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Another colt foal joins the stud

Monday, 20 March 2017

"Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better."

Albert Einstein.

Trotting over to the start of the canter

It was spitting with rain when I was feeding this morning just after four o’clock, and I think showers are forecast on and off all day. It certainly is not cold though and even if it was, I have had no chance of feeling it as it has been a very hectic morning already. What staff are in are working very well and Barry, my assistant, is unbelievable, a great example to anybody. Horses have been cantering on Southfields Round most of the morning and we have had one through the stalls again. He will be going through every day this week, and next, as you cannot have a stalls test for two weeks after you have been withdrawn. 

Cantering at first lot

Indian Red is the horse I am talking about above, when he shook the hood off and reared in the stalls. It is very disappointing that this happened as I don’t think the hood was tucked in well enough and once it had come off, he preceded to stand on it. He has been very good every day since at home and as I say, he will be drilled until perfect. It is just so frustrating.

Tenpence and her Mount Nelson colt foal

We had another foal at the weekend, when Tenpence produced a Mount Nelson bay colt at around seven o’clock Saturday night. This makes it in the colts favour this year. Both mother and son are doing well. You will see from the photos today that our new foster mother, Paula, is bonding well with the foal and we now have two foster mothers helping us out this year. It is amazing how nature behaves and it is lovely to see the foals taking to their new mothers. At present we have got one mare overdue, and then there is a bit of a break of a few weeks until the next batch come into the foaling boxes.

       astromancer_1    brush

              Astromancer with her Equiano filly                 Brushing with her Casamento colt

There are always idiots in this game and at least the one who gate-crashed the Cheltenham winning circle has owned up and told us he has done it many times before. He might just do it for a joke, and in some ways I suppose it is, but I wonder what would have happened if he had put his hand on the horse with a certain drug that had tested positive. What would have happened then? It is very hard to stop these infiltrators and it’s amazing to me that the authorities have not picked him up before. I know I am giving him airtime, but the least publicity this sort of thing gets, the better.      

As promised here are the final standings for the Cheltenham Festival last week.  As you will see, I was the winner once again. Although Richard got off to a good start, and jumped the fence in the lead on the first day, it soon became clear that my skills were coming to the fore. Even though neither of us tipped a winner on the last day, I still managed to keep my head in front.  All I can say is better luck next time Richard.

MHT: minus £60

Richard: minus £155                                    


                                      Paula, the foster mother, with her Casamento colt

Our best wishes go to Nicky Mackay who broke his leg very badly at Chelmsford last week in a freak accident and has had to have a major operation. It will take a long time for him to recover and let’s hope he can come back, but this type of injury can be career threatening. We mustn’t forget George Baker, who is now back in this country after his accident in Switzerland. We wish them both well.


One runner today at Lingfield

Friday, 17 March 2017

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic."

Adrienne Cook.

Indian Red at Lingfield today, bathed and ready to go

It’s another cool morning with rain forecast for the weekend. I think it will stay dry most of the day and it looks as if Cheltenham will get away without a drop of rain this year. We are a bit short on the ground this morning in the yard, and it is all hands to the pump once again. It didn’t help when a load of hay arrived at 8.30, so a couple of lads were summoned from the stud. It was all off and stored away in double quick time, so thanks to everybody. Team work is always the best way. We have been cantering close to home once again and all has gone well. I must say the horses are eating really well, which is always a good sign and I have thoroughly enjoyed feeding them this last month or so. However, at times, especially when I have got other things to do, like coverings and foaling, it has got a bit tiring. In fact I don’t know how Angie and I are still walking about this week as Angie has done all the work with the foal that needed a foster mother and fed it every hour since Sunday. The new foster mother arrived yesterday, a piebald mare, and they have bonded very well. I will get some pictures of them over the weekend.

Bracken Brae in the parade ring at Chelmsford City

Our runners didn’t run too badly once again last night, two seconds and a sixth. Bracken Brae, I think I ran her back a bit too quickly, but she still ran a very sound race. I will give her a short break now, get her freshened up and may even give her a run over hurdles on better ground. Hold Firm I definitely ran back too quickly. I could still run him off his old mark following his wins even though he had been reassessed and gone up the handicap quite a bit and with his last win being an apprentice race, he didn’t carry a penalty.

