Grand Weekend

            The weather seems to be both warmer and drier – there is hope! As spring seems to have finally put in a slightly more prolonged appearance hopes rise that we can finally get a few of our better ground horses out on the track.

            Last Monday started the way that so many do – schooling videos. Sundays is always a quiet day in trainers’ yards – the only horses that will be exercised are those that have scheduled runs in the following couple of days – the remainder have an easy day, so Mondays are always used to ease the equine athletes back into work, and a canter and school fits that bill perfectly. This week, Fergal sent through a clip of Mamoon Star having a pop up the hurdles. He had a short mid-winter break and will be given the chance to regain his form with a campaign on some better ground through the remainder of the spring and early summer. He is in great form and has been ready to run for a couple of weeks – but thus far, there has only been soft ground on offer, so he has not made a reappearance yet. He will be out in the next couple of weeks.


            Alan King also sent a video through. This one of Tom Bellamy giving Rockola a school on the Barbury Castle schooling grounds. Tom getting a feel for her over an obstacle before taking the ride on her in Hereford the following day.



I spent the morning catching up with work form the weekend and organising badges for Rockola’s owners in Hereford – the team there were very helpful which makes life easier for us syndicate managers. After (too) many years of running syndicates, you learn that certain courses are far more accommodating than others – with the increased prevalence of syndicate ownership, courses have been forced to adapt their O&T badge policies, but some still make life a lot easier than others. As a syndicate manager it makes a huge difference, and almost every syndicate manager that I have spoken to about the situation over the past 25 years has freely admitted that a courses’ policy on syndicate member entry has had a direct bearing where their horses run. It makes sense – and I am pleased to say that the difficulties are now far rarer, and most courses work very hard with us syndicate managers to accommodate as many members as possible on race days.

            Tuesday – in the morning Reflexion Faite got a surprise entry in Redcar, who had been forced to alter their programme for their meeting the following Monday,  instead of running a 1m2f race on their card – conditions forced them into changing that to a 0-60 7f handicap – and Nigel Tinkler felt that as the race conditions suited her so well he would pop her in and have it as an option – their ground would need to dry back significantly, but she was entered if it did. Later in the morning we set off for Hereford. A good run across there, and a breezy but bright day. Their ground still soft, heavy in places, and certainly not ideal for Rockola, but we felt that as this was the last race of its kind in the programme book this season she would take her chance. The race was right, even if the ground was not, and on this occasion, Alan felt that it was more important to run her against her own age group and sex rather than take on less suitable opposition on ground that was likely to suit better. We had been left scratching our heads after her run in Wetherby, where she was well beaten when unseating Tom Cannon – no reason for that run came to light, she had been given plenty of time to get over it, and we crossed our fingers that she would get through the deep ground.

Tom Bellamy took the ‘Alan King’ route – handy around the inner, and after being slightly keen over the first couple of furlongs she dropped the bridle and got into a lovely jumping rhythm. She crept up the inner on the run to the second last, and looked to be travelling best, but she was eventually outstayed on the deep ground and finished a very creditable second. This was a much better run than on her hurdles debut, and a big step forward. She will now have a summer break and return to mares novice company next season – starting over 2m but sure to be stepping up to intermediate trips very soon. She is sure to strengthen over the summer, and with this years’ experience under her belt she should give her owners lots of fun next season.

            Wednesday was an early start, and we were in at Olly Murphys Warren Chase Stable shortly after 7.00am. A dry morning, and it was good to see Auditoria looking so well. She is another one that we could just not run on the deep ground this winter – we tried – it didn’t work – so she had a short break away at Ivy Lodge Farm and will now remain in training this summer and have a campaign on better ground – she looks fantastic and is moving great – she will be out before the end of the month. Olly has his horses in great form, and it was good to catch up with Sean Bowen who schooled a couple of his Aintree runners ahead of the weekend in Liverpool.

