Brief Update

Lovely warm and sunny autumn morning after a stormy old week.  Wet overnight at Hexham, ground turned heavy so Landecker a non-runner, declared in the hope they would miss the rain so no runners this week and unlikely to have any entries until Carlisle on 26th Oct, a disappointing absence of opportunities for the time of year but we look like being very busy from then on.

Landecker at Perth last month, non-runner today, great picture from Dennis Penny

Having a good time here though with the yard very full and the new facilities proving a revelation, will they improve how they run, time will tell!

Lake View Lad this morning, making good progress

New recruit Moores Novelty looks like he can jump OK!

14 October 2017|

Boom, boom, Benny!

A fine autumn day and a skip in my step this morning after the wonderful Kelso racecourse yet again managed to produce a magical moment with Benny’s Secret reverting to form to win the last race under a well judged ride from Lucy at the staggering odds of 33-1; we made a plan and she carried it out perfectly, needed luck on our side of course and very stressful – usually something or other goes wrong.

Benny’s Secret draws upsides at the last

It may only have been an ordinary handicap hurdle but I’ve been very open about how tricky it has been to get this talented horse right and yesterday was a thoroughly rewarding result for the whole team, whether it proves to be a one-off only time will tell but at least now we have a road to follow.

I said prior to the race that if he we had him right he was very well handicapped and that we believed all was in order though as ever I was hopeful rather than confident.  That information was available to everyone and I was amazed that the price he was sent off at, I’m just pleased that some of the Kinneston faithful took advantage of the market’s generosity though I am afraid that didn’t include me (always hopeful, never confident!). 

This blog will never be a source of betting information but I hope will always be uniquely open and honest and therefore valued as such, those who enjoy reading it may also enjoy our weekly photographic update on the Kinneston Facebook page.

Earlier on the card Dance of Fire I am afraid ran like a non-stayer, he travelled well and jumped proficiently for 12f  but couldn’t go on.  It appears the high class sprinting genes on his dam side are outweighing the staying genes given by his sire, he was a little free early on so it may be worth trying once more with more restraint but we will also be looking for options on the flat.  One entry this week, Landecker at Hexham on Saturday, otherwise all hands on deck preparing the team for what we hope will be a busy winter.

9 October 2017|

Kelso tomorrow

Dampish overnight but nothing serious and a lovely autumn day, perfect for working horses and we find ourselves extremely busy which is exactly how we want to be at this time of year.  Two runners at Kelso tomorrow where they have a cracking 8 race card on ground that is likely to ride on the soft side of good.  Hopefully not too soft for Dance of Fire who we run in the 2.05, 9 run and Lucy rides, this is a horse with a big engine who for some reason didn’t fire last season and so far hasn’t converted his better flat form to hurdles; despite that the handicapper is giving nothing away based on what he has achieved over obstacles so far.

Dance of Fire in relaxed mode

Whether he is just taking time to adjust to the different training and racing regime required for hurdling or whether he doesn’t stay I’m not sure; there is also the possibility that mentally he is taking time to get over some hard training and races; whatever, he’s had a good summer now and I couldn’t be happier with him at home, he showing plenty of enthusiasm for his job so hopefully he races with that same attitude in which case he shouldn’t be far away, cheek pieces being worn for first time over hurdles.

Benny’s Secret (Grant)

Then we run Benny’s Secret in the 5.20, he won a maiden hurdle here over shorter and should love the underfoot conditions, he’s a horse with lots of ability who is very hard to catch right and I’ve clearly failed to do that recently as he has pulled up on 3 of his last 4 starts.  The step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem for him and if he’s right he’s very well handicapped, we’ve done everything we can and clearly believe he is OK otherwise he wouldn’t be running but I’ve thought that before…. tricky, Lucy rides and 13 run, hood back on, tongue strap off.

Love this photo of Lucy coming in on Jet Master, kindly sent to us by Perth Racecourse

With ground conditions perfect a disappointingly empty schedule in the Northern programme for next week, only Hexham next Saturday – not quite sure why we have a mini break in proceedings at this stage but we will be busy here preparing for what will hopefully be a busy second half of the month.  Some sections of the website are a bit out of date, apologies for that – a revamped version is under construction, in the meantime here is a link to our 2017/18 Horses in Training book.


7 October 2017|

Jet, Clare, Owners Day and Perth 2018?

A lovely day yesterday but a storm to sweep through today, nothing serious expected and it is the 1st of October so nothing unusual.  A busy week and a welcome winner in the form of Jet Master who won the 2m handicap hurdle at Perth’s Autumn Finale meeting for the third year in succession- delighted for the yard, Lucy and his owners’ Harry Turcan and Simon Dunning.

