When Will It Stop?

Groundhog Day! Last week – England up against it in India – and it was pouring with rain – same shxt different day! We were due to have had a few runners in the last week – but once again the weather put the mockers on one of them, and two that would have run were sadly not able to do so for different reasons. The wet weather and heavy ground have been a real headache this season – as we saw in Market Rasen last week – with the ground already saturated, the merest shower can turn ground very soft very quickly – and with the bulk of our team needing a sounder surface, it has led to a very frustrating period of non runners and rearranged plans.

            It is safe to say that we had been really looking forward to the week for quite some time. We were due to see the long awaited return of Intrepide Sud in Lingfield on Tuesday – Fortune Forever would be stepping up in trip on her second start in a handicap – something that looked sure to suit, and Itchy Feet would be heading to Haydock on Saturday for the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, a race that he was second in last season, and one that had been his target since that day 12 months ago! It did not take too long for those plans to unravel!

            By 9.00am on Monday morning, one was out of the window – one looked like following, and the third looked unlikely. First out the traps was Fergal who sent a photo of Intrepide Sud, shortly followed by a call to say that sadly he would not be running in Lingfield as he had contracted a bout of ringworm, and would not be able to run. Ringworm is very contagious and horses that are showing signs of it are not permitted to run until they have undergone appropriate treatment and skin scrapes have been taken and proved to no longer be contagious. It is no secret how much I have been looking forward to seeing Intrepide Sud back on track – he is the most imposing horse on the team – a stunning looking horse with a fantastic pedigree. He started off in one of our pinhooking syndicates, but when he came to be sold as a three yr old store in Ireland he was found to be suffering with a wind issue, which prevented him from being presented at the sale. After undergoing wind surgery, he was transferred to our racing team and after winning his point to point in the UK he made his rules debut in a bumper in Aintree where he ran far too free, but did show what he was capable of, and proved that the wind surgery had worked. While he was fit, and with better ground helping him out with his breathing he remained in training for the first part of the summer, and after finishing second on his debut for Fergal O’Brien in Worcester in early July, he returned to the track to win a similar heat later in the month. Sadly, he suffered a leg injury in winning that race, and he has been given all the time and rehab that he needed at Ivy Lodge Farm in the meantime. He has always been the most fantastic of jumpers, and we have all been looking forward to seeing him over an obstacle – and his schooling at Ravenswell Farm has been top drawer. To get so close and have to miss out was not the start to the week that we were looking for.

Things did not improve! Within half an hour, Olly Murphy had called to say that he had entered Itchy Feet in the Rendlesham – but was not 100% happy with him – he had not been moving great since his last start, and although that had improved, he felt IF was a bit flat, and if he didn’t improve through the week, he would not be able to run him. As The Rendlesham had been his target for 12 months and was one of the few races in the calendar that suits him – it was a real hammer blow to be possibly missing out. It is safe to say that I was not in the best of moods on Monday morning - but at least Fortune Forever had an entry in Southwell at the weekend to look forward to – I should have known better!

            Tuesday offered a bit of welcome relief – a day away from horses and racing and a bit of time spent in London. A spot of brunch when we got there, and then a look around the Elvis exhibition in the Arches at London Bridge. Interesting to see so many exhibits from his life, including an inventory of all the horses that he owned – he was more of a Quarter Horse and Tennessee Walking horse fan than a racehorse man! I am by no means a big Elvis Fan – but this was a well put together exhibition of the life of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century. From London Bridge, we headed up to Covent Garden, and a visit to The Salisbury – which if you have never visited you must – not only is it a nice, homely spot, close to all of the attractions and the theatre district – it serves the finest pint of Guiness in London! After making sure that the Guiness was up to scratch – (it took a few to make sure) we headed up to Seven Dials and The Hawksmoor for a superb steak dinner. Another one well worth a visit – potted beef and Yorkshire puddings to start – and a superb ribeye for main! After all the recent frustrations with weather etc. It was good to get into town for the day.


One thing I did do before I left was check what the handicapper had given Ridin Solo for his opening mark - 106 – my thoughts on this, and where he goes in the future are in the Members Area of The Red Sash Racing Club website – if you haven’t joined yet – you should – there are a couple of very interesting features that everyone will enjoy – with a further one going on there next week.

            Wednesday was a quiet day – an update from Olly Murphy – he was slightly happier with Itchy Feet, but still far from sure if he should run on Saturday – fingers were crossed. One that would be on the road was Savingforvegas who left The Elms Stud on Wednesday evening and headed across the Channel to France – where she has a date with Nirvana Du Berlais. She arrived at her new lodgings safe and sound on Thursday morning after an overnight crossing.