Sean Bowen schooling

            Thursday saw the Grand National Meeting get underway in Aintree. With so much going on at home, we didn’t make the trip this year, and missed catching up with friends and clients who we meet up with every year at the meeting. We will be back next year! Thursday was a great day for the stallion Jukebox Jury – not only did he have another Grade 1 winner with Il Etait Temps who won the Manifesto Novices Chase, but his gelded son He Can’t Dance, who had won his Irish Point to Point for handler Rob James on March 31st in Monksgrange, topped the sale after racing – heading to Gordon Elliot for an eye watering £300,000. As many will know – we are huge fans of Jukebox Jury and have been buyers of his stock for a number of years and will continue to do so – but perhaps not at £300k! Another stallion that we are keeping a very close eye in is Beaumec De Huoelle a young stallion in France that we believe has a very bright future. He is actually related to Hidden Beauty, and a spitting image of his sire Martaline. His stock seem to go well, and his daughter La Marquise ran a very good race to be third in the Grade 2 Mares Bumper that concluded the card, paying a lovely compliment to the form of her Stratford debut in November, where Rockola had finished third. That race has worked out very well and looks like decent form now!

            Friday, Fortune Forever declared in Plumpton on Sunday – Tom Broughton again in the saddle and taking off a valuable 5lbs. FF had run very well when just nabbed on the line on her first attempt at 3 miles in Taunton last month, and with the ground now drying back, we hope to see her run a big race this afternoon. The only slight doubt is the track – she has not run there before, and there are plenty of horses that don’t handle it – hopefully she will! After tracking decs, and updating the members of The Ravenstone Partnership, I made the most of a dry and sunny morning and headed over to The Elms Stud to see the youngsters that we have there and go through plans for summer breaks for our team with Louise. Our three that are there at present have wintered well and are happily grazing on the first flush of spring grass. ‘George’ (Golden Horn x Savingforvegas) is a lovely model. He is very much following in the footsteps of his half brothers – he is a good looking lad – who was a big foal, and he looks to have a lot going for him. He will either be syndicated and run for us, or he will be sold as a three year old store

George - Golden Horn x Savingforvegas

His 2 yr old half brother ‘Floyd’ (Falco x Savingforvegas) is a lovely individual, and the spitting image of a couple of his half brothers. He has size and scope and a great temperament. He looks like a really nice prospect.


He has lived all of his life so far with another homebred of ours – ‘Finbar’ (Falco x Molly Childers) who was the first foal out of the mare, and who as such is slightly smaller than Floyd – but he has really gone the right way, and has grown into a nice 2 yr old.


Both will head down to Jason Maguire in around 6 weeks and be broken in and ridden away. Both have great pedigrees and are lovely horses to have on our team. It is always good to get over to The Elms, we have not done so for quite a while as it has just been so wet and miserable, so I saw a big difference in the those that I saw on Friday – all very much going the right way, and we will get a visit organised in May, so that their owners can get over to see them before they head away to be broken in.

            Saturday – Grand National Day – many changes made to the race. It would be interesting to see how they panned out. It is unfair to compare the race to what it once was – it is a different beast now, and these changes had to be made to protect the race (and sport) in the face of a changing society. In the morning, Nigel Tinkler rang, and we discussed possibly declaring Reflexion Faite in Redcar – but it didn’t take long to decide that she was unlikely to be suited by Heavy ground, and she would not run. She will run in a couple of weeks. Intrepide Sud got an entry in Exeter on Friday – he has come out of his first run back after injury in good order, and we are all looking forward to seeing him build on that reappearance next time out. Johnny Burke was sure that he would, and he liked him a lot – sure that he will win his share of hurdle races before heading over fences where he will be seen at his best! Donald McCain called - it was a surprise that a man so closely connected to Aintree and the Grand National was heading to Newcastle! He has decided to give Ridin Solo his summer break – he has been watching him closely for the past week, and just feels that he would be better off heading away for a summer break, rather than run again this season. He would have been hard trained to win his point to point in Ireland in the autumn and has had three very promising runs for our new Racing Club. Drawing stumps now, means that he remains a novice for next season – which keep a large part of the programme book open to him next winter. He is a horse that Donald likes, he shows plenty of ability at home, and will be seen in an even better light when he is stepped up in trip next term. He will also make into a very nice chaser, as he is an absolute natural over an obstacle – so there is lots to look forward to with him! A break now will stand him in good stead for the future!

