Cold today, just above freezing and strong north westerly, snow about and a heavy shower this afternoon leaves us (briefly I hope) back in winter.  A brief review of the weekend; on Saturday Spinning Away continued her progress with an improved effort to finish 4th, there should be more to come from her especially over further, Or De Grugy said enough is enough and only looked happy when he came back in off the track whereupon his owner decided to retire him after a wonderful career, more below, Standintheband didn’t do a lot but at least he completed this time and we will be looking for him to further build his confidence in a week or two, preferably right handed, “Mr Peter” won the “Cyril” which was just about as good a result as there could have been (apart from winning it ourselves) and I think he was quite chuffed.

Spinning Away (centre)

Spinning Away (centre)

On Sunday Afterclass ran another good race to come 4th of 16 in a competitive maiden, he is better than this and I think I have now pinpointed the problem – will be interesting to see if we can sort it out!  On a busy afternoon for Kit he rode a splendid race to win for the 3rd time in a row on Stoney and was delighted to have his first ride for iconic veteran jockey and part time point-to-point trainer Andrew Thornton.  So, 72 runners in 7 races at the point-to-point and an hour down the road 42 runners in 7 races under rules at Sedgefield, the former highly competitive with a huge and enthusiastic crowd creating a great atmosphere, the latter certainly not as competitive and I can’t comment re the crowd, I’m not sure what this tells us but great to see such a well supported point-to-point.

Presently Tipsy (Lucy)

Presently Tipsy (Lucy)

On to Newcastle tomorrow where we have 4 declared runners on good to soft ground starting with Presently Tipsy (Stephen) in the 2.20, 10 run, I was pleased with the way she ran on her handicap debut at Wetherby last time out and this is less competitive and she should appreciate the step up in trip.  In the 2.50 we run Northern Acres (Blair), he won this race in 2013 and if he can reproduce the form of his run at Ayr 3 weeks ago he should not be too far away, 9 run.  In the 3.50 Dutch Canyon (Lucy) makes his handicap debut off what looks like a very stiff opening mark, 11 run, I think he’ll need to be a bit lower and probably running over a bit further to be competitive but he’s a nice horse and he is well so you never know, maybe the handicapper will be proved right.

Jane's Fantasy (John)

Jane’s Fantasy (John)

Finally Lucy rides Jane’s Fantasy on her racecourse debut in the 5.20, 14 “newcomers” run, she went well in her racecourse gallop 12 days ago, the other three youngsters that went to Musselburgh that day have all needed a little time afterwards, perhaps tomorrow I will discover that this horse should have been given a little time as well!  She is a lovely long term prospect who will hopefully learn a lot.

Or de Grugy anticipates his race for the last time at Kelso on Saturday

Or de Grugy (2nd left) anticipates his race for the last time at Kelso on Saturday

Or de Grugy, always Eric, what can I say, best to say it in a few pictures but this wonderful horse ran in 67 races winning 11 times and finishing runner up on another 12 occasions – that 35% of runs in the first two; he started off running in a bumper in Fougeres in France in March 2006 finishing at Kelso at the end of Feb 2015 and for the last 9 years has been looked after with immense care by Toni Barnett, initially at Cunnoquhie and for the last few years here at Kinneston, I am delighted that Toni is going to continue to look after him in what I hope will be a long and happy retirement.  He has given Lord Cochrane and his family a huge amount of pleasure and fun and is a great example of how these National Hunt horses become part of our lives, a few pictures….

And Toni even organised a retirement party cake for this morning

And Toni even organised a retirement party cake for this morning

He ran 6 times in the now sadly defunct Amateurs Chase at Kelso, runner up in the last two, this time oh so narrowly under Blair

He ran 6 times in the now sadly defunct Amateurs Chase at Kelso, runner up in the last two, this time oh so narrowly under Blair in 2013

And last year under Kit

And last year under Kit

And he knew how to jump!

And he knew how to jump!

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You cannot imagine how much fun and pleasure you gave, I wish you the longest and most contented of retirements