Newcastle next (maybe?)

Thawing here but only just, ground still frozen and due to turn colder again.  Six runners declared at Newcastle tomorrow, subject to an 8am inspection, our lorry will hopefully be at Berwick by then so fingers crossed it will be on as an ultra early start for the team.  It’s the nature of the game at this time of year and along with the exceptional efforts made by the team here it’s great to see how the racecourses do their utmost to keep the show on the road, ground at Newcastle likely to be good to soft though no doubt a bit tacky after the frost.

Final Reminder

First runner is Final Reminder in the 12.10,  a maximum field of 18 line up and Lucy rides, she was disappointing last season and is taking time to come to herself again having been put through the wringer to win her Irish point-to-point 18 months ago, she should like the step up in trip and will prove a decent mare in time though ground tomorrow a doubt.

Moores Novelty (nearside)

Then we run Moores Novelty in the 1.15, 2m 6f on this ground may stretch his stamina but he needs to run somewhere, not too much rain for him please, Lucy rides and 11 run.

McGinty’s Dream

We have two runners in the 1.45, McGinty’s Dream (Lucy) and Massini’s Lady (Brian Hughes) – both diverted from Ayr this looks like a nice race for them and they should be fine on the ground especially if they get a bit of rain, 8 run.

Christmas in USA

Christmas in USA runs in the 2.20, this is an ideal race for him, he should be fine on the ground and shouldn’t be far away, Lucy rides and 12 run.  Finally, and the ground will need to ease for him to line up, we run The Orange Rogue in the 2.55, Lucy rides and 7 run; he needs to find his way again after disappointing on ground that wasn’t soft enough last time.

Massini’s Lady

13 December 2017|

Ayr tomorrow (maybe)

Cold weather continues, hardest spell for a few years, and we are very much in the abandonment season which always tests one’s temperament.  We have five runners declared for Ayr tomorrow, they have gone to huge efforts to cover the entire racing surface in fleeces and it will be touch and go whether they are enough to protect the track from a third consecutive hard frost.

McGinty’s Dream

The 9am inspection will tell us and if it is on the ground will be holding and tiring; our first two runners are in the 1.10, Titian Boy (Brian Hughes) and McGinty’s Dream (Lucy), the former won this race last year and seems in great fettle as does the latter who made a fine chasing debut at Hexham a few weeks ago, I’d rather he was going back there on Wednesday but will hopefully run well though he is a bit unpredictable – 10 run.

Massini’s Lady

Massini’s Lady runs in the 1.45,  Harry Reed rides, 10 run – she was runner up in this race last year, goes well fresh and should be fit.

Craiganboy

Craiganboy is back over his winning course and distance in the 2.20 and we’ve had this race in mind for a while, 7 run and Grant rides.

Presenting Rose

Finally Presenting Rose makes her chasing debut in the 2.55, Stephen Mulqueen rides and 5 run, her schooling has been very good and she will run well if she settles, she has a first time hood on to help in that regard.  Fingers crossed!

Titian Boy

11 December 2017|

Cold, and Alnwick

Very cold, as it is up and down the country, as cold as it has been for a good few years.  Ground too hard to turn horses out so the team here had to work particularly hard to ensure all 43 horses had time out of their box on the horsewalker, we find a little bit of exercise on a Sunday averts plenty of possible problems on a Monday.  With racing abandoned today at Kelso and tomorrow at Musselburgh it looks like we will be riding out a record number here this week, not ideal in the weather but hopefully some steps taken this afternoon to ensure all gallops bar the sand are in good working order.

Left Back (Crawford) leads the field a merry dance in the maiden yesterday (pic courtesy of Alan Raeburn – www.caledoniaphoto.co.uk)

A great point-to-point at Alnwick yesterday, the cold weather and amateur ethos combine to produce a crowd of genuine enthusiasts which creates a great atmosphere – no winners for us but happy with how our three ran and Kit managed to get into the winners enclosure with three of his four rides.  It’s meant to be a busy week coming up for us but looking at the forecast I’m not sure we will be racing very much at all, having to come up with a lot of “plan B’s” for horses that were meant to be having their pre Christmas runs this week, let’s hope it gets milder soon!

