, and overnighted in the Roundthorn Country House Hotel just outside the town. A good choice for a stopover - a lovely building and really nice people. The room was functional, clean and tidy, and was one of those rare rooms where you were supplied with an iron that reached temperatures above cold to luke warm! There was a large selection of beers - the menu was limited, but the food that I ate was excellent. Look it up if you're in the area - they do some lovely apartments, that are ideal for a longer stay. On Tuesday I made the final two and a half hour trip to Ayr - and was 20 minutes from the track when Donald called - his opening line - 'Just the one runner up there today now' - my heart missed a beat - my reply unrepeatable - Donald started to laugh - 'Sorry, I could have worded that better - the other one is a non runner - not Dino!!' And breathe! It was a beautiful day on the west coast of Scotland, and the ground was perfect. Good to catch up with Hamish and Graham who had made the trip to the track, both from Scotland - and it had even taken Hamish four and a half hours to get to the races! As this was Dino's first time at the races it is always interesting to see how he would behave, and he soon showed his hand - all his life he has had a party trick of trying to escape from a new stable - and he kept up the tradition at the racecourse - he actually had to move stables three times, until they found one he was happy to stay in! He walked round the paddock with his eyes on stalks, and was very much like a child on his first day at school. Peter Kavanagh took the ride, and he expalined that he would be getting a lead eveywhere - out of the paddock, down to the start, and through the race - as all Dino had done at home was follow horses (while bucking a squeeling)! He was no bother in the paddock, and went ot post shying at at everything on the way down. The race itself went to plan - Peter sitting fifth of the six runners and getting a lovely lead through the race. He kept off of the chewed up ground on the inside, but was forced there on the turn for home, as the outsider of the field started to drop back in his lap. As they went between horses and straightened for home, Peter said he simply came alive under him, and the pair cruised to the front, after which Dino was utterly clueless, and didn't know what to do. Peter gave him a flick, and he took off, easily holding the challenge of the eventual runner up for a cosy success! Amazement and joy! We hadn't expected that! Dino had only done 2/3 of the work that a Mccain debutant would usually have done - he had never had the usual away day gallop either, and as a result had never cantered on grass let alone galloped on it - to do this against a couple of rivals that had racecourse experience, and shown a reasonable level of form for the grade was an unbelievable start! He looks to have a very nice future, and now that he has proven that he has a decent level of ability, we will plot and plan our way through the rest of the season. Once again we will take our time with him, and there is every chance that, like Mamoon Star last season, he will remain in bumper company for the time being. I did the return trip in one go - through fog and rain - but it seemed to go very quickly - the phone constantly ringing with congratulations - home via the chippy at 9.00pm. A very special day - Mrs Robeson was right!
Rounthorn Country House - great stop over!
Dino in the paddock.
Me and Dino - 'Proud Dad' moment
Wednesday spent catching up - a very enjoyable race report to write - and several enquiries about shares in Dino - as I type I still can't believe that there is a single share left in him - what's not to like - a free lease - no capital cost, and just a £25/week all inclusive training/keep fee to get yourself a share in a bumper winner! (By Racing Post Rating, the second highest rated 3 yr old bumper horse in the country) - get in touch for the last one! firstname.lastname@example.org - 07909 518902.
Thursday was an office day - and on Friday I had intended to head down to Gary Moores to see Cloud Dancer and discuss plans for him - I had chatted to Jamie Moore on the way back from Ayr, and he had said that CD was getting back on song again after being a bit under the weather, and that he thought he could have entries in the next 10-14 days so I was looking forward to seeing him. Sadly I didn't make it - which meant that my trip to Sandownm on the way back was cancelled too. I aim to get down to Cisswood Stables early next week.
On Saturday we headed down to Ravenswell Farm to meet up with a few of the new owners of Greyval and to see her - after a brief spell with Jason Maguire - she arrived at Ravenswell Farm last Monday - and has settled in well. Yesterday her owners saw her canter on the round gallop, and then jump 9 flights of hurdles - she has taken to jumping very well - and if all goes to plan she will make her hurdling debut later this month.
Greyval on the round
Heading to the schooling strip
Greyval loves her jumping
Meeting some of her owners!
Yesterday afternoon was spent tying up lose ends with share sales, and watching some top class racing from five tracks, No ducking and diving and avoiding competition yesterday - it was a joy to see!
We have been unbelievably lucky to have our first winner with our first homebred runner, and a spin off of that success is that we are lucky enough to have his younger brothers on the team. Dino's dam, Savingforvegas has been a star - she has produced 5 bay colts from five foals, four of them for us - and the next two on the 'productuon line' are both by Blue Bresil (Constitution Hill), one of the most fashionable sires around. We retain 100% ownership of the 2 yr old - 'Frank', but took a different track with the year younger one 'Barry' who is now a yearling, who was offered in shares before he was born as one of our breeding syndicate options. I retained a number of shares in him - but now that Savingforvegas has proven herself as an above average broodmare - we will look to make his remaining shares available - it is a great family to get involved in.
A quick round up -Hidden Beauty has an entry in Leicester on Wednesday, we will look at the ground and opposition and decide wether to run or wait for a few days. Mamoon Star is in great form, he has come out of his win in Taunton in fantastic form, unbelievably he seems to be in better nick than going into it - he gave Greyval a lead over 9 hurdles yesterday and is on tick over - he will head to Kempton on Boxing Day for his next start - and if all goes well, there will have some nice entries going forward. It was good to see Blue Bikini back to form - she did two canters on the hill, with Hidden Beauty and Volkovka, with the latter pencilled in to make her chasing debut in Exeter on the 15th December. Another to head to Exeter that day will be Classic Ben who will contest the 3m handicap chase on the same card. He is in good form, and is likely to follow the same path as last season from here, with the Devon National his main target race for the season.
Up at Warren Chase stables - Tintagel Queen was due have a racecourse gallop this morning, but the ground had dried back, and Olly decided not to gallop her on that ground at this stage. She will instead head off for a gallop on woodchip in the next few days, and will be aimed at a bumper at the end of the month. She is a massive mare, and has taken a long time - to allow her to strengthen and have the maturity to do herself justice. Olly sent a video update to her owners this morning, and he is pleased with where she is at present. Auditoria will have an entry in Hereford next Saturday - the final of the mares chase series there, She has dropped a few pounds since her last start, and will get into this race off of a feather weight. She will also sport headgear for the first time. Itchy Feet is in great order and will be out again later this month - not exactly sure where yet, but it is sure to be a good race on a decent card!
At Ivy Lodge Farm, Reflexion Faite is going great guns - she is a really sweet filly and does everything very easily. She will head to Kevin Phillipart de Foy in the New Year - there are a limited number of shares left in her - no capital cost - £25/week all inc! email@example.com 07909 518902.
One other piece of news - as mentioned last week - a while ago we headed north to view a foal - but couldn't get the deal done on the day - I am thrilled to be able to let you know, that while on the long drive north at the start of the week, we managed to get that deal over the line and we have bought her. Really excitied to have her - she is a half sister to Hidden Beauty - so I am especially pleased to have her on the team - she will be coming to The Elms and be offered for sale in the future.
Next week, we hope to head down to Gary Moores early in the week - a possible trip to Leicester on Wednesday, and Cheltenham and Hereford at the weekend.
Slightly fewer miles next week! But as ever it will be fun!
Tune in next week - when there will be more ramblings -, and we may even have added another one to the squad - there is a sale in Deauville as we speak!