The turf season is just around the corner ...

We have one runner today at Bangor-on-Dee

Friday, 04 August 2017

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."

Pablo Picasso.

The Peat Moss gallop on Racecourse Side

It’s a bright, breezy morning and let’s hope it stays that way all day. Everybody is in who should be in, so put the flags up. We have been getting on really well with two groups of colts and fillies doing fast work on the Peat Moss strip on Racecourse Side. It is always great to see horses improve from week to week and this is certainly what these groups are doing. There is no substitute for galloping on the turf as it really gets horses working. The polytracks are great, but they are very easy for the horse and you often get a misleading idea of their ability. It is only when you get them on the turf that you can understand their true potential.

Working between the discs

Our runner yesterday, Clearance, got very bogged down in the ground at Nottingham. It was changed to heavy from soft after race two. This just goes to show how the clerk of the courses mis-inform you as there was no heavy downpour and everybody was got there under false pretences. The sooner these clerks are fined heavily, for either misleading, or just not being capable of judging what the ground is, the better. It wastes so much time, money and energy and will push forward the all-weather project even more. Nottingham would make a perfect all-weather track, big galloping flat surface where you could have flood lights without any problem. The ground there is either rock hard, or the complete opposite. They did away with jumping there, and I would think this would be the next step. All-weather tracks makes a clerk of the course redundant as the ground is usually always the same and requires no maintenance, other than a tractor going round and round. It would save them a fortune in the long run.

We have one runner today at Bangor-on Dee. I can’t remember the last time I had a runner there. Astrosecret travelled over yesterday and she runs in the 1.30, the mares and fillies’ maiden hurdle. She has schooled very well and Tom O’Brien takes the ride. She is a full sister to Rayvin Black, who has done well over hurdles, and let’s hope she can run well today.

Four fillies' coming up in a bunch

Goodwood and Galway continue again today with great racing at both venues. We have been blessed this year with two high class fillies, Winter and Enable, and what a joy to own and train either one. We did a little better yesterday and I came oh so near to being in profit only to be touched off at the last stride by the stable mate in the Nursery Handicap. Today’s efforts are below.


1.50  Frontiersman    2.25  Zainhom    3.00  Blair House    3.35  Profitable    4.10  Holy Tiber    4.40  Tomyris    5.15  Walton Street


1.50  Poet’s Word    2.25  Make Time    3.00  GM Hopkins    3.35  Ardad    4.10  Gift In Time   4.40  Al Jazi    5.15  Walton Street

Totals so far

MHT minus £98.41

Richard minus £170

Work over and now making the way back to the yard

I see a European Beach Racing Association has been formed. This is new to me as I thought they only raced on the beach at Laytown in Ireland. None of the others were aware of each other’s existence before the secretary general explained it to them. I think money is the driving factor here, with the EU rural development policy coming into play. It seems as if the local tourist offices are interested in promoting this beach racing. This is all-weather racing with a difference, as it is tidal and a great spectacle when done properly, but as usual somebody will be making money out of it and you, the tax payer, are paying. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too commercialised and spoil the local day out.

Phil on Friday


They called it ‘The memoir of the jockey who came back from the dead’.  It took a long time for Declan Murphy to tell his extraordinary story but this year he did so in an autobiography entitled Centaur.

In an horrific fall at Haydock in 1994 Declan’s skull was shattered in 12 places, the last rites were read and his obituary was published in the Racing Post. But hope, and a massive dash of self-esteem, prevailed, and he later rode one more winner.

Before the accident he won the Bula Hurdle for the Guvnor on Staunch Friend, giving the yard a one-two (Halkopous, who won the Bula the year before, was second) and later Declan rode out regularly from Flint Cottage Stables. The Guvnor played a major role in his recovery, as the book testifies. It was a great pleasure to meet Declan. He was one of the very best jump jockeys, and a kind and thoughtful man.

Miraculous though his recovery was, he was not the first to defy all known laws of mortality. Ralph Neeves went one step further than Declan, if that were possible, and was actually officially declared dead after a fall but recovered and resumed his career.

Then there was old Teddy Weever, who we have written about before. He was “picked up for dead” at Worcester and was in such a hopeless state that no-one thought it worthwhile to alert the medics. But he came back to life when he realised no testimonial had been organised for him, immediately dressed and went to dinner.

A jockey called Barnard, riding at Ascot, was so far behind the rest of the field that the crowd began to cross the course on its way home before he entered the straight. In a horrible accident his mount collided with many racegoers. He and some of the spectators were reported to have been killed but, in fact, everyone made a full recovery.

When Australian jockey Simon Mills was unshipped in a race his foot became firmly wedged in the stirrup. His horse dragged him along and jumped another fence with the rider still attached. He broke an arm and two teeth, that’s all.

A spectator who should have died, but happily didn’t, was an Officer of Dragoons, a certain Sir John Miller, who was watching racing at Chester from the vantage point of his own hack. A runner bolted before the start, jumped the rails, or ropes as they were then, and collided with the officer. Sadly, the horse was killed – by the peak of Sir John’s helmet entering its skull while the helmet was still on the head of the baronet, who escaped injury, apart from a black eye!

Tough nuts ….