Good, Bad and Not There

Well, that was a week that had a bit of everything! The week started quietly enough – Monday morning we were tracking declarations for Mamoon Star and Maria’s Flame. Where did all these three year old bumper fillies come from? 17 declared in Maria’s race in Newbury. Fewer to deal with for Mamoon Star who would run in an amateur riders handicap hurdle in Ludlow, partnered by Ferg’s daughter Fern, who would be flying in later on in the day from Ireland. Fern also booked to ride Blue Bikini in Catterick on Tuesday and was looking forward to both that ride and meeting up with Mamoon Star again. Fern has been over in Ireland, working for Willie Mullins for the past two months, and has been thoroughly enjoying her time there, picking up skills and life experiences that will stand to her for the rest of her life. She has really developed both as a rider and a young lady since she headed over the water in the summer!  

            On Tuesday morning we headed up to Catterick to see Blue Bikini make her second start of the season. Nick and I travelling up together, Catterick a lengthy pre Christmas trip for a few, but Nick is a hardy sort, and although he had endured a trip to Chepstow with me when BB was well below par and pulled up on seasonal bow, still put himself through 6 hours in a car with yours truly. It was a good trip up, we left a dull, wet miserable morning behind us, and as we passed Doncaster the skies cleared to blue, and the sun gradually put in an appearance! By the time we reached Catterick, it was a glorious day – all good for Blue Bikini, who really doesn’t appreciate a soft surface, and definitely needs better ground than she encountered in Chepstow. The Good to Soft ground was sure to suit, and with her regular work rider Tia reporting that she had never known her better we were looking forward to seeing her run. Blue Bikini had won 4 of her 9 starts over hurdles, which is a real testament to Fergal and the team. Firstly, they attended to the ulcers which she is very prone to – and secondly they have placed her to the best effect since she arrived at Ravenswell. It was a shock when she won on debut over 2 miles around Plumpton, after which I said to the trainer – ‘she will be better over further’. The following season she started with another shock win over 2m3f in Taunton after which I said to the trainer – ‘She will be even better over 3 miles ’.After a hiccup in Plumpton she returned to winning ways over 2m4.5f in Market Rasen after which I re stated to the trainer that ‘She will be even better over 3 miles’ and when she won on her next start over 2m5f in Warwick I think I said ‘Will you fxxking run her over 3 miles!!’ To win four hurdle races (3 handicaps) over trips from 2m to 2m 5f, with a mare that was crying out for 3 miles is nothing short of incredible! So, at last I got my wish – Blue Bikini would face 4 rivals over 3m1f on good to soft ground – perfect – I hoped! She would be taking on an odds-on favourite from the Jonjo O’Neill yard, but when that one ran out on the home bend with a circuit to go, the task was made more simple. BB travelled and jumped really well, and when she picked after the second last, she really flew and ran out an easy winner. It was a very good, confident ride from Fern, and one that we all really enjoyed! This was just Fern’s second win over hurdles, and it was an excellent ride! Blue Bikini did relish the step up in trip, and although she will encounter stiffer tests, she does look like she can still be progressive over 3 miles plus! The remainder of the season will be fun with her! The day got better for the Ravenswell Team – as they added a further two winners to the seasonal tally – completing the ‘Hatterick in Catterick’ – they really are in great form at the moment – with a seasonal strike rate of 22% - despite a designed cut back in numbers – they are still sending out winner after winner – a great team!

Blue Bikini in the paddock

Coming back in - Fern telling Dad just how she did it! 

Happiness is a winner!! 

            Wednesday, and two runners on the day – again both from Fergal O’Brien. Mamoon Star in the first in Ludlow under Fern, and Maria’s Flame in a hot fillies bumper which closed the card in Newbury. I had seriously considered doing both meetings, but a day out of the office on Tuesday meant there was enough to do on Wednesday morning, and instead I headed down to Newbury – once again picking Nick up on the way – he really is a glutton for punishment! We arrived in Newbury, just in time to see Mamoon Star run – he had been in great form at home, and looked a million dollars in the paddock, but the overnight rain had really got into the ground, and our plans to run him on a sounder surface had gone down the drain with the rain. Mamoon Star has lost his way slightly, and we are keen to see him on better ground – the progeny of Mamool tend to appreciate it, and he had been declared on decent ground on Monday. Sadly, he once again showed that he doesn’t handle soft ground, and was eventually pulled up as he became detached as they left the back straight. He will now have a break. Head to Ivy Lodge Farm and return for a spring campaign, when we hope to see a different horse on different ground.

Mamoon Star in the paddock

Back at Newbury, there was a good turn out of owners, and we were all keen to see Maria’s Flame make her second start. She had really improved at home since her debut, and Fergal was confident that she would run well. Once again, she had been declared on Good to Soft ground, but half an inch of rain on the Tuesday had meant that the ground on raceday was now heavy in places, and we were not sure that she would like it. The one thing in her favour was the fact that she had racecourse experience, and we felt with so many unraced fillies in the race, this would stand her in good stead, and so after a bit of thought and a chat we let her take her chance. Turns out we should have left her at home. She travelled well, but as the pace lifted as they turned for home, she changed her legs, and went up and down on the spot – not handling the deep ground at all – Jack Hogan was not hard on her, knowing that a hard ride would not result in a different outcome. MF is now likely to switch to hurdles on better ground – and is still a filly that we like a lot! We have had better days for sure – but the midweek rain did mean that Tintagel Queen would get her ground in Uttoxeter on Friday, and she had been declared in the opener there – a race that looked ideal for her – perhaps we could end the week as we started it!

Maria's Flame in the paddock

After sinking in the Newbury mud!

