Not to be for England in the second Test last week – but at least the match was not affected by the weather – and how I wish that the same could be said for our week!! The rain in the past week has been nothing short of biblical at times – and throw in a blizzard as well – and all in all, the whole week went pear shaped very quickly!
Monday, I did something I had never done before – I went to Carlisle. The Red Sash Racing Club having their second runner – Ridin Solo contesting the opening race on the card – he had come out of his debut second in Sedgefield on Boxing Day in great order, and with the form of that race taking a few notable boosts, we went to Carlisle with a great chance. We felt that he had the beating of all of the runners making their hurdling debuts, and also felt that the 7lb penalties carried by the two previous winners in the race may just hinder their efforts enough to see Ridin Solo open his account under rules. I had a really easy and pleasant drive up and arrived at the track in good time and enjoyed having a wander around the enclosures before racing – Carlisle is a very pleasant track – and ‘Old School’ northern track. Ridin Solo looked great in the paddock – and Brian Hughes was looking forward to riding him – saying that he would keep things simple, ride him handy, make use of his jumping, challenge after the last and hopefully win. It all went to plan, apart from the well backed favourite finding enough on the run in to stay ahead of RS. Brian came back in and said that he was pleased with the run as RS had been very green, both going to post and during the race. This was just his third start, and his inexperience told after the last, when just as Brian thought he would go on and pick the leader up, Ridin Solo hung in behind that rival and couldn’t get past. Brian said that he was sure to win very soon and described him as a ‘winner in waiting’ – lots for the club members to look forward to!
Doesn't look it - but it was bloody breezy in Carlisle!
Ridin Solo in the paddock
Coming back in
Post Race - a winner in waiting.
After a nice lunch with a few of the club members that were there, I headed off back down the M6 and across the Pennines to Malton in Yorkshire where I would be spending the night. I had arranged to visit our newest trainer, Nigel Tinkler while up in the north, so I headed there, and had a night out with Nigel in Malton. On the way over the A66 I caught up with Josh Moore for an update on Cloud Dancer who has been off the track for a few weeks after getting a curb on a hock after his last run in Ascot. The curb has settled down and he is sound and working again now – but has been held up with a little respiratory infection for a couple of weeks. The team has changed a few things with his day to day management, and he it will not be long before we see him back on the track. Monday night in Malton is quiet with a few of the nicer restaurants closed, so we headed for a decent Pizzeria on the Market Square, which was OK – just OK – a lovely setting, food OK – I have had better, and one of the draw backs of dining with a ‘local celebrity’ is that we were joined by some ‘interesting characters’ who invited themselves to join us at our table. As they used to say in the News of The World – after a while ‘We made our excuses and left’!
I spent Monday night at the yard – where Nigel and his wife Kim have built a lodge and was up bright and early to see Reflexion Faite on the gallop – not as early as Nigel who was out in the dark on a very blustery morning, continuing his mission of getting his new white railings up around his canter track! Second lot we jumped in the car and headed off through the village to Nigel’s Langton Wold gallops – a private facility that he has with Brian Ellison and Steve Brown. A very impressive gallop – with a range of grass and all-weather gallops – something for everyone. Reflexion Faite has settled in well after her move from Ivy Lodge Farm last week, and she cantered under Faye McManoman just once up the woodchip. Faye was really pleased with her, describing her as very athletic and ever so slightly buzzy. She will settle down and I am sure that she will thrive in the quieter environment in Yorkshire. I am looking forward to visiting a few different tracks in the summer for sure! After watching her exercise, it was back to the yard – Nigel back to his rails – me back to my lodgings to get a bit of work done on the computer before getting changed and heading down, over the Humber Bridge to Market Rasen to see Blue Bikini.
