No Room At The Inn

            We start a day earlier than usual this week – after writing the usual weekly nonsense last Sunday morning we headed off down to Plumpton to see Fortune Forever run in their 3m1f handicap hurdle. Although she was taking on the boys – the trip and ground were ideal for her – the only slight worry being the track – would she handle the tight undulations of the East Sussex course. We only had to wait for about 5 seconds after the tapes went up to find out – NO. She was never comfortable going down the hill first time and was plainly hating every yard of her experience. Tom Broughton was patient on her and did his best to coax her round, but in the end, she was beaten into fourth. In fairness to her, it was not her fault – and she showed how tough and resolute she is by really doing her best all the way round despite hating every second of it. She did come back with a nasty little cut, and has been confined to barracks since her run, but she should be OK in a few days and will hopefully run again this spring – but definitely not at Plumpton!

Fortune Forever in the paddock

Post Race - she did her best! 

            Monday started with a massive thunderstorm first thing, rain, wind and hail – a great start to the week! At 9.00am it felt like midnight it was so dark! First things first – get the race report for Fortune Forever’s run the day before out to her owners. I do try to get them out as soon as I can after a run but sometimes if we are on the road, it can be tricky.

A few entries to track through the morning too – Greyval in Stratford – Sunday 21st, Intrepide Sud and Cloud Dancer in Wincanton on the same day. The plan would be to run IS in Exeter on Friday evening, but it never hurts to have a back up entry in case anything silly happens and he doesn’t get to line up there, or we think that the second entry looks a more suitable option for him. I do like to keep as many options open to all the runners as possible.

            Tuesday – Ridin Solo headed off to Peel Hall to start his summer holiday. Having won his Irish Point to Point in the autumn he arrived at Bankhouse  lean,mean and looking hard fit – he had been on the go for a long time, and Donald felt that it would be wrong to ask him to run again this season. he has done very well in his first three runs over hurdles, finishing second twice followed by a close 5th in Ayr. He remains a novice for next season, meaning that he has a full programme book open to him, and we feel he will benefit hugely from his summer break. He is a horse that Donald really likes, and who we all agree will make up into a lovely staying chaser in the future. He will spend a few days going out in the paddock during the day and in his stable at night, but when the nights start to get warmer he will be let out in the field with a group of mates and stay there for the next 2 months, returning to training on July 1st.

Ridin Solo tucking into his tea at Peel Hall

Late afternoon I headed over to Newmarket for the first session of their Craven Breeze Up Sale. A sale made up of 2 yr olds that have been broken in and trained to breeze over 2 furlongs in front of prospective purchasers. It was a busy sales ground, but bloody hell it was cold – despite it being a bright and sunny evening, it was Baltic – one purchaser saying that he had never been colder when buying horses. The bar was warm, and therefore busy – and a good chance to catch up with a few folks. Good to have a beer with Alan King who reported that Rockola had come out of her race in good order and was spending a few hours a day in the paddock. She will head back to The Elms for her summers break when Louise says that she can go back – her fields are a bit wet, and as we were finding out that evening – it is still plenty cold enough for horses to be living outdoors after a winter in warm stables. I was pleased to head home in a warm car, and when I got home, I settled down to watch ITV’s Showtime, an hour long documentary following a syndicate and their horse through the ups and downs of last summer. It was fantastic viewing – if you have not seen it do so – it goes without saying that I do what I do because of my love for the racehorse, but the biggest thrill I get out of my job is meeting so many lovely people and sharing this great sport with them. This documentary highlighted the thrills and disappointments of racehorse ownership, but also the friendship, fun and support that syndicate membership can offer! It was a really good watch!

            Wednesday – Intrepide Sud declared in Exeter on Friday evening – yes evening meetings have started! He is in great order, and we were looking forward to seeing him make his second start over hurdles. Johnny Burke booked to ride, he rode him the last day and really liked him. Late morning I headed down to Cheltenham for the first day of their April meeting. A gorgeous afternoon at the races – a Fergal O’Brien double, and Paddy Brennan ending a long and successful career in the saddle when winning on Manofthepeople. It has been an open secret for some time that this would be Paddy’s last year riding, and he had hoped to go out on the winner of the Aintree Bumper, only for Connor Brace to spoil that party on Horaces Pearl. In the end – this was probably a more fitting ending – a home fixture, with his family and friends there. His weighing room colleagues lined up for a photo call after pulling up at the end of the race, and let Paddy lead them back to the winners enclosure, where he was met with a really warm reception. It is good to see him retire in one piece and wish him every success in the future – I have a feeling I will still be seeing plenty of him!

Paddy leads them back in on Manofthepeople

He got a great reception 

Fergal follows him in to weigh in for the last time!    'Just to make sure he really was finished'!!

After racing I headed across to Northleach, to the Sherbone Arms where I was staying. Although I had initially booked just for Wednesday night, the plan was to stay Thursday night as well and also – now that Intrepide Sud would be heading to Exeter on Friday – I would stay in the area for a third night as well. That didn’t work out – no room at the Inn, and no real suitable alternatives either – the Cotswolds was full! Wednesday night is steak night in the Sherborne Arms – a nice bit of beef, after Devilled Kidneys to start – really good food and service. The one draw back of the night coming when I headed to my room. This was my second stay, and on the first occasion I had not been aware of the chimes of the church clock (It had been a very long and wet afternoon in the bar after Ludlow was abandoned) I had heard others comment about how the chimes kept them awake all night, and now I can see why. On the quarter hour, the clock pipes up with a couple of bars of a chimed tune, you get double that on the half hour, back to a couple of bars on the ¾ hour before what felt like a full-blown symphony on the hour. When you add in the time that the clock took to strike 12 – with the chime tune both before and after the 12 bongs – it felt like midnight went on for 10 minutes! I think I heard every quarter hour for the rest of the night! I gave up trying to sleep at 5.00am – If you stay there – and you would – the food is great the rooms are lovely, and the staff are superb – take ear plugs!

