Good News - And Bad.
A lot can happen in a week - the last seven days have seen some big highs, and some big lows! Strap yourself in - this one takes a few twists and turns!
On Sunday we headed down to Newbury to see Cloud Dancer make his hurdling debut in the National Hunt Juvenile Hurdle on their card. As we are all aware - there has been a significant lack of rain over the whole country for the last few weeks, and a restriction on their abstraction license meant that Newbury were unable to water the track, and they were giving their ground as Good to Firm. This had led to a walk over in the first, but a quick chat with Paddy Brennan after he had won the second race on the card, confirmed what we had suspected, the ground was quick, but safe, and that February Good To Firm, was not the same as July Good to Firm. While in Haydock the day before I had chatted to plenty of trainers who had run horses at the previous meeting in Newbury where 3 track records were broken and they had all reported that their horses had come out of their races fine - and all of Gary's runners that day were also fine - so, with Cloud Dancer being a light framed sort of horse, Gary had decided that the ground was fine for him to make his first start over hurdles. His run in the Listed 4 year Old Bumper on New Years Day in Cheltenham had been full of promise - he had not been away for any sort of racecourse gallop prior to that start, and that was very evident in the run - he was very, very green, and was learning on the job all the way round. He looked as though he was going to be tailed off at the top of the hill, only for the penny to drop as they rounded the turn for home and he stayed on really well up the straight to finish seventh in the end. With that experience under his belt, and having always been a natural over hurdles, Gary decided to switch him to the National Hunt Juvenile hurdles, and crack on with him knowing that he would still be a novice next season should he be able to win one. Once again CD was showing signs of greenness in the paddock, he was having a real good look around him, but soon settled and got his mind on the job. With Jamie Moore still out of action after a horrible fall in Fontwell a couple of weeks before, super sub, Niall Houlihan stepped in for the ride, and with him came a handy 3lb claim. Niall's plan was to get a bit of cover and a nice lead over the first few flights, and then make a challenge at the top of the straight, and see where he ended up. Unlike Cheltenham, where Jamie had needed to 'wagon' him to the start - nudging and nurdling him all the way down the canter down, this time CD took a good grip of the bridle as he headed to post and obviously knew what the job was about this time - sadly for him we had thrown him a curve ball and put eight flights of hurdles in the way, and after jumping off in behind, he got a bit of a shock when he met the first one and jumped it a bit like it was on fire, giving it plenty of daylight! He had a good look at the second too, so at the third Niall drove him into the bottom of it, getting him in tight, and forcing him to give it a bit of a rub. Having got in close and hit that flight, Cloud Dancer suddenly realised there was nothing to fear from the hurdles in front of him, and after that his hurdling was foot perfect, even when a panel was knocked forward in front of him four from home, he simply picked up and jumped it. At the entrance to the straight Niall gave him a squeeze, and he picked up nicely, and was tracking the long time leader down to the last, where another great leap saw him land in front, and lengthen very takingly to the line. This was a neat performance, make no mistake. the race was not a deep one, but the manner in which he did it was very taking. The time was exactly the same as the preceeding maiden hurdle, won by another 4 yr old that had won off a mark of 81 on the flat, and who had had the benefit of a previous run over hurdles. Analysis of the two runs shows that the field in the maiden hurdle travelled at similar fractions to CD's race, were slightly ahead as they jumped the second last,but CD was quicker over the last 2 furlongs. This from a horse that was still very green, and will definitely need at least two and a half miles in the future, was a really good start. The race may have not taken much winning, but we think that CD is a really nice young horse, and there is an awful lot of improvement to come from him. He is another very exciting young horse to have on the team!
Cloud Dancer in the Paddock
Very pleased with himself!
Celebrations in the Royal Box!
It was a glorious afternoon in Newbury, warm winter sun, and lots of folks on great form. The slight downside to the afternoon was when Stuart Edmunds came over and said that Classic Ben was not too good. Ben had been down to the vets in Newbury for treatement for a small ligament strain, but had been showing signs of being a little 'bunged up' at the end of last week, something that can happen to a horse when they cease full work abruptly. The vets had looked at him and were not too concerned, but he had needed to show signs of improvement by Sunday, and so it wasn't good to hear Stuart say that although Ben was 100% comfortable, he was, at that stage showing no real signs of improvement. As I left the track, he called again with an update, and we agreed in a course of action that could undo the work that the vets had done on his suspensory, but was more likely to help his tummy. Fingers were crossed that it would work. It was good to get a video of him out in the pen eating grass in the early evening - hopefully a sign that he was getting better!