            If Itchy Feet was to run on Saturday, he would be declared on Thursday morning, so we headed up to Warren Chase to see how he was and to chat over the declaration. Olly left the final call up to us – he was happy to run – but felt that Itchy would not be seen at his best - so in the end the decision was a simple one really – he would not go. Disappointing, but you simply cannot run a horse when all the signs are that he/she is not 100% - there was nothing to gain – and plenty to lose. Sadly, this was the last race in the season that would suit him, but he will now give his owners their annual trip to The Cheltenham Festival and run in the Pertemps Final on the Thursday after which he could well have a trip over to Punchestown for a race there. Auditoria is back on song but is another one that definitely does not need the heavy/soft ground, so I decided that while all we were having was wet weather, she was better off having a short break away from Warren Chase which would freshen her up and extend her season out into the summer where she would get her favoured sounder surface. Tintagel Queen has transferred to Ollys other yard in the village, but I did see the vet while I was in there and he is happy with her. He has proved beyond doubt that she fractured her tibia, but he also wants to make 100% sure that she has not injured her pelvis in any way – and when he is happy with that, she too will head down to Ivy Lodge Farm to start her recovery and rehab. She will return to training in July.

Itchy Feet


Itchy leading Audrey 

On the way home I caught up with Fergal – and got an update on all the team there. Ground in Southwell already too soft, with further rain forecast – so Fortune Forever would not be declared there – and we would see how Taunton looked on Tuesday – but neither of us were too optimistic. Blue Bikini all good and back cantering along with Maria’s Flame. Mamoon Star has settled back into his routine well and looks great – he will have a spring/summer campaign – he is another one that really does not like soft ground. Greyval is still in blinding form – but same thing – she doesn’t want soft ground. Hidden Beauty continues to recover from her set back at Connor Braces, she is sound, and on the walker every day. Around lunchtime it was Josh Moore’s turn to dish out the sub-par news – he was not happy with Cloud Dancer who was sore ‘all over’ The vet would be in to see him the following morning. At around the same time – it was announced via a Sky Sports Racing interview with Matt Chapman, that Jamie Moore was to retire. If I am honest – not the biggest surprise – I had chatted with him between Christmas and New Year, and he had indicated that he thought there was a possibility that he had ridden in his last race. I know how much he really wanted to ride 1000 winners – and he gave himself the chance to do so – but in the end the concussions he suffered in his last 3 falls have forced the doctors to advise him that this is the right time. His Mum will be relieved!

            An early start for Old Blue Eyes on Friday – who left Ivy Lodge Farm to make the trip back up to Donald McCains. OBE had suffered a little set back in October and had done all of his rehab with Jason Maguire. When he was fit and able, he started his pre training again – and Friday was the day he headed back to Bankhouse. He was on the brink of being ready to run in the autumn before his set back – and we are all well aware of what we have – he is a very nice horse, with plenty of ability, and we can’t wait to see him make his debut in a bumper. Hopefully we will see him do that this spring – if not, he will certainly have a racecourse gallop before a summers break so that his owners can see him. Donald and all the team really like him, and he is a very exciting prospect. Another share sold in him this week – there are just a couple left now – limited chances to get involved in a well bred son of Blue Bresil (sire of Constitution Hill) who we already know has well above average ability – nickbrownracing@gmail.com – or 07909 518902. He is surely the best value son of ‘super sire’ Blue Bresil on the market! Have a look on the For Sale Page


The vet was in to see Cloud Dancer and he diagnosed sore feet – the farrier was in the yard at the same time – so he nipped off – got some special shoes and had them on him that afternoon. He says he will be as right as rain by Monday – a bit of good news! As expected, Fortune Forever not declared in Southwell on Sunday – and Taunton expecting a fair bit of rain – so that looks unlikely as well.

            Saturday – always good to get the weekly video update from Alan King – Rockola in great order and working well – with her last racecourse visit ending in a blizzard, she will head to Hereford next weekend for a fillies national hunt junior hurdle. Having schooled since she was a two year old, she is well practised and her hurdling is very good – she should go well. Sadly, the last share was not taken up by the man I thought would have it, which means there is a single share still available. She is a half sister to a black type performer, and the form of her first two runs has worked out well with the second and fifth from her debut both winning hurdle races, and the form of her latest start in Doncaster is looking very good too – the winner was fifth in the Listed Bumper in Cheltenham on New Years Day, the second who had been second to the horse that went on to win that Listed Bumper has won a maiden on the flat, running to an RPR of 79 so all in all she ticks a lot of boxes – including having a resale value when her racing days are over! Email or call me to grab the final share.

            This morning – in the time that it has taken me to type this - England have been bowled out and lost the Test Match and Fortune Forever has not been declared in Taunton as anticipated as they have had heavy overnight rain.

            Around the rest of the squad – Dino Bellagio continues his rehab at Ivy Lodge Farm – Reflexion Faite is going nicely at Nigel Tinklers and he is very happy with her progress, and Ridin Solo has come out of his Carlisle run in good form, and will be out again soon.

            I am hoping that our fortunes start to turn around soon – if it just stopped raining that would help – we have been trying to get a visit to see Barry, our 3 yr old son of Blue Bresil at The Elms for most of 2024, but it has been so wet that has just not been possible. We will definitely get there before he heads down to Jason Maguire next month.

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