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We have a runner tomorrow at Chelmsford

Friday, 09 March 2018

"Wisdom before experience is only words; wisdom after experience is of no avail."

Mark van Doren.

TTMAB, Topinion and Rum Ration on the Cambridge Road 

It’s a mild morning with no wind and if it would only stay like this the ground would soon dry up, but that’s not the forecast and we have got bands of rain, evidently, blowing across the country during the next week. We are making the best of it whilst we have got this perfect riding out weather. We had a couple of jockeys in this morning so did some good work on the Cambridge Road and the rest have been cantering close to home. I must say the horses are thriving, their spring coats are starting to come out and they are all looking strong and healthy. Long may it continue. We had a mucker outer start this morning so we are up to full strength with the yard people and if we could only just find one or two good riders, life would be perfect.

Velvet Voice

We have one runner over the weekend. Four Fifty Three runs at Chelmsford on Saturday night in the now 9.15. It seems to get later and later and I wonder how long it will be before we are racing at midnight. I am sure the bookmakers would love that as they would be getting all the gambling night owls and the Far East punters betting at that time of night. I am hoping that Four Fifty Three doesn’t fall asleep as it is well past his bedtime, as well as everybody else, but he should have a reasonable chance of adding to his course victory.

Harry and Faye working hard in the yard

I see the disappointing headlines on the front of the Racing Post today about Sizing John being ruled out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup at this very late stage. It is so disappointing for all concerned, but it just goes to show how delicate horses are and that these hairline cracks, whether it be in the pelvic region or leg bones, are very hard to detect and they only show up at certain times. Often you will get a rider report the horse is not moving as well as it usually does and this is sometimes a sign that something is going on. Bone scanning will obviously show you any hotspots, but the cost of this is horrendous. The recovery form this sort of injury is always very good, but requires time at rest and then a slow fitness rebuilding programme. It is just a downer for all concerned at the time and it seems to always happen to the good ones. Cheltenham starts next week and our tipping competition will start on Tuesday. I am already looking forward to the week immensely.

Second lot walking back

Back in the yard

I am absolutely delighted with the two horses we are syndicating this time round. Pageant Master and Belle Bayeux are different types but both are racehorses and should give anybody a lot of fun and excitement in the coming years. Pageant Master especially is sharp, a great attitude to his work and looks like being a real two-year-old type. We have still got a few shares left in both of them and would be delighted to show them to anybody at their convenience.  

Phil on Friday

Cheltenham! What wonderful memories are stirred by the very mention of it … Arkle and Mill House, Best Mate, Desert Orchid and so many other heroes. But over and above even all that, for one little boy barely nine years old there came along, many years ago, an extra special Cheltenham day that could never be repeated for him, and a day he could never forget.

His mother had woken him that March morning with the most wonderful news a racing-mad youngster could ever possibly imagine he would hear. ‘Dad is going to the Gold Cup today’, she whispered. ‘Would you like to miss school and go with him?’ Even now he can’t begin to describe the joy that flowed through his young veins well over 60 years ago.

By half past eight and in his short trousers, which was the ‘fashion’ in those far-off days, wearing his school cap, clutching some of his mother’s hastily-made sandwiches and bursting with excitement, the lad was on the way with his dad to Prestbury Park for the first time.

But heartbreak, or something close to it, was to follow. And it lasted for hours. The boy didn’t glimpse a single horse all day long. Or a jockey. The crowds were simply overwhelming.

 Only about four feet tall, if that, he just couldn’t see anything, standing as he was all afternoon about 15 human body widths back from the rails and scarcely able to move  amid what seemed to him an ocean of giants. He literally couldn’t pick out any part of any horse.

Across the years, however, the boy clung to one abiding memory of that day. He had glimpsed the cap of a winning rider as it flashed past him on the way to the finishing post. The sight of a piece of famous equine flesh, or a well-known jockey’s face, would have been welcome but it didn’t happen. In his mind’s eye even now though, he can still picture the fleeting blur of that single rider’s cap as it sped by. It was green.

The lad managed to put on a brave face. The overall excitement and crackerjack atmosphere of his first Cheltenham were enough in a way. It was an ‘occasion’, and he was there! Wouldn’t his schoolmates be for ever envious, too – they needn’t know the whole truth.

Huge crowds continue to flock to Cheltenham and in recent years there have been many improvements to the facilities for racegoers. A well-positioned small boy can probably see some racing these days. The quality of the sport, the setting, the thrill of it all remain unsurpassed.

And now, in 2018, I just wonder if the daffodils are out again at the foot of Cleeve Hill, just as they were more than 60 years ago ….


The weather is on the change

Thursday, 08 March 2018

"We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse."

Rudyard Kipling.

First lot on Hamilton Hill


It started off calm and mild this morning, but has rapidly changed. There have been a few showers of rain, the wind has got up and the temperature has dropped very quickly. Everybody who should be in is in and working well, thank goodness. We still need some staff who can ride plus yard staff, but I am hoping that things will fall into place very soon.

Indian Red

I had to smile at a small article in Steve Dennis’ piece today in the Racing Post talking about the ground at Cheltenham. He doesn’t think it will be heavy ground and his final conclusion is that it will be good to soft, which is what the clerk of the course always calls it, regardless of what has happened. I would very much hope it does dry up as we have had some very poor viewing lately of races on heavy ground, both here and in Ireland when horses have got very tired and jockeys have not excelled with their control of the whip. It is a completely different kettle of fish with the quality of horse that is on show next week, but we do not want to see exhausted horses falling, or being battered. Jump racing grass roots is already losing out to the all-weather programme and with the bookmakers wanting more and more racing on in the evening when they say turnover goes up considerably, this situation at the bottom of the jump racing pyramid will only get worse. They have to be aware as you need a base to build it on.

Flying overhead

There has been another EHV abortion in Newmarket, this time at one of the big Newmarket studs and we are all starting to wonder why this is happening. It may be something to do with the vaccination, which is supposed to eliminate this. It may be that because the stocks have been very limited, it has been watered down over the last year or so, but it is certainly a worrying situation and let’s hope there are very few more outbreaks. Every time one happens there are strict controls put in place with a 28 day lock down on movement at the stud in question. At this time of year it causes havoc with breeding plans and could be devastating for certain studs that have not got the financial firepower behind them.     


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