The smiles say it all, a mud spattered Jet Master comes in off the track with Lucy and Kelly; he has given us so many special days – thank you Jet – Harry and Simon for letting me train him.

Also special because this was our 200th winner, every one of them lodged in my memory as something to treasure.  A bit of a “teary” day yesterday as Clare headed South to take up her new job as pupil assistant to Nicky Henderson, a fantastic opportunity for her and wonderful to be immersed in a yard at the height of its powers as we head into the new National Hunt season, we will have to find an excuse to visit soon.

A captive audience – I do love the chance to bang on about my horses!

Earlier in the week I was delighted to host our annual Owners Day with breakfast followed by a parade of 34 horses here followed by an excellent lunch in the Club Lawn Marquee at Perth, the horses looked really well and were a credit to the team here.

And as “tipster” of the day I managed 4 of the 6 winners – all credit due to Brian Castle!

Of course that was also the 3rd year in succession that we opened our account for the season in that race; we used to train plenty of summer winners but don’t seem to have the horses for it these days.  I would love that to change and with over £1m in prize money likely to be on offer at Perth next year I hope to put a small syndicate together specifically to target that, please do contact me if you would like to be part of it.  Two runners today, The Great Scottish Run 10k, off at 9.30 – don’t worry not me, as usual I’m just the support team, ie the bloke to nervously drink coffee beforehand and help with the pints afterwards – good luck boys!  Equine wise, one entry – Fight Away Boys – at Hexham on Friday and Dance of Fire & Benny’s Secret at Kelso next Sunday – in the meantime enjoy the fantastic racing at Chantilly this afternoon, the best!

1 October 2017|

A historic day at Kinneston and another runner!

Sunny and mild this morning but a wet night and ground at Perth likely to be very heavy, at least racing goes ahead after an early morning inspection and should be wet rather than holding.  This is unlikely to suit our runner Jet Master who is likely to go off favourite for the 2.40 in which there are 4 runners (Lucy rides).

Jet Master

To be honest I’d prefer better ground and a more competitive race as he has won the last two renewals of this contest on good to soft ground and until February this year had never beaten another horse in his previous four starts on heavy, his run in February on the ground was pretty moderate as well even though he finished 4th, having said all of that he is a worthy favourite and could well defy the conditions – let’s hope so!  A pleasing effort from Landecker at Perth yesterday running a solid race to finish 4th despite his somewhat insulting odds of 22-1, with luck he will have another good season ahead of him and a great photo taken by Dennis Penny below.

Landecker heads to post at Perth yesterday

A  memorable and significant morning in the history of training horses at Kinneston as we were able to use part of our new gallop facility for the first time; the whole thing will be finished by lunchtime today and so far I am absolutely delighted with how it has all worked out. We will feel our way gently with it but exciting times and I feel most fortunate and extremely grateful to all those who made it possible – thank you.

The dawn of a new era


Lake View Lad

Heading home

28 September 2017|

Perth tomorrow, a runner!

A glorious autumn afternoon here at Kinneston; warm and sunny, a lovely soft light.  Hopefully it will last until tomorrow at Perth where we have a few people coming for lunch after seeing their horses here in the morning.


And I’m delighted that we have a runner, Landecker in the 4.30, 8 run and Lucy rides.  He’s matured into a game and consistent handicap hurdler and whilst the ground being heavy, soft in places, isn’t something that I think particularly suits him it may well be more of an inconvenience to the opposition.  He was a good second at Hexham in May and whilst his fitness has to be taken on trust after his break he ran well in this race last year after a very similar preparation so fingers crossed!

26 September 2017|

Autumn, Lucy, THN & some entries….

Warm and sunny this morning but not due to last with this changeable spell due to bring rain again tonight, and whilst it doesn’t directly affect us I feel for everyone connected with Ayr after losing their valuable and prestigious three day meeting due to water logging, a bitter blow for racing in Scotland.  Harvest came and went in the blink of an eye, it used to last many weeks but now The Fife Farmer sends in his mighty tackle and 200 acres of barley are hoovered up in 24 hours-  just as well as days shortening, dark in the mornings now and torch required for early morning dog exercise.

Jet Master (Lucy)

A busy week on the training front and delighted to have Lucy back riding out after nearly 4 months in France; a tremendous and invaluable experience for her to spend 4 months learning from their champion trainer, schooling horses the French way almost every day; riding every variety of horse from top class to unraced 3yo’s over every variety of obstacle, a few rides on the track as well, if you have a few minutes watch this video about his training methods and facilities – it’s worth watching even if you can’t understand what he is saying! A useful insight into the French training methods, his results are excellent and what she has learnt won’t be lost on us back here at Kinneston.