And after the race

10 December 2017|

Bitterly cold today, eye-wateringly so in the wind and looks set this way for the next week, brr.  We could have been at Wetherby or Aintree tomorrow but Clan Legend has already run this week and the ground at Aintree has gone against Benny’s Secret so it’s off to the first fixture of the new point-to-point season at Alnwick; ground on the easy side of good and fortunately they seem much less concerned about the weather than I am, let’s hope they are right.

Left Back

Three runners starting with Left Back in the maiden, he’s a big, scopey son of Oscar that ran well in Irish point-to-points before fluffing his lines last season over hurdles, we want to rebuild his confidence in this sphere.  He’s not entirely straightforward and Crawford has done a lot of work with him here recently so he will ride him tomorrow, he should run well if he settles and gets into a rhythm.  Two runners then in the Mens Open – Killer Crow (Kit) and Royal Chatelier (Jamie) – KC has come from Gordon Elliot and is a lovely horse that lost his way completely for previous connections, the ability is certainly there so it will be interesting to see if the change of scenery have a positive effect, I couldn’t be happier with him at home.  RC is reaching the veteran stage and needs softer ground to be seen at his best, am sure that will come and tomorrow’s run should bring him on nicely.

Royal Chatelier

Three declarations at Kelso on Sunday, more about them tomorrow night if I think there is a realistic chance of racing taking place, prospects appear bleak unfortunately but let’s hope the forecast is wrong – have a good weekend!

8 December 2017|

Schooling Day

Bitterly cold this morning and due to get colder, long range forecast not good and with an exceptionally busy 10 days racing coming up I’m very concerned about disruption, hmmph.  Schooling day today despite the weather and 6 went nicely over hurdles and 7 very well over fences, all due to run soon if the weather behaves…. Two fourths at Haydock yesterday, fed up with fourths another “hmmph”, a pleasing enough 2nd effort over hurdles from Silk or Scarlet over what will no doubt prove to be an inadequate trip, he wasn’t in love with the ground either and every time I step Clan Legend up in trip he comes unstuck, bang there 2 out and then faded – back to 2 miles and fences next.

Silk or Scarlet after his race yesterday

7 December 2017|

On the road to Haydock

Milder again today, bit of a storm coming then turning much colder.  Two runners at Haydock tomorrow where the ground is soft/heavy, hopefully the rain will arrive in time to freshen it up as could be tacky otherwise.

Silk or Scarlet

First off is Silk or Scarlet in the 1.55, he was withdrawn at the start at Newcastle on Saturday having been kicked and this is a good alternative as he continues his education, Lucy rides and six run, ground an unknown but hopefully will run a nice race.

Clan Legend departing Kinneston at lunchtime today

Then we run Clan Legend in the 3.30, Kit rides and 7 run, he won well at Hexham recently but this is a step up in trip and a very different type of race, will hopefully go well and the wetter the better.

5 December 2017|

Winners, Trainers – an update

Milder today but a changeable week in store, London bound for next 48 hours, Catch taking over the controls at a busy time.  A tremendous win at Newcastle on Saturday with Lake View Lad opening his account over fences in great style, he’s a good horse and let’s hope luck stays on his side.  It wasn’t nearly soft enough earlier on the card for The Orange Rogue who was wisely pulled up by Lucy and then Silk or Scarlet was unfortunately kicked at the start and had to be withdrawn, fortunately he was fine by the time he returned to the stable yard.

Lake View Lad jumps the last

At Carlisle on Sunday as I suspected most of our runners weren’t suited by the track and soft conditions however it was important to support an initiative from the BHA that provides an opportunity to run for good prize money for middle tier horses, it would be nice to think that this sort of series could be replicated in all the regions in due course.

Happy Connections!

The highlight of our day was Calivigny finishing an excellent 2nd to a well handicapped horse, he keeps bumping in to one but surely his day will come soon, especially if stepped up to 3 miles I think.  Earlier Jet Master ran OK but deep ground blunts his turn of foot, Buffalo Ballet ran a grand race to finish a close 5th but he really needs a flat track to be seen at his best, too soft for Landecker – back to Kelso for him and something seems amiss with Another Mattie – I hope we can find out what is bothering him, I have my suspicions.  Trainers meetings tomorrow at the BHA, trainers feeling slightly under the cosh at present; a lot of new rules and hoops to jump through – non-runners, wind operations, culpability plus a never ending increase in red tape, its’s the way of the world I suppose but generally increases stress levels as it is easy to make genuine mistakes – most of us are only doing our best.  Runners this week possibly at Haydock on Wednesday, Aintree, Wetherby on Saturday along with the first point-to-point of the season at Alnwick then Kelso on Sunday – let’s hope the weather behaves.  Oh, and another winner for the team yesterday with Johnny recording a personal best to win the Edinburgh Christmas 5k – and nobody there to support him this time.