He still ran reasonably well though, to be beaten only two and a half lengths and the race was certainly not run to suit him. Gee Sixty Six finished a good second and looks like all the family in that he needs a mile and half plus, on a good galloping track. I was very pleased with how he settled and he looks like an exciting prospect for the turf season ahead.

We have one runner today at Lingfield in the 2.25 with Indian Red having his third run. I think it will be very similar to last night’s maiden in that there is one or two in here that are quite good and we will just have to see what happens. He has given a bit of trouble at the stalls before, but is much better since having a course with Yarmi here at Newmarket. I just hope for a good run. He is another great big horse with tons of scope and we have got something to look forward to. It was good to see a horse sired by Sir Percy winning this week at the Festival as this horse has the size and shape to progress along those lines.

Gee Sixty Six ready to run last night

There have been disappointing figures for the ITV coverage this week although Phil (article below) agrees with me that the coverage is much better than Channel 4. This makes it slightly disappointing that the figures are still low. However, people aren’t yet used to horseracing on the main channel as it has been on ITV4 for most of the time and there will be very few people who watch ITV4. I think it has got to be on the main channel every week if we are to make great viewing progress. 

Clearance on Hamilton Hill

It’s the last day of the Festival and it’s great to see class come to the fore both in training, riding and the tipping competition. “You can never keep a good man down” is the saying, but “this sport can tame lions” is another so I won’t be crowing too much just yet. Our in house bookmaker, Ian, who did work for a bookmaker for 12 years, is very good at settling up by hand and will publish full results on Monday.  Our tips for today are below.


1.30  Soldier In Action    2.10  Diego Du Charmil    2.50  Wholestone    3.30  Djakadam    4.10  On The Fringe    4.50  Battleford    5.30  Le Prezien


1.30  Master Blueyes  2.10  Vosne Romanee    2.50   Death Duty    3.30  Outlander    4.10  Sweet As A Nut    4.50  Dadsintrouble    5.30  Theinval

Rebecca’s tip of the day

Rebecca has chosen IRISH CAVALIER in the 3.30, The Gold Cup. Her stake is £5 each way.

Roof Garden

Phil on Friday

This sounds like heresy, but Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s standing as the best racing commentator of them all is under threat.

When Sir Peter died in 2015 one obituary said he had “raised the quality of commentating on horse races to a new and unparalleled level of excellence”. During his 49 years behind the microphone he was awarded the OBE, the CBE, and, in the year he retired, he received his knighthood.

How can anyone compete with that?

Well, the latest breed of commentators probably can, in my opinion (humble though it is, coming from someone who wouldn’t have a clue where to start).

Consider Richard Hoiles’ performance at Cheltenham this week. He is nothing short of brilliant. In fact the whole ITV team is doing an outstanding job – in particular Ed Chamberlin, Alice Plunkett and Matt Chapman, who has easily surpassed John McCririck in their own particular, peculiar field. Add in the great A. P. McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald, who are able to communicate with us lesser mortals on our own level, a good helping of humour, and you have a huge success on your hands. Well done ITV, I say. Superb!

I am old enough to recall the days of Raymond Glendenning who commentated for BBC radio on just about any sport going. It was all radio in those days - television had been invented (I’m not that old, but we couldn’t afford a set) and as well as horse racing he covered football, notably the cup finals between 1946 and 1963, the Olympics, boxing, greyhound racing, even show jumping. That’s versatility for you.

On the evening before a big race he would hand-paint on to a piece of card the colours to be carried by every horse so he could be sure he was calling the right one. Richard Hoiles probably doesn’t do that – how he copes I simply don’t know.

Inevitably, over the years there have been some almighty broadcasting slip-ups, none more so than when Mirabel Topham, who owned Aintree, engaged in a copyright dispute with the BBC and decided to appoint her own team of untrained commentators. It was an unmitigated disaster. Among other mistakes, and between long periods of silence, they had the eventual winner, Teal, falling at the first fence.

There had been much wrangling between Mrs. Topham and the BBC well before the event, and a few days ahead of that infamous broadcast, when the matter was still unresolved, it was raised in the House of Commons. The Assistant Postmaster General was asked about the cost of “installing, testing and preparing lines and apparatus” in anticipation of a BBC request should the corporation win the argument. “The preliminary work at Aintree in preparation for a broadcast is about £12, which will be paid by the BBC”, was the reply. No wonder it all went wrong for the amateurs. They probably didn’t even have that level of expensive technological luxury.


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