Tuesday morning on the carrots – autumn mists, steam rising, crisp and atmospheric..

Aside from training the horses here and finalising “the project” a few meetings elsewhere, NTF at Kelso always interesting to talk to other trainers for a few hours but best meeting I attended was that of The Thoroughbred Health Network, having been an original collaborator in this project I am delighted that it has now been awarded Charity status, it is a first class resource for anyone working with racehorses – trainers and their teams, vets, owners.

Heading home across the stubble

Laura Friend works exceptionally hard to produce high quality content under the guidance of senior vets from the Weipers Centre and the Royal Dick veterinary hospitals,  it should gain real traction now that it can be rolled out nationally and internationally.  Have a look at the website and spread the word, an equine knowledge exchange should produce real benefits in terms of horse welfare.

4yo filly by Ask – 3 parts sister to Buffalo Ballet, available for lease for the season- contact me for details

Excited to say we have some entries this week at Perth’s September finale meeting – Landecker, Jet Master, Benny’s Secret and Dance of Fire all have appealing engagements and will take them up if conditions suit, expect it will be pretty soft with the forecast remaining unsettled.

Elvis Mail (Kit)

Andhaar (Crawford)

23 September 2017|

Another week flies by….

Changeable today, cool with a North wind, and it’s been a changeable week with plenty of heavy showers hindering harvest, “the project” and our ability to work on the carrot field.  Horses have made good progress nevertheless, it’s a tremendous time of year watching them come together and the rapid progress being made by the younger horses is particularly rewarding.  A sad week though as I have to report the passing of our most senior owner, Lord Cochrane of Cults who died peacefully on Monday a fortnight short of his 91st birthday.  Vere transferred his horses here when Susan Bradburne retired and became a friend and most loyal supporter of the yard and we had plenty of success together, he will be greatly missed but hopefully the connection will be maintained through his son Tom and daughter in law Silke.

Lord Cochrane with Or de Grugy in 2014, a talented and honest horse who won 11 of his 63 starts and filled the runner up slot a further 13 times giving lots of fun.

The week started with a memorable trip to watch Johnny run in the exceptionally well organised Great North Run – what a wonderful event; 57,000 runners lining up behind some of the world’s great athletes including Mo Farah and the top three female distance runners in the world, a fantastic atmosphere and Mrs A and myself thoroughly enjoyed cheering Johnny home.  He might have been half an hour slower than Mo but to record a time of 90 minutes for his first half marathon only a year after he started running was pretty exceptional and he did beat approx 55,600 of the others.

The live tracking app greatly enhanced the spectator experience!

No runners coming up this week, we will hopefully have a handful at Perth for their two day “finale” fixture on 27th and 28th of this month, that should start our season proper off though we won’t be properly busy until later in October.  In the mean time some fun pictures taken yesterday, a practice run for a video we are producing about the yard and our soon to be enhanced facilities.  Do also find the Kinneston page on Facebook – link here, I do a photographic highlights update each week, like it and hopefully it will appear on your timeline though I’m not sure how it works really….

The gallop & schooling hurdles – carrot field mid distance

Yard, walker, round school, house etc….

The menage

And the project…. completion draws ever closer



16 September 2017|

Success at the Sales (at last!)

Cold and showery today, the wind in the North and a chill in the air when I returned late from Doncaster Sales last night after a long but ultimately rewarding day.  We’ve worked hard at the sales all summer; Doncaster, Ascot, Fairyhouse, Angers, Deauville, Newmarket – plenty of long days and plenty of blank days.   The demand for horses had been consistently driving valuations out of our comfort zone and whilst we have managed to acquire 5 well bought horses only 2 of those were bought on the fall of the hammer.

The team deep in thought…

It was gratifying therefore yesterday that the supply/demand pendulum eventually swung back our way and with many of the bigger trainers absent having apparently filled their boxes some value appeared at long last, particularly late in the day and we were delighted to buy three horses.

Killer Crow

Kit has been looking hard all summer both at auction and privately so it was pleasing to see him eventually manage to buy a couple for his own account, Killer Crow bought from the Gigginstown dispersal had been on our radar for the last two months and we had our eyes on Thomond since the catalogue came out a couple of weeks ago.


He has come from Noel Meade and whilst looking at his horses I was greatly attracted by the profile of Fly Rory Fly, I didn’t really imagine we would be able to buy him but I was really pleased when the hammer came down on what was our final bid.

Fly Rory Fly – the hammer comes down!

