We have not had a prolongued cold snap like this one for a few years - and it has played havoc with the racing programme, Even the 'All Weather' has shown that it is anything but - we won;t go into that - but just to say - that some of the temperatures that courses have tried to work through this past week have been pretty brutal., and I am not surprised that they have not been able to keep the tracks moving and raceable - that said - some of the communication from the tracks, and the amount of 'blame' being thrown about does nothing for the image of the sport. We all want racing on - but sometimes there needs to be a little more thought about the participants and a little more respect for what they are going through to get themselves and horses to the track - when there is little chance of a meeting going ahead, We have seen this with both 'all weather' and turf tracks this week - and having seen what the team at Ravenswell Farm have had to deal with these last few days, after they were snowed in last Sunday with a 'freak' snow storm that gave them an awful lot of snow, I can understand Fergals 'Crock of Shit' comment aimed at Ffos Las this week when they abandoned their meeting after claiming to be confident after their initial morning inspection - only to find that the water pipes were frozen in the stable yard - his team had worked so hard to get the horses out to the main road safely and all for nothing!
The first victim of the 'Ravenswell blizzard' was Hidden Beauty. After lots of 'will they - won't they' last Sunday morning as I wrote the weekly 'ramble' - Southwell did what seemed to be the impossible and got their meeting on, and we were all getting excited to see the big girl out again when Sally sent a video showing the amount of snow they were getting and the work they were doing to get the box out and on the road. I did tell them that it was not worth putting anyone, or the horse at risk, just to see her run - and shortly afterwards they gave best and HB was declared a non runner. Just as an example as to how isolated this snow storm was, Fergals other runner in the afternoon got to the races fine - as that travelled from Martins Hill, and got to the races without a hitch.
I don't know why we should have been surprised that Hidden Beauty couldn't get to the races after it had beaten the freeze - it is just the latest in a catalogue of bad luck that she and her syndicate have suffered. It has been some rollercoaster ride with her - firstly everyone had to be patient with her - as we felt that it was not the right thing to run her in the spring of last year as a 4 yr old as althiough she was fit and ready to run, we felt that she would benefit from a summer at grass, and so she was turned away without seeing the track - we could handle this as it was for her own good, and she had shown us what we needed to see - she had plenty of ability. She came back and made her debut last November - and who could forget her stunning demolition of a big field on debut in Ffos Las? From there it has been a little less plain sailing. Her next run was decided on, and we headed to a Listed Bumper in Market Rasen in January, only for the meeting to be abandonded as we entered the town. Those that made it to the track had a few sandwiches and a pint in the huge box that we had organised for the day before heading home. Never mind - things took an upturn when they decided switch that bumper to the trials day meeting in Cheltenham at the end of January - a great day out for the syndicate at the home of jumps racing! She went off favourite for that race, only to be pulled up at half way with what turned out to be atrial fibrillation - from a big wave of optimism, back to the bottom of our boots again! She recovered physically from the AF very quickly, but it was certain to have left a few mental scars, and that seemed to be the case when she made her next outing in Sandown in March, when she never let the rev counter get above 4000rpm. A summer off and 8 flights of hurdles was the next step, and she came back in feeling great again - her schooling was very good, and we looked to be back on track, only for her to get carried out when cantering on her hurdling debut in Uttoxeter. You couldn't make it up - Paddy was sure she would have won and won easily, - so we were pretty confident going back to the track on her last start last month, only for everything to go wrong. She did finish fourth, but we know she can do better than that, Not getting to Southwell last Sunday was just the latest 'dip' on the roller coaster ride with her - lets hope she takes us to the 'top of the hill' again soon!
Keeping the show on the road - cantering at Ravenswell - when the gallop isn't fit for use - the field it is!
Monday we woke to our own share of snow, - so spent it, like much of the rest of the week indoors, working out alternative plans for horses that we had been due to run, Olly called to say that the plan was to run Itchy Feet in the Graduation Chase in Ascot on the Saturday - which would be a perfect race for him - should it beat the freeze. Itchy is in great form, and we are all looking forward to seeing him out again.On Monday we also welcomed Roger to the NBR Family - although all the shares in Greyval were spoken for within 2 days - due to unforseen circumstances one became available on Monday - and as Roger had missed the cut initially, he didn't hesitate when I got in touch to offer him the chance of getting involved in her. On Monday evening we headed over to Cambridge to see Ricky Gervais's new show at the Corn Exchange - a pre show bite to eat in Butch Annies - our first time there - a great place for a burger or detroit pizza - no I didn't know there was such a thing! We settled for burgers and sides and they were excellent! Ricky Gervais was excellent too - for years I had not been a fan - but I am a convert, and really appreciate the intelligence that goes into his comedy - it was a very good night!
On Tuesday we finalised the deal for the remainng shares in 'Barry' our Blue Bresil yearling out of Savingforvegas. Another new face to NBR - and we wish Steve the best of luck with his long term project - Steve also took the last share in his half brother Dino Bellagio - so he has the best fo both worlds - instant fun, and lots to dream about for the future.
On Wednesday we had three declared to run in Exeter, but that meeting fell to frozen ground early. Classic Ben was due to contest the 3m handicap chase, Volkovka the mares novices chase, and Cloud Dancer was due to make his debut in the 3 yr old national hunt hurdle. All three got to stay at home. Classic Ben is in good form, and will now have entries between Christmas and the New Year - starting with the Lincolnshire National in Market Rasen on Boxing Day. The race for Volkovka was ideal to start her chasing career, and with those types of races very thin on the ground, she could now head to Wincanton on Boxing Day for another mares novices chase, but over 2m4f. Cloud Dancer will have to wait until the new year to make his racecourse debut, but is only a youngster, and time is on his side for sure.
