The Young And The Old
Old and new, they all come alike in this weeks ramblings! It has been a busy week – with five runners across the country. One went annoyingly wrong, but all in all it has been a good seven days!
Monday could have been better – it didn’t start well, when, mid morning, Fergal sent a video of a very lame Greyval. She was very sore behind, and the vet would later diagnose a torn muscle. By Thursday she was much better, but there is still no definite timeline on her recovery. The good news is that it is nothing major, and hopefully she can resume light exercise sooner rather than later. After we had sucked up that bombshell we prepared for the short trip to Leicester. Leicester Racecourse is actually a nice little track, but for some reason it is never very well attended (not when I have been there at least), and never has much of an atmosphere – so it is not a track I really look forward to going to. Monday was slightly different, I was actually looking forward to the trip, as I felt that Auditoria had a very good chance of going close in the 3m novice handicap chase. It was a race we had waited for, and she was in flying form at home! She looked great in the paddock, although she had arrived late as she had been her usual ‘sassy’ self to saddle – Olly claims he needs danger money to get the saddle on her! Sean Bowen was on board, and he planned to get out in front where she likes to be and use her excellent jumping to test the rest of the field. The first bit went well, he got a nice easy lead on the front end, and Audrey was jumping from fence to fence, that is until she got to the wings of the sixth, where she put the brakes on, ballooned the open ditch, and added an extra degree of difficulty to the routine, by ducking right at the same time! Sean was sent on a short trip to the space station, and when he returned to earth, he found that there was no Auditoria underneath him to catch him, and terra firma, rose sharply to meet him. He then got the added bonus of a kick from the horse behind! Sean got up and was OK, Auditoria continued on riderless, causing no little amount of chaos during the rest of the race, and as she turned into the home straight, she actually accelerated all the way to the line, having jumped nearly all of the fences on the way round. She crossed the line first – just without Sean! It was a real shame, as the result would suggest that she would have run out a comfortable winner of the race, and instead we walk away with a UR by our name. Thankfully both Audrey and Sean were OK and live to fight another day – it is just a bit galling for the mare to do what she did, when her jumping is her biggest asset – it’s not like she took a sudden aversion to jumping – I think she jumped the rest of them (bar one) without a jockey! Very strange – we will never explain it and will just have to file it under ‘That’s racing’
Auditoria in the paddock - sadly she returned like this - without a jockey!
Tuesday was an early start – with Tintagel Queen declared to make her hurdling debut in Lingfield I took the opportunity of dropping into Gary Moores to see Cloud Dancer do a strong piece of work up the 6f woodchip. The only way to make the trip bearable is to leave very early to avoid the worst of the M25 traffic, so I was in the yard before 7.00am. I always enjoy the trips to Cisswood and the entire team were in great form. Cloud Dancer worked very nicely, and was moving great, he would make his seasonal debut later in the week.
Cloud Dancer ready for work!
Runner for the wheelbarrow race gather at the start!
I made the short trip to Lingfield to see Tintagel Queen make her hurdling debut in the opener. Second in a soft ground bumper last season, she returned to training a little later as she wants plenty of juice in the ground, and it has felt like an age since we last saw her. If I had known we would get just about the wettest October on record I would have sent her back into training a month earlier – sadly no one saw that deluge coming! TQ had schooled very well in the spring, and again on the run up to this heat and we were looking forward to see what she could do when faced with an obstacle. We chose to debut her in open company, against geldings as the race suited her, and we could not be sure, with the recent rains we have had, that any mares races in the future would be on. It looked a stiff introduction, with some horses with good point to point, hurdles and bumper form in the field. I had asked Gary if he liked his when I was in the office there earlier, and he was certainly positive about that one, and one or two others in the race as well! TQ looked really well in the paddock and behaved impeccably. As the tapes went up Sean had her positioned well, taking a nice lead from more experienced horses. She can be a bit careful, so we expected her to be a bit slow at the first few, and indeed she was, in fairness she was fairly novicey all the way round, but Sean gave her a lovely ride, and she learned a lot from it. Even when she got in tight to the flight at the top of the hill and lost a few lengths, Seam just sat quietly on her and let her fill up and come back to him. As they turned for home she had come through horses and was right in the mix. Up the straight Sean was very conscious to get her to learn about jumping at speed, and took no chances on her, and despite losing ground over the final two, she soon made it up and stayed on really well to the line to finish a clear third. It was the perfect start, as I have said on here before, the one thing that I feel is so important in a young horses’ career, is that they should enjoy what they do, and a bad experience first time up, be that racecourse debut, or hurdling/chasing debut can to irreparable damage to a horses’ career. They should always come away from it wanting to do it again. They need to enjoy themselves and hit the line strong, and TQ certainly did that! She will improve no end for the run and will be out again soon against her own sex. I think her debut race will work out very well, and she is a mare with a nice future, especially when she gets to run over staying trips later in the season. She has come out of her race well!
