It's Champions weekend ...

A Merry Christmas to one and all

Monday, 23 December 2013

"May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!"



"Where are the polos?" by CLU

Our Christmas card this year is, I think, one of Clare’s best and is titled “Where are the polos?” It is very apt in our yards as we must get through at least 50 boxes a year. Clare’s little girl, our granddaughter Mimi, is 2 ½ now and growing up fast. She really is a delight and gives both Angie and I so much pleasure. Jack and James, our other two grandchildren, Ed and Liz’s sons, are both thriving. We are delighted that they are both into sport. Jack is a member of the Amersham Otters Swimming Club. Both Angie and I were amazed when we visited the mornings training session, how much work is put in by both the children and coaches. James is really into his football and is showing plenty of skill and enthusiasm. If only he was a Sheffield Wednesday supporter rather than a Tottenham fan, but he has that team in his blood from his great grandfather.

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Just two of the beautiful views we have woken up to recently

It is a dry morning as we speak but the forecast for the next week is horrendous. The forecaster on the radio was explaining today it is all to do with the drop in pressure which is happening more quickly than normal. This causes the wind to increase and the storms to rage. It has been a funny year weather-wise with periods of drought and then weeks of rain. It looks like this might be the norm as we go into 2014. I certainly don’t believe in global warming and if you delve into the real scientific papers you will see in fact we are cooling down. The farmers will tell you that the rainfall averages are the same every year; it is just that some months have more and some less. Let’s hope in 2014 the sun shines down on Exeter Ride.

Cantering on one of the many gallops in Newmarket

It has been a big year of change for us. We sold Flint Cottage early in the year and consolidated our training side at Exeter Ride. The planning permission has been approved now after quite a process, as the yard here is listed and is of great historical importance as it was the first indoor ride ever built. When it is completed with a new entrance, a new stable block, office and flat, plus a bigger staff room and laundry, we will have everything we wish for, right bang in the middle of town. I can’t wait to get going. I must be a glutton for punishment having to deal with builders once again.

Just one of the yearlings being educated

Although we have been quiet on the winners’ front, I have been delighted with how we have sorted everything out and started to think of the future. Without doubt quality of stock is the most important ingredient in a training yard and keeping them fit and healthy is the next. We have tried to develop throughout the year and filter out the ones that are not quite up to scratch. I am excited that our team for next year looks full of promise. There are so many backward, inexperienced horses which will improve considerably as the year goes on. I have several very nice two-year-olds for sales for next year; they will all be in the yard very early in the New Year, do look at the website and give us a ring and come and see them.  I wish at this point to thank all my staff for the hard work they have put in during the whole year. Steve, Darren and David have led from the front and the riders have developed and improved all year. I cannot do anything without my office staff and Ian, the accounts manager, and Di who took over from Phil are invaluable. I thank them all.  


Graham Locking preparing for the carol concert

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                                                        The carol concert at Tattersalls

There is going to be a couple of high profile places to fill in the industry this coming year when both Rory McDonald, who runs the British Racing School and Graham Locking, our Chaplin to racing, both move on to pastures new. Rory has been absolutely brilliant at the school and has overseen all the major developments that have happened there in the last 10 years or so. He is always a very calming influence but has that mix of both discipline and fun which the younger generation of today need. He will be hard to replace.

Graham, I think will be completely irreplaceable, although nobody actually is, but I believe they broke the mould when they made him. He appeared 12 years ago on the health one morning and was instantly a hit with everybody. A Friar Tuck look-alike and a man with absolutely no side to him, he is the first person I have known in the industry that has been universally accepted by kings and paupers alike. He is moving on to pastures new within his ministry and will be running both a parish and a retreat. We had his last carol concert at Tattersalls 10 days ago, as you can see from the pictures, and it was certainly one of the best. I know he will be terribly missed by not only the racing industry but by the general public of Newmarket and surrounding areas for whom he did so much. I will be keeping very much in touch with Graham and Wendy in their new life and I will be keeping readers updated. 

Smokey Oakey at his new home


 Having fun at Riding for the Disabled at Little Brook Equestrian Centre

Our Christmas charity this year is Riding for the Disabled and we saw this close to hand when Smokey Oakey was retired recently. He went down to Little Brook Equestrian Centre where they have an RDA meeting every week. He will be re-trained and then compete in events and showing classes in the next few years. The RDA is a fantastic movement which gives disabled people the chance to ride both on horseback and in carriages. The fun and excitement for them is tremendous and if anybody gets the chance please get involved either as a volunteer or monetary wise, as it does so much good to so many people. It is very hard to explain in words but just to see the faces of the participants as they ride round the school, or just stroke the horses is a joy to behold. If you can help this charity, it will be very much appreciated by all.

This years charity

If you are interested in this charity please visit their websites:


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                                             Some of the weanlings at Garrowby

Earlier this year one of lifes little miracles at Dullingham Park

Both Dullingham Park and Garrowby studs have thrived this year once again and the young stock seem to get better each year. The mare owners have been marvellous and more and more exciting stallions are being used. It is such an interesting and involved business, researching and choosing stallions that fit the pedigrees and there is so much more now to consider with new scientific theories abound. But for me, good conformation and racecourse ability are the main criteria. David and his team at Dullingham and Alan and the team at Garrowby have once again done a fantastic job. David with the foaling and coverings and Alan with the rearing, plus the horses out of training. I cannot thank all the staff enough and let’s hope the results show on the racetrack, but that is down to me and the team at Exeter Ride. A few Group winners this next year would be just what the doctor ordered.

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                        Jenko and Richard Farleigh with Rufuse To Bend ex Four Miracles

Our syndicates have had a good year and we have retained Comrade Bond and Blue Bounty for next season and there are one or two shares left in each. We have got a new colt by Refuse To Bend out of one of our syndicate mares, Four Miracles. When she retired, Richard Farleigh bought her and kept her with us on the stud. This colt is her first foal and he is really strong with plenty of attitude and looks a real racehorse. We have got shares for sale in him and I hope many of our readers will take them up or at least tell everybody about him. Why not form a little group within a group and have a share between you at work. Owning a racehorse opens up your world to new places and new friends and plenty of new experiences. Why not give it a try in 2014? Just give the office a ring, or Jenko, to come and visit the yard.

Whilst on Jenko, I must sing his praises, because as well as organising our syndicates, he has now become one of the most sought after volunteers in the area. He drives the bus for the Newmarket Day Centre, he delivers the meals, he visits people and his chat and good nature brightens the day of everybody he meets. There have been so many people come up to me and say “Your man Jenko is fantastic”. It is a great testament to him. He will be doing it again this Christmas day, when he is delivering Christmas cheer to everybody, as he collects them in the bus to have their lunch. He deserves all the accolades he gets. 


Bob the yard cat

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                                    It's not just horses we have at the yard and studs

And finally Angie and I would just like to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and successful New Year.

Everyone at Exeter Ride, Dullingham Park Stud and Garrowby Stud wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.