Thursday - and Ravenswell still snow bound - they really did get it bad, but the team, like those all across racing that suffered with 'a dump of the white stuff' have done a fantastic job to keep the show on the road. Great to get a video from The Doc, of Greyval cantering in the snow - she really is a lovely filly, she has worked great since she arrived at Fergals, and is scheduled to make her UK and hurdling debut in a fillys maiden hurdle in Doncaster between Christmas and New Year. If all goes to plan she will then head back there at the end of January. As mentioned last week, we have purchased a new foal - a half sister to Hidden Beauty - and in normal circumstances she would have joined her new friends at The Elms Stud this week, but she is currently tucked up in a nice warm barn in Cheshire, and I really don't have the heart to take her out from that environment in this weather - she will stay where she is for the time being - and may even remain up there until the spring.
Greyval the 'Snow Queen'
Friday - and having lost Hereford to the frost last week, and therefore not being able to run Auditoria in their mares chase final for £35,000 we were delighted when they announced that they were putting on an extra meeting next week, and that race would feature on the card! It had looked like Audrey was going to be another one shuffled back into the Christmas to New Year period when in a concentrated spell of racing we were looking to have no less than 9 runners in 7 days - but hopefully she will now get the chance to run in what has been a bit of a target race for her.
Saturday it was great to see pics and vids of the horses at Ivy Lodge Farm - we currently have three there. Fortune Forever is on a mid winter break - lucky girl - she doesn't have to be out in the snow and ice. She is still very young and although a very close third on her second start - it was felt that she would benefit hugely from a short break, and a spell away from Ravenswell Farm to strengthen and mature as she is still very weak. She will be ridden again in the new year - and will head back to Ravenswell for a spring campaign. Intrepide Sud is also in a break, and this gorgeous bumper winner who is still only 4 and a shell of a horse will be back in the summer. Reflexion Faite our new yearling filly - is in great form, she has spent the week trotting around the arena and the grass, and is having the time of her life, Jason loves her attitude to life, and she is scheduled to head to Newmarket and the yard of Kevin Phillipart De Foy in the New Year.
Fortune Forever - excuse the photo - too bloody cold to spend time getting them to show properly!
We have given a name check to most of the team - I spoke to Donald McCain midweek and he is really happy with Dino Bellagio - he describes him as 'Fresh as Paint' and he is on course for the Listed Bumper in Cheltenham on New Years Day - he may be joined there by Itchy Feet - who didn't get to go to Ascot as it was another meeting lost to the weather. IF may have an entry in the staying handicap chase on the same car., The graduation chase in Ascot was perfect for him, and this is the second best option - but he needs to run around now as he has other targets in the New Year. Also at Ollys Tintagel Queen is very close to making her debut. TQ is a massive mare, and has taken time - but we are close now. She had been pencilled in to make her debut in a mares bumper in Uttoxeter on New Years Eve - but Olly may run her in a Newcomers Bumper in Market Rasen on Boxing Day - there could be a smaller field there, which may suit her better on debut.
Dino in his warm stable
Dino on the gallop - Fresh as Paint
Blue Bikini is also very much in form, and is getting back to full fitness after suffering with AF herself - she will be ready to run in the next few weeks, Slow ground and a staying trip to look forward to with her.
Mamoon Star has been enjoying his snow days - and is scheduled to run in a Class 2 Novices' Hurdle in Kempton on Boxing Day. With the abandonment of Ascots pre Christmas two day meeting, one of the better 2m novice hurdles - the Grade 2 Kennel Gate was lost from this years programme, and I would imagine plenty of the horses that were destined for that will line up here, and it will be a very hot heat - but Fergal has a lot of belief on MS, and believes that the stronger the pace the better for MS. He is very likely to get that! This will test him and we will know where we are with him after this for sure!
In Summary these are the plans as they stand now:
Mamoon Star - 2m Novices Hurdle - Kempton, Boxing Day
Hidden Beauthy - 2m Novices Hurdle - Wincanton, Boxing Day
Classic Ben - 3m 3f Lincolnshire National - Market Rasen, Boxing Day
Volkovka - 2m 4f Mares Novices Chase - Wincanton Boxing Day or 2m 4f Novice Chase, Leicester 28th.
Tintagel Queen - Newcomers Bumper - Market Rasen, Boxing Day or Mares Bumper, Uttoxeter New Years Eve
Greyval - 2m Fillys Maiden Juvenile Hurdle - Doncaster, 29th
Itchy Feet - 3m 2f Handicap Chase - Cheltenham. New Years Day
Dino Bellagio - Listed Bumper - Cheltenham, New Years Day
Auditoria - 3m 2f Mares Chase Final - Hereford, 21st
I will try to get an update out after Chrsitmas sometime - but sadly I won;t get away with doing it on Christmas morning!
It is going to be a great Holiday period for us - as this is the last of my ramblings before Christmas - from myself and Cheryl - we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and hope that we get to see plenty of you over the next couple of weeks.Thanks as always for your continued trust and supprt - we can't do it without you, and really appreciate you sharing your ownership and fun through NBR!