Second Cold Snap
The past week saw the return of some very cold weather, and further disruption to the jumps racing calendar. With temperatures reaching -8 degrees early in the week, it is once again a huge thanks go to all the staff at all yards around the country, who already have a tough job, but during spells of cold weather have to work doubly hard to ensure that all of the horses in their care are looked after and exercised.
On Monday we were glued to the computer tracking entries for this weekend. We were paying close attention to the two big races on the Sunday of Lingfields Winter Millions weekend, as there was the possibility of entering Itchy Feet there. As the morning drew on, it was clear that entering him in either of the two races that we were looking at was going to be a waste of time, the entry fees alone would total nearly £1500, and it was looking like he was going to have it all to do to be placed in the company that was already in. I am not averse to having the odd tilt at a big pot, if on the balance of probability there is a strong chance of picking up decent prize money or even valuable black type for the fillies and mares, but there really does have to be a strong case for either scenario occurring, otherwise I feel you just make yourself look a bit silly being in races that are plainy too good for the horse you have entered. I would much rather be competitive in a more suitable race and have a chance of winning! In the end, Itchy Feet ended up having two entries, in two handicap hurdles - one in Lingfield on Friday and the other in Haydock on Saturday. Also entered for the weekend we're Volkovka in a mares handicap chase in Taunton and a last minute entry was made for Cloud Dancer when we spied that there were only 12 entered in the £40,000 bumper in Lingfield on Sunday. He also got an entry in a juvenile hurdle in Ascot. All three are in great form, Itchy Feet is half being aimed at a tilt at the Grand National, and as a result his next entrywill certainly be over hurdles, to protect his chase mark, as he will be right on the cusp of making the cut to get in the race. Volkovka schooled well on Monday morning, and we are looking forward to seeing her out again, and Cloud Dancer has done well since his debut in Cheltenham, when he would have learned so much, and he is ready to take his career on another step. The cold descended on Monday night, and who was to know that Hereford that afternoon would be the last jumps action we would see all week, As I type this at 5.45am on a Sunday morning the temperature gauge is saying it is -5 outside and there must be huge doubts about Lingfields card going ahead this afternoon
It was very cold indeed when I arrived down at Ravenswell Farm at 7.00am on Tuesday. As dawn broke the temperature hit -8 so all plans were changed. Most of the horses trotted on the round gallop - Hidden Beauty looked great, and Liam reported her to be in fine form. Mamoon Star was full of himself, and looks to be 100% over whatever was ailing him over Christmas, and it was good to see Fortune Forever out again - she looks amazing - once again a break away from the yard in mid season doing her the world of good, she is so much stronger than when she went away in November, and will be all the better for a spring campaign as a result. We are very much looking forward to seeing her out again in a couple more bumpers in the spring. Fingers crossed she can take us somewhere nice!
Later in the morning, and with the gallops at Ravenswell not looking like thawing any time soon, Fergal had arranged for half a dozen of the horses that were entered to run in the next few days to pop over to Martin Keighleys and have a spin up his gallop. Volkovka and Greyval were in the group, and both went very nicely, Liam really happy with Volkovka and Conor very impressed with Greyval - who heads to the Filly's Listed Juvenile Hurdle in Doncaster on Friday.
One of the bonuses of a gallops morning up at Martins, are the egg and bacon rolls from Kelly's on the way back - not an easy place to find - it is in a builders yard near Boughton On The Water - but well worth it - I have never had an egg and bacon roll like it - superb! No wonder the Gloucester Old Spot is a are breed if they put that much bacon in a roll down there!!
While we were up the road, Blue Bikini had a trot around the round gallop, and is very much on track for her return in a couple of weeks!
Jason Maguire rang on Monday to give an update on Reflexion Faite, our 2 yr old flat filly that is going into training with Kevin Philippart de Foy in Newmarket. He is really happy with her, and she is ready to make the trip up to begin her time in 'big school', which was originally planned for Friday, but will now happen tomorrow. With more shares taken in her this week, they are now getting very limited, so please get in touch if you would like a bit of fun through the summer. email@example.com 07909 518902. Kevin is a very good trainer, and it was good to see that he will be getting a few horses from the mighty Shadwell empire this season - he has certainly caught the eye of some very good judges and we are very happy to have our first flat horse with such a talented young trainer.
