As you will notice from the Race Reports, we are now in the monsoon season but the horses are continuing to run well and we were delighted to provide Brian Hughes with his 70th winner of the season aboard Tortuga Bay owned by Ann Fraser at Newcastle last week. It was great to see Brian land a double on Saturday 19th December in two of the feature races at Haydock - the Tommy Whittle Chase and the Betfair Exchange Handicap Hurdle.
Tortuga Bay with Brian Hughes winning at Newcastle
We are very pleased to have this memento of our wins with Jim Gordon’s horses – a total of 34 with so many happy memories.
It has been a real treat to receive so many presents from suppliers and customers. Harbro have provided really warm hats, Red Mills have given us jackets, Cheviot Vets gave us take away breakfasts from Pelosi’s in Langholm and we have a Craig Farm Syndicate door stop! Also a big thank you to our owners who have been so generous and this is especially welcome in such a difficult year.
It is always good to receive news of our retired horses and we were very pleased to see Ueueteotl giving Heidi Stevens a great spin at a recent point-to-point. Also Un Guet Apens has given Grace Gale her first point-to-point ride.
Ueueteotl with Heidi Stevens leading the field at the Larkhill Point-to-Point
In the photo below you will see that horses are being well prepared for the heavy going which is currently prevalent throughout most of the U.K.
Heavy going on the grass gallop!
This is a family business. Will Ewart's children Otto and Thea out on Craig Hill
Musselburgh – 7th December. Going Soft
The Blame Game has been very consistent this year and this was another good result - just beaten 4½ lengths into second place by a well handicapped horse in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles 3 furlongs. Danny McMenamin had him in a lovely rhythm and his jumping was excellent except for the second last but we later found he had lost a shoe. It looks as if he will stay further on a galloping track and he also handled the soft conditions – although this was by Musselburgh standards!
Westland Row looked outstanding in the paddock and won another bto for Gemma. We are still learning about the horse as he needs to be settled and held up in his races and Danny McMenamin did exactly that in the 2 mile 7 furlong Handicap Hurdle which was a very competitive affair. Musselburgh is not a course that favours horses coming from off the pace and also the ground had opened up quite a bit by the time of his race. Turning in he had every chance but he struggled with his breathing and finished seventh. He is now using one of the outside pens to help keep his airways clear and when we get this sorted and his handicap mark comes down he will be competitive.
Westland Row - Best Turned Out at Musselburgh
Hexham – 9th December. Going Heavy
Dunly is a horse who has performed very well on heavy going but he also is too high in the handicap and carrying top weight of 11 stone 12lb in the 1 mile 7 furlong Handicap Chase was an impossible task when the winner was receiving well over a stone. Brian Hughes had him well positioned for the first half of the race but then the weight and going began to take its toll and he finished sixth. He is really more suited to flatter tracks but he had run well over hurdles previously at Hexham which encouraged us to run him there.
Newcastle – 11th December. Going Heavy
Black Pirate with Danny McMenamin made a very encouraging start on his fencing debut in the 2mile Novices Handicap Chase and finished third. This was a very competitive race and so we were pleased with the outcome. He tended to jump a little to the left and we will check him over to see if there is any physical cause as this talented horse has had a number of setbacks to overcome. He will be suited by a step up in trip but has come out of the race very well.
Tortuga Bay has not been the easiest horse to train and so it was really rewarding to see her put her undoubted talents to good use by winning the 2 mile Handicap Hurdle (Division 1)under Brian Hughes. After the first hurdle her jumping was very good and in typical fashion Brian took the shortest route up the inside and going for home a long way out she stayed on strongly to win by 2 lengths. She has won a 3 mile point-to-point when trained by Philip Rowley so it will be exciting to see her going chasing in due course.
Rachael McDonald was on board Bullion in Division 2 of the 2 mile Handicap Hurdle. It was a strong gallop for the grade of race and he travelled well until they turned in when he was a bit tapped for toe but he did respond to Rachael’s urging and as the other horses tired after the early pace, Bullion was staying on the best of all and with his light weight passed horses to finish third.
Rachael McDonald rode Empire de Maulde in the 2 mile 4 furlong Novices Handicap Chase. Carrying top weight in testing conditions he came third and as this was his fourth race of the season (registering 1st, 2nd and a 3rd) it shows what a tough and consistent six year old he is. He was very fresh after the race so we will now give him a little break and look at suitable options.
Carlisle - 13th December. Going Heavy
Bingo D’Olivate was back over fences after a couple of seasons and the first time for us. The going was extremely testing and only three horses finished. His jumping was mainly good but he did not settle very well for Nathan Moscrop and he paid the price for this later on before completely missing the last and falling when he looked booked for second place. Unfortunately, he does not have a great jumping record and seems unable to find a spare leg when making a mistake. This is frustrating as he has ability and also loves the mud.
Ayr - 14th December. Going Heavy
Aquitaine Boy ridden by Danny McMenamin was having his third start over hurdles and jumped brilliantly in the 2 mile Maiden Hurdle but again conditions were against him and he could never pick up on the heavy ground and he finished seventh but will now obtain a handicap mark. He is a chaser in the making and we need to find his next hurdle race on better ground where he is able to show his true potential.
Aquitaine Boy at Ayr
Danny McMenamin was again on board Foxey in the 2 mile Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle. On the heavy going this was a big ask for his first run back after a wind op but as usual he jumped for fun and looked very promising as they turned in but carrying top weight, he couldn’t catch the winner with over a stone less or the second to whom he was giving 7lb and he finished a very creditable third only beaten 9 ¾ lengths. It will be good to find him a race on better going.
We have entries coming up over the next week at Newcastle, Musselburgh and Sedgefield.
We will all look forward to hopefully a much better year in 2021 and we wish you all a very Happy Christmas