On the 17th March the following announcement was made:
‘The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed that all horseracing in Britain will be suspended with effect from tomorrow.’
When the Coronavirus first erupted in China, nobody could have envisaged the havoc it would cause world- wide and the extent of its impact and the escalation over the last week and the effect it has had across the U.K. has been significant for all of us.
For the yard this was another disruption to an awkward season following on from the mineral deficiency problems before Christmas. However, despite this shortened season, we still had 15 winners with a strike rate of 16% and since we started 15 years ago have now sent out a total of 216 winners with a total of £1.5 million in prize money.
With so much uncertainty as to when racing will resume, it is difficult to know how to proceed. However, we are keeping some of the better ground horses going so that they are ready if racing resumes in the summer. The others will be turned out as soon as any grass is available.
Brian Hughes is Champion!
Another piece of good news is that Brian Hughes will win the Jump Jockeys Championship. This is a huge achievement and nobody could fail to be impressed by Brian’s hard work and commitment which will enable him to be the first Northern based jockey to win the title since Jonjo O’Neill over 40 years ago. Richard Johnson’s injury and the curtailment of this season due to the virus were factors that Brian would rather had not happened but his strike rate of 20% and 141 winners make him a worthy champion and we are delighted to have been a part of his success.
On the last three days of racing we had four runners and a winner. The meeting a Kelso was not open to the public and this made for an eerie atmosphere!
At Carlisle on Friday 15th March Bluefortytwo ridden by Brian Hughes won the Novice Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles 1 furlong by 1 ½ lengths. Dropping back in trip from his last run he jumped really well in the heavy conditions which do not suit him. We look forward to having some fun with him as a Novice Chaser next season.
On our final day’s racing at Kelso on Sunday 16th March we had three runners and once again the going was heavy and tacky.
Foxey (Brian Hughes) jumped well but not as slickly as he does on better going and once he was asked to go on up the hill it was obvious to Brian that he was having problems with his breathing. He has since had a soft palette operation which will make a big difference when racing resumes as he has shown great promise in his previous races.
In the 2 mile 6 furlong Handicap Chase the best turned out Ascot de Bruyere bowled along in front with Brian Hughes and was jumping quickly and neatly. However, three out when the others came to him he made his only mistake and then could not compete with the first two and he finished third. Due to his triumphs last season, he was raised 18lb in the handicap and he still needs to drop further to be competitive again. We have now roughed him off and he will be turned out to grass as soon as this is possible.
Ascot de Bruyere best turned out at Kelso
Knockrea ridden by Lorcan Murtagh was another who found the going too testing in the final stages of the 2 mile 5 furlong Handicap Hurdle. He jumped well and was bang there until the pace increased but hopefully if racing returns during the summer we will be able to run him at Hexham.
Amy Elliot had her first ride with JD Delivers at Kelso on Saturday 14th March and did very well to come fourth. It was a great experience and she will have learned a great deal from this.
Amy Elliot and Briony with JD Delivers
A Big Thank You
We are so grateful to our wonderful staff who have had to contend with many difficulties this season including the wettest winter anyone can remember. However, the horses always come first and they remain cheerful so we all hope that the current unprecedented situation does not continue for too long and we can all get back to doing what we enjoy most – racing!