I am very sad to report that we lost Isla Pearl Fisher at Perth last night, he broke a leg when falling at the first fence on the final circuit and was quickly euthanased by the first class veterinary team. The yard will be a sombre place as it comes to terms with the loss of a horse whose charisma lit up our days for the last eight years. He was a good looking horse with bags of presence that with the support of his owner Philippa and the diligent care of his groom Amy blossomed from wayward youth to become a talented three mile chaser.
We did our best for him and he repaid us in buckets winning eight handicap chases; trainers’ careers are defined by the horses they train and “Surf” has played a central role in the Kinneston story, never straightforward he threw everything at life which resulted in plenty of setbacks (amongst many dramas two fractured hind pasterns skilfully pinned back together by the team at the Weipers centre, the result of his earlier propensity for double barreling his stable wall in the imagination that some of his equine colleagues may be thinking of sharing his grub – and it took Lucy and me an hour to persuade him to get back on the lorry to come home from hospital!).
He was one of those rare horses that transcended the trivialities of racing to bring out the best in many of us and I thank him profoundly for that, we will miss him here every day but will remember him fondly and take comfort in the fact that he died suddenly doing what he was bred to do in peak condition. He was a bundle of energy and approached every day with zest and enthusiasm, never more evident than when he bounced out of the paddock at Perth yesterday and tore off down to the start, looking magnificent and as “up for it” as any horse ever could be. Sleep gently old boy, our world’s a duller place without you.
A welcome interlude from the Kinneston blog for all readers I am sure, time to resume with a runner at Perth tomorrow and the National Hunt action starting to pick up properly later next month. It may have been quiet on the racing front but we have been very busy here preparing a team of about 35 horses for the new season, it’s that wonderful time of year when the horses are looking great, appear really fresh and well and their time off has allowed little niggles to melt into the background – long may they remain there! Weather wise after a grotty start to August we have enjoyed a fantastic week of warm sunshine and tonight’s forecast rain will actually be welcome on a number of fronts. It will be good to be back in action tomorrow, Isla Pearl Fisher runs in the 5.50, Kit rides and he seems in very good form, we’ve kept him fresh since he missed his engagement at the end of July, he hasn’t seen our all-weather since but he has done masses of other work and should be fit, we just don’t want too much rain overnight so fingers crossed. Lucy is in action today down in Wales at Bangor-on-Dee where she rides Civil Unrest in the 5.05pm.
A fine drying day today but damp again yesterday and very soft ground at Perth, two non runners therefore and disappointing. It was especially difficult withdrawing Isla Pearl Fisher this morning as a few other defections had left him as favourite in what looks an especially weak contest but after a long discussion with the owner we decided that as he has been such a good horse for us over the years it was unfair to ask him to perform when conditions were so blatantly against him. Hopefully he and Andhaar will have conditions to suit later in the summer.
We were delighted to welcome 60 of Musselburgh’s Annual Members here yesterday along with a few of their management team, I was at a meeting at Perth but Catch and the team here proved more than able deputies and it looked as though they were all having a good time from the CCTV on my phone! We welcome visitors here by arrangement, either groups or individuals, just contact the yard if that is of interest.
The meeting I was attending was important in that it was the third meeting of the steering group that has been charged with finding ways to stimulate interest in Northern jump racing. I see our goals as twofold, firstly to ensure that there is a proper programme of quality races run for good prize money so that owners feel there are enough opportunities for good horses in the North and therefore they are more inclined to have them in training up here and secondly at the same time to create a more compelling programme for ordinary horses to create a stronger narrative in their season as well.
We are definitely making progress, albeit slowly as there are so many entrenched interests and structures, but hopefully by September there will be plenty of positive initiatives to talk about. No racing for a few weeks now so I will leave you in peace for a bit, enjoy the summer…
A fine day today but we’ve had a wettish few days and the ground at Perth has ended up very soft, precisely what we didn’t want for our two horses in full work. With no other options for them over jumps for at least a month they have been declared but will most probably both be withdrawn.
This is the problem with the jump programme in the summer, you want to have good ground horses ready to run but then nature intervenes and there is nowhere to go, hence there are so few horses in training up here at this time of year. Hmmph, anyway, Andhaar is declared for the 9pm this evening, Kit rides and 7 run, this would potentially have been a nice little race for him and tomorrow Isla Pearl Fisher is declared in the 5pm, Kit again is riding and 11 run.
Mixed weather last week, sometimes very warm, sometimes very wet – good growing weather I guess, haylage made, hay about to be cut, 33 horses in now and will be riding 24 tomorrow. They all have at least two weeks on the walker before being ridden which means we can step up their work quickly when they come in and they are soon doing a good 7 or 8 miles round the farm walking and trotting.
A fun time with lots of visitors but only two horses in full work, Isla Pearl Fisher and Andhaar, both of whom are entered up to run at Perth this week and will run so long as the ground doesn’t end up soft.
A wonderful summer of sport to distract us from all the other awful things that are going on thank goodness but I can’t help feeling that the flat season is lacking a little lustre. It is struggling for stars with many of the last couple of season’s best 3yo’s having been retired, and the increasing emphasis on the big international races in the autumn has left the big summer Group Ones looking a little limp (The Eclipse, yesterday’s King George and let’s face it are you that excited by this week’s Sussex Stakes?).
A win for the Queen yesterday would have lit the sport up but that big race is a shadow of it’s former self despite the colossal prize money – I bet the same field would have turned up for £500k as are raced yesterday for £1.2m, the racing press seems more interested in the big jumps races at next week’s Galway Festival – jump racing seems to provide a stronger narrative than flat racing and hence is basically more popular with the public, problem is we race for a fraction of the prize money yet the vast majority of yesterday’s excellent money will end up in the hands of those that won’t even notice it.
That’s life I suppose, Lucy is off to Uttoxeter today to ride Civil Unrest in the 3pm, and thanks to Frank for some pics this week to brighten up the blog, they give a good flavour of summer life at Kinneston.