Calm Before The Storm

It was touch and go whether this weeks news reached you or not - we had to have a real wrestle with our conscience this morning - we either sat down at the computer and brought you all the comings and goings of the past week - or, like the whole of the football commentators and pundits on both BBC TV and Radio, we sat out a week in support of Gary Lineker, and left this a blank week in support of his right to free speech on the Beeb! If truth be known we did consider leaving this a blank week, as the last seven days have been so quiet, that we have very little news to bring you - Gary is free to his opinion - it won't change what we do! Saying that - the fact that the BBC staff have downed tools in support of Lineker could actually have ramifications for next week and the Cheltenham Festival - they always have a BBC Radio 5 Live team at the track, and cut to a few of the races during the afternoon as part of their programming - maybe not this year! I can safely say that the Radio 5 Live coverage from both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals was a godsend when I was growing a large acreage of spuds - we always started moving ground ready for planting around the start of Cheltenham, and I was not a happy bunny to be stuck in a tractor for over 12 hours a day for the thick end of 6 weeks over the two biggest spring festivals - Cornelius Lysaght, John Inverdale (before the uttered the words 'rose cxxxed glasses' live on air from Cheltenham, and then was less than complimentary about the looks of Marian Bartoli at Wimbledon) and Derek Thompson did a great job of bringing the atmosphere of the day into the tractor cab - it didn't change the fact that I was devastated not to be there, but it did at least make it bearable! Incidently - Inverdale is now on the board of Directors at Cheltenham - just shows where a potty mouth can get you! 

As mentioned the last seven days have been quiet. On Monday we entered Tintagel Queen in a mares bumper in Hereford, we have been waiting for soft ground for her - she is a big tall mare, and we have been loathed to run her on watered ground. On the day we entered her the ground in Hereford was still good to firm in places, but it looked like they were going to get a bit of everything weather wise, so it looked like the first chance she was going to get to run since her debut on Boxing Day. While we have been marking time with her and being patient, Olly has taken the opportunity to get her schooled over some poles - Laura Collet has been giving her a few sessions, and has been really pleased with her. Whether she jumps a hurdle this season or stays in bumpers and continues her education has yet to be decided, but rest assured that when she does make the switch, she is very much ready to do so. She has taken to jumping like a duck to water, and Laura has been really impressed with her - she loves it! 

Tintagel Queen popping poles with Laura Collett

Also on Monday we finally got Cloud Dancer back to Ivy Lodge Farm - it had been planned to get him back there a week before, but that trip had to be aborted. He arrived safe and sound, and will spend the next few weeks on box rest. He was found to be quite lame after his win in Newbury, but nothing has come to light, and xrays and scans have not found the cause of the problem. He has improved every day, and is very much better now, but we have decided to give him a month of box rest, followed by another round of xrays and scans, and if nothing shows up he can have a short period of rehab, before going out for a couple of months at grass. The fact that nothing has shown up, may suggest that he simply tore a muscle, but either way, he will get the best of care, and will be back next season to contest novice hurdles. Although he isn't a big horse by any means, he is still quite weak and the extra time will stand him in good stead - he looks to have a bright future. 


Cloud Dancer back with Jason Maguire

Tuesday, and the planned trip to Sandown was aborted, Mamoon Star a non runner - he is fine and will have entries in the next 7-10 days. At this stage he will be kept to right handed tracks as he has a tendency to jump that way - and as he is not short of speed, tracks like Taunton where he is already a winner, and Ludlow will suit him well.  

This past week we have not ventured far at all - we have been mainly in the office. On Tuesday we did more work on the new venture that will launch in the summer. The process of setting things up with the BHA and Weatherbys has always been a convoluted business - it was simplified to some extent when they moved the process on line - and it is indeed easier to get new ownerships registered, and the framework in place very quickly - the remainder of the process has actaully become more time consuming and detailed, and does really get you tearing your hair out at times - I am still waiting for a response from a conversation I had with Weatherbys Bank two weeks ago! I think they may be getting a 'gentle'  nudge tomorrow! The new venture itself is a very simple model - and will offer something a little different for not only racing fans, but all of those interested in all the facets of the Bloodstock Industry, and indeed the equine world at large. It will be unique, and as ever, will be a way for everyone to get even closer to our great sport, and open up a wealth of opportunities to those that wish to see and learn more about the racehorse, and the people that take care of them. 

On Wednesday we decided to enter Tintagel Queen in a mares bumper in Sedgefield. The first option was to run in Hereford on Saturday, but with the snow forecast, we decided to pop her in at Sedgefield as well - as it has been a long wait for genuine rain softened ground for her, we were in no mood to miss any chance of giving her a run, which meant that she had also been entered in the Mares Listed bumper in Sandown, but that would only come into play if all of the other options were removed. We would look at the opposition, and ground nearer the day. 

Whilst in the office this week - we did manage to get the trophies out to the auction winners - sadly that did not go entirely well - and despite our best efforts they arrived in less than good shape - another case of lesson learned - we will put it right, and all the auctiion winners will get what they so generously paid for. On a positive note - our trophy auctions have now raised £1340 for the Injured Jockeys Fund - and we received this letter after we sent them the initial cheque for £800 ahead of the latest round. 

As the week wore on the weather took a bit of a turn for the worse - the forecast snow arrived, along with sleet and rain - the good to firm parts of Hereford Racecourse were replaced with snow and frozen ground. On Thursday, with snow still covering the track we decided to declare Tintagel Queen in Hereford. It was the right race for her, at this stage - we feel that she will be seen at her best on a bigger track, which is why she got an entry in Sandown, but that looked like a hot heat as expected with the majority of the field looking like they would be standing their ground, so we decided on the calmer waters of Hereford. In the end it was all irrelevant anyway, as Hereford would fail an inspection on Saturday morning, and we would not have run her on ground that Jamie Moore described as 'unraceable in places' in Sandown - although he did go on to ride a treble on their Saturday card - he really is very very good around there! So Sedgefield it is - the right race in terms of opposition - but not a track that we feel will suit a big tall girl like TQ - but she is ready to run - and we look forward to seeing her out again - it will be another step on the ladder for her, and given a nice clean race - she should come out of it with more experience, and we will learn a little more about her. 