 

4 December 2017|

Newcastle, Carlisle and a new arrival….

A cold Friday evening to end a busy week; due to get milder over the weekend, and busier!  It starts with a small birthday party this evening for a cousin, the first of our generation to collect his bus pass, scary – be me soon (sad face), then off to Newcastle early in the morning where we have three runners.  Weather has been rough down there this week and I would expect the ground to be heavy which will certainly suit our first two runners and is an unknown for the third.

The Orange Rogue

The first is The Orange Rogue in the 12.30, Lucy is declared to ride though we are still awaiting clearance from the BHA, 12 run and this is really his minimum trip so his competitiveness is likely to rest around how deep the ground is, he’s in good heart and will have improved for his seasonal debut.

Lake View Lad

Then in the 1.40 we run Lake View Lad with Stephen Mulqueen on board, 6 run and he takes a big step up in trip, we are hoping that will suit him very well and whilst he has to shoulder top weight I am still very much hoping that time will prove him to be a better horse than this.

Silk or Scarlet

Finally we run Silk or Scarlet (Lucy?) in the 2.45, 12 run, there are a few decent unexposed horses in this and we will probably be seen in a better light over further in due course however he should step up on his stable debut at Hexham.  Back up the road tomorrow night and then back down to Carlisle on Sunday where we have a probably 5 runners on what is the inaugural Northern Lights finals day, an excellent initiative from the BHA to provide really good prize money for horses that are decent enough but not quite good enough to compete for the usual better races.  Ground there needs to thaw out and a little rain tomorrow evening would be a big help otherwise the ground might be very holding which won’t suit any of our runners.

Jet Master

We start with Jet Master in the 1.55 (Lucy?), 9 run, he’s had a busy autumn and would prefer a flat track but could still run well back over hurdles.

Buffalo Ballet

Then Buffalo Ballet runs in the 2.25, 9 run again and I’m not sure this is really his track or distance however he could  prove well-handicapped if he handles these different conditions.

Landecker

Landecker (Kit) and Another Mattie (Lucy?) run in the 3.00 – ground and track might not be ideal for Landecker though he ran well last time out, Another Mattie will be fine on the ground but is another who I think prefers a flat track.

Another Mattie

Finally we run Calivigny (Lucy?) in the 3.30, 10 run, he likes the track though the ground may not suit if it is sticky – he wears a visor for the first time which may improve him.

Calivigny

Hmm, far too many question marks in this blog, anyway hope they all come home safe, Fight Away Boys ran well enough at Musselburgh yesterday to be 4th, he will come on for the run and we will know a bit more about him next time, delighted that while we were there Gillies dropped off and exciting new arrival from Ireland in the form of Eagle Ridge, here he is…

Eagle Ridge, 6yo son of Oscar, placed in 2 bumpers and only just denied in a point-to-point 3 weeks ago has been bought to race for an existing owner in the yard but there is 25% for sale – he’s good value and ready to go –  have some fun, get in touch if interested!

1 December 2017|

Musselburgh tomorrow

Bitterly cold today, a strong north wind and looks set this way until the weekend but all the gallops were perfect this morning to facilitate a good work morning for most of the horses.  Musselburgh tomorrow and we have one runner, Fight Away Boys making his stable debut under Kit in the 1.00pm, 9 run and the ground should be good.

Fight Away Boys

We have waited for this race for a while with this horse as his point-to-pointing form would suggest he prefers good ground, he seems to have been given a decent enough mark if he can translate his form between the flags but that is never guaranteed, we should find out tomorrow.  Another step forward for Christmas in USA down at Sedgefield yesterday, he stayed on strongly to only just be denied for 4th, he is seeing his races out much better now and should improve for a more galloping track.

