Unbelievable Two Days
A word of warning, this weeks dip into the world of NBR starts quite sedately, but will gather pace towards the end!!
Monday morning was spent in the office getting a few things in order before we headed up to Doncaster in the afternoon. One or two behind the scenes changes to finalise, and meetings to arrange. A good trip north, supper in Whitby Fish and Chip restaurant once again - good old faithful - never lets you down. Then on up to the Hilton for a couple of pints, where we ran into Carla, who had managed to get herself in totally the wrong place, but had she been where she was meant to be she wouldn't have witnessed one of the funniest and most spectacular 'chair stress test' failures of all time! At least there was a free pint in it! Carla was kind enough to give us a lift across town to our hotel - where we soon found out we had no rooms booked, but managed to get the last two. Unfortunately mine had the odour of a 1940's Yugoslavian mental hospital ( use your imagination) not pleasant and in the morning I packed my bags and had no intention of staying another night there. Luckily I got the last room in the Hilton!
Tuesday's sale was a full day of National Hunt weanlings and broodmares. A very tricky trade, hugely selective, and does not bode well for the National hunt breeding industry in this country. Hopefully something will turn round or it could end up going very badly wrong. It was good to see Steve who popped up for the day. Steve has a few shares with us and loves his breeding, something he would like to pursue in the future and so came to the sale, having been through the catalogue to get an idea of how the trade works and to get a feel for the industry as a whole. Steve has a master plan and we hope to go his journey with him in the future.
Tuesday night was much more pleasant, another fantastic dinner in Vivos, and then a fun night with a few of us talking (mostly) nonsense into the wee small hours!
A short session of selling on Wednesday meant we were home early, and I could get the badges sorted out for our two runners on Friday.
Thursday was office day - bills to pay, and admin to sort, along with badges for Saturdays runner. Thankfully two of the three were declared in Doncaster where Rachel and her team make life so much easier when it comes to badge allocations for big groups! With runners there on Thursday and Friday we were back up the A1 on Friday morning and booked into the Hilton again on Friday night.
Two runners on Friday, and the first up was Greyval in the £40,000 Listed Juvenile Hurdle for fillies. This is a race we always try to target and have picked up valuable black type in it with both Yauthym and Volkovka. This had been the plan with Greyval for a long time, and after finishing a close second on hurdling debut at the track last month we were looking forward to taking on the winner of that race again - with both Paddy and Fergal reasonably confident we could turn the tables. The race didn't quite go to plan, and Paddy received a 6 day ban for careless riding after a nasty looking incident approaching 2 out which resulted in two horses and jockeys on the floor- thankfully everyone got up and walked away. Greyval then hitting the front too soon again, but this time galloping right to the line for a cosy success! Great scenes in the paddock as she crossed the line - relief from me - I had talked this filly up as I really believed in her - and she had delivered! I had called Fergal on Monday and said we had better give her an entry in the Triumph Hurdle which closed that morning, as we would look a bit silly if she won and she wasn't it, so she has an entry there, but is certainly not sure to run in it, if she were to go to the Festival she may be better suited to the Mares Novices Hurdle. Nice problem to have! We were well into the celebrations when Itchy Feet arrived at the post in Huntingdon for their staying handicap hurdle, a qualifier for the Pertemps Final at the Festival. Itchy was making only his second appearance over hurdles since October 2019, and we were very keen to see him back over timber. Itchy isn't a natural over fences, but hadn't appreciated big fields either, and has been campaigned over fences to take advantage of smaller fields and the chance of bigger prize money for the places. This return to timber would see protect his handicap mark over fences and also see if he could be competitive in a strong line up of talented staying hurdlers. We knew we would know our fate after two hurdles and after jumping off upsides Itchy was in a great rhythm and had popped them both its ears pricked, he was loving it! Sean kept him wide and out on his own which he appreciated and when he quickened it off the home turn Itch soon had them all at it in behind, he galloped all the way to the line for a well deserved win. Queue scenes!! There was bedlam in the box we were in in Doncaster - Chris who also has a share in Itch was with us up in Doncaster and just looked shell shocked! Great to see Itchy in the winners enclosure again - great for Olly, he is a special horse to him and all of his team. Well done to Izzy who gets on so well with him and absolutely adores him. If the celebrations were big after Greyval, they went stratospheric after Itchy! Large rum and cokes seemed to be everywhere, and in the end I think we were the last to leave the course! But we were not pulling up - on to the bar in the Hilton where the champagne started to flow - along with a lot of other things - and then on up to Vivos where I had booked a table for 8 when I was in there on Tuesday. That became 10 and we carried on the fun into the night, even stopping off in the Earl of Doncaster for a few afters on the way home!! Our first double! What a day!