Monday morning - the news didn't get any better - Cloud Dancer was lame behind and Classic Ben was showing no signs of improvement. Gary was not sure what the problem with Cloud Dancer was,but he was pretty sore, and would wait for the vet to check him over. The vet at Fences Farm had also been in to see Classic Ben again and there was again no change in his condition. Not the news we wanted to start the week, and we were all just crossing our fingers that there would be more positive news on both as the week went on. While in the office on Monday I was tracking the entries for the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in Kempton on Saturday, and with only a handful entered, I rang Ferg and asked him to pop Greyval in as a back stop to her two entries in Huntingdon and Exeter at the end of the week, both of which could have pretty quick ground after another dry week. Greyval is a Listed winner, and originally it had been my plan to run in the Adonis to guage where we were against the best 4 yr olds in the UK, therefore determining where we aimed her in the spring. That changed when the handicapper gave her an opening mark of 117, plans were quickly altered - and although she was to go up to 120 when the weeks amendements were published on Tuseday, we still felt that the Fred Winter was very much the race for her. She needed to run once more over hurdles by Sunday to qualify, and the options in Exeter and Huntingdon were the right ones, but I was worried about their ground and with a big day of racing in Kempton, I felt that they would at least provide safe juicy ground should the others get too quick, and we felt we couldn't run her there. That decision could be made later in the week.
Tuesday came and the decision was made for us - a routine scope after work, was not satisfactory, and Greyval was ruled out of a run at any of the tracks where she was entered, and therefore, by not getting her third run over hurdles by Sunday she would also not be able to take up her planned engagement in the Fred Winter at The Cheltenham Festival - a real blow for her owners, as she would soon be over her troubles and back on song - it was just the worst timing. She did have entries in both The Triumph Hurdle and the Mares Novices' Hurdle, but would likely only be making up the numbers in those races, so a decison was made to skip the Festival and aim her at what was always her target race anyway, a handicap in Cheltenham in April. She has now switched down to Jason Maguires for a few days of R&R which will do her the world of good, and be back to Ravenswell to prep for April when the time is right! Again, the news from Fences Farm was that Classic Ben was comfortable, he was still not doing any droppings which was a big concern, and we all had our fingers crossed that he would come right. The staff at the yard were working tirelessly to keep him moving and try to get his problem to right itself. Having sold our last share in Itchy Feet last week - we even sold the trainers two shares this week! Great to welcome back a former client to the fold. Olly had retained two shares in Itchy after he had bought him last summer, but agreed to sell them to our clients when they enquired to availability. Itchy is in the finest of form, and heads to The Pertemps Final on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival. We bought him to take his owners to the biggest meetings, and he will certainly do that this spring!
Another trophy auction day on Tuesday - this time the trophy won by Dino Bellagio in Doncaster. Astonishing bidding, saw Chris come out on top with a winning bid of £520 - well done - and thanks to all of the syndicate members who took part! That is an incredible £1320 raised for the Injured Jockeys Fund from our recent trophy auctions, with a few more to come!
Dino's trophy will be heading to Chris!
Wednesday we were in the car early and headed up to Donald McCain's Bankhouse Stables to meet a couple of syndicate members, and see Dino Bellagio at work! Dino has been in great form all winter, and for a young horse he takes his racing ever so well. In fact we are not sure that he knows he has been in a race yet - despite winning a brace of bumpers, He is a very talented wee lad. After his latest win in Doncaster the plan had been to head straight to the Aintree Bumper with him,but he is in such rude health and full of himself that he could well do himself a mischief if he doesn't do something in the meantime. This led us to look at the programme book and study some race conditions. He has options, and Donald will see how he is behaving in the next week, and see which route to take with him. All roads lead to Aintree - we just have to work out how we get there!
Look at little Dino!
Watching Dino in the morning will always put a smile on anyones face, but the mood changed when I received a call from Ed Brett the Fences Farm vet - again no change with Classic Ben, and now he was just starting to show the first signs of discomfort, Ed and all the staff had done as much as he felt they possibly could, and now a decision had to be made. As I drove away from Bankhouse I had to get in touch with all of his owners, and talk them through where they were with him, and they all had to make a difficult decision. Later that day, sadly Classic Ben was put to sleep.
