The horses continue to run right up to form with Honourary Gift winning at Sedgefield. In the last fourteen days up to Friday 23rd March - 67% and the overall percentage of winners to runners is 15%, with 26% winning over fences and 15% over hurdles (stats courtesy of Racing Post)
Both Foxey and Ettila de Sivola ran excellent races on a lovely sunny day at Haydock on Wednesday 20th March. Sally reported how well the owners were looked after with a superb lunch and great welcome.
The drying ground was not ideal for Ettila de Sivola and Brian Hughes in the 2 mile 3 furlong Novice Handicap Hurdle. He was giving weight away to the older and more experienced winner and he lost nothing in defeat to come second beaten by five lengths. He has such a good attitude and will be a different horse when he goes chasing.
Ettila de Sivola in a famous box at Haydock!
Brian also rode Foxey (bto for Gemma) in the Bumper and this time he settled well to come second by two lengths. He is a lovely scopey horse and we look forward to him going Novice Hurdling.
The next day on Thursday 21st March, Steven Fox rode Honourary Gift (another bto for Gemma) at Sedgefield in the 2 mile 1 furlong Novice Hurdle. He had run strongly in his previous race until the last three furlongs and so James cleverly brought him back in trip for a run on this track where he had won before. The drying ground helped and Steven gave him a very good tactical ride tracking the favourite and then going away when it mattered to win by 2 ¾ lengths.
Honourary Gift with Steven Fox (left) winning at Sedgefield
Honourary Gift with Steven, Gemma, Briony and Andrew Phillips after his win at Sedgefield
We had runners at Kelso on Saturday 23rd and Carlisle on Sunday 24th March and we will report on these in the next blog.
ITV based its Saturday broadcast from Kelso and also The Opening Show gave great coverage to the racecourse and they plan two more transmissions from the track which is all good for Scottish Racing.
Kelso was also scene for Ann Fraser to celebrate her 80th birthday amongst family and friends. Not only being a great friend to us all and a super owner, Ann was nominated by her peers for an MBE for her work in countryside access which began in 1980 and for her creation of The Borders Festival of The Horse which she has driven forward enthusiastically and tirelessly. An RDA teacher for 35 years and past Chairwoman of the Scottish Rural Property & Business Association’ along with running a successful farm and holiday let near Jedburgh, Ann is an extraordinary lady and horsewomen, a leader not a follower for whom we are lucky to train.
The Fell ponies continue to compete and make a contribution to the yard. On Sunday 17th March, Will Ewart’s son Otto came second in the Young Handler class with Acreknowe Goldfinch at Newton Rigg College and qualified for the championships. Briony also qualified the same pony in her class. At home the ponies, now clipped out by Gemma and super fit, have been leading the youngsters on the gallops and over hurdles.
Neil awarding best clipped out for Gemma's handiwork!
In the coming week we have entries at Hexham, Newcastle and Wetherby.