            Into Ravenswell early on Thursday morning. A cold, frosty morning, but dry and bright! Good to see Debbie who was in to trail her new Go Pro (mixed results), and take the chance on such a lovely morning to get some great shots of the three of ours that were out at exercise. Fortune Forever was not seen out – still off games as she was still a bit sore with her cut. Intrepide Sud had a school first lot and looked in great order ahead of his trip to Exeter. Mamoon Star is really well, and did two up the hill, as did Greyval, who they tell me is in fantastic form and back to her best after a winter of being a bit under the weather.

It wasn't just horses having fun on the gallops on Thursday morning! 

Intrepide Sud having a school unser Kaitlin

IS and Kaitlin 

He had a fun morning

A welcome wash down

Greyval up the hill - back to her best! 

Greyval in the sunshine - thankfully it warmed up! 

Mamoon Star 

I had planned to be racing in Cheltenham again in the afternoon, but without a hotel room, and despite Fergs kind offer of the use of his house while he was in Ayr, I decided to head back home and get a good nights sleep. In the afternoon I had plenty to do – Auditoria getting three entries for next week – Perth, and two races in Taunton for her next Weednesday. Looking forward to seeing her back – she will run on through the summer. West Ham gave it a good go in their European tie against newly crowned German Champions Bayer Leverkusen but in the end came up short.

            Friday – Greyval declared to run in Stratford on Sunday – she will face 5 rivals in a mares handicap hurdle. We have been waiting for better ground for her and it looks as though it should dry back nicely for her. She is back to her best at home – she has certainly grown and strengthened, and judged on her homework, she is extremely well handicapped!

I headed back down to the south west – and to Exeter to see Intrepide Sud make his second start over hurdles. Johnny Burke in the plate, and although it would be difficult to beat the odds on fav, we felt he would run a nice race a finish in the frame. He looked fantastic in the paddock, and gave Johnny a wonderful ride, jumping and travelling great. He was a bit keen early doors and could have been excused had he got tired up the long uphill drag to the finishing line, but he stayed on really well, and went down by 5 lengths in the end. He is a big relentless galloper, who will be suited by further in time, but Johnny is keen to buck out and try to make all on him over the minimum trip before stepping up. So, he will run again over 2 miles and a decision if that will be this season or next season will be made in around 3 weeks’ time. The good news is that he came out of his race well and looks sure to give his owners a whole lot of fun when he goes chasing in the future.

Intrepise Sud and Kaitlin after his run

Happy owners - it has been a long time with IS - but patience is paying off! 

Saturday – Intrepide Sud all fine and trotted up sound. If there is a chance to run him again in around 3 weeks on genuine (not watered) Good to Soft ground then he could well run again this spring, if not he will head off on a summers holiday and be back next season.

Race report started – that would head out to owners on Sunday morning. Badges organised for a big team of Greyvals owners, who will have to set off early to get to the track as there is the small matter of the Stratford Marathon happening tomorrow. Stratford did send out advice to leave plenty of time for journeys to the track, but it was one of Greyvals owners, Diane who, after looking at the route the marathon took, noticed that it basically circled the course – and therefore, with all the road closures- how were we supposed to get to the races?! A quick call to a friend who works at the track and she advised a route that had been agreed with the marathon organisers that would allow race traffic to head to the races down a road that was scheduled to be closed! Turns out the local council decided to put on the marathon without consulting the racecourse – it could well be chaos later!!

            Around the rest of the team – Maria’s Flame is still as ‘happy as Larry’ in her warm stable. She will be seen again by the vet in the next couple of weeks after which she should be able to have a spell on the walker. Cloud Dancer has several entries, and Josh Moore reported him to be in great order when I spoke to him in the week. He has a couple of options next week, and we are looking forward to seeing him out on better ground over a shade further. Up in Yorkshire, Reflexion Faite is very well, and she will be out again before the end of the month. Doncaster next Saturday is the plan, and hopefully she will be seen to better effect back on turf. I caught up with Donald McCain down in Cheltenham on Wednesday, and he said that Old Blue Eyes is a lot better now and is back cantering away – sadly it looks like the recent spell of illness that he has suffered means that he will definitely not run this spring, and Donald will not have enough time to get a racecourse gallop into him either. He still wants to do more with him to further his education, but we will have to wait until the Autumn to see him out on the track. Down at Ivy Lodge Farm, Dino Bellagio is being ridden and is fine. He will be checked by the vet in the next couple of weeks and if he is happy then he will head out to the field. ‘Barry’ our 3 yr old Blue Bresil is going very nicely. Maguire still loves him – he does everything so easily! Tintagel Queen is still on the walker a couple of times a day, and has a few weeks left of this.

            Next week, we head up to Doncaster for their Breeze Up Sale, possible runners in Perth, Taunton Huntingdon and Doncaster among others. Should be a fun week. Read all about it here next Sunday – that is if I ever get out of the traffic chaos caused by a bunch of nutters in trainers this afternoon!

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