Planes, Trains and Automobiles

            Planes, trains and automobiles – how the first couple of days of the week (almost) ended up for one of our intrepid owners! As plans quickly changed for one of his horses, he literally went with the flow – and unexpectedly ended up in a different country!

Before we get into the weeks news - just one little restaurant review - Sunday lunch at The Red House, Longstowe - simply one of the best I have ever had - and there have been some good ones! Well worth the visit, will try the weekday menu at some stage, but, Sunday Lunch is very highly recommended!  


            To say we have had better Mondays would be an understatement! First up a video form Fergal of a lame Volkovka – sore behind, followed by news from Olly Murphy that Auditoria had struck into herself while schooling over 4 fences, and in doing so had gone right through the boot she was wearing, and had made a bit of a mess of her foreleg. The team had cleaned her up as well as they could, and he was waiting on his vet get there to finish the process and assess the level of damage. It was very close to her tendon, and he was worried that she had done herself major damage. It was to prove a very tense couple of hours. Volkova’s lameness proved to be an infection and she was prescribed rest for a couple of days and a course of antibiotics. She should resume cantering next week. When Olly’s vet arrived and dealt with Auditoria, it proved not to be as bad as was first feared, she has given herself a nasty cut that required a few staples, but the incision had not affected any of the mechanical parts, and she had escaped a very serious injury by a matter of millimetres – she was a very lucky girl. Her biggest danger from that point was infection, so she was given a course of strong intravenous antibiotics, and the wound was regularly dressed. Thankfully no infection set in, and she seems to be healing well. The wound is such that after standing in for a few days she will return to gentle walking exercise and when it is healed sufficiently, she can return to ridden work. To say she is a lucky girl is an understatement!

            While all this was going on – Southwell updated their going, and after walking the course in the morning, after prolonged heavy rain on Sunday night into Monday morning, the Clerk Of The Course changed their going from Good to Soft to Heavy. As the course had been under 3 feet of water 3 weeks before, we decided that those conditions were not going to suit Fortune Forever, and she would not be running. This news came just a tad too late for one of her owners Paul Hopper, who in a display of unbelievable keenness, by 10.00am on Monday morning had already boarded a train to Newark from his home in Poole in Dorset, to see Fortune Forever run in Southwell on Tuesday. It was too late for him to turn back, and so began one of the most dedicated acts of ownership ever! Not be defeated when I informed him that Fortune Forever would be re routed up to Kelso to run in the mares novice hurdle up there on Wednesday, he, without batting an eyelid bought another train ticket from Newark to Berwick on Tweed. He spent the night in Newark, which he described as ‘not too bad’. While Paul was enjoying the delights of Newark – The Red Sash Racing Club website got a ‘soft’ launch. The plan was to get the website live, and run a few orders through the new system to trial it, and iron out all of the inevitable kinks!  This was going well – for about 10 minutes – when one of the members of a large Telegram group we have in place for Red Sash Racing spotted the website was live and let the cat out of the bag to all the other members! It was a bit like the first day of the January Sales – but with the tills not working properly! Our new website has been built from scratch, and for the first time features a checkout – we are running this through Paypal, and setting it up has not been straight forward – we thought we had it ready, but there were unforeseen issues – who knew that Paypal worked differently in different countries? – Our web designer in Arizona had a perfectly functioning site, on both desktop and mobile, in the UK we were less fortunate, customers able to pay using both cards and Paypal on the desktop version but only able to pay via a Paypal account on the mobile version! For a Luddite like me, it is a completely different language – and dealing with Paypal is not a quick process, we are getting there now, and we should be able to take card payments through the site by Tuesday. Saying that – I was blown away with the level of interest in the club from the get-go – and shares have been flying out! Thanks to everyone that has purchased shares – Welcome Packs will be going in the post this week!

    Tuesday, and Fortune Forever headed up to Kelso who were giving their ground as predominantly Good To Soft which would suit her far better than the heavy in Southwell, and she was loyally followed by Paul. He had decided on a plan for the return trip to the south coast which involved getting a flight back from Edinburgh or Newcastle, so he had asked his wife Keeley to send up his Passport by recorded delivery to the hotel  where he was staying so that he could get a flight back. This really was turning into racings own version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles! As Paul headed north, temperatures started to drop and Kelso announced that they would be holding an inspection ahead of racing on Wednesday morning – it couldn’t – could it! It couldn’t be off?? Poor Paul! To say that we had everything crossed would be an understatement. When he arrived in Berwick on Tuesday evening he described it as ‘fxxxking freezing!’ There had to be serious doubts about the meeting taking place! The Whatsapp group was lively – Pray for Paul!!

Tuesday is the day when the handicapper publishes his weekly adjustments, and we were keen to see how he had assessed Cloud Dancers run in Ascot the previous Friday. 121 – actually slightly lower than I had expected. On paper he had run to a figure in the high 120’s, but the handicapper was given a difficult task to assess the four horse race, with a tight finish, and I believe he has come up with a fair figure. Itchy Feet was raised back up to 141 for his win in Market Rasen, and Hidden Beauty was dropped 1 to 113 after her seasonal debut in Huntingdon on Saturday. Just about what we had expected/hoped for, with no nasty surprises!

