A very well deserved winner of the Longines Ladies Award ...

Happy Christmas and New Year

Friday, 23 December 2011

"People are more important than possessions."

Bridget Rickaby.



Everybody at Flint Cottage, Dullingham and Garrowby wishes you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. We are looking forward to a brilliant 2012 with an exciting group of horses both in training and on the studs. Our owners have been absolutely loyal and steadfast  throughout the last year and nothing will give me more pleasure than to repay them on the racetrack and the paddocks. A very sincere thank you to them all.


The spectacular entrance to Newmarket

Phil's Christmas Twenty Questions is compulsive holiday fun. Please everybody have a go and enter. It is at the bottom of this page. Don't worry if you cannot answer all the questions (this is tough and we reckon anyone in double figures could win) and there are three fiendish bonus questions as well. A very interesting prize awaits the winner! So don't hold back and send your answers by e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by post to Flint Cottage (see the Contacts page of the site for details). The closing date is 7th January. You will find the questions at end of this article.

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 Mark with Phil, with a phone call and with polos (& the Elnadin filly)

We support several very good causes here at Flint Cottage. Our main ones are Helen House - a hospice for terminally ill children and their families - Riding for the Disabled, Help the Heroes, and of course Racing Welfare. All these do tremendous work for so many deserving people. If  you want any further information on these then you can find it on our Links page.

I saw a child who couldn't walk

Sit on a horse and start to talk

I saw a child with no legs below

Sit on a horse and make it go

I saw a child who could just crawl

Get on a horse and sit up tall 

I saw a child born into strife

Take up and hold the reins of life

And that same child was heard to say

Thank you pony - you've made my day


Dame Judi Dench with the children from the East Park RDA group based near Lingfield

Lingfield Park racecourse have very kindly agreed to have a Charity Collection Day for this branch of the RDA in 2012 - the date is to be confirmed, but we shall tell you on the site when it is finalised.


Bryan Agar leading a pony called Smokey - obviously not the Smokey Oakey of which he is a joint owner with Dame Judi!


Father Christmas with one of the junior riders


Exeter Ride in winter

Here are two videos of the yearlings: the first shows some trotting round the school and the second shows Mark with a 2010 filly (three-quarters of which is for sale).


Newmarket will be having an Open Day in 2012 on 23rd September. We have not had one for many years now because once Sunday racing came in there was not a blank day other than Good Friday, when Lambourn and Middleham hold theirs. It will be a fantastic day, very well worth travelling miles for, and some of the proceeds will go towards the rebuilding and development of the Astley Club in Newmarket, which is for the use of all stable and stud employees. A new gym and creche are planned along with many other ideas and it should revolutionise and update our facilities for the hard working staff. So when you are opening your new diary for 2012, let this date be the first one you write in!

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Horses cantering


The string coming home


Mark walking up to meet them

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Two lots of yearlings being led by Smokey Oakey and Astroscarlet

I should like to say a special thank you to Russell Trew for continuing to sponsor the yard which among other things allows our team to wear the distinctive red jackets which are so well known on the Heath.


The main yard at evening stables

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Everyone works extremely hard behind the scenes



The fillies'yard


Two of the yard cats playing with their toys


Iain braving the freezing elements last week

Iain has braved more than the elements in the twenty five years he has been my travelling head lad. I don't know how many miles he will have driven in all that time and how many jockeys he has given instructions to but it must an awful lot, and I cannot remember a harsh word between us. I know I can rely on him to look after the horses when they are away from home, whether in the U.K. or abroad, and when there is an emergency he is 100% reliable.  He has great standards and keeps to them so the horses always look immaculate at the races. I should like to thank him very much for all his hard work and loyalty over the years. Here's to the next twenty five!


The studs and yard are tightly knit. The lorries go to and fro with weanlings travelling to Yorkshire or horses out of training going out for their autumn break. The Dullingham stud staff come and help at Flint Cottage with maintenance during their quiet period in the winter, and the stud staff can switch between studs when extra hands are needed at certain times of year.


Dullingham Park main yard


Some of the weanlings at Garrowby

I should like to say a huge thank you to my great team of staff who work extremely hard to keep the various facets of the business working so efficiently and smoothly. Everything looks easy when it is done professionally but our industry involves hard graft to keep the standards at the level they must be, and in all weathers 24/7. Attention to detail is the key to success and at Flint Cottage and the studs we all try our best to achieve as much as we can for our owners. I wish all the staff a very Happy Christmas and New Year.


A lovely, cheery picture of the winner of the 2011 on-line Five to Follow Competiton

Mr. Derek Walsh

Many congratulations to Derek who has a choice of the horse to run for him next year. Jenko is arranging for him to come to the yard in the New Year and I look forward to meeting him then.

Thanks to last year's winner John Powell for his good wishes. He owned a twelfth of Comrade Bond throughout 2011 after his Five to Follow success and commented: "I have enjoyed the days out at Leicester, Yarmouth and Redcar and it was a pleasure to share the enjoyment with the other owners who made me most welcome." Glad you enjoyed it, John.

We shall be having another Five to Follow competition in 2012 and will remind everybody to enter when it is up on the site.

          We wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and New Year.

This site will not be updated again until the first week in January.

Phil's "Twenty Questions"

1) Which National Hunt jockey dislocated his shoulder in his fifth ride, broke three vertebrae in his back after 11, but rode 929 winners, was champion four times, received the CBE and was later a highly sucessful trainer?

2) Who was the soldier turned actor turned bookmaker turned owner and trainer (his horses included a multiple Classic winner) once described by a member of the knighthood as a card-sharper, thief and murderer? He died in 1939 having amassed three fortunes of £200,000 and lost every penny.