Lake View Lad, a possible runner for the yard at Newcastle on Saturday

There’s been a lot of hooha recently about Trainers being required to declare wind operations with effect from 19th January, personally I will be very interested in seeing whether other trainers have as little success as me with these procedures and it has been fascinating hearing the opinions of some very experienced men.  I certainly don’t mind declaring when we have carried out an operation though I can think of plenty of other things we do that would be much more relevant for punters however I do think the legislation appears poorly drafted and is bound to end up with all sorts of unnecessary kerfuffle.

A familiar sight…

29 November 2017|

Christmas at Sedgefield tomorrow

Cold today, very cold actually and looks like being a cold week.  New facilities reacting as expected; sand froze but was fine this morning, as I hoped carpet proved itself to be the most “all-weather” surface I have experienced and frost actually seems to help it by lifting it and reducing compaction.   Sorry, all a bit technical, one runner tomorrow at Sedgefield where the ground is good to soft, Christmas in USA in the 1.50, Kit rides and 13 run.

Christmas in USA (Crawford) last week

I was very happy with his seasonal debut at Carlisle a few weeks ago and think this track will suit him better, he’s 3lb lower for that effort and Kit who knows him well takes off a further 5lb; so I think you can tell by now that I am hoping he will be competitive.  However, many is the time I have travelled to Sedgefield full of optimism only to come home disappointed!  We will see, after that possibles for Wetherby Wednesday & Doncaster Friday before a potentially busy weekend at Newcastle and Carlisle.

Our two senior work riders, Jenny (Landecker)  and Jamie (Royal Chatelier) on a frosty morning

Surprising to see four of the five Northern Lights Finals at Carlisle on Sunday reopened due to insufficient entries; we’ve had these races in mind for a few of our horses for some time, whilst conditions certainly won’t be ideal for many of them these races represent an excellent chance for decent but not very good (100 to 125 rated) horses to run for excellent prize money – £25k per race.  I’m surprised more of my training colleagues haven’t been more alive to this series – I’m sure they will be next year!

27 November 2017|

A lovely day at Hexham (despite the weather!)

Cold today having been windy, wet and mild yesterday, topsy turvy weather – 17 degrees to zero in 24 hours, confusing for nature.  And wild and stormy it was at Hexham yesterday but it didn’t bother me a jot as I was delighted with both of our runners, most especially Clan Legend who proved himself to be in a different class to the opposition when sauntering home 20 lengths clear under top weight in the handicap hurdle.

Clan Legend gives the last hurdle plenty of air as he cruises clear at Hexham yesterday

Its hard to tell whether he has improved or if none of the opposition could handle the conditions, either way he is an impressive horse when conditions are in his favour.  Half an hour later McGinty’s Dream put in a thoroughly accomplished debut round of steeplechasing to finish runner up to the odds on favourite in the novice chase, he hasn’t been straightforward but hopefully he will develop into a nice staying chaser.

Alannah leads in Clan Legend and Kit – homebred winners are always special

Plenty of time to listen to the Budget on the way to Hexham and much commentary on the way home, I can’t remember a more depressing and uninspiring Budget and the only strands of optimism emanating from borrowing even more money off future generations; funny sort of optimism that but what really irritated me was the stubborn refusal to associate all the economic downgrades with Brexit, anyway, no room for politics here – much better to immerse myself back in the bubble of the racing world!

23 November 2017|

It’s Hexham tomorrow

Dull and drizzly today, plenty of rain about including at Hexham where we have two declared runners on ground that looks like being heavy, assuming it is raceable at all.  I hope so because our two runners will be fine on the ground and we have found nice races for them starting with Clan Legend in the 2.35.

Clan Legend

He’s returning to hurdles for his seasonal debut and carries top weight in this 10 runner handicap, he won first time out last season over fences at this venue off a 4lb higher mark so should be capable of running well, Kit rides and claims 5lb.

McGinty’s Dream

Then in the 3.10 McGinty’s Dream makes his chasing debut with Grant on board and only two opponents, we won’t worry too much about them (one much better than him on ratings, the other not) as first time over fences is always about learning and ideal to be able to do this in a small field.  He isn’t the most straightforward to school at home but is a good jumper when he applies himself so fingers crossed all round.

21 November 2017|

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.

Bertalus

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.

Landecker

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.

Landecker

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|

Hexham tomorrow

Fine autumn weather and an early start tomorrow morning for the team with three runners declared at Hexham where the ground is soft.  An interesting debutante for the yard in the 2nd race at 1.10pm, Silk or Scarlet who starts out over hurdles having finished 3rd in his sole bumper start at this track.

