What Are The Chances Of That?
It seems as thought the weather has decided to settle itself down a bit – a least there has not been quite the volume of rain in the last week! Not one was the weather a bit quieter in the last seven days – so were we - we didn’t venture far – just one quick trip down to Ravenswell, but as usual there has been plenty going on – this week a little’ lull before a storm’ as it certainly looks like we will be busy over the next couple of weeks with plenty of trips to the racecourse!
Monday was a bit of a collector’s item – a day off – I did nothing with it – unless you count a trip to the ‘Quacks’! My use of the NHS is a little ‘all or nothing’, I don’t go for years and then end up there twice in as many weeks, at least I was able to get an appointment on the day!
Tuesday – I was on a course of antibiotics – and Volkovka was coming to the end of one. She had got an infection in a hind leg, which had initially responded well to treatment, but after a couple of days cantering had ‘blown up’ again, so the vet was in to investigate a little further. He was not 100% happy with her and decided to refer her up to Rossdales in Newmarket, so she made the trip up to Cambridgeshire in the afternoon. In the morning we decided to declare Blue Bikini in Warwick – where she would encounter very testing conditions. We are not sure that she really wants it very soft, but she has never been tried on it, and we thought it was worth taking a chance at a track where she has winning form.
Wednesday – good to catch up with Olly and get an update on the three that we have at Warren Chase Stables. All are in good form. Auditoria gave herself a nasty cut while schooling a couple of weeks ago, and in fairness she was a very lucky girl, she overreached (her back leg striking the back of her front leg) and cut right through the protective boot she was wearing, as all of Olly’s do when schooling. At the time, it looked like a nasty injury, but luckily, she missed all of the moving parts at the back of her leg, and the wound was stapled and bandaged, As with all injuries that involve a breakage of the skin, it was very important to keep a close eye on infection, and she was monitored closely. Luckily all was well, and she has made a full recovery – the staples have been removed, and she is back cantering. She will be back on the track again early in the New Year. Tintagel Queen is also in fine form, she seems to have taken a step forward from her seasonal debut in Lingfield, and has been schooling really well, her jumping has always been very good and safe, but could have been a little sharper, which it is now. In her last outing she took on the ‘boys’ and they were decent ‘boys’ as well, the winner going on to give the form a solid look finishing second in a quality handicap in Sandown last weekend. That horse was raised 7lbs for that effort to a rating of 125, so it certainly looks like her hurdling debut was a decent run. We know that she will improve hugely for the experience, and also a step up in trip, so we are all looking forward to seeing her out again. After Lingfield the plan was always to find a mares’ only race for her next time, and she has an entry in Uttoxeter next week against her own sex. The 2m6f trip should really suit, and the soft ground will be ideal – it looks like the perfect place for her! Itchy Feet is also in superb form, and he will run again over the Christmas/New Year period. Itchy Feet was the easy winner of a £30,000 handicap hurdle on his last start, and he has booked his place at the Cheltenham Festival again next year – he is likely to take a similar route to last year through January, February and March 2024, but where he runs next is not so certain. We will keep a close eye on entries and declarations over the holiday period, and he is very likely to be dropped in where he has the best chance of picking up the most prize money! There are plenty of options for him.