He’s a cracking 5yo son of Milan that has already shown plenty of ability over fences and if given a little time could turn out to be a very decent horse, he’s for sale so please contact me if he is of interest, come and see him – you won’t be disappointed.  No runners this week but an entry at Perth on Monday, Benny’s Secret – will run if we feel everything is right for him.

It all starts here – Eric Gillie delivering our three purchases earlier today.

7 September 2017|

No joy for us, a great win for a Scottish Trainer and looking ahead…

Hmmmph, 400 miles is a long way to drive for a PU, disappointing, everything should have been right for Queen of Avalon yesterday and she travelled and jumped sweetly enough but when the going got tough she didn’t and she may not have what it takes to be a racehorse; she recovered very quickly and was as bright as a button afterwards which only reinforces my doubts.  I suppose Cartmel is an idiosyncratic sort of track and she did pull a front shoe off so we probably ought to give her one more chance, perhaps with some headgear next time.

Queen of Avalon at Cartmel yesterday, a bonny horse but is she a racehorse?

I was pleased with young Bruce Lynn’s attitude to his job and the way he rode the horse, a shame she didn’t run better for him but he’s in the right place working for Iain Jardine and could well make the grade as Iain and Val are diligent in their support for him.

Bruce Lynn gets the leg up

And what a day it was for them, a double at Cartmel then winning the famous Ebor at York, so that’s the winner of Europe’s most valuable flat handicap and jumps handicap both trained in Scotland this year despite the absence of the more powerful owners, tremendous stuff and a shame that the RP chose to lead on its obsession with the, admittedly unfortunate, Davy Russell incident instead. On what was a brilliant week for racing – Ullysses, Enable, Marsha and Nakeeta all wonderful stories – more column inches have been devoted to one jockey slapping a horse round the head at Ballinrobe a week ago, it might have been the wrong thing to do but surely our trade paper should focus on those other wonderful stories rather than again obsess about the negative.  This is becoming a theme and horsemen are increasingly frustrated by what appears to be an illogical agenda – don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Elvis Mail (Kit) – he is remarkably mature and sensible for a 3yo

No runners for us now for a couple of weeks at least but 36 in and focus is on preparing them and completing “the project” – stay dry please! Some more photo’s of the horses out at exercise yesterday…

Final Reminder (Lucy H) – she’s put a lot of condition on this summer and hopefully we will see a different horse this season

Titian Boy (Charlotte) has continued to strengthen and should be able to progress again after winning twice last season

Christmas in USA (Claudia) – he should be more effective off a more realistic rating now

Gold Opera (Isla) can continue to progress despite his higher mark after a highly successful 2016/17 season.

The Bishop (Laura) won over hurdles earlier this year but surely a better chaser despite being rated a stone less over fences?

27 August 2017|

Cartmel tomorrow

An annoyingly damp afternoon after a decent 48 hours, frustrating for those harvesting and not ideal for us on a number of fronts.  A runner at the uniquely idiosyncratic Cartmel tomorrow, I’m looking forward to being back on a racecourse and ground should be perfect good to soft for Queen of Avalon in the 5.45.

Queen of Avalon after her work on Wednesday.

She knocked a leg on her handicap debut at Perth a couple of weeks ago and has done well to bounce back so quickly, she should run a decent race if that incident hasn’t left a mark – track, trip, ground and company should all suit, 10 run and Bruce Lynn rides in this Hands and Heels Training Series race.

25 August 2017|

Weather, weather, weather…

Mild but dull, a damp sort of air and more rain in the forecast, after the driest April and May we had the wettest June and July and it has rained pretty well every day in August.  That’s been the story of the summer and its all everyone talks about but we’ve been lucky to be away in the sun for the last 10 days enjoying a special family holiday.  I’m delighted to be back feeling rested and enthused for the new season, Lucy came home early to ride at Perth and has gone back to France today for another few weeks whilst Clare has returned to Ralph Beckett’s in Hampshire, Kit moved on from France to Germany where he is touring around this week visiting Studs and Trainers and looking at lots of horses.  With the stables here pretty well full already Catch and the team have been doing a great job moving the horses forward and whilst only half a dozen are in full work most have started cantering.

Murky and autumnal back on the gallops yesterday morning

Most of the smaller projects here are now complete, the “big one” is making excellent progress despite the weather, can’t wait.  As I said I can’t seem to stop wanting to improve the details of what we do here and this year the “smaller” projects included; redesigning the ventilation in the feed room and one of the main barns, installing a concrete wash pad in another, topping up the surface in the round school, installing a completely new upgraded surface in the main school and building a new turning circle at the bottom of the gallop.  This is all vital detail but none of it is a “game-changer” – the “big one” potentially is.  One entry this week, Queen of Avalon at Cartmel on Saturday – she hurt herself in the closing stages at Perth last time so has missed a bit of work but if we are happy with her tomorrow she will run.

