Itchy, Fizzy, Fun and Frustration
We certainly crammed a fair bit into the last seven days!
On Sunday we had declared both Blue Bikini and Maria’s Flame in Tuesday’s meeting in Newbury, but by Monday morning after 20mm of overnight rain – their ground had gone soft with more rain forecast and after a chat with Fergal we both agreed that the soft ground would definitely not suit either of them, so they would be non runners on Tuesday. If we have learned one thing about Blue Bikini it is that she just does not handle a soft surface, when she won in Catterick on her last start, Fergal had walked the track with Fern before racing and he said the ground up there was beautiful and she had run a career best on it. When she encountered soft ground on her seasonal debut in Chepstow– where they too had got heavy rain the night before racing and the ground was certainly soft, and not the Good to Soft that remains in the form book, she was definitely not at her best, so we both agreed that it would not be right to run her. Maria’s Flame, after showing a great deal of promise on her racecourse debut in Ludlow had really struggled in the soft ground in Newbury before Christmas, and with the going stick reading exactly the same as that day – it was not a difficult decision to take her out too – this would go on to look like the best decision we have ever made as the week progressed.
Having withdrawn both of Tuesdays runners – I did not have to arrange Owners Badges for the members that were due to travel but I was never far from the computer, tracking entries in a couple of races at the weekend where Ridin Solo would be making his second start for The Red Sash Racing Club, and also keeping an eye on Wednesdays declarations in Catterick where Auditoria would be returning to the track after giving herself a really nasty cut while schooling a few weeks ago, and having to have a spell on the easy list. She would be stepping up to 3m 1f for the first time, and we were looking forward to seeing her back on track.
After lunch I set off for Doncaster, where we would be attending their January Sale on Tuesday. The catalogue made up of horses in training, and National Hunt yearlings – and it was great to catch up with friends and clients on Monday evening before we left the sales complex, including the team that have purchased Volkovka from us, and who are really pleased with her. She remains on box rest, as she is still recovering from the procedure that she underwent in Newmarket a few weeks ago, but she should get the all clear to go out in a small paddock in the next week or two. She has settled in well and is a good patient. We will get the syndicate account settled in the next couple of weeks, and it is good to have so many members of The Tyringham Partnership who owned her, agree to take shares in our other horses – Rockola now sold out, and just a couple of shares in Old Blue Eyes remain. We wish them all the best of luck with their new horses and thank them for their continued trust and support!
In the evening we headed out to La Boca in town – Argentinian Steak house – a great dinner, after which we did something a little different, and headed up the street to a snooker club where we racked the balls up for three frames of very average snooker! The score 2-1 to my opponent – three close frames all going down to the black – I lost the first – went in off a stunning pot on the final black to lose the second, and then cleared pink and black to win the last – I had not played snooker in ages and it was a fun night!
Tuesday, and the sales, although certainly not spectacular were probably a shade better than a lot of folks thought they would be. Trade again selective, but there was certainly demand for the right animal. With Auditoria declared to run in Catterick on Wednesday it didn’t make any sense to travel home to go back up to North Yorkshire on Wednesday – so I headed up to York, and a night in the Marriot Hotel which backs on to the back straight of York Racecourse, and would make a great base for a racing break.
An early morning view from the Marriott Hotel in York.
In the morning I made the short trip to visit the yard of David O’Meara who trains just outside York at Upper Helmsley. David has a yard of over 120 flat horses and the former jump jockey has developed a very good training facility. It was good to meet Racing TV presenter Chris Dixon who lives locally and helps David out with race planning. Chris was kind enough to show me around and it was really interesting to chat to him about syndication. David has a number of interesting features at his yard, none more impressive than the computerised ‘work board’ which really was impressive, and one that a lot of yards could use – it was very ineresting to see technology used in such a way – another tool to make life easier for sure! During the previous night we had found ourselves in the teeth of storm Jocelyn, which provided Yorkshire with some very strong winds and a lot of rain – the ground at Catterick going from the better side of Soft – which would have been OK for Auditoria, to Soft, Heavy in places – which was very likely to put pay to any chance that she had. Olly and I did discuss not running her, but we both felt that it would be worth her taking her chance. She had put in a strange leap on her last start in Leicester, and we both felt that even if the rain had robbed us of a chance of winning, it was worth running to get her back in the groove after her short break, and make sure that whatever she did in Leicester was a one off, and not something that she was likely to pull out of her locker again. Fergus Gregory rode her, and she jumped around really well, but hated the ground and was rightly pulled up before the second last. She will be a far different proposition on better ground in the spring.