Wednesday was a quieter day - no racing again - but the team at Ravenswell did receive a couple of edible presents for their hard work! The Hidden Beauty syndicate sending in a few goodies to keep the wolf from the door as a thank you for their efforts with the big girl. As mentioned she is in great form, and will be out again in another novice hurdle in February, after which we will make a plan for her for the spring. She has been given a handicap mark of 119, which seems fair and is pretty much spot on where we expected after winning against decent open company in Doncaster.
Thursday was another quiet day - with Lingfield already lost to frost, it left Itchy with just one option in Haydock on Saturday and he was declared, although despite the clerk of the course saying publically that he was confident the meeting would be on - I don't think any of us thought we would be going! Volkovka declared in Taunton who were much more realistic, and although they escaped the worst of the cold snap earlier in the week, they were quick to abandon when the temperatures dropped Friday afternoon! Volkovka now has an entry in the valuable Mares Chase in Huntingdon on Friday, but to be fair unless the race really cuts up, there is absolutely no point going - as I said earlier, far better for her to go somewhere in her own grade and try and win a race! She already has black type, and with the recent abandonments the race is unlikely to cut up - thankfully the entry fee was not on the Lingfield scale! Another entered in Huntingdon next Friday is Itchy Feet who as expected didn't get to go to Haydock and has been popped in the Pertemps Qualifier on the card. He has other options going forward, and we will monitor ground and opposition for him.
Oh boy - no shock really - Lingfield off today!!
Friday was another glorious day, and I grabbed the chance to head over to The Elms to see the horses there. They all look fantastic and are wintering well. The Muhtathir 3 yr old is a very nice individual and we are very hopeful he will get a spot in a good sale this summer. Our hombred 3 yr old by Blue Bresil will also be aimed at a sale, but we may change that, and he could well be syndicated this summer and stay on the team - he is a lovely horse and with the family only getting better and better, he could be a good addition to the racing team. One that will definitely be running in our colours is the Jukebox Jury 3 yr old filly out of La Pelodette, already a half sister to a black type performer, she has grown into a gorgeous girl and we can't wait to crack on with her, she will be running in the autumn in junior bumpers or juvenile hurdles, and will be lots of fun for a new syndicate. Last years foals - it seems so unfair to call them yearlings this early, are all good. Floyd, the Falco out of Savingforvegas , and Finbar, Molly Childers' son by the same sire are doing great as is our latest acquisition - a gorgeous daughter of Masterstroke who is up in Cheshire, under cover, in a barn with a herd of her mates - I hope she realises how lucky she is - she could be in a cold Northamptonshire field!! Barry our Blue Bresil two year old is another who catches the eye. He is syndicate is complete - I was even persuaded to sell my share in him last week - I had hoped to retain one - but his sire is so hot at the moment, when someone asked I let him have it - we wish Craig the best of luck with him! Both Molly and Vegas look great too. Molly isn't in foal this year as she didn't have Finbar until mid may, and she would have been late in 2023, and Vegas is in foal to Golden Horn, and is booked in to him again this year.
Despite heavy snow in Cheshire on Thursday, Donald managed to get all of his horses out on Friday morning, which was good for Chris who had done a bit of a round trip and visited his horses in Ravenswell on Thursday and Bankhouse on Friday. Dino Bellagio in fine form, and he is pencilled in for an entry in Doncaster next Saturday.
With all the jumps cards abandoned on Saturday it was good to get the chance to get down to Goldington Road to see Bedford take on the Cornish Pirates in a league clash. I love an afternoon at the rugby, but sadly with the racing team getting bigger and with much more quality on the team now, it is rare that I get to see The Blues play! Great to get down there again - and good to have few beers and catch up with a few folks!
The remainder are all well - Classic Ben will return to Exeter next month, Tintagel Queen is really well, and will be out again in a mares bumper - although once again - she is a really big and weak mare that we need to mind this spring to get the best out of her. If we get it right, she will be lots of fun for her syndicate going forward - a mares bumper for her next. Auditoria is also in fine fettle and will be out again in early Feb now that she has had her flu jab.
Next week basically revolves around Doncaster - I can think of better places to be the epicentre of life for a week - but there you go! Monday we head up for the January sales - National Hunt Foals on Tuesday, and horses in training on Wednesday. Home on Thursday and then back up to sunny Donny on Friday for Greyval in the Listed juvenile hurdle, and then back to the track on Saturday to see Dino Bellagio in the bumper! Should be a fun week - you will be able to read all about it here next week.
No Lingfield to go to today and it's only 7.00am - best I find something to do - it may involve a good lunch!!