All the horses at Warren Chase are in superb order, but there was less encouraging news about Volkovka. On arrival at Rossdales on Tuesday evening it was found that the stubborn pocket of infection that had worried the vet had burst, but the main problem was that the infection that she had been suffering from had made its way into the main body and a branch of her suspensory ligament, resulting in significant damage in that area. The decision was made to immediately retire her. The vets have described this as a 1/10,000 scenario, and one that they are unlikely to see again for another 10 years! Infections are commonplace in all horses, and especially racehorses, who are far more susceptible to minor cuts and bruises, but for this to happen is very rare. Volkovka has been an absolute star for her owners. I claimed her out of a flat race in Toulouse in September 2020, with the single aim of running her in the Fillies Listed Juvenile Hurdle in Doncaster in January and gaining valuable black type with her. That did not go as smoothly as I had hoped, and in fact started very badly indeed, when she was pulled up as an odds on favourite in her first hurdles start in Fakenham. We learnt that day that she really didn’t need to go left handed, which meant that the Doncaster plan looked cooked as well! We took our time with her, and after a lovely educational run in Leicester where she really got the drop of things, she went on to win easily in Market Rasen. After finishing a very close second under a penalty at Taunton we decided to have a crack at the Listed Hurdle in Doncaster even though it was the wrong way round for her. I knew that at that meeting the hurdles in the home straight were always positioned up against the stands side rail, and with such a long straight in Doncaster, if she was kept wide into the straight, and got a slot on the rail, it would, in effect be like being on a right handed track, and she could not hang that way. The plan worked a treat, and she picked up third place and got her black type. She went on to run well over hurdles in her second season, although the handicapper had made life hard for her after winning in Carlisle on her seasonal reappearance. Last season she switched to fences, and that started well, but she lost all her confidence in Hereford, where we were given a bum stear by a hugely inaccurate going description. After that it was a case of being patient and getting her confidence back, which she did – her last run of last season in Ludlow was very good and has worked out extremely well. We were all very much looking forward to seeing her build on that this season, but sadly it will not happen. Being a daughter of Camelot, with size and scope, and having gained her black type and Elite Mare Status by gaining a rating of 132, she most certainly has a value as a broodmare, and we will work out a plan for her. Some of her owners, The Tyringham Partnership are keen to retain her and breed from her, and they will be offered the chance to buy out the members that do not wish to retain her as a broodmare first. If that option does not play out – I already have a couple of studs interested in buying her and she will go on to join their broodmare ranks in the New Year. This is the first horse that we have been forced to retire in the last 4 years, and what an unlucky way for it to happen! A 1/10,000 chance! Thankfully Volkovka has a second career ahead of her!
Thursday I was up early and headed down to Ravenswell to meet up with our Unofficial/Official Photographer, Debbie Burt and Fred, who will hopefully be bringing some video content to both Nick Brown Racing and The Red Sash Racing Club. Debbie came armed with some delicious brownies – which were so good, they could be wholly blamed for us missing seeing third lot! Debbie and Fred will be working on the new ‘In Behind’ feature that will be published on Members Area of The Red Sash Racing Club website, where we will take club members behind the scenes and show them some of the things that go into getting a horse onto the racetrack, or even putting a race meeting on! We have a plan for the first installment which will be filmed and published in the New Year! We think it will be a fun and educational addition to Club membership and is definitely something that has not been done before!
Intrepide Sud Cantering
Greyval after work
I always ‘bother’ trainers when I am driving, and on the way back from Ravenswell I took the opportunity to call a couple of them. Donald McCain gave an update on Dino Bellagio and Ridin Solo. Dino Bellagio worked very well on Wednesday and should all go well with him over the course of the next couple of weeks he will have his second start over hurdles early in 2024. It has not been straightforward with Dino, and he has had Donald tearing his hair out at times, but everything is being done to get it right – and hopefully he will be ready to start making strides over hurdles like he did in his bumpers. We know full well how much ability is there – it just needs to be channeled in the right direction! Donald is really happy with Ridin Solo and a full update on his progress can be found on the Red Sash Racing website.
I also got the chance to catch up with Gary Moore and get an update on Cloud Dancer who had needed a little bit of treatment after his excellent run in Ascot – a performance that was to be given a significant boost on Friday when the winner of that race, Doddiethegreat was a very close second in a Cheltenham Handicap Hurdle off of a rating of 131. His trainer Nicky Henderson had stated that he was very fit for his Ascot return, and we know that Cloud Dancer would improve a lot for the run, so to be beaten under 3 lengths by a horse that has run to a mark of 131, and with improvement to come, and a step up in trip sure to suit, it would appear that in Cloud Dancer we have a very exciting young horse! The update from Gary was good – CD would be back ridden again in the next few days – and although he will be gentle with him for the first week or so, he should be able to crack on with him after not too long. He is another one on the squad with a very bright future!