It was good to see Jamie Moore in Newbury, he was in good spirits despite being in a neck brace after the Lingfield fall last month. He has another 3 weeks in the brace – and should be able to return to riding some time in January. I also caught up with his brother Josh, himself no stranger to horrendous injury – and he gave an update on Cloud Dancer who has returned to ridden work and resumed cantering that morning. His form from Ascot is looking very nice now, and he will be back on track in January. Wednesday was also a red letter day for our new racing club – The Red Sash Racing Club – who’s horse, Ridin Solo got his first entries. Donald was to school him on Thursday and decide if he ran in a bumper in Aintree, or a 2m1f Maiden Hurdle in Sedgefield – both on Boxing Day.

            Thursday – the schooling went well, and Donald decided that he would make use of the experience he gained in the point to point field in Ireland and debut Ridin Solo in the Sedgefield Maiden Hurdle. It was good to see Dino Bellagio having a school over the hurdles as well – he is back on song and should be out early in the new year

Ridin Solo having a school under Peter Kavanagh

Dino Bellagio having a school 

. After our sub par day on Wednesday, we had turned our attention to Uttoxeter on Friday where we were expecting a big run from Tintagel Queen – sadly that excitement was crushed on Thursday morning when Olly called to say that TQ was lame. He would assess her at evening stables, but to be prepared that she may not be lining up. By mid afternoon all dreams were dashed – she had improved but not enough to take her place in the race. Such a shame as it looked like the perfect race for her – but thankfully it looks as though she will not be off games for long and will be on the track again very soon!

            So, no Uttoxeter on Friday, but a chance to get a whole load more Red Sash Racing welcome packs out! Our new venture has proved very popular among existing clients and also attracted a huge number of new ones! Ridin Solo is the perfect horse for the new club, he has a real stayers pedigree, but shows a fair amount of zip at home and is a horse that could go through the ranks as he steps up in trip – before making his name as a staying chaser. Head over to to grab yourself a share – it will be fun!! Although Tintagel Queen missed out on going to Uttoxeter, it is fair to say that the rest of the Olly Murphy squad had a good day – another of our trainers to get the hattrick up with three winners and a close third from his remaining four runners! Olly has his string in fantastic form, and stable jockey Sean Bowen is riding at the very top of his game! They both go into Christmas happy men!

            Saturday – and another team go into Christmas with beaming smiles on their faces! Ferg and the team at Ravenswell were celebrating on Saturday night after bagging their second Grade 1 with Crambo in the Long walk Hurdle in Ascot. I was at the yard when Crambo had his first sight of a hurdle, and you would not have picked him out as a future Grade 1 winner that morning! But he has been brought along slowly, and risen through the ranks, as his experience has taken him, and Saturday was the fruits of that campaign – hugely deserved by a great team!

 It was good to chat with Jason Maguire – and he sent a lovely update on Reflexion Faite who is now back in a warm stable and looking well. She will be back in work in the next week or so, and head back into training in February. She should be a fun filly to follow through the summer!

Reflexion Faite

Jason is also delighted with our The Grey Gatsby yearling that he has down there, he is really doing well, and growing in all the right places. We will tale a good look at him in the spring/summer and decide on a plan for him - he is a gorgeous individual, and whichever route he goes down it will be a fun journey with him for sure. Old Blue Eyes is in great order, and the vet will look at him between Christmas and New Year and should be giving the go-ahead to take him to the next stage of his recuperation. If all goes well with him, he will return to Donald in early 2024, and we will see him make his bumper debut in the spring! The team at Bankhouse keep asking me how he is – he is one they like for sure – he has already shown them what he can do – and they are keen to get him back.

            Around the remainder – Rockola is having a nice little mid season break, and just going on the walker every day. She will return to ridden work in early January, and Alan King is eyeing another bumper for her before a possible switch to hurdles. As time goes by her form gets stronger and stronger – with the second and fifth from her Stratford debut finishing first and second in a Ludlow hurdle this week, and the second and sixth from her Doncaster run, both running really well and finishing 3rd and 2nd on the flat in the last week! I keep saying it – but she is outstanding value, and a single share remains in her – she is a filly we like – has the form in the book – has a wonderful pedigree, and being the half sister to a black type performer, already has a value when her racing days are over. If you treat yourself to anything this Christmas – treat yourself to a share in her! She will give you an awful lot of fun and take you to some nice tracks in the future! At Ravenswell – Volkovka has returned from the vets in Newmarket, and a deal has been done for her to be sold and head off on the next stage of her career as a broodmare. She will be staying local and couldn’t be going to a better home. Intrepide Sud is working his way back up to full fitness and is moving really well, Greyval is back in rude health – and seems to have worn as many different outfits as a Panto Dame this week! She will have an entry in Newbury between Christmas and New Year.

Christmas Greyval!

Greyval is so keen to run again she is dropping a few hints! 

 Fortune Forever is in good heart, and will be stepped up in trip for her handicap hurdle debut in early 2024, and Hidden Beauty will head to Market Rasen on Boxing Day, where a step up in trip looks sure to suit her too – she will have improved for her seasonal debut, and we are looking forward to seeing her out again.

 At Warren Chase – Auditoria has recovered well from her nasty cut and worked really well in the week – she will be out again in early January, and Itchy Feet is in flying form – he is ready to run and will be dropped in where Olly thinks is the right race. He could have had entries over the holiday period, but the races that suited him were not at the tracks where Sean would be riding, so if Sean was not going – nor was Itchy! There are options for him over the next couple of weeks.

Hidden Beauty schooling on Chrsitmas Eve! 

            That wraps up the news this week – one thing not wrapped up are presents – so I am off to do that! We wish you a very Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing many of you on the racecourse over the course of the next few weeks!!

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