Down at Ivy Lodge Farm – Craig popped in to see his horse ‘Barry’ who is there going through ‘secondary school’. He will spend 8 weeks there, and take his education on another step, before heading back to The Elms. He is a lovely horse, and one we think has a very nice future!


Dino Bellagio

The others at Ivy Lodge are all well – our 2 yr old The Grey Gatsby gelding has wintered really well and is really going the right way – he still has plenty of growing to do, and it looks like he will make up into a very imposing young horse.

Dino Bellagio is back being ridden – the next phase of his rehab – it was good to see him back in work – and he will have a few weeks of ridden work, before a summer break. He will head back into training in July and will follow the path that we had mapped out for him at this time last year. We know how highly he is regarded by his trainer and the team at Bankhouse, and we are really looking forward to getting going again with him. As we draw to the end of his first 2 yr lease term – his syndicate is being redrawn – and it was good to welcome Alex and his friends into the group – their first venture into syndicate involvement. There are just a couple of spots left in his syndicate – please get in touch to put you name down for a share in Dino Bellagio. Sign up now!

Tintagel Queen continues her rehab – she was getting fresh, so Jason moved her to another stable and she has settled down again.

Saturday afternoon and time to watch a bit of racing on the box. Great to see Olly Murphy grab his second Grade 1 winner with Strong Leader in the Liverpool Hurdle. This was an emotional winner for Olly and the family – and he was visibly moved in the aftermath. It meant a lot! The Grand National provided a terrific spectacle – All the races over the National course seemed to go well – soft ground helping for sure, but the changes seem to have been successful in achieving the goals set out. The Foxhunters, Topham (well done to Ciaran Gethings and the Edmunds team) and the National all provided excellent races with a huge number of horses in contention 2 out. The winner looked well handicapped before hand – and proved it! The last race on the card held a special interest for us. Fergal O’Brien with a couple of runners. Paddy Brennan choosing Tripoli Flyer - would this be his last ride? Connor Brace on Horaces Pearl – a horse we know well as we had him on our pinhooking team for a couple of years. He was a gorgeous young horse that we all really liked but fell foul of the Covid restrictions – not selling when we sent him to France, and returning to Jason Maguire where he was broken in and ridden away. Jason was impressed with the horse and recommended him to Matt and Sally Burford. Horaces Pearl was a horse that we all knew needed time, and the Burfords are supremely patient – he was perfect for them – they would give him the time to strengthen and mature, and therefore get the very best out of him. Their patience was had already been rewarded as he had won 2 bumpers on his way to yesterdays Grade 2, and they had waited a long time for their day out yesterday. Horace is now 6 and has had just the three runs – but yesterday he showed what taking the patient approach with a horse like him could achieve when he came from out of the clouds to collar Tripoli Flyer on the line and win! A 1,2 for Fergal and the team – Paddy robbed of the chance of possibly going out on a big winner – he will continue to ride on after his ban. Massive congratulations to the Burfords, I could not be happier for them – he was the perfect horse for them – and he has proved what the patient approach can achieve! It has been some spring for graduates of our pinhooking schemes with Romeo Coolio finishing second in the Cheltenham Bumper at the Festival and Horaces Pearl winning yesterday in Aintree! Lovely to have been involved in these terrific horses!

Horaces Pearl as a 2 yr old 

After winning yesterday

           Today we head off to Plumpton to see Fortune Forever – an easier trip around the M25 on a Sunday? I hope so! Hopefully she will make it worthwhile – either way it will be good to catch up with her syndicate members!

            Around the rest of the team – Greyval is really well, and if it continues to dry – she will be running very soon. Old Blue Eyes is still on light duties – he is unlikely to run in a bumper this spring, but the hope is that he could still get to a racecourse for a gallop. If not, he will have learned plenty from his first season in training – as with Horaces Pearl who won yesterday – time is never wasted with young horses, and you can only ask them the questions they are capable of answering – and not force them – yesterdays result the perfect example of that. Donald did enough with OBE in the autumn to know what he is working with – and he is a horse that has shown he has a very bright future – again – patience will be rewarded! Maria’s Flame continues her box rest with Connor Brace. She is well – and it will not be long before she moves on to the next phase of that rehab.

            The long range forecast looks a bit more positive in terms of drier weather – hopefully we can get a few horses out now!


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