With Cheltenham next week - a few hardy souls are making their way down to the Cotswolds this weekend - including the men form Norfolk - who obviously can't get enough fun crammed into four days - they have to have six! Johnny and James have shares in Intrepide Sud, and they are popping into Ivy Lodge Farm this afternoon to see their boy. For those that would rather stay at home - make sure you watch Countryfile this evening, as Jason, Lauren and the team at Ivy Lodge Farm feature in a piece that was filmed a few weeks ago. You may even get to see 'Sud'! We can't speak highly enough about Jason and the team down there - giving young horses the best start to their careers is vitaly important - and at Ivy Lodge Farm they really do get the best start - they are broken in properly - a full six weeks education - and they learn all the aspects of life as a budding racehorse. Jason takes his time with them, and the results that we have seen since we started sending him our youngsters has been phenominal - they are all able to be trained straight away, and run such good races on their early starts - they leave Ivy Lodge Farm with such a good education that they have great minds and are able to cope with the mental rigours of being a racehorse as much as the physical strain. Those we have sourced off the flat from France have all been taught to jump properly, and had the time taken to install the knowledge and technique into them. Three of them have gone on to gain valuable black type within their first few runs! In a couple of weeks we will be sending him another bunch - some to break in and start on the path to the racecourse, and others to build on what they learned last year as two year olds when they were broken in. Those being broken in for the first time will spend 6 weeks there - those that were broken last year, and are doing 'secondary school' this year, will spend 8 weeks there and will have a couple of 'away days' at a gallop to stride on upsides before they return to The Elms for a break - those horses will be syndicated in the summer when they head into training - with the aim of following in the footsteps of Cloud Dancer and Dino Bellagio and running in junior bumpers and National Hunt Juvenile hurdles throughout next season!  

Around the rest of the team: At Ravenswell - Fortune Forever is well, and will have one more run in a bumper this season. Her work has been really good at home, and hopefully she can get her head in front on her fourth and final start in bumpers this season. She is another that went through the Ivy Lodge Farm academy, and has already schooled over hurdles, so we are very much looking forward to her starting out in that sphere next season. Blue Bikini is well after her poor run in Plumpton a couple of weeks ago - we believe we know the reason for that - and she will have entries around the end of the month. It was great to see her regular pilot, Connor Brace bag a big race win on Crambo in Sandown on Saturday - he is a good lad and is riding well. Greyval is back from a short break at Ivy Lodge Farm and going nicely. Sadly she misses the Festival next week, but will have one prep run later this month, ahead of a trip to Cheltenham next month. Volkovka has come out of her race in Ludlow last week on good terms with herself, and will have another run or possibly two this season. Hopefully she will get the soft ground that she needs! 

Blue Bikini - really does benefit from being stabled in the top boxes. 

Blue Bikini returning from work

At Warren Chase Stables, Olly has them all in good heart - we have talked about Tintagel Queen - Itchy Feet is really well, and heads to The Pertemps Final in Cheltenham next week in great order, and with a small each way chance. He loves being back over hurdles, and has not been overly punished by the handicapper for winning in Huntingdon and finishing second in a Grade 2 last time out, but he is a horse that will possibly not appreciate the big field at the Festival, but if he does, he could just be staying on up the hill and run into a place! We are all looking forward to seeing him there! Auditoria is fine after her run in Leicester - she has again been dropped by the handicapper who is doing his best to help get her head in front! She will be out again later this month in another low grade mares chase, and hopefully she can get her head in front this time! 

Hidden Beauty is another that has been on box rest at Ivy Lodge Farm for a few weeks after fracturing her pelvis shortly after running second in Taunton. Her six weeks will be up very soon and the vet will be in to rescan her, and prescribe her rehabilitation plan. She will be back next season! 

Up at Donald McCains - Dino Bellagio is still in rude health - he is never any different - full of youthful exuberance. He is on track to run in the Grade 2 Bumper in Aintree at the Grand National Meeting, and we are all looking forward to seeing him out again. A quieter week in the office this week meant that I was able to start the process of sorting badges for his big group of owners - it's a long way off - but nothing like being ahead of the game! It was also good to see the form of Dino's last run franked, and franked in some style this week, when Go West, who was a well beaten 8 lengths behind Dino in Doncaster, won very easily in Wincanton, in a race that has been won by some really nice horses in the past. After that race I had a quick glance, and I think I am right in saying that Timeform have Dino Bellagio has the highest rated 4 yr old bumper performer in Britain - although it was only a quick glance! Either way - we know what he has shown us on the track, and we know what he does at home, and we are understandably very excited by him! 

Over in the gorgeous surroundings of The Kings Yard at Egerton House Stables in Newmarket, Reflexion Faite continues on her path to the track. Her work is being stepped up gradually every week, and Kevin is very happy with her - she will be aimed at a debut around the start of May - which will soon be with us! 

Cheltenham next week - a great four days - really looking forward to it - hopefully Honeysuckle can have one last hurragh and raise the roof! I think there are a few worthy favourites that will be hard to beat - and one odds on bet that won't lose is that I will have far to much Guiness over the course of the four days! 

Hope to catch up with you if you are there, I have a few meetings planned before racing on most days, but if I can catch up with you and give you the chance to buy me a pint - I most certainly will! 

Enjoy - next weeks update will be brought to you by Resolve!! 

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