3) Which current Newmarket trainer once said he expects to be asked at the Pearly Gates what he did in life? When he answers "Racehorse trainer, Sir," he anticipates the reply: "A what, for Pete's sake? I've got the likes of Mother Teresa in here."

4) Also putting the importance of our racing world into perspective, which other current trainer said: "You realise that God doesn't actually mind whether you win or not. You look at the children of the world who are deprived, abused, ill-treated, starving - you get much more realistic'?

5) And which highly successful trainer admitted to a secret past life when he said: "I'd help out The Troggs when their regular drummer was sick or on holiday"?

6) Which champion jockey won on 12 consecutive mounts - the first of them at Nottingham, then all six at Chepstow on the following day and the first five at Chepstow again on the next. His final mount of Day 3 started at 1-3 and was beaten a head and a neck,

7) Who was the trainer in charge of Beckhampton Home Guard?

8) Who was the jockey warned off for a misdemeanour subsequently proved to be nothing of the sort, became a vacuum cleaner salesman, got a job in Brighton wringing out bathing costumes and cleaning beach huts, and was so impoverished he had to sleep on the sands? But he came back and rode two more Derby winners.

9) Apart from being generally regarded as three of the unluckiest losers in the history of the Grand National, what remarkable fact connected Davy Jones (broken rein), Cromwell (injured jockey) and Devon Loch (mysterious collapse)?

10) After an initial dead heat, the judge later confessing that he could not see the nose of one of the horses in the photo finish print, and a long drawn-out objection, what horse was eventually awarded outright the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe? (It was worth £45,000 to the winner).

11) One of the greatest frauds in betting history took place in 1909 when a mysterious Mr. Martin persuaded The Sportsman newspaper and The Sporting Life to carry the bank holiday racecard for a jump meeting in Cornwall. They also agreed to publish the results and SPs, which Mr. Martin would supply. In fact the meeting did not take place at all, but big bets were struck on one of the fictitious winners and most were settled on the strength of the newspaper results. What was the name of the meeting that never was?

12) Which jockey rode winners of both the Lincoln and Grand National, the former carrying 7st. 4lbs. and the latter at a time when the jockey himself was thought to weigh in at something like 11 stone?

13) What was the name of the horse which won the Grand National on a foggy Aintree day, but whose victory was somewhat tarnished by the claim of the rider of the second, and others, that he had dropped out on the first circuit, hidden in the mist, and jumped back in when the field came round for a second time?

14) What was the name of the 'love child' filly which won the Oaks and Derby?  Her Italian owner had been touched by the fact that his old mare, our filly's dam, and an especially unfashionable stallion would 'talk' to each other as they were led out to exercise at the stud each morning. He believed they had fallen in love and so arranged an unlikely mating. The result was dual Classic success but, sadly, nothing much else was to follow. Not a bad result, though!

15) Who, on ceasing to be an owner, wrote to trainer Walter Nightingall: "My mind goes back to the spring of 1949 when Christopher (Soames) persuaded me to buy Colonist ... I am so grateful for the skilful way in which you have trained the horses ... It does not fall to many people to start a  racing career at the age of 75 and to reap so much much pleasure"?

16) Of whom did journalist Hugh McIlvanney write: "His admirers are convinced that had he been at Balaclava he would have kept pace with the charge of the Light Brigade in precise order and described the riders' injuries before they hit the ground"?

17) What was the fourth grey to win the Derby, the fourth grey to win the St. Leger, and the only grey to win both?

18) Which horse did Steve Donoghue swear winked at him in the winner's enclosure after a sixth Royal Ascot success? Nine years earlier the horse had been sold privately for £110 after failing to attract a bid at the sales?

19) And which other brilliant horse did Donoghue describe as 'a sort of elephant grey, with big blotches of lime colour, looking as though someone had splashed him all over with handfuls of wet lime that had stuck and dried"?

20) Who was the jockey, facing possible 'trouble in running ' at Tattenham Corner in a 1930s Derby, famously cried 'Make way for a bloody racehorse'? The field parted and he won by four lengths.

And here are three diabolical bonus questions, worth two points each:

 Which trainer, whose family name remains prominent among Newmarket training ranks today, instructed his apprentice to wear a lead waistcoat weighing 21lbs. in a piece of serious work to fool the watching touts? The horse subsequently won the Lincoln Plate and the trainer won a packet. There's a clue in this quote from the apprentice's successful jockey brother Jack Leach: "We had nothing on this good thing but Jack called at the house the following Sunday and gave Chub a roll of fivers that would have choked an elephant."

In the late 19th century the vicar of St. Agnes Church, Newmarket, prayed for fine weather after a disastrously wet harvest. Which titled lady, who had the necessary power as his patron and was said at the time to regard God as her personal assistant, threatened to sack him if he repeated his indiscretion? Under her racing pseudonym 'Mr. Manton' she had a horse in the St. Leger which needed bottomless ground!

What words do you think are missing from this old piece of literature by Lady Julia Barnes entitled The Proprytees of a good horse? This is definitely worth two bonus pointes:

Of a man, bolde, prowde and hardy.
Of a woman, fayr-brested, fayr of heere and easy to ----- ----.
Of a foxe, a fayr taylle, short eeres, with a good trot.
Of a hare, a grete eye, a dry hede, and well runnynge.
Of an asse, a bygge chyn, a flatte legge, and a good hove.

Please e-mail your answers to office@marktompkins or by post to Flint Cottage - please see the contact page of this site.