Saturday morning came around too soon along with the hangover, but boy it was worth it. Fergal on (too early) to discuss which race Volkovka would be declared in, and with that sorted we were ready for a good breakfast and another day in Donny. Dino Bellagio's turn in the concluding bumper - Brian Hughes in the saddle - which would hopefully stay in the right place this time after slipping after half a furlong in Cheltenham. Once again a big turnout of syndicate members, who enjoyed a good card before Dinos turn. Dino is a funny little horse, he is very hardy and likes nothing more than to pick a fight, he is also full of youthful exuberance and likes to express himself - a potent mix - and young Charlie Maggs who rides him every day does a fantastic job I can assure you! Dino was saddled in the stables and came straight to the paddock, he looked really well, and Brian's plan was to settle him off what looked likely to be a strong pace and do his best - this run would determine the rest of the season - either a switch to hurdles or a crack at a good bumper. Dino was keen early but Brian got him settled down the back, but just as Peter had found in Ayr, when you put him between horses he just comes alive under you and when this happened in the home straight yesterday Brian felt he couldn't disappoint him and take a pull even though he was in front a month too soon! On hitting the front Dino then proceeded to have a good look around at everything and was very very green, but that didn't stop him galloping away for an easy 8 length success. Wow! To still be so green and do that was amazing - to carry a penalty in a bumper is very tough- to do it and win like that as a 4 yr old is incredible - he's a right little horse and now heads to the Grade 2 bumper in Aintree. More celebrations - even though my orange juice was greeted with a chorus of boos! A good drive home and then a couple of hours spent replying to the messages of congratulations!
An unbelievble 2 days! Three winners, three different trainers and an awful lot of happy owners and members!
The show rolls on tomorrow - Hereford, where Volkovka makes her second start over fences, she is well and will try different tactics tomorrow. Hidden Beauty and Cloud Dancer both swerve their engagements in Ffos Las for more suitable races in the next 2 weeks. Both in great order, the extra time will do CD no harm. On Thursday Auditoria has two entries in Fakenham - we will track decs and decide which race to run in at the last minute.
Around the yards all are well, Blue Bikini will have an entry this week - it will be good to see her out again. Fortune Forever is cantering away and building back up to full fitness after a break. Mamoon Star is back in rude health and will be out again in February. The only one currently with Jason Maguire is Intrepide Sud, who was a bit of a film star this week as Jason tidied him up and popped him in the spa when the Countryfile Cameras arrived to film his stables.
On Tuesday it was fantastic to get a lovely video update from Kevin Philippart de Foy about Reflexion Faite who arrived with him on Monday. He is really happy with her and thinks that we won't have to wait long to see her on the track. More shares taken this weekend - down to the last few - don't hang about if you fancy one! email@example.com
Tintagel Queen is also in great order and will be aimed at a mares bumper in February, and Classic Ben is on track for a return to Exeter.
Just a reminder that there is one 10% share in Itchy Feet remaining - have a look on the For Sale Page - you can book your ticket to the paddock at the Cheltenham Festival! Chances like that don't happen very often.
Right I'm off for a lie down - hopefully this week continues like the last one ended!
Back next Sunday!!!