Queen of Avalon

22 August 2017|

Holiday time (nearly)

Looks like being showery again today, grim at Goodwood on Wednesday, 35mm rain -ouch,and summer slips by without feeling much like summer.  Very busy here with three teams of contractors currently onsite improving our facilities in one way or another, I suspect there will never be an end to the things I want to do here to keep moving forward.

Congestion in the yard this morning

Trying to get as much wrapped up as possible prior to heading to London on Monday for industry business followed by Doncaster Sales on Tuesday then heading off for 10 days holiday on Thursday.

Pouring concrete

Bit of a hospital pass to Catch for me to disappear with some much going on let alone 30 plus horses to train but I’ll be on the end of the phone and it will be great to find some sunshine (I hope!); plan is for Lucy to join us from G Macaire’s in France and Clare to join us from Ralph Beckett’s in Hampshire, Kit has also been out with Macaire for a few weeks but has come back principally to help me at the sales next week.  Johnny, the runner, there as well of course to keep us all sane and from talking about horses all the time.

Reshaping the turning circle at the bottom of the gallop

So, Queen of Avalon, she was running a promising sort of race at Perth on Tuesday, staying on and only 6l off the winner coming in to the last hurdle when she appeared to go wrong behind and was heavily eased by Grant, she’s a bit sore still but I’m hoping that she has just knocked herself, fingers crossed as she certainly has a level of ability, no other runners imminently – it’s the official National Hunt break, hence holidays!

What Mrs A loyally refers to as “my mid-life crisis”

Think these chaps are a bit fed up of our summer and thinking of heading to warmer climes…

4 August 2017|

Hello – Perth tomorrow, an update and a horse for sale!

Hello, hello, hello – it’s been a while, I’ve been rather lazy about blogging, no harm in that I hear you say…  Showery today, again, it’s been the pattern for a few weeks now and the long dry spell of late spring appears a very distant memory.  Busy here with 30 horses back in and a variety of projects to juggle; horses mostly trotting, a handful cantering now but only one race fit and she, Queen of Avalon, goes to Perth tomorrow evening where the ground should be good, the race is at 8pm.

Queen of Avalon (Grant) cools off after her pipe-opener this morning

This is her handicap debut and as 5th top weight in a field of 12 I don’t think the handicapper is taking any chances; she’s been 3rd in the two novices that she has run in over 2m but the form is thin and her inexperience may catch her out in the hurly burly of a handicap, she is fit and well though and Grant rides.  Delighted to see that Perth has been awarded another Listed Race for 2018 – a 3m Mares Chase at the April Festival – a very positive step in the continued improvement in the quality of the Northern jumping programme and a really nice valuable race to be able to aim for.   Aside from Perth a great week’s racing in prospect with the two high summer Festivals, Goodwood and Galway; our plot to have a runner at the latter sadly didn’t work out – maybe next year!

Most excited by this 3yo daughter of Martaline that arrived from France recently, she is a big strong free-moving filly from an excellent family and I’m delighted to have her in the yard.

This 4yo filly by Ask (Alannah) had her first canter of the season this morning, she has strengthened up nicely over the summer and I couldn’t be happier with her.  Also from a top class family she is a 3 parts sister to Buffalo Ballet and should come to hand quickly – she is for sale at a very reasonable price or available to lease.


31 July 2017|

Perth & Newmarket

Cooler today down here in Newmarket where I am attending the July Horses in Training Sale.  A showery outlook at home and it should be perfect good ground at Perth on Sunday where we run Benny’s Secret in the 4.40, 10 run and Grant rides.

Benny’s Secret – I’m hoping that this bumper and hurdle winner can now turn the corner

It is a competitive enough race for the grade and this minimum trip could be on the sharp side for Benny but he wasn’t right last season and I wouldn’t be running him if I didn’t think he was right now so fingers crossed for a decent effort, he schooled well this morning.

What’s going on here then?

Tough work down here, hard to believe that after much research, talking and looking a catalogue of 909 horses ends up rounded down to one that we are happy to vet and bid on, frustrating therefore to come out as the underbidder, it will be interesting therefore to see how Falak fares for Gordon Elliot. My disappointment greatly lightened by the exciting news that Moore’s Novelty had arrived safely at Kinneston from Co Cork.

Really pleased that this smartly bred son of Sholokov has joined the yard

As I’ve said finding value this sales season has been especially hard but I’m delighted with the five horses that we have now added to the team for next season, time will tell but I feel they are well bought and we will keep going in the hope of adding another two or three. Lucy is riding in France this afternoon, in the 4.35 at Senonnes, an unraced 3yo filly starting out over hurdles, fingers crossed for a good spin.

