If it's not one thing....
What a frustrsting season this is becoming - the prolongued dry spell has meant that there has been a real scarcity of genuine juicy ground, with a number of tracks still having to water just to maintain safe jumping ground - and now we have a hard and extensive cold snap which is decimating the racing programme, I have never known a season like it - this cold snap is certainly forecast to continue for much of next week, which will put a big hole in the running plans of many on the run up to Christmas - in fact - with only 11 'racing' days left until the pre Christmas break, there is a chance that there will be very little jumps action before Boxing Day! We have been very cautious as to where and when we run our horses - as ever they come first, and we will not run them on unsuitable ground, our team this year consists of mainly young and talented horses, and we are very much mindful of taking care of them at this stage of their careers. As it happens our older horses all seem to prefer soft ground, so they have not been seen very much this term either. It has meant that we have not been running as many of them as normal - but, as I have metioned on this news page many many times in the past - patience is the key to success, and they will all get their turn when the time is right.
One that is already on the score sheet this season is Mamoon Star - 'Malcolm' has come out of his race really well, and it was good to see two horses that have finished behind him this season run so well in a decent novices hurdle in Cheltenham on Friday. As you will be aware, when we are fortunate enough to collect a trophy at the races we like to put it up for auction among the ownership group, with the proceeds of the winning bid going to the Injured Jockeys Fund - MS picked up a nice trophy and photo for his recent win in Taunton, and as I had a day in the office on Monday - what better day to start the auction process? The bidding concluded on Tuesday evening, and congratulations to Paul who had the winning bid - the trophy will change hands when I see him on Boxing Day, and the proceeds have gone to the IJF. Our last two runners have both been winners, but the trophy auction for Dino Bellagio's win in Ayr will have to wait until the New Year, as I in the excitiement of Dino winning, and being our first homebred winner from our first runner, I managed to leave the trophy at the track, and being glass, they are loathed to send it down via a courier. Donalds team will collect it when they are next at the track, and I will pick it up from there.
Also on Monday we went a long way to tie up a deal for the remaining shares in our hombred yearling 'Barry'. As mentioned last week - we would be offering the remaining shares in him after Dino Bellagio's win in Ayr, and we hope to welcome a new client to the NBR family who has agreed to take the remainng 30% of the shares in this lovely youngster. It really is a fantastic family to be getting involved in - his dam Savingforvegas has proven that she can breed winners, and his sire, Blue Bresil is one of the hottest sires in the jumps game - all in all - he has all the ingredients to be a good one!
On Tuesday morning I headed down to Gary Moore's to see Cloud Dancer, and to discuss plans withe Gary, Jamie and Josh. CD had been due to make his debut in a junior bumper in Huntigndon last month, but the rain didn't materialise and Gary was not prepared to risk him at a track where they had been having issues with the ground, preferring to wait, and run him at a track where he was certain to encounter a nice jumping surface. After that CD got a little sick, so he had a few days on the easy list, and it was good to see him back on form on Tuesday, as he worked under Nial Houlihan alongside a nice French recruit, that was due to run in Cheltenham on Friday. Everyone was happy with the work - and Gary has decided to enter him in a National Hunt Juvenile Hurdle in Exeter on Wednesday, although much of next weeks racing could be lost to the freeze. If Exeter does manage to stay raceable, which I very much doubt at this stage, CD will not be the olny runner on the card - Volkovka has an entry in the mares novices chase, and Classic Ben is due to go in the staying handicap chase, although the ground is currently only Good. Good to Soft in places on the chase track, and both of them would need it softer than that.
Cloud Dancer working nicely near side
Cloud Dancer back in his box
Elsewhere on Tuesday, it was good to get a few video clips of Greyval working up the Ravenswell hill for the first time. Her first week there had been about settling in to her new regime, and she had been kept to the round gallop, and the schooling lane. Tuesday was the first time Fergal had been able to get a handle on her fitness, and he was delighted with her, she worked very nicely under Fern - just once up the hill this time, but they were very happy with her. The plan was always to give her once up the hill on Tuesday and twice up on Friday, after which they would know exactly where they were with her.
Greyval working for the first time under Fern
Wednesday was the first of the dreaded ;Precautionary Inspections' - Hidden Beauty declared to run in Leicester. She had run alright in Uttoxeter on her last start, but Paddy felt that there was plenty that went wrong that day, from the ground to the way she raced and the way he rode her, so we were hoping to see her go well. It looked a strong maiden hurdle, and she was in against the boys which is never easy for a mare, even with their 7lb allowance. A good trip up to Leicester and good to see a few of her syndicate members there. It was bright and sunny by the time racing got underway, althought the temperature difference between the front and the rear of the stand, where it remained shaded from the sun was stark! After the first hurdle race, all of the jockeys came back in reporting that the gorund was 'tacky, dead and horrible' and Paddy was soon on the phone to Ferg to say that he felt it would be wrong to run HB on it. If you have a stable jockey with the craft and experience of Paddy, you would be utterly mad not to heed his advice, so there were no questions asked - she was a non runner. It was ok for a couple of us who had only made a short trip up the A6, but I did feel for the lads from Wales and the West, who had made the trip up to the Midlands! Rest assured we would not have seen her at her best! As I write we are all awaiting the result of the inspection in Southwell for their card this afternoon, as she has been declared to run there - although looking out of my window as dawn breaks - there has to be serious doubt that the meeting will pass the inspection.