I grabbed the chance, on a bright and sunny day to pop over to The Elms and see the youngsters there. George our Golden Horn weanling is a well made, strong individual, very much in the mould of a few of is half brothers. Barry the 2 yr old, is still smashing, and is looking great. Along with the yearlings – Finbar (ex Molly Childers) and Floyd (ex Savingforvegas) who are both wintering well! Savingforvegas herself is in great nick, probably enjoying not carrying a foal this time round. We will soon have to decide on a suitable ‘husband’ for her. As she is not carrying a foal this time, we have the option of travelling her abroad to be covered, and I will give that some thought in the next few weeks. She could go to Ireland, or she could even go to France. I will weigh up the options!

Barry - Blue Bresil x Savingforvegas

    George - Golden Horn x Savingforvegas

        Wednesday, as clips arrived of Fortune Forever having a leg stretch on the snowy expanses of Kelso Racecourse on Wednesday morning things were not looking good for Pauls chances of seeing her run! Initial inspection not passed and further inspections planned for later in the morning. Their ground was deemed fit to race, it was not frozen under a light dusting of snow and everyone that walked the track was happy that what snow was on the ground would not ball up in the horses feet, the main problem was getting the vets, doctors and ambulances around the service road safely – and without them, racing could not take place. I can only imagine how Paul was feeling – well I know how he was feeling in one respect – again – fxxxking frozen. His trip from his hotel had involved a 40 minute bus ride, and a half hour walk – and bearing in mind he was not expecting snow and ice in Southwell – he was feeling the lower temperatures north of the border! So we waited – Paul getting ever colder – me clicking refresh – an announcement of the result of the further inspection delayed until 11.30 – and we were due to be running in the 12.30 – finally a decision – racing was ON! How Fortune Forever ran had somehow become a bit irrelevant – Paul would get to see her run – that was the main thing! Fortune Forever had headed north for the better ground, we knew that the 2m trip would be on the sharp side for her, and when the overnight snow got into the ground in the morning, and the ground turned soft, we kind of knew our fate. FF ran OK, her jumping improved again, and she will now get a handicap mark on Tuesday. She will certainly step up in trip from here on, and will find intermediate and staying trips much more to her liking. Absolutely stunning dedication from Paul, who was unable to get his flight back to Southampton because the hotel had refused to sign for his Passport, so he had to take the train home – a trip that went surprisingly well! He certainly wins the Dedicated Owner prize of 2023!

Fergals pair get a leg stretch on Wednesday morning

Hopper arrived

To a wintry scene

Fortune Forever pre race

All fine after her run! 

On Wednesday Gary Moore called to say that Cloud Dancer was slightly lame, nothing serious, but it would mean that he couldn’t run again until after Christmas. He will continue to tick over until then and should not miss out on any work – which, as he is still only 4, and has a very exciting future ahead of him is not a problem, he will be well worth the wait! Another trainer to call was Alan King who gave a very positive update on Rockola who was entered to run in Doncaster on Saturday. Rockola in fine form and Kingy keen to run her.

            A cold start on Thursday, -5 when I left for Fergals at 5.00am. An interesting trip, a couple of cars were literally dancing on ice as I made my way through Milton Keynes! You had to keep a keen eye out to avoid them! We made it down to Ravenswell safely and in good time. The hill gallop frozen, so all the lots cantered on the round gallop with some heading over to school. Hidden Beauty was out in the early lot, and although I get there before 7.00am, I still missed her. It was good to see Greyval back cantering – she missed the week before with a pulled muscle but had been back cantering since Monday and looked in great form. Mamoon Star also moving well on the round. Maria’s Flame had done a lovely piece of work earlier in the week, and she was one that headed across to the schooling strip and jumped a few flights of hurdles. Jumping is something she just loves to do, and letting her have a pop over hurdles is a great way of keeping life fresh and fun for her, and letting her enjoy her training! She looks in great shape and will have an entry in a fillies junior bumper in Wetherby next Saturday. Fortune Forever had come out of her race in Kelso without a bother on her, and Blue Bikini is building back up to full fitness after being under the weather for a while – she will be out again in the next two weeks. While I was in Ravenswell I ran into our Red Sash Racing Club ambassador, Luke Harvey, who was in exercising his pointer. It was good to see Luke as always, and he was really keen to hear all the latest news about TRSRC. It’s great to have Luke on board with us – he, like us, is always keen to spread the word about our great sport to as many people as possible, and will be helping us with the ‘In Behind’ feature in the Members Area of where we will show members aspects of the racing and breeding industries that are rarely seen, by following participants through the course of their working day  – basically being ‘In Behind’ them for a day, and seeing what they contribute to racedays, and the racing and breeding industries. We are really looking forward to doing this, and there is sure to be some informative and fun content going live on the site. The Members Area will be accessed via your password, which you will receive in your welcome pack, along with a host of other goodies including free bets from The Tote. All this and you also get a small share in Ridin Solo, a winner of his Irish Point to Point on debut, and a horse with a nice future. He looks like a horse that will come into his own over fences in the future, and he is with the perfect trainer to get the very best out of him – Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain – who has had Ridin Solo in the yard for a few weeks and very much likes what he sees – a no nonsense horse, that is tough and resolute, and can certainly gallop! Have a look at the new website!

