Scopes and Scans

It has been a bit chilly – not too much jumps racing beat the frost towards the end of the week, but it does look as though the weather has changed now, and warmer conditions have arrived. Just in time for us to have a busy week with plenty of our horses with entries in the coming days.

            Monday, we went on our travels – heading over to Hereford to see Fortune Forever make her handicap debut in a very open looking mares’ handicap hurdle. Having had three qualifying runs over 2 miles, we felt with that experience behind her, she would benefit hugely for a step up in trip, and with 11 stone 12lb on her back, Fergal decided to give stable amateur Tom Broughton the ride and take an invaluable 7lbs off of her back. Fortune Forever looked really well in the paddock, and Tom had a plan to sit just off of the pace and get her jumping in a nice rhythm for the first circuit, before hopefully creeping closer down the back, and making a challenge 3 furlongs out. That is pretty much how the race went, FF getting slightly outpaced as they entered the back straight for the final time, before knuckling down really well and staying all the way to the line to finish fourth, beaten just under 4 lengths. A really encouraging start to the next phase of her career in handicaps, and one that she will certainly build upon – the step up in trip suiting her very well, and now that we have learned a little more about her, if we get the right race for her, she will go very close to recording her debut success for sure.

Fortune Forever Pre Race

Pleased with herself after her run! 

Another man that was on his travels on Monday was Olly Murphy, who, when I spoke to him while stuck in a traffic jam on the M42, was just about to board his flight home from Dubai where he had spent a few days to recharge his batteries. We quickly discussed options for Auditoria and Itchy Feet, deciding to give them both entries for this weekend. They would not be definite starters in either of their respected races, but as neither of us was in a position to track entries, we decided to put them both in, just in case the races cut up and looked like viable options for them as the week progressed. Itchy got an entry in Lingfield at the Winter Millions Meeting, and Auditoria got an entry in a handicap chase in Taunton on the Saturday.

It was a fun afternoon in Hereford, which has done a really good job of improving the Owners experience in the last few years – it is safe to say it was one of my least favourite tracks before it closed down in December 2012, but since it has reopened the team have done a fantastic job with the facilities that they have and it is a really good afternoon out now! After racing I headed down to the Cotswolds – with a Ravenswell visit planned for Tuesday morning it made sense to stay that way. Before Christmas, after a slight mix up, I had ended up with a one-night stay in The Stump at Foss Cross, between Cirencester and Northleach, booked and not taken – the management had kindly agreed to carry over the stay for another night, and so with that ‘in the bank’ it is there where I headed. The Stump had been recommended by a few people and it didn’t disappoint. A lovely room to the rear of the building (there are 10), a lovely pub with a super atmosphere, an Italian menu, which although not huge had something for everyone – they are renowned for their pizzas. On a chilly night it was good to be seated by a roaring log fire and tuck into some delicious food and a sumptuous red – all of which was very reasonably priced – given the surroundings I got a pleasant surprise when I spied the prices on the menu and wine list! Sadly, Fergal and Sally couldn’t join us, but I did have the company of our team photographer Debbie Burt who lives close by, and with plenty planned for the next morning at Ravenswell, it was a great chance to go through some ideas and make sure that we had everything in place for what was going to be a busy morning.

            Tuesday morning, another cold one, and I was in at Fergals before 7.00pm. Debbie joined us at around 7.20 with Fred Hanbury, who would be doing plenty of filming throughout the morning for the first of our ‘In Behind’ features for The Red Sash Racing Club members. Tuesday is a busy work morning at Ravenswell, and we were to spend the morning with the vet Kevin Bishop and document his work, particularly scans and scopes, which will be published as a series of short films in the members area of the Red Sash Racing website , and explain both the procedures, their findings, their effects on performance, and how they are treated to ensure that the horse is capable of performing to the very best of its ability. We often hear about dirty scopes – just this week there has been plenty of chat around Constitution Hill and his trainer Nicky Henderson after a ‘dirty scope’ ruled the horse out of appearing at Cheltenham at the end of the month – our first episode will explain why, and how an endoscope is performed, and a run through of what different results can mean to the health and welfare of the horse. Thanks to Fergal who was so helpful in accommodating us, even going as far as scheduling a gastroscope to be carried out while we were there so that in a couple of weeks we will be able to show our Racing Club members the process of gastroscoping a horse, and what effect ulcers can have on a horses health and wellbeing – again ulcers are something that people hear a lot about – with these short films we endeavour to explain in a little more detail how they are diagnosed, what they look like and how they are treated. If you haven’t signed up yet – head over to and do so – not only, will you get access to all of the ‘In Behind’ features – another one of which will be filmed this week – but you also get a share in Ridin Solo – who looks like a really bright prospect!