One that fell foul of an abandonment was Auditoria - who was due to take her chance in the £35,000 series final of the Mares Handicap Chase in Hereford yesterday. This had been a bit of a plan with her, so we are very much hoping that they reschedule this race at a later date. On Wednesday Olly had sent a video of her schooling over fences and she had looked quick and sharp, and she is definitely ready to run, so hopefully they will put the race on, possibly at another ARC track in the not too distant future. If not, she will have to wait until early January.
Thursday, we stayed in the warm - and it was good to hear from Donald McCain with an update on Dino Bellagio. To say that he has come out of his race well is an understatement - he is always an exuberant and happy horse, spending most of his time squeeling and bucking in the morning, since his win, he is actually even harder to sit on! A plan was decided on last week - Dino is to head to the Listed bumper in Cheltenham on New Years Day - Donald called on Thursday to ask if I was set on that plan - as there was a National Hunt Juvenile Hurdle in Ayr that he has spotted before Christmas, and he wndered if we wanted to go back up north? His main reason for asking was that Dino had just come off of the gallop and headed past him on his way back to the yard after exercise, and in Donalds words. 'He was vertical!' When I laughed, and told him 'I was only laughing because I was miles away in my office and didn't have to ride him' he expalined that 'he was vertical on his FRONT legs!!' He is quite the character our Dino! But great to hear that he is in such rude health, and yes, the plan remains in place - he heads to Cheltenham!
On Friday we headed down to Cheltenham for the first of their two day fixture. The track survived a 10.30am inspection, and we had to gamble a bit and leave at 10,00 in the hope that it passed. All well, and despite a detour - I must really believe the Road Closed signs - I managed to get there in time for the first! It was a fun afternoon, good to catch up with a few folks, and having not made it to a sale for a few weeks, it was good to meet up with some folks after racing. We have changed our buying formula in the last couple of years, as I strongly believe that there is absolutely no value to be had at these boutique sales of predominantly Irish Point to Pointers - although I didn't inspect any of the horses on offer on Friday - the concensus of the many very good judges that I chatted to, was that they were, in the main, a moderate bunch of physical specimens, with a scattering of standout lots. Horses make way more than their true worth at these sales, and whereas in the past it was possible to unearth a bit of value in Cheltenham - I think those opportunities are very very rare now. I purchsed some lovely horses in that ring - including Maria's Benefit and Molly Childers, both for under £30,000 - but I don't see that type of value there these days, and I don't waste my time on the catalogues these days. We now prefer to mix up our buying - we try to buy a foal or two every year, along with the ones we breed, and have been active at the store sales- we also like to secure a juvenile hurdler for that bit of instant action, and for those that like to get involved with something with a little bit of form in the book. The system gives us the best chance of securing value for money, with the likes of Fortune Forever, Mamoon Star and Dino Bellagio all working out far more value than if we had waited to purchase them having shown the level of form that they have now shown.
Minus 3 when I left the sales, and I headed for the warmth of the fires at The Kilkeney. An overnight with Kev and Jules before the scheduled trip to Hereford on Saturday - as it happens - everything frosted off - not a surprise re Cheltenham - they were always going to struggle to get the covers back on after racing on Friday before the frost got at the raced on ground - Hereford had been hopeful as their covers hadn't been off, but they raised the white flag early, and it was a day off. I did set the alarm to head to Ravenswell first thing - but realised I hadn't brought my warmest coat - and -5 made me reset the alarm and spend a bit of time with Kev on his Birthday instead!
Chilly morning at the Kilkeney
Still awaiting the inspection decision from Southwell - if that is on we will head there later, picking up Tom on the way - if not, a day in the warm redrafting a few plans for some of the team and trying to find alternatives to their current schedule should it be obliterated by the weather
Ferg has just messaged to say that they have had 2 inches of snow at Ravenswell, and they may struggle to get the lorry out of the yard and onto the main road - it is looking less likely we will be out today!
Next week - Just the three entries in Exeter we have already told you about - around the rest - everyone is in good form!
Blue Bikini is going great - and is back in fine fettle, she should be ready to go again early in the new year. Up at Warren Chase - Olly is as frustrated as anyone with the weather - Tintagel Queen is in great form, and is scheduled to make her racecourse debut in Uttoxeter on New Years Eve, he is very happy with her. Itchy Feet is in great form, and after we met up at the sales on Friday evening for a chat - he may get an entry in Ascot on Saturday. another graduation chase.
At Ivy Lodge Farm - Fortune Forever is enjoying her mid season break - after her superb run in Warwick on her second start - we decided to keep her to bumpers this season - and she will have two - possibly three runs in that sphere in the spring - she can run in two more standard bumpers, but if we feel that she has earned her place in a higher grade she can possibly have a third run in one of the big mares bumpers in the spring as well - she has done nothing but improve as she has matured - and she is certainly going the right way! Intrepide Sud is really well and we are very much looking forward to getting him back to work next year! Reflexion Faite is a sweet young lady, and she is doing everything that Jason asks of her. She is doing plenty of cantering, and Jason is really bulking her up before she heads into training with Kevin Phillipart De Foy in January. We will have an owners morning at Kevins yard in Newmarket in the new year and she will be paraded for her new syndicate - if you would like to be involved in this gorgeous young filly - shares are available to lease or purchase, and the monthly costs are all inclusive - have a look at her in the FOR SALE page and get in touch - email@example.com - 07909 518902 or through our social media channels. By the way - if your niot already - give us a follow on Instagram - nickbrown.racing
Freezing Fog - Southwell evidently hopeful - fingers crossed. It's a difficult period for all, and we send our huge thanks to the staff at all the yards where our horses are stabled - who trun out morning after morning in these baltic conditions to care for the horses in their care! Thanks very much on behalf of all of our syndicate members and owners - without your dedication non of it happens!