Red Sash Racing Clubs - Ridin Solo

Ridin Solo - 'can certainly gallop'! 

While at Ravenswell, as Greyval had come through her morning canter without a hitch we decided to give her an entry in a mares handicap in Ludlow. It had been her plan since her seasonal debut in a very hot race in Ascot, but we feared that the set back the week before would mean she would miss it. Thankfully she could still be entered but her declaration would depend on how she cam through a gallop on Friday. From Ravenswell I headed over to see a chilly Jason Maguire. All the horses there look really well. It was good to catch Intrepide Sud, who was being prepared to leave Ivy Lodge Farm that afternoon and head back to Ravenswell. Off games for a good spell with an injury he sustained in winning his bumper in Worcester last year, he has been given plenty of time and has come through pre training without a hitch. We are all very much looking forward to seeing him over hurdles in the new year.He was the first horse back into the new ban at Ravenswell!  Old Blue Eyes has been back walking for a few days, and looks fantastic – although this break was not planned, I see it as a blessing in disguise, as it has given this lovely young horse the chance to develop and mature and it will stand him in good stead. He has a further 3 weeks of gentle exercise, and will then be ridden again, and we can get him back up to full fitness! Alan King phoned to say that he was going to declare Rockola in Doncaster as planned – she would be taking on geldings, but he thought the track would suit her well. The long straight suiting her run style far better than Stratford had on debut. She was in great form, and he was looking forward to running her!

Old Blue Eyes 

Intrepide Sud - getting prepped to return to Ravenswell Farm later in the day.

            Friday and a cold start – Newbury managing to stage their card – Doncaster not so lucky. The prospects of racing there on Saturday looking bleak. Even less likely in Bangor, and Newbury were going to have to work miracles to get their big day on Saturday on – with the whole track having to be covered straight after racing – a team of 60, plus several volunteers, saw the job done in 2 hours – great effort, and one that would not be wasted! I spoke to Donald McCain on Friday – and got an update on the horses there. Dino Bellagio had been a little stiff the week before and had had a few easy days – he is back on song now, and is moving great. He will have an away day schooling in the next couple of weeks, and then be ready to run around Christmas. As mentioned earlier, Donald is very happy with new Club horse Ridin Solo, and he will be ready to run very soon!

            Saturday and Doncaster (surprisingly) passed an early inspection and racing was on – as were Newbury and Bangor, although there were some concerns around the state of the track – which some felt was still slightly frozen down the back, and Doncaster had to delay racing by 25 minutes to allow parts of their track to thaw. By the time I arrived in Doncaster, everyone was happy with the track – there was the odd place that the jockeys felt was still slightly ‘boney’, but they all said it was safe. All the team happy to run Rockola, who looked great in the paddock, and was very much up for her second start. She certainly knew what was in store this time, and was excited to be back at the races! This looked to be a competitive heat, with some big flat yards represented by horses with very nice flat pedigrees, being a filly with very much a jumpers pedigree could be our undoing! As mentioned, she had had a lovely introduction in Stratford, and had learned plenty about the job, and Doncaster was sure to suit her well. Tom Bellamy was on board, and he settled her just off the pace in 4th/5th during the early stages. She was slightly keen but nothing too serious, and by the time they were well down the far side she was in a nice rhythm. Turning for home she was travelling as well as anything and we started to get a little excited, but she could not quite peg back the front two. At one stage it looked like she may be swamped for third, but in the last 100yards she stayed on nicely to keep hold of third place, while gaining on the front two, only beaten by around 4 lengths in the end. It was another very good run – she showed she has plenty of ability, and a very very tough attitude! The front two were both geldings, from big flat stables, and the fourth had a very nice flat pedigree as well – I would say that this will end up being a good level of form, and Rockola showed up really well! Amazingly there is still a share available in this lovely filly! Now third in two bumpers, she has taken a big step forward from her debut, and we feel she will continue to do so. She will be aimed at another bumper, before a possible tilt at Listed race, or a switch to National Hunt Juvenile Hurdles in the spring, which she is tailor made for!

Rockola in the paddock

Another lovely run - and a second srep forward for this lovely filly

Happy owners! 

On the way up to Doncaster I caught up with Fergal who confirmed that Greyval had worked very well on Friday and that she had shown no ill effects from it that morning - she will be declared in Ludlow on Wednesday! 

            All of the remainder are well, Tintagel Queen has an entry in Leicester on Thursday, but she is not a definite runner, Olly will see how she is in the coming days, the race comes plenty quick enough after her run in Lingfield. Itchy Feet is in great order, and I will talk to Olly next week about plans for him. Both the Grey Gatsby yearling and Rockola are wintering well at Ivy Lodge Farm.

Itchy Feet under the morning sun


            Genuine question – why doesn’t the glass plate in the bottom of the microwave ever get hot??


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