Another 4th and Lucy’s “UR” – the perils jockeys face…

Cold, crisp and bright this morning and glorious for training horses, sometimes I have to pinch myself as to how lucky I am to spend my life out there despite another frustrating fourth at Newcastle yesterday.  Jet Master needs a patient ride and played late, when it works it looks brilliant when it doesn’t it doesn’t!

First lot heading out onto the carpet this morning

I think we were all surprised by the turn of foot he showed after the second last making up about 10 lengths to finish a never nearer 3l behind the winner.  Another day for him I hope, and another day’s lost earnings for Lucy after her “UR” at Hexham last week.  “UR” the somewhat innocuous description leaving the impression that the jockey fell off and ought to have suffered little further injury.  John Grossick’s team captured an excellent sequence of photos of the incident at Hexham and with Lucy’s permission I am sharing them with you.  I don’t do that lightly but feel it is worth trying to give the racing public an insight as to how falls happen and the possible perils facing those brave jockeys face every time they leave the weighing room for our entertainment.  Bear in mind that this takes place at the first hurdle in a maximum field of 16 runners, the time elapsed between the first and last frame is less than  a second and the horse decelerates from approx 35mph to zero within that time….

Having been an unusually long run to the first hurdle the horse meets it wrong and takes off too early thereby landing on and crashing through the hurdle

It’s head therefore comes right down at the same time as it decelerates, Lucy has slipped her reins but the momentum still carries her forward

The horse then loses it’s hind legs

Lucy is still travelling forwards up the horses neck

And ends up in front of the horse as it gets up

the only place she can end up is in the horses front legs being kicked

And then the following horse cannot avoid her

Kicking her with its front legs

And then one with its hind legs. I think a mild concussion & bruising after a “UR” like this isn’t too bad a result.

Enjoy the wonderful jump racing on television this afternoon from Cheltenham but don’t forget the jockeys, some will come home tonight on top of the world, others bruised and battered; our next runners are scheduled for Hexham on Wednesday….

18 November 2017|

Newcastle next

Colder again tonight, fine performances from our runners at Ayr yesterday but far too many 4ths, most particularly Gold Opera who appeared to have put the race to bed before deciding he had done enough 50 yards from the line at which point three of the opposition swooped past him.  Frustrating to say the least but on the other hand gratifying to see him run so well up in grade off a career high mark first time out and surely there will be more to come from him this season.  Earlier in the afternoon Buffalo Ballet ran well enough to be 4th but this perhaps came a little soon after his seasonal reappearance two weeks earlier, Another Mattie on the other hand stepped up on his earlier effort to also finish 4th and Presenting Rose ran well for a long way before tiring in the last tow furlongs, unsurprising having been off for over a year and I’m sure she will progress – most importantly all runners seem fine tonight.


On to Newcastle tomorrow where we have two runners on ground that is likely to be on the fast side of good, not usually my cup of tea but I am sure this track is in especially good condition this autumn and both of our runners could go well on proper good ground.  Firstly Bertalus (Tony Kelly) in the 1.05; he starts this season on a much more attractive mark after losing his way last winter so the big question is can he find his way again?  I’d prefer to answer that question at 1.30pm tomorrow but I’ve certainly been very happy with him at home and he has been trained very differently working exclusively on the new gallops since the end of September. He’s been ready to run for a few weeks so fingers crossed he turns the corner – it’s a competitive race though with 17 runners and it shouldn’t pass without comment that this race is only for £3500 as is the Mares Maiden hurdle on the same card – hmm, not good.

Jet Master

Jet Master then bids for a repeat win in the Veterans Chase at 2.50, he seems well and will hopefully put up a bold show off only a 2lb higher mark, Grant rides and 7 run.  No runners over the weekend, our next outing will hopefully be to Hexham next Wednesday.

16 November 2017|

And Ayr tomorrow

Quiet weather, perfect really and off to Ayr tomorrow where we have four runners on ground that will be soft.  An early start required to ensure Buffalo Ballet is there in plenty of time for his race at 12.30, he’s stepping up to 3m for the first time and I would hope he would improve for that, he wouldn’t want the ground to be tacky and it’s a competitive affair, 9 run and Grant rides.

Buffalo Ballet at Ayr a fortnight ago

Another Mattie drops down in grade to run in the 1.35 and hence has to carry top weight, I’m happy with that and he should be more competitive in this company, Kit rides and 9 run.

Another Mattie – Kit knows him well having won over course and distance in the spring

Presenting Rose runs in the Mares Handicap Hurdle at 2.10; she has been off for over a year and will strip fitter for the run but could still put up a bold show if she isn’t too free and fresh early on, she’s well handicapped but tomorrow is about getting her career back on track after her enforced lay-off.