Tintagel Queen in the paddock
She enjoyed that - and so did we!
TQ post race
The sad news to emerge from the day was a bad fall for Jamie Moore who was taken to hospital with broken bones in his neck, two broken ribs, and busted nose, and concussion. I kept in touch with Gary through the week, and he was still on a spinal board the day after the fall, but thankfully the tests were positive, and Jamie was home on Thursday – all be it in a neck brace which he will have to keep on for at least 6 weeks. We wish him all the best for a speedy mend!
Wednesday was a day in the office – once again trying to sort out issues with bloody Paypal – the new Red Sash Racing Club website is built and ready to go, but we just can’t get the Paypal element to work successfully – and that is an important bit! I have been tearing my hair out trying to get this off the ground, but can’t launch the Club without everything in place, especially the payment part! We have the horse – and at least the delay has served us well in one respect – the form of his win in an Irish Point to Point has been franked – with two winners two seconds and a third coming out of it since he ran! We have lots to offer, and with Club membership costing just £100 for the remainder of this season and £49 for the entirety of next season it is great value and would make an ideal Christmas gift for a racing fan! I promise you it will be a little different to all the other Racing Clubs out there, as you will get far more from it, and it looks sure to be lots of fun! By mid-week we should be all good to go! But I did say that last week! In between arguments with big multi nationals I did get a few race reports written and out to owners and syndicate members! With so much going on I had slipped behind slightly – Marias Flame members – yours is on its way!
Thursday, we headed up to Market Rasen for Itchy Feet. He was having his second start of the season in the £30,000 feature on the card, a 3m handicap hurdle, a qualifier for the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in March, a race he ran really well in last season. Itchy had gone down to Newton Abbot last month for his seasonal debut where he put in a bit of a moody effort and was pulled up. We all know Itchy, he can do that, but I have had a theory for quite a while that IF is a happier horse going right handed, in fact his form that way round reads 1,1,2,2,1,1,4,1 so I was keen to run him here. If I’m honest – perhaps the way Itchy runs can only be determined by what mood he is in and what side of bed he got out of in the morning, so you can never approach a race with any sort of confidence. One thing we knew for sure, is that he was going into the race in great form! He seems to like small fields so this was ideal – if he was in a good mood he would run well. The race went perfectly for him, he got in a good rhythm and was travelling around in a good mood – Sean did ask him a bit of a question at the middle flight down the back which Itchy politely declined, but other than that it was a faultless performance, and the pair ran out comfortable winners in the end. Delighted for his owners, who in fairness, took a bit of a punt on him when they bought shares in him, but Ollys honesty and their faith have certainly paid off – he made his debut for them in Haydock a year and a day ago and since then, he has won two valuable handicap hurdles, been an unlucky second in a Grade 2 hurdle, run at the Cheltenham Festival (beaten under 7 lengths) and given them a day out at the Aintree Festival – not a bad return! He has given them so much fun and will continue to do so – Thursdays win has booked his spot at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival again – and there is sure to be lots more fun to be had with him between now and then. Maybe this year we will give him a go in Punchestown – it’s right handed!
Itchy Feet in the paddock
Returning to the 1 spot
On the trip up to Market Rasen we sold another share in Rockola, which leaves just a single share remaining in this lovely young filly, who will be out again very soon. Get in touch – don’t miss out – she had a gorgeous introduction in Stratford on her debut, will come on bundles for it, and learned a great deal from it. Her trainer, Alan King likes her, and we hope that she will make up into a nice mare. As mentioned previously, she has a lovely pedigree, so will always have a value when her racing days are over, and if she can get a few wins on her card, that value will only increase! Her sire, Jukebox Jury is a very very good stallion, and one that you will hear an awful lot about over the coming years – one of his daughters selling for £140,000 at the Cheltenham Sales last week! Rockola is outstanding value! Get in touch – 07909 518902 or email email@example.com. Long trips mean long phone calls – I got an update from Fergal on Volkovka who had returned an iffy blood test after her disappointing effort in Wincanton, nothing came to light as to the cause of it, but the good news is that she is A1 again now and will be out again soon. It was also good to catch up with Jason Maguire who gave an update on all the horses there. Reflexion Faite is enjoying her break, she is rugged up in the field by day, and in her stable at night and getting plenty of hard food. She looks really well. The Grey Gatsby yearling – we need to give him a stable name – is also doing really well – he is growing and developing just as we had hoped and is just the most gorgeous horse! Intrepide Sud has been cantering away for 6 weeks now and is ready to return to Ravenswell in the next few days. All is good with him, and I can’t wait to see him back on track and jumping an obstacle! Old Blue Eyes is also looking really well. It is never ideal when horses suffer setbacks, but if anything, the one that he suffered may well be a blessing in the long run – as he has had a nice break and has certainly grown and developed during it. He was given a thorough examination by the vet on Friday, and he was happy for him to resume exercise. This will be steady for the next 4 weeks, but with the use of the water treadmill at Ivy Lodge Farm and all the other facilities at his disposal he will soon be making his way back to Bankhouse.