Ben had been on the team for nearly 6 years, I spotted him in an Irish Point to Point in the spring of 2017, but had to wait a few weeks before we could get a deal done to buy him. He was by a sire I loved in Beneficial, and after having a few good ones by him, I was looking for another. Classic Ben started life in bumpers, finishing second in a couple of decent heats before switching to hurdles and winning his first two in that sphere. He switched to fences the season after, with his biggest moment coming in February 2019 when he won the Master Chase in Sandown. A real thrill, which would actually turn out to be his last win, but he always ran his race, and never really got any help from the handicapper. Recently he had developed a real love affair with Exeter, a track that suited his running style, as he could be a lazy so and so, and didn't particularly like being forced along either, so the big galloping track suited him well. Ciaran Gethings rode him in every one of his races under rules for us, and despite not appreciating Bens somewhat lazy running style in the early days, he really got to know him well, and Ciaran was a big part of getting the very best out of him. Another run in a Devon National was not to be. Huge thanks to Stuart and all the team at Fences Farm over the years who were part of Bens life and career, particularly Bev, who rode him most days. Thanks also to the team who cared for him and looked after him in the last few days of his life, working so hard, and trying to do all they could to get him through to the other side - on behalf of his owers, The Lavendon Partnership - Thank you! And thank you Ben - you gave us some great days - sorry you didn't get to enjoy the retiremement you so richly deserved! RIP Classic Ben.
Classic Ben RIP.
Thursday and a bit of a sombre mood - The vets had been in a had a good look at Cloud Dancer, he had improved, but was still quite sore, with nothing evident on scans or xrays, the decision was made to treat it as a pelvic fracture, or a stress fracture of a tibia - the treatment for both is the same - box rest for 6 weeks and then rehab for as long as it takes. Not great news, but certainly not the end of the world. Gary and I had talked after his win on Sunday and decided that he would have just one more run this season, so in effect he will just be missing a single outing. As Gary said - 'It would have been nice to have won another one with him, but he is still a novice for next season, and we will have plenty of fun with him!'. He will head down to Jason Maguires tomorrow - the perfect place for him!
On Friday it was the turn of Fortune Forever - making her third start in the second division of their mares bumper. Her first two starts had been at the same track.She had been very green on debut - finishing fourth, after which she had been a little jarred up, so after a spell in the spa at Ivy Lodge Farm, she went back to Warwick for her second start where she ran a fantastic race to be third in a decent little heat. Being a bit weak, and still only four, we then decided to give her a mid season break and she had a good few weeks back at Ivy Lodge, not ridden, and away from the hustle and bustle of Ravenswell Farm. She returned looking much bigger and stronger and her homework had been excellent going into this race. She was the 2/1 fav, and we were hoping for a good run. She looked fantastic in the paddock as ever, and headed to post nicely, that was, until she spied the pathway across the track, spooked, slammed on the brakes and unceremoniously launched Paddy over her ears and into the turf - the dirty moo! She then cantered off to the start on her own leaving her jockey to run down after her. Soon reunited they jumped off in mid div, and everything was going to plan. Having run there twice before, we knew how the race would unfold, she would be outpaced on the crown of the bend, but dig in and stay right the way to the line. She did exactly that, but on this occasion it didn't quite work out, she was switched inside, and then out again, and when she did get into the open and got a tap on the tail she picked up well and was staying on at the death, but by this time the race was over. Not to be - she has come out of her race well and will have one more run in a bumper in about a month before a summers break. She will return over hurdles next season, but we will do our very best to get a win in a bumper first.
Not to be for Fortune Forever.
She came out of her race well!
It was a busy day for Louise at The Elms Stud on Friday as well - inspection day for the team of three year old stores heading for the sales this year. Jerry McGrath in on behalf of Goffs, and Shirley Anderson-Jolag on behalf of Tattersalls. Just a couple for us this year - our lovely Muhtathir gelding, and our homebred 3 year old by Blue Bresil out of Savingforvegas. Both well received. The Muhtahthir will certainly head to the sale we had hoped he would land in, a decsion will be made about Frank the homebred in a few weeks, with his half brother Dino Bellagio doing so well, I think we may just keep him on the team and syndicate him. Get in touch now if you are interested in a place in his syndicate - he is by Blue Bresil - the sire of Constitution Hill no less, out of a mare that won three times in a short career, and he is a half brother to a dual bumper winner, and full brother to a horse placed in a bumper from his only start. The mares progeny are bred to stay four miles, and certainly not be bumper horses, so the fact that they can do it in bumpers is a clear indication that they are very talented, and this lad would come very highly recommended. He is likely to head down to Jason in about a month, and stay there for 6 weeks to be broken in and educated, before returning to The Elms. From what they have done with him at the stud already, he has caught the eye - don't miss out - his pedigree could look very good by the middle of April! email@example.com - or 07909 518902 After racing in Warwick we headed towards home, and decided to stop off for dinner in our old home village of Stevington. The Red Lion is a bit different to the pub it was when we lived there, it had been completely renovated and we had heard good things about it from friends who still live in the village. It was a good choice, a lovely couple of courses, a nice atmosphere, and great service. A decent little stop off! The outdoor area would be great for a summers evening!