Filming for our In Behind Feature for The Red Sash Racing Club

While Fred was busy turning Kev the Vet into a film star, Debbie and I were out on the gallops watching the horses work – one benefit of the cold mornings is the amazing sunrises at Ravenswell – they are truly spectacular! First lot, Greyval came up the hill twice, and looked in great order – Fergal by his own admission has struggled to get her ‘right’ for the last couple of months, but the vet gave her the green light to step up work again last week, and it was good to see her in such good order. The results of a blood profile later in the week would confirm what we had all seen, her levels were all back to normal, and hopefully she can get her season back on track again very soon. Second lot, and Maria’s Flame headed to the hill along with Blue Bikini, while Intrepide Sud did a couple around the round gallop before heading out to join them. Maria’s Flame looked in great order and worked with Punctuation, and Tia who always rides Blue Bikini and absolutely adores her was thrilled with the way she worked. She had gone very hard from the bottom, and as she flattened out 2/3 of the way through her work, Tia said that she just gave ger a squeeze and a shake of the reins and she was straight back on the bridle and worked really well all the way to the top – a nice piece of work after which she was declared in Ludlow on Thursday – although it looked very likely that Jack Frost would intervene in those plans! Intrepide Sud looks fantastic and comes up that hill with the minimum of effort. Scott who rode him was very taken with his work – we know his wind is not the best, but we all agree that since his return form a spell on the sidelines with an injury, he seems to be better in that regard. He has now started to school over hurdles, and as we all know he is exceptional over an obstacle, so it is safe to say that we are all really looking forward to seeing him back on the track. His return is not imminent, but he isn’t far off – and he will start over hurdles but could switch to fences sooner rather than later. It is great to see him back and going so well!

Intrepide Sud schooling on Monday.

Greyval - twice up first lot

Maria's Flame - near side of Punctuation

Intrepide Sud near side

Blue Bikini (ner side) in flying form - and worked great! 

Fortune Forever, jogged up sound after her run the day before and will be out again in 3-4 weeks. Although she deserved a day of R&R after her run – she was called on to be our ‘model’ for the filming of an endoscope - taking one for the team! Hidden Beauty was another to be filmed – as Kevin scanned her pelvis. She trotted up sound, but the scan revealed that the area of concern remained – so she will be limited to sessions on the horse walker for the next couple of weeks and we will reassess after that. The danger is that she could do herself a major injury if she were to be worked at this stage – so it is a really good effort by the team to spot that she was ever so slightly lame, as being on the ball has saved her from something potentially far worse!

Fortune Forever 

Hidden Beauty and Sophie

Blue Bikini and Tia

            Wednesday morning, another early one – and into Warren Chase to see the team there. Tintagel Queen sadly off games and confined to barracks – she is comfortable and being a really good patient. The vet will be in again early next week to assess her. Injuries are never good – but this one could not have come at a worse time! Just as we were getting going with her. At least we know that she has plenty of ability and will certainly be lots of fun for her syndicate when she returns! Auditoria is in fine form, and after suffering a really nasty cut before Christmas she is back in flying form. She will run in the next 4/5 days. Itchy Feet is also in great order and looks fantastic – although he had the entry in Lingfield – we have decided to wait until next week, and he will be aimed at the Pertemps Qualifier in Huntingdon on Thursday – a race he won last year – and from there he is likely to follow the same route as last year – with a spin in the Rendlesham in Haydock before another outing at The Cheltenham Festival in March. After that it will be Aintree or Punchestown – and we will chat about that in the next few weeks.


Itchy Feet

            Thursday and with a -6 start it was good to be in the office for the day – more Red Sash Racing welcome packs out – and one of the two available shares taken in Reflexion Faite – we wish Ben the best of luck with his new horse. Ben has a share in the very exciting Cloud Dancer, and it was good to get an update from Josh Moore on Thursday and to hear that he is 100% again now, and although he had not galloped this week due to the sub zero temperatures, he was ready to do so, and they would be looking to get him out again in the next couple of weeks. Already a hurdles winner, he jumps very well, and could switch to handicap company – where a step up in trip looks likely to suit as well. It will be very interesting where we end up with him going into the spring. He certainly has a nice future ahead of him!