Presenting Rose

Finally we run Gold Opera in the feature race of the day at 3.10 – he has won his last two starts and is being forced up in grade, we go up in trip as well in the hope of further improvement but I suspect the favourite will be very hard to beat, he will hopefully run well on what is his seasonal reappearance.

Gold Opera

Things never really went right for Calivigny at Carlisle yesterday, forced wide for much of the trip he didn’t really get into much of a rhythm and then hit the 3rd last hard, it was a better run than the 7th of 10 suggests and all being well he will be back there on 3rd Dec.

14 November 2017|

Quiet Sunday, Benny wins at Kelso and Carlisle tomorrow

Cold and crisp today, lovely weather and a quiet day on the yard, in the office and round the farm.  I love going round the horses on a Sunday evening, most of the horses have had an easy day and there is a sense of quiet order, they seem more relaxed in their boxes and its a great time to assess them from every perspective.  Even better the day after a winner and I was really pleased with Benny’s Secret following up in impressive style yesterday, I’ve always thought a lot of this horse and whilst he hasn’t been straightforward I would hope there will be more to come now we have found the key.

Benny’s Secret cooling off after his win yesterday

Earlier in the afternoon Landecker ran right up to his best to finish 2nd in the staying hurdle, bumped into one as they say but saw the rest off and he will hopefully go to Carlisle now for a decent race in early December.


The bumper was a bit of a mixed bag for the yard, Figs Pride showed plenty of promise and should make up into a nice staying hurdler in time, Peak of Beauty on the other hand was a bit of a rascal, dropping Kit on the way to the start and then pretending she was in a rodeo rather than a race for the first furlong by which time the field had flown.

Peak of Beauty

She did gallop round resolutely which was quite pleasing in the circumstances but it was a shame she was 100 yards behind the pack, I am sure she will be better next time as she’s always had a mischievous streak  and we seem to have managed to channel it the right way at home.

Figs Pride with Amy

On to Carlisle tomorrow where we have one runner – Calivigny ridden by Grant in the 3.10 and 10 run.  He has been a good 2nd on his last two runs over course and distance and should improve both for his first run of the season and the better (good to soft) ground expected tomorrow, will any of the others have improved more is the question?  Hopefully he won’t be far away.

Calivigny at Carlisle

Very grateful to Danni who took these great photos yesterday on her day off from working here full time, I love them.

12 November 2017|

Kelso today

A glorious late autumn morning for exercising horses and a record 17 out first lot as an important workday and we have a busy day ahead at Kelso.

Cooling off after first lot this morning

Bitterly cold at Hexham yesterday but a good crowd of enthusiastic national hunt supporters enjoyed competitive racing; we were pleased with Silk or Scarlet’s 6th on his hurdling and stable debut, a little keen early on he tired at the top of the hill before running on again, there should be plenty of improvement and Lucy wasn’t hard on him when his chance was gone.  The Bishop also put in a much better effort to finish 5th and I agree with the Racing Post analysis –  “The Bishop, reverting to chasing from his lower mark on his second run of the season, showed that there are more races to be won with him over fences on more testing ground”  Bertalus was scratched from his race having knocked a leg schooling and unfortunately Lucy was kicked after taking a heavy fall from Sky Full of Stars and has been stood down for a few days.  On to Kelso today where we have four runners declared on ground that is good.


First to go is Landecker who runs in the 1.25 with Kit on board, 8 run.  This horse seems to like it round Kelso and has done all his winning here including this race last year, he’s 3lb higher this time round but will hopefully run well.

Benny’s Secret with Lucy & Mhairi after recent Kelso win

Then in the 3.10 we run Benny’s Secret who won here at a long price last time out, he’s up in grade tomorrow but if we have him right again there should be more to come, we’ve done everything we can so here’s hoping, Grant rides and 7 run.

Figs Pride – a fine filly bred to stay – by Stowaway ex a Roselier mare

Finally we have two fillies making their racecourse debuts in the fillies and mares bumper at 3.45, Grant rides Figs Pride and Kit rides Peak of Beauty, both wear hoods as the crowd can be a little boisterous by the time of the last at Kelso on a Saturday afternoon and they will have plenty to take in, they are a pair of nicely bred fillies who have done plenty at home but never been away so will learn a lot tomorrow.

Peak of Beauty, from a top class family and a full sister to the promsiing Ballymountain Boy

A shame Lucy isn’t riding but good to see Kit back riding, he plays a big part here and I would like him to have more rides but the logic is hard to justify when due to his experience Owners have to pay a full fee which then goes into central BHA funds, I’ve never really been able to understand why.

11 November 2017|