Silk or Scarlet

He’s a lovely active horse who goes about his work nicely, ultimately I see his as a stayer and he will come on for this run and hopefully will have a pleasing introduction, Lucy rides and 10 run.

Bertalus schooling yesterday morning

We then run Bertalus in the 3.10, Lucy also rides and 15 run, having won at Ayr early in 2016 he lost his way badly last season, we’ve trained him completely differently this time round and he works well so I am hopeful that tomorrow will see his career back on track, he is certainly starting from a better position in the weights.

The Bishop

Finally we run The Bishop in the 3.40, Grant rides and 11 run, he’s a course and distance winner who looks well treated over fences though it will probably need to be heavy before he can get his head in front again.

9 November 2017|

Weekend review, weekend plans and amazed!

Dampish after a little overnight rain, due to turn colder again and we seem to be very busy, hopefully productively so with lots of horses coming on well.  A mixed sort of weekend at Ayr and Carlisle, at the former on Saturday Titian Boy completely fluffed his lines blundering at the 2nd jump and coming right down on his haunches, he made a couple of other serious jumping errors and in the circumstances did well to still be involved turning for home but ultimately he paid the price for his exertions and finished very tired.

Titian Boy on Saturday – at least he measured one right!

Seems to have come out of it fine fortunately and we will look to drop down in grade and trip and probably revert to front running tactics, I think he was distracted by the other horses.  In the same race The Orange Rogue jumped and travelled well but his career high mark and top weight took it’s toll first time out and he tired from two out, he should improve a lot for the run.

The Orange Rogue leads them all a merry dance

Another Mattie was disappointing on his first two starts last season and whilst he travelled and jumped well for 2m 4f he stopped quickly after that (as did half the field) and Lucy pulled him up preferring to wait for another day, so the highlight was a most pleasing effort from Lake View Lad who finished a close staying on 3rd in what was the highest grade he has run in after a year off, should be plenty more to come from him this winter.

Another Mattie – a bit too big at his hurdles

Sunday was Carlisle where we were all pleased with a solid effort from Christmas in USA, he may have only finished 6th but he wasn’t beaten far and ran the whole way to the line which gives us something to build on after losing his way in the spring.  No runners at Musselburgh tomorrow, next will be Hexham on Friday followed by Kelso on Saturday.  Hats off to Iain Jardine for a splendid 5th in the Melbourne Cup – a magnificent effort and a fantastic achievement, as for Joseph O’Brien – I’m lost for words, either he’s exceptionally talented or very lucky – I think I know the answer to that one!  And five of the first six home trained in Ireland and Scotland in possibly the world’s most competitive race – brilliant, Aussies will be smarting, makes up for the rugby!

Lake View Lad

7 November 2017|

Ayr and Carlisle this weekend

Cold and grey today, dry and not much rain in the forecast, at least not for this side of the country.  A busy weekend beckons starting at Ayr tomorrow where their bold decision to ramp up the prize money to £100k has been rewarded with excellent competitive fields and plenty of Southern raiders.  Won’t make winning any easier but it is the direction in which we need to travel and I’m delighted to be sending four runners from Kinneston; ground is verging on heavy and a little rain overnight would do no harm to make it wet rather than holding.

The Orange Rogue

We have two runners in the 2nd race at 1.00pm and much as I would rather have kept them apart this is the ideal race for both of them to start their season so both of them will run, The Orange Rogue (Lucy) and Titian Boy (Grant); both big strong chasers who had good campaigns last season and start here on career high marks, I’m hoping there will be more to come from them but career bests first time out? Possibly, they should be just about fit enough whilst still expecting improvement for the run, 8 run.

Titian Boy

Then in the 2.10 we run Another Mattie (Lucy), he’s in fine fettle, will love the ground, track and trip but is possibly a little high in the weights still to compete at this level but like to think he will run well, 11 run.

Another Mattie

Last but not least Lake View Lad runs in the 2.45, he will also love the ground though may find the trip on the sharp side, he’s stepping up into open handicap company at a high level on what is only his 3rd start over fences but he’s street wise and, touch wood, a good jumper so hopefully he will handle it OK, again fit enough to do himself credit whilst he will still come on for it, 8 run and Stephen Mulqueen rides.

