If all the rain at Ascot falls, the going will change ....

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The first homebred yearling is moved into the yard

Thursday, 19 October 2017

"Waste not the smallest thing created, for grains of sand make mountains, and atomies infinity."

E. Knight.

Cantering round the bend on Hamilton Hill

It’s a very damp start to the day as it has been drizzling since first light. There is no wind, thank goodness, but that hasn’t helped clear the fog that has been lingering in places. We have had a good morning so far with some fast work at first lot with Joey Haynes in, and then good strong cantering with the others. There is plenty of laughter in the yard which is always good to hear, as happy staff, makes happy horses.

Ginger Lady

The first of the homebred yearlings are coming into the yard this morning, so we have been moving horses about from box to box to make room and so the new yearlings are all together. I always like to break my own horses in and we have got great facilities here to do so. It has become a fashion nowadays to send the yearlings to pre-trainers, but I think you learn so much, and they learn so much, from the way the horses are started. You get to know all the characters individually and you can iron out any problems yourself, but when they come back in from the outside, they, and you, have got to start again. We take our time with ours and do plenty of driving, which gives them mouths. They gain confidence in you and we gain confidence in them. It’s what’s called being a horseman. 

Driving Medaglia d'Oro 

The big Ascot build up continues to the Champions Day on Saturday, but it looks like the weather will play a major part if they get the amount of wind and rain that is forecast. The declarations come out today and at present the ground is good, good to soft. I think they have made a contingency to use the jumping course if they get a massive downpour, but at this time of year, and we have said it every year since they started, you are always going to get softish ground. I am sure there will be a lot of horses declared to run, but if it does go the wrong way, you will have quite a few withdrawals.


It was quite dark this morning

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Albert Einstein.

First lot and it's still quite dark

It’s one of those cool, damp mornings and very dark at first lot as we pulled out. I don’t know when the clocks go back, but it must be soon. The forecast is for bits and bobs of rain today, but with a lot more forecast for the weekend. Unbelievably we could do with a bit as the ground is drying up and just a good dollop would make it perfect. We had one non-runner this morning, which meant altering the board, but we have been getting on well and using Southfields turf and the newly refurbished woodchip cantering down, plus Hamilton Hill polytrack. All has gone smoothly.

Roof Garden leading Saint Anthony

This time of year is when the clippers start coming out of hibernation and you always think “why didn’t I have the blades sharpened at the end of last year so they are ready for now”. I went and bought a new set of blades, some oil and surgical spirit, which is always needed when clipping. The oil keeps everything running smoothly and the spirit, poured into a bowl, keeps the blades clean of tiny hairs. Clipping is a great art. A good clipper can make a horse look top notch, but a bad one can make it look terrible. Horses will need clipping two or three times during the winter. February is usually the time we stop as their spring coats are starting to come through. It is a must do for all horses, especially the ones in work as they sweat and are much easier and healthier to keep clean when clipped.


I see the BHA have announced a massive study into the sports integrity. The BHA are embarking on a two year mission to educate jockeys, trainers and stable staff about integrity, with the aim of giving confidence to punter and racegoers that the sport is run honestly. Who thought this one up, another job for the boys and a complete waste of money, I don’t know. The man in charge, a Mr Watts, is evidently a former Met Police detective who joined the BHA from the English Cricket Board. Yes cricket. You can’t make it up can you. He says the first stage is to create three strategic options in what he calls a Ford Cortina, a VW Golf and the Rolls Royce versions. Where have we heard this gobbledegook before, when we had Great British Racing announce Bill and Ben. A complete and utter waste of time.

We used to have some marvellous security people employed by the Jockey Club/BHA who were constantly racing with their ear to the ground. They understood racing, and I mean understood it, and could watch what was happening with trainers and jockeys and a quiet word in their ear was all that was needed. They have now disappeared, been made redundant over the years. It seems to me that this is a waste of time and money. Money which could be used much better for something else. 


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