The weather has taken its seasonal toll over the last couple of weeks due either to waterlogging or snow and frost. So we had no runners until the 22nd January.
All the team have been braving the elements in some truly horrendous weather - 11, snow, sleet, ice and rain - it’s all been thrown at us but everyone pulls together putting horses first as always.
Vet Euginio visited again this week - a great time to have a check round the horses and iron out any little issues or concerns and it is fantastic that he offers this mobile service, particularly at present. An exciting new project for Euginio coming up is offering some valuable training to The Scottish Racing Academy where Rachael Mcdonald also tutors twice a week.
The jumpers bumpers are an alternative offered to us at present but unfortunately we have our good ground runners six weeks off and the surface wouldn’t suit the soft/heavy ground horses. This is just the way it goes sometimes and with luck we will reap some reward into the spring/summer.
We are hoping to have some more northern fixtures put on once the weather is a little more favourable as they are desperately needed with so many horses waiting to run and a reigning champion jockey needing to maintain his advantage!
It is always a pleasure hearing about our retired horses and below is a heartwarming tribute to Sleep in First who went to Jo Fox on his retirement and shows how much he means to her.
Today I rode out, having not ridden for about a fortnight (the Longest Ever Gap in my equine existence)
My Bestest friend is, of course, an
Ex racehorse...65 times on a racecourse, 10 times winner, 10 years in racing...
I fell in love with him when I watched him canter to the start one day years ago...I can never thank Briony Ewart enough for thinking of me when he retired.
Sleepy is the Salt to my Pepper, the Cheese to my Pickle. I am the Gin to his Tonic.
He is the vainest, but most modest horse I’ve ever encountered...but I think it’s just the fact he’s the only racehorse to wear more sheepskin off the course than on!!
We were also pleased to receive photos of Civil Unrest and Un Guet Apens who both appear in good form.
Civil Unrest showing who is boss!
Un Guet Apens well wrapped up
Musselburgh – Friday 2nd January. Going soft.
For Three was ridden by Brian Hughes in the 2m 3f Handicap Hurdle. We were trying him over this distance for the first time and so Brian dropped him in on the inside and he got into a nice relaxed rhythm and jumped accurately throughout the race and was particularly good at the last hurdle. This was a competitive race with two of runners having won last time out but turning in For Three made eye catching progress. However, it became evident that the winner was very well handicapped and so we finished second beaten by 7 ½ lengths. This was a good run over the distance and it opens up further opportunities for us now and this was certainly his best result since his two wins.
For Three with Gemma at Musselburgh
Haydock – Saturday 23rd January. Going heavy.
We were lucky to be able to race at Haydock as snow was lying on the course making it difficult to remove the covers. We had an eventful journey down with road closures and a puncture but we made it with Black Pirate and Aristo du Plessis who were quite unconcerned at the disruption!
Danny McMenamin rode Black Pirate in the 2 mile Handicap Chase which was only his second race over fences and he was taking on seasoned handicappers. He mainly jumped well but does have a tendency to go to left and we may put some blinkers on next time to help sharpen up his jumping. With the other novice falling we were left in front sooner than we had wanted but he carried on to the line to finish third and has come out of the race exceptionally well. He probably needs a stiffer track over this distance or further on a flatter track.
Black Pirate with Briony at Haydock
Aristo du Plessis now 11 years young still loves his racing and still jumps with all his old enthusiasm and so it would be great to find a race at either Carlisle or Wetherby which would suit him better and also the going at Haydock was particularly testing. Rachael McDonald set off in front in the 2m Handicap Hurdle and was well positioned throughout until the latter stages of the race when they quickened away from him and he finished sixth.
Doncaster – Friday 29th January. Going Soft.
With 4 hurdles omitted from the 2 mile Novices Handicap Hurdle, this was never going to suit two of our runners as we had entered a jumps race and not a flat race!
Bullion was ridden by Danny McMenamin and fitted with cheek pieces he was keen but he jumped well and was quick and efficient. Towards the end he was outpaced but then stayed on again up the straight to finish ninth. He did not really have a race and so has come out of it extremely well and we can now step up in trip.
Bullion at Doncaster
Rachael Mcdonald rode Tortuga Bay in the same race and we can really put a line through this and the winner was a poor jumper and has mostly raced on the All Weather. The going did not suit being dead and with no moisture in it but she jumped the only four hurdles fine. Turning in she looked to have a chance but seemed to blow up and maybe her preparation had not been ideal due to weather conditions. Hopefully, they will put on some more chases which are suitable for her but this is not likely during the current unpredictable weather.
We knew that the 2 mile ½ furlong Handicap Chase was not ideal for Charmant (Brian Hughes) but we took our chance as his two previous entries had been called off. As usual his jumping was superb and the course suited him but the ground and the trip did not and so he could not quicken when the pace increased. This was a high class race with the winner Ibleo holding a Cheltenham entry in the Champion Chase and the Ryanair.
There are entries coming up at Wetherby, Musselburgh and Carlisle but we will have to see what the weather has in store.