14 July 2017|

Heading home…

Warm again this morning in Normandy and back to the sales for the Horses in Training section prior to a late flight home tonight.  An excellent day yesterday with Queen of Avalon running as well as could be expected to finish 3rd and late in the afternoon managing to buy a lovely young son of Great Pretender.

Elvis Mail – for sale to stay in the yard

A 3yo, he did his first bit of fast work when breezing on the all weather here the day before; he’s called Elvis Mail, is a three parts brother to a good horse and should come to hand quickly.  It will be good to get home after over a week on the road, 10 horses came in on Monday and with more to come in next week Catch and the team have been doing a great job finishing off the refurbishment whilst managing the Perth runner as well, plenty to look forward to.

6 July 2017|

Perth from Deauville

Warm and sunny today in Deauville and looks like being very hot this afternoon when 110 two year old and three year olds with good jumping pedigrees will be sold.

A trotter being exercised on the beach at Deauville this morning

Trade was very strong last week in Ireland and I suspect some records may be broken today, not easy finding value for more realistic budgets but with a fair wind there will at least be a couple of lovely looking prospects heading to Kinneston as a fruit of these travels.

Queen of Avalon

This means of course that I sadly won’t be at Perth today where we have one runner on what should be perfect good ground; Queen of Avalon runs in the 2.10, 5 run and Brian Hughes rides, she has failed to build on her third at the turn of the year appearing not to stay, back to two miles today and hope she can finish the race off and give us something to build on.

Monsieur Macaire’s schooling fences are a little larger than ours


5 July 2017|

Summer Update

Warm and sunny again today, needless to say the rain we missed in April and May all arrived in the space of about 72 hours earlier in the month but conditions have dried up again now and on balance it’s been a fair summer so far; a few pictures showing summer life at Kinneston.

We have 36 horses out at grass 24/7 spread across 80 acres of paddocks

Only two horses in training at present, Benny’s Secret and Queen of Avalon, another half dozen still in recovering from injuries but two more going out tomorrow and work continues at a pace to ensure everything has been steam-cleaned and repainted prior to the horses starting to come back in from grass, 20 of those turned out earlier are due in by the end of the month.

An early start to the haylage, ideal conditions, fingers crossed of course

We’ve found lovely new homes for a few old favourites this week; Clan Chief, Wicklow Lad, Heilan Rebel, Farewelltocheyenne and Bertie Milan are all moving on but my priority is to source new talent for the yard and after recent visits to France, Doncaster and Ascot it is over to the Derby Sale in Ireland next week followed by France again and then Newmarket in July – value seems particularly hard to come by at present but we are working hard to fill our target of 8 new horses for the upcoming season; most of these are for specific clients but we will also be buying a few on spec that will be offered for sale later in the summer.

We are putting in a new road and pondering whether to put in another all-weather gallop

A fine field of seed potatoes

The Kinneston turf stretches into the distance

Silk or Scarlet has done well since his arrival at Kinneston

Gold Opera relaxing – I spend most of the winter worrying about how to keep condition on him…. not a worry now

18 June 2017|

Wet, wet, wet – everywhere!

A stormy wet night down here in London, very wet at home as well and concerns re drought and applying to SEPA around extend our irrigation licence very much on hold, for the moment anyway but rather typical that this comes just as we have turned out so many horses, weather due to cheer up again tomorrow thankfully.  BHA yesterday and a first visit to Ascot Sales today – looks like it will be damp but Tattersalls are successfully upgrading these sales and it will be good to see first hand what is going on having bid remotely over the last couple of years.

Queen of Avalon in the paddock at Perth on Sunday

A somewhat disappointing weekend on the racecourse, not entirely unexpected in some cases but Bertie Milan falling for the first time in his life was a surprise and I had hoped for better from Final Reminder; Queen of Avalon didn’t stay 2m 4f, Dutch Canyon and Clan Chief both need a break and stepping up in trip for Christmas in USA certainly wasn’t the answer.

The magnificent facade of Rouen Cathedral – a little perk from the drive to Bordeaux

What I have learnt (again!) is that running horses in the summer that have been on the go all winter doesn’t work. Tremendous racing at Perth though in front of a huge crowd, it would be good to have the resources to prepare horses specifically for these meetings as Scottish trainers were notable for their absence in fielding runners, especially for the better races.  A quieter time now on the racing front but a lot going on at home, working on some major improvements to our facilities, more of that later…….

Joey surveys Kinneston

6 June 2017|

Hexham & Perth this weekend

Warm here in the south west coast of France where I find myself briefly after a long drive from Cartmel, home tomorrow and a busy weekend with four runners at Hexham tomorrow and two at Perth on Sunday, both should have good watered ground.