Lake View Lad

Then on Sunday Christmas in USA runs in the 2.00 at Carlisle, he has come down a long way in the weights, rightly so as he has shown precious little form since joining us from France, he’s been a real puzzle and who knows whether he will come right this time round – I certainly hope so as we built him a gallop so that we could train him “a la Macaire” and he’s been working really well at home, ’twas always thus though, 12 run and Lucy rides.

Christmas in USA

At Ayr earlier this week we had two good runs and two rather less good runs, the highlight was an excellent 2nd from my old favourite Buffalo Ballet and Craiganboy ran a very good race to finish 4th.  On the other hand it wasn’t soft enough for The Bishop and McGinty’s Dream remains an enigma, fences for him next.

Buffalo Ballet at Ayr on Monday

3 November 2017|

Ayr today

Cold, crisp and clear early today but clouded over now, feels like it might snow but don’t think it will.  Soft ground at Ayr today for their inaugural jumps fixture of the 2017/18 Season and we have four runners making their seasonal debuts starting with Buffalo Ballet in the 2.40.

Buffalo Ballet

He’s getting on a bit now and whilst he never shows us much at home is fit and well, he ran a few good races over course and distance in defeat last season and has crept down the weights so he should run well on ground that will suit him fine, but he could well be vulnerable to younger progressive horses, Lucy rides and 10 run.  We have two runners in the conditional jockeys training hurdle at 3.15, The Bishop at the top of the weights ridden by Henry Morshead and McGinty’s Dream ridden by Harry Reed, 11 run.

The Bishop – a return to fences likely after today

The Bishop won over course and distance in March and seems in great fettle, he’s a fair bit higher in the weights now but that won’t stop him, the doubt  is whether the ground is soft enough.  McGinty’s Dream is an eccentric sort of horse who may well go chasing after this, if Harry can settle him out the back he could prove well treated off this sort of weight.

McGinty’s Dream

Finally we run Craiganboy in the 3.50, Grant rides and 5 run, he also won round here last season and whilst I expect him to improve over further in due course this is a nice race to start out in.

Craiganboy

A slightly frustrating trip to Aintree yesterday with Landecker dropping himself out early prior to running on to finish a never nearer 7th, back to Kelso for him next I hope; at that track on Saturday I was delighted with Moores Novelty’s stable debut running a strong race until tiring at the last hurdle, should be bags of improvement from him as he wasn’t especially wound up.  Jet Master found two miles on good far too sharp but he’s qualified for the Northern Lights final now and that is likely to be run on much softer ground at Carlisle in December.

Jet Master at Kelso on Saturday

30 October 2017|

Busy racing at last…

Different weather now, much colder, clear and crisp and almost a touch of frost.  No bad thing after such a wet spell and ground drying up at the racecourses, especially at Kelso where we have three runners tomorrow on what will just be on the easy side of good.

First lot heading down the gallop this morning

Moores Novelty makes his stable debut in the 1.15, Lucy rides and 12 run, he’s a lovely horse with just my sort of pedigree that has schooled well but tomorrow is very much a sighting shot to see where we are with him and whatever happens he will improve for the run.

Moore’s Novelty schooling over the Easyfix – picks his knees up!

Jet Master runs in the 3.25 carrying the welter weight of 12st 2lb, that’s a big ask and 2m on good ground will be on the sharp side for him but he’s in great fettle and despite that weight is potentially still well handicapped, tomorrow’s race qualifies him for the Northern Lights Series Final at Carlisle in early December so fingers crossed, Lucy rides and 13 run.

Jet Master

Finally in the 5.15 we run Andhaar; he seems in good heart and Grant rides and 11 run, his last win was in this race two years ago, he carried top weight that day and has bottom weight tomorrow so surely he has a little chance if he can find a semblance of his old form in a race that lacks depth?

Andhaar coming to win this race two years ago

Hope so, then on to Aintree on Sunday where we run Landecker in the 1.15, historically he’s done better in smaller field races but this is an open sort of race for a decent prize on nice ground at a track that should suit him so it has to be worth a go, Grant rides and 16 run, after that we will be off to Ayr on Monday where we hope to have 3 or 4 runners.

Landecker

An excellent run from Calivingy at Carlisle yesterday, beaten a length into 2nd on ground that didn’t really suit him so hopefully a good season ahead.

