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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A lovely warm evening and conditions drying up quickly after a welcome drop of rain. Ground at Perth hopefully still on the easy side of good for their evening meeting tomorrow where they have attracted an extremely healthy 69 runners, 5 of which hail from Kinneston.
We start with Just Brooke in the maiden hurdle at 6.05, Blair Campbell rides and 10 run, she should be much happier on this better ground than the holding ground at Kelso last time.
In the 6.35 we run Clan Chief , he’s had a very frustrating season but as a result is well-handicapped if he can get into a rhythm with his jumping, 9 run and Brian Hughes rides.
Then in the 8.35 we run Jet Master, Lucy rides and reverting to hurdles he has to shoulder top weight in what looks like a competitive race for a decent prize, he should run well but is 11 and likely to be vulnerable to a younger improving horse with less weight.
Finally we have two horses going for the “Bruce Farms Bonus” in the Hunter Chase; Rossini’s Dancer (Kit) and Allthekingshorses (Jamie), both have been in good form in point-to-points and have classy rules form from their younger days but face a hard task versus the favourite on these terms.
Steady rain this morning, rejoice, badly needed on many fronts and a much more unsettled forecast. A cracking run from Landecker at Hexham on Saturday, went clear after the last and then just collared on the line, becoming a victim of his own consistency but delighted with him.
Left Back on the other hand was far too keen and consequently had nothing left to come up the Hexham hill, he jumped better but he will never achieve anything if he doesn’t learn to settle, we will work on this. A fascinating few days in France last week; plenty of horses for sale of course but intriguing to observe their system close up – how their methods produce such precocious horses, their training centres, and how their whole structure benefits from a PMU system that facilitates so much better returns for Horsemen; there is a trickle down effect that supports an important rural industry.
Here of course The Horsemen have long been expected to subsidise the businesses of bookmakers and racecourses in the name of their sport, the French simply wouldn’t put up with it. But then Auteuil on Friday, a EU500k card with a crowd of only a few hundred, zero atmosphere outside the Owners & Trainers Area and not a lot there either, so it becomes all about the money…. what they would give for a Kelso crowd, perhaps the BHA can steer us towards the best of both worlds, one can but dream. Of course observing different ways of rearing and training horses rightly makes me question much of the way we do it, there are obvious benefits to asking horses to do so much so young but they come at the expense of longevity; I become thoroughly immersed in the detail in these circumstances and am always learning- the surfaces, the training aids, the people and at Auteuil how they manage overheating horses, so much more efficient and effective than the panic struck hurling of buckets that goes on here.
So, 22 horses being ridden this week 14 of which are entered at Perth, a record for us I think at this May meeting so hopefully we will have plenty of runners, suspect we will be much quieter after that as heaps to do here and plenty of sales to attend, no rest for the wicked!