Friday, we headed to Ascot where Cloud Dancer had been declared in a four runner Introductory Hurdle with £30,000 in prize money on offer. Nice placing – in a race only open to horses who had had just one previous run over hurdles, CD would get a nice small field to begin his campaign, and hopefully pick up a nice cheque in doing so. With two very smart looking horses from the Nicholls and Henderson camps making up half the field, and a stable mate of CD’s making up the four we had hoped to finish third, probably a good way off the front two, let the horse enjoy his seasonal bow, and then plot a path with him. Well, he finished third, but that hardly tells the full story! They went a reasonable gallop for a small field, and CD jumped and travelled great, although he was always in top gear (we know he will appreciate a step up in trip), even so he was bang there turning in and showing the very toughest of attitudes he put it right up to two decent rivals. The favourite faded, which left three in with a shout, and in the end, despite giving his absolute all, CD was run out of second by his stable mate and finished third beaten under 3 lengths by a 131 rated rival. This was some seasonal debut – Gary believes that had he had a run under his belt he would have come out on top – there is definitely more to come from him, and he is a very exciting young horse to have on the team. He is typical of his sire, Jukebox Jury, in that he is not the biggest, but he is all heart, grit and determination and will run through a wall for you. Allied with the fact that he has no small amount of ability, he looks like he will give his owners an awful lot of fun going forward and take them to some nice places! He too has come out of his race well – we will see what the handicapper thinks to the run, (I have tried to make a case for the form not being as strong as it looked – and am struggling if I’m honest) and if he does what I think he might – it is over to Gary to find a race for him!
Cloud Dancer in the pre parade
More Happy owners!
It was nice to have a short trip up the road on Saturday to see Hidden Beauty have her first run of the season in a handicap hurdle. After a truncated season last term, where she gave herself a small pelvic injury in February, this would be her first start in a handicap, and we were looking forward to getting her out again. She appreciates a sound surface, and with October being so wet, it has been a bit of a wait to get her going. Huntingdon was always likely to be a tad on the sharp side for her, but they had Good ground so she took her chance. She looked great in the paddock and went to post and lined up fine. She has been a bit tricky to jump off in the past but was fine here. They went very quick up front, and to be fair to her she was in top gear all the way. The difference in the pace of a handicap and a novice race is stark, and to be fair to her she handled that change up well, her jumping holding together nicely. As they neared the end of the back straight, she started to come under pressure and was flat to the boards from there. She did her best to keep tabs on them, but the fact that she had been flat out for so long, and without the benefit of a recent run under her belt, she faded in the straight and dropped away. We were all still satisfied with the run, it blew a few cobwebs away, confirmed that she needs stepping up in trip, and it will have bought her on a ton! She has come out of the race fine, and will be out again on a decent surface over 2m4f or around that trip – and you should keep you eye out for her!
Good crowd - beer festival would have helped!
Hidden Beauty in the paddock
The happy couple
Saturday is ‘update day’ from Barbury Castle – this week a video of Rockola working up the Barbury Mile on turf and going really well. Alan on the phone to say that he was really happy with her and that he planned to give her an entry next week!
As I have been writing this – Fortune Forever has been declared in Southwell on Tuesday, a mares maiden hurdle over 2 miles – her latest run, although finishing 7th was actually an improvement from her as her jumping had been so bad on her hurdling debut! She is another that will appreciate a step up in trip in the future, but this is the right race at the right time for her. Jack Hogan rides and takes off a handy 3lbs.Auditoria also gets to go to Southwell in the 3m handicap chase. She will try to make amends for last Monday – Fergus Gregory rides. There looks to be more competition for the lead on Tuesday, so it isn’t quite as good an opportunity as the one she coughed up last week!
Around the rest of the team – up with Donald McCain – Dino Bellagio is having plenty of schooling, Donald still aims to take him down to Warwick for an away day session when their facility is fit. He still has his kinks, and they need to be ironed out. He is much better, and I had a long chat with Brian Hughes about him when I saw him in Leicester last Monday. He has done plenty of schooling on him and said he was much better – so hopefully we can get his away day out of the way and he can get back on the track! Our new Red Sash horse is fine and galloping away – I can’t wait to introduce him to everyone, and when we finally get launched properly, there will be no waiting around to see him run – he is ready to rock and roll! Down At Ravenswell – Blue Bikini is back to full health, and working well, she will be running again in a couple of weeks, and Maria’s Flame will also be out again in a couple of weeks. She has options, and we will choose the right route for her – by this time next week we will have a definite plan in place. Mamoon Star has come out of his race in Sandown well and will have entries on a right handed track that offers decent ground next month.
I have not been over to The Elms for quite a while and hope to put that right this week, so expect lots of photos of hairy, muddy horses next week!