It was good to catch up with former jockey Andrew Tinkler who was making a rare appearance in Catterick – he now has a role with Weatherbys Bank, and it was good to talk through a few things with him and get a couple of dates in the diary for later in the year.
While in Catterick I caught up with Donald McCain who had news of Ridin Solo – Donald had slight concerns over the health of a few of his younger horses, and as a result had had a few of them scoped including Ridin Solo. RS was found to have a slight respiratory infection and would not be declared at the weekend. He will have a course of antibiotics and a few days on the easy list and be back on song in no time. Coincidentally, we have just published the first of our ‘In Behind’ features in the Members Area of the website, which covers endoscopes and tracheal washes. We get to see leading equine vet Kevin Bishop perform a scope and trach wash, and explain the process, the findings and the subsequent treatment. Head to www.redsashracing.co.uk – purchase a share in Ridin Solo for just £100 and unlock your access to the Members Area where you can see the video! On the way home it was good to get an update from the vet regarding Tintagel Queen. She has been on box rest after suffering a pelvic injury a couple of weeks ago. She is being a perfect patient, and the vet is very happy with how she is. She is weight bearing and is standing square. He will give her a more thorough examination early next week, and then a plan will be put in place for her recovery and rehabilitation.
Long journeys are a chance to catch up with trainers – and I spoke to Josh Moore about Cloud Dancer, who is over his hock injury, and had worked at the weekend. He came through the work fine and was sound the day after, but his work did lack a bit of spark, and he too was found to be suffering from a low-grade respiratory infection when he was scoped. Like Ridin Solo he will have a course of antibiotics and a few days on the easy list before returning to full work. His race in Ascot is working out supremely well, and we can’t wait to see him out again!
Thursday it was nice to have a short trip up the road to Huntingdon where Itchy Feet was contesting the Pertemps Qualifier – the race that he won last season. There is probably no quirkier horse in training than Itchy – and we are fully aware that everything has to go right for him in a race for him to be seen at his best. He doesn’t actually like big fields, so things were definitely not in his favour this time. With Sean Bowen still off games, it was good to have Brendan Powell back in our colours, the first time he had ridden Itchy Feet. Brendan gave him a lovely ride, just as Sean had advised, but Itchy was never really travelling during the race, and in the end he ran OK to finish seventh, when he looked like tailing himself off at half way. The plan is to follow the same path as last year and head to the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle in Haydock next month, a race he was second in last season, and one where he is certain to meet a smaller field, which is sure to suit. He will be trained with this race in mind – and hopefully he can go one better than last year. Sean Bowen by the way, is recovering well from the knee injury he suffered in Aintree on Boxing Day, and will hopefully be back riding in the next couple of weeks. It was good to catch up with a few old friends in Huntingdon – Alan was a member with us from the very start, and still has a small share in a youngster and it was good to catch up with John who stays in touch through his sister Kathyryn’s interest in Blue Bikini. It was also great to see Midnight Mary run into third place and earn herself some black type in the Listed Mares Chase on the card – I don’t think I have cheered on a third place run more in my life – very important for a mare like her to gain her black type for her breeding career, and it was a bold move by her owner Louise Kemble and her trainer Lucy Wadham to run her in the race! Well done to all involved!
