Festivals Galore! (and Hexham tomorrow…)

Much cooler today, but a south westerly with the odd shower about, typical for the time of year and right now “typical” feels pretty good.  A wonderful two day meeting at Ayr, high class competitive racing for excellent money enjoyed by a huge crowd – exactly what it is all about and although most of the money went South at least “Scobie” managed to wrestle one prize for the natives.  Our own Benny’s Secret was too free early and whilst he was exactly where I wanted him to be turning for home he found little after his early exertions and finished 10th of 18, a shame he missed his prep race which would have taken the edge off his freshness and although we still don’t really know whether he stays we will drop back in trip next time.

caption competition?

All eyes will no doubt be on the Elliot/Mullins battle at Punchestown this week but we have our own Festival to look forward to and it will also be fiercely competitive with no less than 452 entries from every corner of the British Isles chasing the £290k on offer over the 3 days, we will be doing our best to bring as much of it as possible back to Kinneston in an attempt to break our seasonal prize money record and we have 16 horses with engagements.

Top Cat Henry

More mundane stuff first with two runners at Hexham tomorrow where the ground will be a bit of just about everything, generally good to soft with a few wetter bits, hopefully not too holding and the racing there again looks very competitive for a Monday meeting.  We start with Top Cat Henry reverting to hurdles in the 3.20, he hasn’t really run a race since leading over the Chair in last year’s Foxhunters, we nay have frazzled his mind a bit that day so tomorrow’s return is about boosting his confidence, I’m happy that he retains plenty of ability and he will look very well treated if hecan find his mojo again, 11 run and Kit rides .

McGinty’s Dream

Then McGinty’s Dream makes a quick reappearance after his peculiar run at Newcastle last week in the 3.50, he’s jumped these Hexham fences better than he has been jumping those at Newcastle, let’s hope he does so again tomorrow – Lucy rides and 14 run.

Always Tipsy

22 April 2018|

Sun and winners thank goodness – and Ayr today.

Gold Opera having the finishing touches applied beofre his win at Newcastle on Sunday

Another lovely spring morning, perfect weather but Cheltenham abandoning a race yesterday because it was too hot?  Crikey, appears we are having coldest and hottest April days in the same year – wierd.  Farm slow to dry out but coming along now and conditions at the racecourses vary, it will be good ground today at Ayr but still sounds very wet at Hexham and Perth.

Koala Keel (Grant)

Deep gluey tiring ground at Newcastle and Kelso earlier in the week but it didn’t stop us having three very welcome winners, all shouldering top weight in handicap chases indicating that the horses are in robust health,  Gold Opera took the feature chase at Newcastle on Sunday in fine style, dropping down in trip and grade did the trick and it was grand to see him land his 6th chase win as he has his issues.

Bertalus

Bertalus then won his first chase to give us a double on the day, it was lovely to see him regain his confidence over fences – it’s amazing how long this can take however much one does at home.  McGinty’s Dream and Massini’s Lady both threw away their chances with erratic jumping though McGinty did stay on to finish a somewhat unedifying 2nd.

Always Tipsy

Then a really special win at Kelso on Monday with Always Tipsy winning the 2m 5f handicap chase, he isn’t the biggest but he is all heart and to give weight to the whole field was very gutsy, he’s been a special horse in many ways and now Lucy and Kit have both won on him this season, with luck he can build on this and give plenty of fun to his owners this spring.  Elsewhere on the card Koala Keel ran an honest sort of race to be 5th, Road to Gold and Buffalo Ballet both ran to form to be 4th and Up Helly Aa King was just a bit weak on the ground and finished 6th. On to Ayr today where we have one runner, Benny’s Secret in the 5.15, 18 run in an extremely competitive handicap hurdle befitting of Scotland’s premier National Hunt Festival.

Benny’s Secret (Grant)

This is the race we have been training him for since we decided to keep him over hurdles for the rest of this season, whilst he missed his prep run due to the ground he should be very fit and will love the decent ground.  The big question is whether the step up to 3m will bring out the further improvement required to be involved at the finish, who knows – he may not stay but I think he will though of course I could be wrong…. fingers crossed he has luck in running and can play a part at the business end.  Tremendous racing today and tomorrow at Ayr; fair to say the best two days of national hunt racing that I have seen staged in Scotland and they look like being blessed with perfect weather so get along there if you can!

20 April 2018|

National then Newcastle

A lovely mild morning and the intensity of birdsong at first light heralding the long awaited spring, yippee, a glorious time of year.  Ground still very wet though, perhaps the heaviest its ever been yesterday at Newcastle and it was attritional stuff, I do wish jockeys would ride with more patience in these conditions, “ride a race”, rather than go flat out from flagfall – it’s probably the trainers fault, many of us often wanting to make the running or “be handy”.

Davy Russell, talented and humble.

What a wonderful finish to the Grand National, a nose separating two brave horses at the end of four miles plus on soft ground, and it would be Elliot & Mullins, their achievements continue to amaze and so pleased for Davy Russell – a brilliant rider and most importantly a lovely, kind and modest man.  The Irish dominated the race with the first four and seven of the first ten, no luck for the Scottish runners with Captain Redbeard unseating and Seeyouatmidnight a gallant but wearily distant 11th.