            Friday – plenty to get done before we headed out for a ‘Christmas Lunch’. Donald McCain was on early to chat about Dino Bellagio – who was still not 100% after his run in Doncaster. They had ridden him, and he had cantered away, and as usual was a fresh as a daisy and wanting to very much get on with life! But when he returned to the yard, he was still not 100%. It is very much like what he went through before his run in the Aintree Bumper last year – and if you look at how he ran in that, and how he ran in Doncaster there are huge similarities – we know that he is a lot better than he showed in both of those runs, so as there is the possibility that we are back where we were last spring – and as what we have done with him in the meantime has not got us far – we have decided to send Dino down to Newmarket for a full body bone scan – which will pinpoint exactly where the problem is and he can have targeted treatment, rather than working blind, as given the tools at his disposal on the yard, Donalds vet cannot find a reason for the problem. So it will be baked beans for tea for me for a while – as you can imagine how expensive a full body bone scan is for a horse – they do not come cheap – but as Donald says – this is Dino, and we know how good he is – we need to get him back to the sort of form he was in 12 months ago when he demolished a good field in a Doncaster bumper as a 4 yr old with a penalty – and this is the right thing to do! On the plus side – Donald is thrilled with Ridin Solo who has certainly come on in his work from his Sedgefield debut – he has an entry in Wetherby on Thursday – and a decision will be made as to his participation in the next 24 hours. After so many abandonments recently there is a back log of horses wanting/needing to run – so it may be wise to wait a week until the initial rush to run has subsided. Wherever he goes – all the Club members are looking forward to seeing him – including Club Ambassador Luke Harvey who had this message for members when I met up with him earlier this week.

Also, on Friday morning it was good to get updates about all the team at Ivy Lodge Farm – Jason is great at getting videos out for all syndicate members and owners. Mamoon Star had left Ivy Lodge Farm on Wednesday and is now at the yard of Olympic Gold Medallist Eventer, Laura Collett, where he will have a few days of flat work and dressage. This will do him the world of good both physically and mentally, and after that he will return to being a racehorse at Ravenswell. At Ivy Lodge Farm, Reflexion Faite is really well – and has certainly strengthened up from last year – she will always be a light framed filly, but she has done well over the winter and hopefully that will enable her to stay just a fraction further this summer, which will suit her far more than the 5f trips we had to campaign her over as a two year old. Old Blue Eyes is back cantering and is going great. As mentioned, injuries are never good at any stage, as they cost time, and time costs money – but a little like Intrepide Sud – Old Blue Eyes’ set back could just be a blessing in disguise, as it has given him that time to grow and mature, and he is a different horse to the one that was in training only 3 months ago. We know that he has plenty of ability, he has already shown us that in the quality of his work at Bankhouse, and he will return there soon – hopefully to make his racecourse debut this spring – at the very least he will have a racecourse gallop so that his owners can get to see him out before his summer holiday.

Reflexion Faite

Old Blue Eyes

Good to catch up with Louise Kemble at The Elms Stud, with an update on the team there, and to go through some plans. One decision that does need to be made quite quickly is a mating for Savingforvegas – every day I seem to change my mind – and have countless books on the desk, with details of stallions in the UK France and Ireland, as she does not have a foal at foot this year and she could travel abroad. Just when I think I have made a decision - someone says something that puts you off a certain sire – so it seems to be a never-ending search – with so many variables to take into account! I will have to man up and make a choice very soon – but will wait until I have seen a few of her prospective ‘husbands’ on show in Doncaster next week. There are plenty of Barrys owners who would like to see him, and I will arrange a convenient time with Louise in the next couple of weeks to get in to see him– he is very well, and will head down to Jason Maguires in March for 8-10 weeks of training, after which he will return to The Elms and Finbar and Floyd our 2 yr olds will head down to be broken in and start cantering away. It is a system that works well and seems to hugely benefit the horses going forward. After a busy morning – we headed up to the The Bridge Hotel in Huntingdon for a ‘Christmas Lunch’ with the team at Atacanter who couldn’t squeeze in a get together in December. It was a really good lunch, that for us over ran into the evening and we hooked up with friends for an impromptu little drink! Lunch for me ended up being a near 9 hour affair which of course was great fun!! Thanks to Andy and Claire for lunch – you should have stayed!

            Saturday – and we missed our usual update from Barbury Castle – Alan King still in exotic places – but I did catch up with his assistant, Robin, in Hereford on Monday and he reported that Rockola was really well and back doing plenty of cantering. We hope to get a visit arranged there in the next couple of weeks.

            Next week looks busy – we head to Doncaster on Monday – a sale there on Tuesday – National Hunt foals and some horses in training – I may just look at a few foals – you never know there may be a bargain in there. Sadly, I will not be in Newbury where both Blue Bikini and Maria’s Flame have been declared to run – MF will make her hurdling debut in a national hunt junior hurdle, and Blue Bikini will run in the 3m mares handicap hurdle. Thanks to Debbie who will be on duty and debut as ‘Syndicate Manager’ for the day.  Auditoria is an intended runner in Catterick on Wednesday so I will stay in Yorkshire on Tuesday night and may even get into a flat yard on Wednesday morning. If Donald declares Ridin Solo in Wetherby on Thursday I will make it a third night out and stay up for that too – at this rate I will be coming back with a flat cap and a whippet!

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