Bertie Milan

I will still be in transit so Catch will take charge at Hexham where we start with Bertie Milan in the 2.40, Will Kennedy rides and no less than 17 run; Bertie was really just meant to be point-to-pointing this season but fast ground has prevented him from running for the past two months and he seems so fresh and well that I couldn’t face just turning him out, he should go well but we could have done without such a big field.  Then in the 3.50 we run Clan Chief, he has lost his way a bit and probably needs a break but the conditions of this race suit and I thought it was worth one more throw of the dice, 10 run and Brian Hughes rides.

Dutch Canyon

Dutch Canyon then runs in the second division of the 2m 4f handicap chase at 4.45,  he is somewhat in the same boat having run poorly last time at Perth and probably needing a break but this track should suit him better as should the ground, Grant rides and 9 run.  To be honest I don’t think we’ve played it very cleverly with either of these horses, they’ve been in training for a long time but haven’t run that much as we wanted to avoid the bad ground in winter, they would have been better having a proper break.  Finally we run Christmas in USA in the 5.55, Kit rides and 13 run, we are taking quite a radical step up in trip with him from 2m to 3m, would have preferred something in between but this race suits well in every other way so we thought it was worth a spin, he does seem fresh and well at home despite being in training a long time.

Christmas in USA

I’m pleased to say that the two mares running in the opener at Perth on Sunday did have a proper break in winter and they both seem in good form, Will Kennedy rides Final Reminder and Grant Cockburn rides Queen of Avalon, it’s a decent enough novice hurdle for the time of year and for these two young horses it will be about continuing to learn their trade.

Final Reminder

2 June 2017|

Hexham & Cartmel

Damp, much cooler now, normality returns.  Likely to be good quick ground at the Hexham point-to-point this evening where the curtain comes down on the season in the Northern Area, we have one runner, Rossini’s Dancer, who should go well.

Wicklow Lad

Cartmel had some torrential rain last weekend and the ground will definitely be on the soft side for the third day of their May fixture, we have two runners in the 4.10, Wicklow Lad (Kit) and Allthekingshorses (Jamie), both would be well up to winning this on their best form but are very much at the veteran stage these days, 6 run and I’m looking forward to my annual jolly to such a unique track.


At Kelso on Sunday Lady Oatcake proved even greener than I expected but Lucy persevered and she galloped on in the end, she will hopefully be back out at Perth early in July, Lucy had a welcome winner on Lycidas and is now heading to France to work for Guillaume Macaire for a couple of months.

30 May 2017|

Scorchio, Doncaster Sales and Kelso

Exceptionally warm, irrationally so and worth enjoying while it lasts which looks like being another 24 hours at the most.  Catching up back in the office this afternoon after a long and ultimately productive week at Doncaster Sales, interspersed with a trip back up North to Hexham on Tuesday evening it felt busy and it was thirsty work sorting through so many horses in the heat.  Trade was very strong and in these circumstances it is hard to adjust one’s perception of value so there were many near misses but I felt we ultimately bought well, perhaps aided by many people having gone home by later yesterday afternoon.

Ride the Lightning – will go hurdling after a decent break.

So two promising young horses from different backgrounds are heading to Kinneston; Ride the Lightning, a 4yo 84 rated three time flat winner by one of my favourite dual purpose sires in Dalakhani has been bought for a long established owner in the yard and Silk or Scarlet, a 5yo by Mahler who was placed 3rd on his only start in a bumper last month.  This racey individual with bags of scope is for sale and should make a nice hurdler next season prior to going chasing, both will go to grass.

Silk or Scarlet, rd on his debut last month and for sale.

Kelso have been watering hard to keep their ground safe for their fixture on Sunday and providing there is a bit of cut Lady Oatcake will make her  racecourse debut in the mares bumper at 5.25, Lucy rides and a maximum field of 14 line up, she’s a lovely filly with a great pedigree but is still very green, she needs to go to the races now as the next step in her education and should come on hugely for the experience.  Lucy also rides Lycidas in the 3.15 for James Ewart

Lady Oatcake (Kim)

An inauspicious evening at Hexham earlier in the week with Queen of Avalon paying the price for being much too free early on, Andhaar ran well enough to be 5th and will have a break now, Bertalus ran a bit better but faded late on and whilst Christmas in USA also ran a bit better we are definitely missing something with him and I think we will step up in trip next time.