Monday nights digs
Reflexion Faite and Faye McManoman on the top of the Langton Wold gallops
RF Back in her box after exercise
As I left Yorkshire the rain began to fall, and it was pretty heavy all the way into north Lincolnshire, and I arrived at Market Rasen just ahead of it. I knew it was coming, and I feared that the nearer it got, the less chance Blue Bikini had of winning! The rain finally arrived as the horses were in the parade ring for the first race, and as I had driven through it already, I knew there was plenty to come. Fergal won the second race, after which Paddy Brennan described the ground as on the softer side of Good to Soft, but by the time they had run the third – they changed the ground to soft all over. Having had such a wet winter, it does not take a lot of rain to quickly get into the ground and change things appreciably – so we had a decision to make – did we run Blue Bikini on ground that we are pretty sure she doesn’t like, or take her home? We decided to run – and at least we proved one thing – she really doesn’t handle soft ground! Connor Brace was on board and was good and handy on her, and had her travelling and jumping well, but as they made the decent around the home turn for the final time BB came under pressure and just couldn’t pick up on that poached surface. She stopped quickly and Connor rightly pulled her up after she scrambled over the second last. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we should possibly not have run, but as she appears to put a poor run in after a good one – we have at least had the poor one on bad ground, and not ‘wasted’ one on a sound surface – although that is of course not taking into account the cause and effect of the soft ground. The drive home was particularly unpleasant – with heavy rain most of the way down the A1 causing traffic to slow to 30mph in some places!
Blue Bikini in the parade ring
Getting a drink
Blue Bikini and Tia post race
Wednesday morning spent organising the badges for our trip to Doncaster with Rockola on Thursday – Doncaster having an issue with incoming emails not making that an easy job – but in the end, after interrupting a lady’s yoga class we got everything sorted! In the afternoon I put the finishing touches to The Tyringham Partnership accounts and emailed the final settlement to syndicate members. Volkovka moved on to her new career as a broodmare last month – and now that all the January invoices are in, I was able to get it sorted. Delighted that a fair few of her owners have purchased shares in a couple of our other horses and we wish them the very best of luck with their new horses. Their continued trust and support always appreciated.
On Wednesday night more rain fell, and as the wet weather made its way past us and further north it was forecast to meet cold air descending from the arctic which would result in snowfall. Doncaster was firmly in the firing line for snow, and we set off on a wet Thursday morning heading north with everything crossed that the worst they would get would be sleet – it wouldn’t be nice, but we would be racing. Rockola entered in the Junior National Hunt Novices Hurdle – making her hurdling debut after two third place efforts in bumpers. As we neared Grantham on the A1 – the first sign of snow – more sleety rain – but there were definitely a few flakes in there – by the time we got just beyond Newark – proper snow, and settling. A quick check on the BHA website – and at 11.29am Doncaster updated their going to Good to Soft, Soft in Places – Racing Goes Ahead! Positive news – they wouldn’t have been racing in Newark – hopefully Donny was missing it somehow. As I drove into the carpark it was clear that Donny was now not missing it - it was pretty heavy and didn’t look like easing up! I got onto the track, and within 15 minutes it became clear that we were in trouble. The snow got heavier and heavier, and as the horses were parading for the first a delegation of trainers and jockeys headed out onto the track to assess conditions. The result – racing abandoned – the bloody weather putting the kybosh on another day this week. On this occasion we had no expectations of a Rockola win – it would have been her first start over hurdles and the strongest race of it’s type ever run – but we were confident that she would run well. Her hurdles debut will now be later this month in Hereford.
Shortly after racing was abandoned!
Rockola travelled up and back fine and cantered on Friday morning. Another bleak trip back down the A1 – the second in three days – and when I got home the bad news continued – more weather disruption – Greyval had been declared to run in Kempton on Friday and when the declaration was made they had good ground – perfect for her – she has been under a cloud for most of the season, and it has been a job to get her 100% healthy – but in her work recently she has been back to her brilliant best – and tests have confirmed that she is in rude health – so we were all very much looking forward to her running again. The rain on Thursday had forced Kempton into announcing a precautionary inspection at 8.00am on Friday as their ground was getting very soft, and there was the risk of the lake bend being waterlogged. As soon as I saw that I knew that Greyval would not be going – and a chat with Fergal confirmed it – we both agreed that her next run needs to be a good one now that he has her back on song, and therefore all boxes need to be ticked – she would be a non-runner on that ground.