Saturday was another glorious morning - and the perfect way to start the day was our first stable visit to Egerton House Stables in Newmarket, one of two yards that Kevin Philippart de Foy has there, and where our 2 year old filly, Reflexion Faite is stabled. The Kings Yard at Egerton House, is such a beautiful yard, with a rich history. Situated just on the outskirts of the town, adjacent to The July Course, it is a lovely quiet setting with plenty of turn out paddocks for the horses there. As it is the perfect environment to house two year old fillies, Keving bases them all here and they certainly seem to appreciate life away from the hustle and bustle of town. We had a great turn out of syndicate members - who were welcomed with tea, coffee,cakes and nibbles and a warm welcome from the trainer. It was good to see some new members, and some familiar faces returning to the fold! Kevin was very generous with his time, giving us a run down of the history of the yard, and how he uses it to fit in with the running of his business and his other yard in town. He also expalined the training regime that RF is in, and how he will build her up to full match fitness, and what races he sees her running in in the summer. We got to see Refelxion Faite warm up and then do a lovely canter on the 7 furlong private woodchip gallop that he has there. She looked really happy and settled in her warm up- and was nice and willing in her canter. She has a gorgeous nature, and certainly lapped up the attention she got from her owners! Fingers crossed she will give her syndicate a lot of fun in the summer, and going forward. Another share was snapped up yesterday - we wish William the best of luck with her - if you would like to join us - be quick - and get in touch - lease and purchase options - Just £25/wk all inc!
The beautiful Kings Yard at egerton House Stables
Kevin Philippart de Foy was very generous with his time!
Syndicate members were spoilt!!
Reflexion Faite went very nicely on the 7 furlong woodchip gallop.
She enjoyed plenty of attention after her work
This lad stole the show - and the cakes!! Bruno - what a gorgeous boy!
It was great start to the day - it got better when we stopped off for a quick bit of brunch with friends on the way back, and then after seeing the bulk of the racing we headed out to watch the Wales v England match and grab a chinese takeaway - a plan hatched on the side of the gallop in the morning! A good day all round!
Tomorrow we head down to Plumpton to see if Blue Bikini can make it back to back wins in the mares handicap hurdle there. She is already a winner at the track, and is in good form after her Taunton success. I think she remains ahead of the handicapper and hopefully she can run well tomorrow. As she runs in more races she is likely to step up in trip! On Tuesday Auditoria will face a maximum of four rivals in the mares handicap chase in Leicester. She will appreciate the return to a sounder surface, and Sean Bowen, who found this race for her shortly after her last run in Fakenham takes the ride.
Elsewhere - Hidden Beauty remains on box rest at Ivy Lodge, where Intrepide Sud is still enjoying his down time. IS will return to work this summer. Volkovka is in great heart and has a couple of entries in Ludlow (preferred) and Taunton in mid week, ground permitting. Mamoon Star is fine after his third place in Sandown last week, and has been allotted an opening handicap mark of 117. He will make his handicap debut in around a month. Up at Warren Chase the wait for rain for Tintagel Queen continues - but while we do so it is good to see the form of her debut run in Market Rasen working out. The fourth from that race bolting up in a bumper at the same track this week. Her fifth on debut was a very pleasing run with the promise of more to come! There is a single share available in her - just one chance to get involved in a lovely young filly with a fantastic pedigree (by Camelot) that has already shown she has plenty of ability. In fact I have just two shares available across all of our jumps horses! We are very lucky, and really appreciate everyone that gets involved! The other share is in Auditoria - so if you fancy being in the paddock with her on Tuesday, get in touch sharpish!
Talking of being almost fully subscribed with owners and members, we will have some very exciting news in the summer! I got the wheels in motion on a new venture this week. Something a little different for us - and something we think will be very popular, not only for those with a keen interest in racing, but for anyone who is a fan of 'the horse' We think it will be the only thing of it's kind out there, and we are very much looking forward to getting it up and running. It will launch on June 1st 2023, and I hope that lots of you will take up the opportunity to get involved!
Well that was some week - hopefully next weeks bulletin will be a little less of a rollercoaster! If you made it this far - well done! If you are reading this Jeremy Clarkson - sorry for the spelling mistakes - rest assured I'm not dyslexic - just shit at spelling!!
Same place next week! Have a good one!