26 May 2017|

Sales & Hexham

So, after a damp morning a lovely afternoon, the weather looks settled for the week and should feel like summer.  A busy week ahead, leaving shortly for Doncaster Sales, a good looking selection of store horses for sale there tomorrow, back up to Hexham for racing tomorrow evening where we have four runners then back down to Doncaster for two days of Horses in Training on Wednesday and Thursday, about 800 horses to sift through so hopefully we can come back with something exciting for next season, this is the biggest UK NH sale in the calendar and always turns into a bit of an end of season party so come along if you can spare the time.

Queen of Avalon schooling last week.

The ground at Hexham should be well watered and hopefully on the easy side of good, so long as there is a bit of give in it we will start with Queen of Avalon in the 5.45, Grant rides and 9 run, she had a minor setback after her hurdling debut just before New Year and needed time but she’s in good fettle and can hopefully build on her promising 3rd that day though as it’s only her 2nd hurdle we won’t ask too much of her.

Bertalus at Hexham in the autumn

Then in the 8.20 we run Bertalus (Lucy) and Andhaar (Kit though Blair Campbell will ride if his licence is through in time), this looks an ordinary race and either could run very well if putting their best foot forward, 11 run.


Finally Kit rides Christmas in USA in the 8.50, 7 run and he should go well at this level if taking to the track though he did disappoint at Perth last time.  An ordinary day at the point-to-point yesterday with Rossini’s Dancer running well to be 3rd, Top Cat Henry less so to be 4th and Bertie Milan staying on the lorry due to the quick ground (again…)

Christmas in USA

22 May 2017|

Perth & Hexham.

Damp this morning and some heavy showers about this afternoon, definitely a change to a more normal weather pattern but a glorious afternoon at Perth on Thursday where a huge weekday crowd enjoyed competitive racing and, it has to be said, lots to drink! A “Ladies Day” at it’s best and in the opening race Dance of Fire took a small step back in the right direction by finishing 4th, he still appears to be saving plenty for himself though and at this stage he doesn’t look like replicating the level of form he showed on the flat over hurdles.

Clan Chief

Later in the afternoon Dutch Canyon was sent off the well-backed favourite in the staying handicap chase but didn’t really run his race, I’m just not quite sure he had enough chasing experience to handle the sharp track/stiff fences test that Perth represents, he stayed on well enough at the end and I haven’t ruled out a quick reappearance at Hexham on Tuesday.

Rossini’s Dancer at Perth on Wednesday

We are off to Hexham tomorrow as well, for the first of the two point-to-points they run on the inner course there this year; I am assured it has been well watered and the conditions of the first race suit Rossini’s Dancer particularly well so he will hopefully make a quick reappearance under Crawford in the opener, then Kit will ride Top Cat Henry in the Men’s Open and Bertie Milan will run in the NPPA race later on the card.  Some great pictures of our runners at Perth taken by Dennis Penny.

The evergreen pair

Just Brooke – delighted to report that she is back home and should be fine

Jet Master

20 May 2017|

Perth Ladies Day

Warm and sunny this morning, Perth putting on a little more water and it appears that they will be blessed with good weather for their incredibly popular Ladies Day.  Two runners from Kinneston on ground that should be good starting with Dance of Fire (Lucy) in the 2pm; this horse has loads of ability but a mind of his own and we took a step backwards last time but if he reverts to his form of a couple of starts ago he should run very well with conditions to suit (mind you it’s a big “if”), 12 run.

Dance of Fire

Then in the 3.40 we run Dutch Canyon, Grant rides and 11 run, he ran well last time over fences at Kelso and shouldn’t be far away if he takes to these fences and, most importantly, stays 3 miles which remains a question.  Not the greatest evening at Perth yesterday despite the lovely weather and mellow atmosphere; it started on a good note with Just Brooke running a very decent race for the first time in her life to finish 4th at long odds but she gave herself a little cut in a nasty place and had to be transferred to the Royal Dick Equine Hospital for treatment, fingers crossed she should be OK and we are very much hoping to get her back here today.

Dutch Canyon

Clan Chief then didn’t run much of a race in the 2m chase, the jockey gave the run a more optimistic interpretation than the trainer so we will give him another chance and I’ll try one or two radical changes at home to see if we can flick the switch before its too late.    Jet Master then ran very well, finished 5th but only beaten 6l by the winner and giving all in front of him plenty of weight and 4-6 years in age – he remains a remarkably consistent and versatile horse who should have another good season ahead of him after a well-earned summer at grass.  A damp squib in the Hunter Chase to finish the day with Allthekingshorses being outpaced from flagfall and Rossini’s Dancer showing a wariness indicating that he remembered the nasty injury he incurred there last year, both were pulled up a mile out and may have another spin in a point-to-point soon, that is their forte these days.

Jet Master

18 May 2017|