This meant that Friday was now free – a chance to catch up on a few things. A chat with Fergal regarding the other horses there – Intrepide Sud had entries in Bangor and Newbury this week – we didn’t even bother entertaining Bangor which would be way to soft and was abandoned on Thursday anyway. Newbury also deemed to be to much of a test after his layoff – he has been entered in Lingfield on Tuesday – and will have entries going forward too. He has been working very very well – so hopefully we get to see him back on track very soon. Maria’s Flame is back doing a bit – she was very slightly lame a couple of weeks ago and has needed a bit of time for a pelvic issue to settle down – a scan on Tuesday conformed that she is able to resume light exercise, which can be stepped up next week. Good to have her back. Hidden Beauty not quite so lucky – she requires a further few weeks just on the walker – anything more would result in a nasty injury. Fortune Forever was due to have an entry in Hereford next week – but in the end we felt we would just be wasting money, and she will wait for better ground – having fallen foul of being tempted into running Blue Bikini on the wrong ground earlier in the week, it was a good call not to enter FF and therefore remove all temptation to run her. There are options for her going forward. Mamoon Star is cantering away and will be back when we get some decent ground.
It was good to get an update from Jason Maguire about the horses that he has at his Ivy Lodge Farm. Old Blue Eyes is doing lots and lots of cantering and will head back up to Donald McCains very soon – he goes really well, and is a horse that everyone really likes – the lads at Bankhouse are all keen to get him back up there for sure! Dino Bellagio has started his rehab from the rare fracture he sustained in his last run in Doncaster. He has settled in well and is being hand walked every day – which will continue for the first month, before a further month on the walker – he will make a full recovery, and although this season did not go at all to plan – we can reset and go again next autumn – when hopefully this years experiences will stand him in good stead and he can follow the exciting path we had mapped out for him this time last year!
Dino Bellagio walking in hand
Saturday – a day of racing, rugby and wine! First up it was a chance to get the latest 'In Behind' feature published on the Red Sash Racing website members area - this one all about gastric ulcers in horses, and a video of a horse being gastroscoped, and ulcers diagnosed. A big part of what the Racing Club is about is education - and this is just the latest in a series of videos that will shine a light on some of the lesser known elements that go into getting a racehorse to the track. Later in the morning it was nice to see a few videos of the 2 yr old filly we have up in Cheshire with Will Kinsey at Peel Hall. She is a half sister to Hidden Beauty – and has really developed nicely. She is a strong well made young lady, who has now been lunges and long reined, and losse schooled over an obstacle – Will is very happy with her, and she is showing all the signs of being a racehorse at this stage anyway!
Two year old half sister to Hidden Beauty
Some good racing in the afternoon, and great to see Alan King have a double in Newbury – Edwardstone looking mightily impressive in winning the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase. I missed the last couple of races as we headed through untold floods and out to Godmanchester to watch the England v Wales match with friends. England winning a very average match between two very average sides - Wales in transition – England just in trouble? Shortly after the match we headed out for an evening of wine tasting at EJM Wines in St Ives – a really fun evening – owner Gary a very informative host – without blinding everyone with science – he just knows his stuff! He takes great pride in finding out what folks like, and then introducing them to a far better value alternative with all the characteristics of the original. We all learned a lot about wines – and it is definitely something I would recommend – If you are in the area look Gary up – he has been in the trade for 30+ years and really knows his stuff!
A great night of wine tasting at EJM Wines in St Ives with the Griggs - Nicholsons
Sunday morning started like a Tom and Jerry cartoon - (IYKYK) followed by a fantastic breakfast! A text from Fergal and Intrepide Sud is declared – he will make his long awaited reappearance in Lingfield on Tuesday. Really looking forward to seeing the big man over hurdles, but I won’t see him in the flesh as I will be in London on the day – but delighted for his patient owners, that they get to see him back on track. With Paddy Brennan serving a 10 day ban – Liam Harrison takes the ride.
Up at Warren Chase Itchy Feet is in great order, and he will have an entry in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle next weekend in Haydock. A race he was second in last season – good to see Sean Bowen back riding again – and he should be back on board Itchy on Saturday. Tintagel Queen is recovering from her hind leg fracture, and as soon as the vet gives the go ahead, she will transfer down to Jason Maguires to continue her recovery and rehab there. Auditoria is well and will be back out again soon – although when that will be is anyones guess, as she doesn’t like very deep ground for sure!
That rounds up a week of shattered plans! Hopefully the weather will settle down now – and we get a drier spell – we badly need it!