Itchy Feet pre race
Itchy post race
On Thursday night we headed into Bedford for an early dinner at a new pizza restaurant, Naughty Pizza – who have two sites – this one in Bedford, the other in Dubai! Another one that is worth a visit. After we had eaten, we wandered round the corner to the Corn Exchange where we enjoyed a couple of hours being hugely entertained by the very funny Rhod Gilbert. He has been on quite the journey in the last 2 years, having successfully recovered from head and neck cancer – on his own admission, the last couple of years of his life make a strange background for his latest tour – but it is a very very funny show, catch him if you can – he is touring it for another 18 months – it’s great! This is the fourth time we have seen him live and it was good to do so once again in the company of Matt and Sarah!
Friday – monthly accounts day – and a chance to catch up with Fergal after he had watched work in the morning. Greyval had done a sparkling piece of work with a very good horse on Tuesday, and had backed that up when (in Fergal’s words ) ‘destroying’ a Listed Bumper winner that morning. It looks like she is right back to her best and if the ground conditions allow, she will be out again in the next couple of weeks. Intrepide Sud had also worked really well, and he is due to make his long awaited return in a couple of weeks too – a point to point and bumper winner, before suffering a leg injury in July 2022, he is a horse that has an awful lot of promise, and it is hoped that he can get his career back on track when he encounters hurdles for the first time. His schooling has been exceptional, and we can’t wait to see him back! Blue Bikini had gone well, and will continue to have entries going forward, she could still be well handicapped on 119. Fortune Forever is in good heart, and Hidden Beauty remains on light duties after a pelvic problem a few weeks ago. Another one that has also suffered a small issue this week is Maria’s Flame, whom was ever so slightly lame on Thursday, and when the vet checked her over on Friday, he found that she too had a small but significant issue with her pelvis. She will be re examined in a couple of weeks – there is no fracture, and it can’t even be called a stress fracture, but for sure, it would have soon been a serious issue had she been galloped! A really good spot by the staff to see that she wasn’t quite right, and also so lucky that she didn’t line up in Newbury on Tuesday – that could have made the situation 100 times worse! She will be fine and is still a filly that we like a lot.
Greyval working near side of Grade 2 winner Kamsinas
Alan King returned from a holiday in The Maldives and was straight back into the grove, sending in a video of Rockola swinging up the hill on Friday morning. She had a break after her run in Doncaster and will run in another bumper in the coming weeks before a switch to hurdles. I saw Alan in Cheltenham yesterday – and he was delighted with her and is likely to get her schooling again this coming week.
Rockola Breezing up on Friday morning
Jason Maguire sent a couple of videos of Old Blue Eyes through – he is back doing plenty of cantering, and he will head back to Donald McCain in 2-3 weeks. He really has developed into a lovely horse, and this son of Blue Bresil is a very exciting prospect – we know what he can do from his work in the autumn, and the break that he has had has done him the world of good! Reflexion Faite is also in great order, and she will head back into training in the next week or so – and should give her owners plenty of fun through the summer!
Old Blue Eyes cantering, he has developed into a lovely horse - just 2 shares remain!!
Old Blue Eyes
It was good to get down to Goldington Road on Friday night to see Bedford Blues earn a hard fought win over London Scottish - nights under the floodlights down there are really enjoyable!
Of the others – Mamoon Star has spent a few days with Olympic Gold Medal winning eventer Laura Collet – to do plenty of flat work, and dressage. He returned to Ravenswell on Friday afternoon.
Mamoon Star and Laura Collett
Dino Bellagio heads down to Newmarket on Monday for a bone scan, which will hopefully identify the source of his aches and pains. We know he has all the ability in the world, but things have not gone to plan with him, and we need to get to the bottom of it!
Yesterday we headed down to Cheltenham for a fantastic days racing – I did not drive, which led to far too much fun! I blame a certain syndicate member – who I found in the Champagne Bar – which is where I seem to have spent far too long!! It was fun though – although probably not for Paul who had to endure a couple of hours in the car with me as a passenger on the way home!
As I type, England are getting very close to winning the first Test in India – hopefully they can get it done and set up a fantastic series!