Friday, and a busy day in the office meant that I didn’t make it down to Cheltenham. More Red Sash Racing Welcome Packs heading out to new members. The new venture has been really well received – thanks very much to all those that have got involved – it looks like being a really fun Club! I have to admit that the new website, and in particular the payment processing side of it has been one of the most frustrating things I have ever had the misfortune to be involved with, but finally, after weeks of glitches and system failures via Paypal – we are now fully up to speed and can accept Paypal account and Card Payments on both desktop and mobile versions of the website! Not something I ever wish to go through again I can tell you! Thankfully, plenty of people have been patient, and are now fully fledged members! Friday night we headed out to a restaurant we had not visited before and caught up with friends in Thai Rice in Biggleswade. It was a really good night – great food, service and atmosphere. Another one to try if you are in the area!
Saturday and another missed Cheltenham meeting! I don’t think I have ever skipped so many meetings at the track in one season – but can’t be in 2 places at once! Great racing all afternoon – and some fabulous performances. In the evening we headed up to the Horse and Jockey in Ravensden for our annual Christmas Dinner with friends from the village. A big crowd and a really good night, and as big a Christmas dinner as I have ever been served in a restaurant – it was simply massive! They do not like you to leave hungry, and no one did!
Sunday – Blue Bikini has been declared to run in Catterick on Tuesday. Fergal and were really not sure about the heavy ground in Warwick earlier in the week, and if we are honest, we were not too disappointed when the meeting was abandoned. The ground will be much more to her liking in Catterick, and we are all keen to see her step up in trip. As this is a race confined to Amateur Jockeys, Fergal’s daughter Fern will come back from her stint in Willie Mullins’ yard in Ireland to take the ride. We are all very keen to see how the pair get on – Blue Bikini is certainly back in rip roaring form!
As well as Blue Bikini on Tuesday, we look like we could have a few more see the track next week. Maria’s Flame and Mamoon Star are both entered on Wednesday. MF has an entry in a fillies junior bumper in Newbury – she is going very well at home, had the most beautiful educational run on her debut in Ludlow, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and learned lots from. It will have stood her in good stead, and we are very much looking forward to seeing this gorgeous young filly out again! We hope that she can show us on the track what she shows us at home, as we have a very nice plan mapped out for her going forward! Mamoon Star has an entry in a Lady Amateur Riders handicap hurdle in Ludlow on the same day – he simply cannot handle deep ground, so we are hoping for a dry forecast for him. As Fern is over form Willies, she will take the ride should he be declared, and as mentioned Tintagel Queen has an entry in Uttoxeter on Friday, a race that will suit her perfectly!
Around the remainder – Rockola is having a quiet time of things at Alan Kings – she will have a third start in a bumper in the new year – probably late January or early February, and Alan is confident that he can win one with her. After that a decision will be made as to the route we take with her – she could well switch to National Hunt Juvenile Hurdles in the spring. At Ravenswell – Fortune Forever is in great order and will hopefully be out over the Christmas/ New Year period, when she will make her handicap debut over a slightly longer trip. Two and a half miles will suit her well. Hidden Beauty is another one that will run over that period, and she too will step up in trip, again two and a half miles on the cards for her. After that we will make a decision as to whether she switches to fences or not. Greyval is back on song after being a bit flat and missing a golden opportunity in Ludlow last week. She too will be out between Christmas and the New Year. Intrepide Sud looks fantastic and is working very well up the hill. His hurdling debut should be a bit later on through January. I caught up with Jason Maguire in the week, who is really happy with Old Blue Eyes who has another week left of walking and then all being well will resume ridden work. He is a very nice young son of Blue Bresil, who is very highly regarded at the Donald McCain yard and he is certainly one to look forward to in the spring when he makes his debut in a bumper. Jason has brought Reflexion Faite in from the field and she has returned to a warm stable. She has had a good break out, which would have done her mind the world of good, and now she will have a couple of weeks on the walker ahead of a return to pre training on January 1st.