Lucy heading out onto the track yesterday, nearly pulled off a win on her first ride hor her new sponsor

27 October 2017|

Carlisle today, new sponsor for Lucy and new arrival!

Very dark in the mornings now, clocks changing this weekend so a brief respite, a bit cooler but at last it looks like a few drier days.  One runner at Carlisle today, Calivigny in the 2.50, 10 run and Lucy rides, ground described as heavy, soft places – we are hoping it will have dried a bit.

Calivigny – he jumps a little right at his fences so seems better suited by a right handed track, hood swapped for cheek pieces today.

He ran very well over course and distance twice later last season looking like he would improve for further; this is fine first time back though especially with more testing underfoot conditions, he’s wearing first time cheek pieces just to sharpen him up a little.  Let’s hope he runs well because it is the first time Lucy will be riding for her new sponsor Humphrey Butler – have a good look at his excellent website and start saving up for Christmas!

Better idea- ask Humphrey to sell your heirlooms and buy a horse – be good to get Lucy on horses like this one ridden by his previous jockey!

Dance of Fire ran well for a mile at Newcastle and folded up in the last 2f, Graham Lee was happier with the run than the trainer and thought that in what was a competitive strongly run race he didn’t stay, he may well go back there in a fortnight for a race over a mile.

This 3yo filly called Charm Offensive arrived from France at 5.30am yesterday. Nicely bred by Le Triton out of a Turgeon mare she will have a few weeks here prior to going to her owners for the winter – Perth 2018? (PS – this is our “isolation barn” not one of our stables!

26 October 2017|

An unusual sort of runner for the yard.

Colder today, and generally rather dull and damp, an unsettled week forecast.  So, our first flat runner for a few years tomorrow, Dance of Fire in the 2.10 at Newcastle, on the tapeta all weather surface so going “standard” – 14 run and our old ally Graham Lee takes the ride.

Dance of Fire skipping over one of the hurdles at Kelso two weeks ago.

Usually I have a vague idea of what to expect when a Kinneston runner goes to post, haven’t a clue this time I’m afraid; he had plenty of ability on the flat so I suppose it’s a case of how much have we managed to slow him down in a year of trying to teach him to stay.  We haven’t done very well in that regard so worth a try back on the level and for the last 10 days the emphasis has been on much faster, shorter work so it will be fascinating to see how he goes; one thing is for sure – he looks fantastic and is full of zest and spark so I couldn’t wish for him to be going there in better shape physically.

Christmas in USA – one of our weekend entries

The race is a “super claimer” with £20k of prize money and he has a claiming price of £25k, this gives him 8st 13lb leaving him “well in” with 8 of the opposition and “badly in” with 5 so the handicapper would have him finishing 6th assuming of course that he runs to his mark of 85.  I’ll be very pleased if he manages that, not sure if I will get there myself as busy here, hoping to give our weekend entries their last piece of work.

And Craiganboy who hopefully goes to Ayr next Monday

23 October 2017|

Preparations near completion…..

Well, the weird weather continues and nature is confused, wet & stormy then warm and sunny, and from time to time a peculiar sulphorous smell in the air.  Most odd and the horses don’t quite know how to react.

Mist receding as the sun rises with horses lobbing along

Crucial stage now with the horses’ training intensifying as they approach their first run, every piece of work matters and detailed horsecare essential, hoping to run 25 horses in next three weeks and I’m mostly very happy with them, by and large they are at their racing weights.

Titian Boy being washed down this morning

Last year it all came a week earlier but we had a similar 25 runners across this series of meetings and they produced a couple of winners so we will be hoping one or two can do so again – main thing is that they run well, if so the results should follow and the extra week will have done no harm.

Silk or Scarlet (Grant)

Likely to be a low key start though with Dance of Fire scheduled to run on the all-weather at Newcastle on Tuesday – a “super-claimer” that looks very competitive, unlikely to be a rewarding hunting ground for a rookie flat trainer but we will be doing our best, thereafter possibly Calivigny at Carlisle on Thursday and entries will be made at Kelso Saturday, Aintree Sunday and Ayr Monday…. off we go – can’t wait but nervous days!

Wicklow Lad enjoying his retirement at the Hodges with his new friend Sandy – think he needs to come here…

21 October 2017|