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I am definitely on my soapbox today ....

Two runners go to Doncaster tonight

Friday, 02 June 2017

"The shell must break before the bird can fly."

Alfred Tennyson.

     24_Bracken     36_G66
Azure Mist's 5YO Bracken Brae and 3YO Gee Sixty Six

It is quite a few degrees cooler this morning with a cloud cover, but no wind. In fact it is absolutely perfect for training horses and we have got on very well once again with the good staff we have at present. Everybody can ride nearly everything, which makes life much easier when sorting the riding board out. We have been on the Rubbing House polytrack and Hamilton Hill polytrack for most of the morning. The horses look absolutely great and we will be pressing on with all of them from now on, with plenty of runners, both the experienced horses and the younger ones.

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Walking back after first lot

We only have two runners today, and over the weekend, both tonight at Doncaster. They left the yard in plenty of time this morning as the roads, no doubt, will be getting busier as the day goes on. Indian Red is our first runner in the 6 o’clock, the mile and a half handicap. This doesn’t look a bad race, but he is handicapped to run a sound race, which I think he will do if he settles and gets into a good rhythm. Our other runner is Astrosecret in the mile and a quarter fillies’ handicap at 6.30. Although she hasn’t shown any great form on the track yet, she has always shown me plenty at home. She pulled much too hard last time, and hopefully will not be doing so tonight. I can see her running well at a huge price.

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Dot Green on Hamilton Hill

It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun, so they say, and it is our third and fourth British Classic today and tomorrow, the big two. It looks like Aidan O’Brien will have the first and second once again in the Oaks with Rhododendron and Alluringly. The Derby looks his for the taking as well on Saturday with Cliffs of Moher and Capri my two picks of the O’Brien runners. It will be the American yearling sales before we know where we are. It just shows how this game of ours never stops. There seems to be a never ending merry-go-round of sales, with such an expansion in every sector. I am sure this is driven by the sales company’s and the agents. It is a bit like more and more racing. Whether it is good for the industry or not is highly debatable.

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The horses can just be seen cantering

Kevin Ryan has had his yard shut down in Yorkshire, along with a couple of other yards who are neighbours to him because of one of his horses contracting EHV1. This is a hugely infectious disease and needs very severe disease control measures put in place. This is all caused by the movement of horses worldwide. As I have mentioned above, the expansion of sales, especially breeze up ones, has horses coming from every known corner of the earth to be sold and then shipped out into the trainer’s yards before being tested for all these strange diseases. Often horses are just dropped off with sales consigners on the day of the sale, which saves cost for the owner, but the consigners know nothing about it, where it has come from and who it has been in contact with. If a major outbreak happened in one of the main centres i.e. Newmarket, Malton, Middleham, etc. it would shut so many yards down and affect racing hugely. It is something the BHA has to get to grips with in a big way and all trainers and horsemen have to be vigilant and honest because the sooner the outbreak is noted, the sooner it can be cured. The outbreak of strangles in Australia was, in my opinion, poorly dealt with as the trainer only got a three month ban for blatantly ignoring the signs for his own end, i.e. having a runner in the Melbourne Cup, but it could have spread far and wide, which would have ruined many other trainers livelihood. Being selfish and putting your head in the sand has never helped anybody.

2_4_leaf_clover
Two lucky four leaf clovers found this morning at Frankland Lodge

Phil on Friday
02_Phil

One of the most extraordinary characters ever to own a Derby winner was surely John Gully, a former prize fighter, who won the race twice and every other Classic in the English Calendar as well.

He achieved his initial public notoriety with a defeat. Bare-knuckled, he fought the reigning champion Henry Pearce in 1805 and was beaten in the fifty-ninth round! He was paid £500 for his efforts but the following year was so impoverished he had to walk from London to Doncaster races.

He won two subsequent fights, which lasted 36 and 28 rounds respectively, and then retired from the ring. Not surprisingly, his conversation was said to have become very slow: “Every word seemed to weigh a pound.” Nevertheless, he decided to concentrate on horse racing and politics.

He was elected MP for Pontefract and, as his wealth and respectability grew, became a colliery owner, but racing and betting were his first love.

He suffered something of a setback in the St. Leger of 1827 when he ran Marmeluke, an extremely nervous animal by all accounts. Jockeys on the other runners (and, it was alleged at the time, the starter) conspired to ensure there was a series of false starts and delays and a freaked-out Marmeluke was beaten. It cost Gully £40,000 in bets.

After a series of further unfortunate incidents Sam Day trained Pyrrhus The First to win Gully his first Derby in 1846. The horse’s success was largely attributed to the liking for drink enjoyed by jockey Bill Scott who was riding the fancied Sir Tatton Sykes. He was seen to consume a large brandy at the start, after which he used “improper language.” He was fined £5.

In 1854 Gully owned another Derby winner, Andover, in partnership with a money lender called Henry Padwick – he was not fussy about the company he kept.

John Gully was married twice, and sired 12 children by each wife.

Of such stuff are Derby-winning owners made. Perhaps not tomorrow’s, though…!