Bertalus runs in the 5.10 at Newcastle today

At Newcastle The Orange Rogue pulled up tired having jumped boldly, something is stopping him as he should have been fine on the ground, I suspect it is his wind and we will look at that again this summer, Titian Boy struggled to go the gallop on the ground in a fast run two mile race but stayed on bravely to finish 4th.  We wisely withdrew Dutch Canyon on account of the ground. It is back down the A1 for the team to Newcastle today with four declared runners and if I am honest I’m not really relishing the thought of running more horses in these conditions despite them all wanting soft, however Newcastle have been decent enough to put this extra fixture on and with conditions likely to dry rapidly we have few other options for these horses who have all lost plenty of engagements.

McGinty’s Dream skipping clear at the last at Newcastle over hurdles – can we find the key again?

We start with the quirky McGinty’s Dream in the 3.00, a change of headgear – blinkers and earplugs this time and will change the tactics as well, hmm, he has a nice low weight, Lucy rides and 8 run.  We then run Gold Opera in the feature race of the day at 4.05, a course and distance winner off a higher rating he should go well if he handles the extreme conditions which is a doubt even though he has won on heavy, Lucy rides and 6 run.

Gold Opera

Finally we have two runners in the 5.10, Bertalus (Grant) and Massini’s Lady (Lucy), ground should be fine for the latter, may not be ideal for the former, 6 run – steady away lads or you won’t get home!  Busy this morning exercising horses for Kelso tomorrow and in case I don’t have time to update the blog our intended runners are Koala Keel 2.10, Road to Gold 2.40, Always Tipsy 3.10, Buffalo Ballet 3.40 and Up Helly Aa King 5.10 – home safe everyone please.

Massini’s Lady

15 April 2018|

Newcastle, Aintree, Newcastle, Kelso then Carlisle!

Still cold & grey, drizzle but forecast much better for next week, at last.  A busy weekend ahead if the weather behaves (am I really saying this in mid April?) with a double header at Newcastle (heavy) and horses to be prepared for Kelso on Monday.  There’s a 7am inspection at Newcastle tomorrow but hopefully all will be OK for the lorry to set sail with 3 runners and first off is The Orange Rogue at 2.10, Lucy rides and 6 run.

The Orange Rogue

He was running well when he fell at Ayr last time out and is a course and distance winner who won’t mind the ground so hopefully he will be involved at the business end.  Next up is Titian Boy at 5pm, 8 run and Will Kennedy rides, his best run last season was when he was just beaten over course and distance in February – he is best caught fresh and seems in grand form so fingers crossed.

Titian Boy

Finally Grant rides Dutch Canyon in the 5.45, 11 run, he ran very well when 2nd last time at Musselburgh – ground will be very different tomorrow but he’s dropping back in trip and should go so well if in the same form.

Dutch Canyon (Catch)

Obviously all eyes will be on Aintree and it will be different watching from Newcastle but there is sure to be a great atmosphere so I’m looking forward to it, a heavy ground National seems appropriate this year so it will be won with the horse with the most stamina – a wonderful race in prospect.  Whilst we may not have the class of horse to compete at the very top I’ve been greatly enjoying the success of Nicky Henderson in the Grade One races, Clare has been there all winter and is thoroughly involved with the team at Seven Barrows all of whom seem to work exceptionally hard on a relentless basis. Particularly special was Terrefort winning the Mildmay Novice Chase today as Clare rides him out most days, Lucy also rode him there one day and rode him a few times at Macaire’s in France last summer – small world!

13 April 2018|

A big weekend at Kelso and Carlisle

Cool today but dry thank goodness, forecast looks OK though little sign of any warmth.  Big day at Kelso tomorrow; the most valuable day’s racing they have ever staged and ITV Racing headlining their show from the track for the first time, whilst we would have had a stronger hand if the weather had obliged I’m delighted we are playing a part with 5 declared runners, ground will be drying heavy – not ideal but same for everyone and let’s hope we can bring back a morsel or two of the £166k on offer.

Lake View Lad (Charlotte)

First up is Lake View Lad in the feature Chase on the card at 3pm, he’s in good order, won’t mind the ground, has a nice racing weight and deserves a shot at a good prize; big question is will he stay the extended 3 miles – you never know, he may actually improve for it, Stephen Mulqueen rides and 10 run.

Landecker

Course specialist Landecker steps back up to his last winning trip in the 3.35, he also steps up in class and whilst he won on heavy he would definitely prefer better ground; he’s in great fettle though and has a nice light weight so hopefully won’t be last as the market suggests he will, 10 run and it is a comeback ride for Lucy who has been off since suffering a nasty kick in the face from Clan Legend at Newcastle in February.

Craiganboy

Also making a comeback after an injury is Craiganboy in the 4.10, he might need the run a little but I think is on the right side of the handicapper now, Grant rides and 8 run.

Road to Gold – twice a winner at Kelso reverts to hurdles tomorrow

Finally we have two runners in the 4.45, Road to Gold (Lucy) has to shoulder top weight despite showing no form for two years but is taking a step down in class and Another Mattie (Kit) who ran very well to be 3rd at Ayr last time – that was an amateurs race so Kit was unable to use his 5lb claim, that kicks back in tomorrow – 10 run.

Another Mattie

On Sunday we have one runner at Carlisle, Calivigny (Lucy) in the 3.55, he should improve for the better ground and looks well treated though this is competitive – 9 run.

Calivigny at Carlisle

6 April 2018|