Ascot has All the Answers!

Ascot de Bruyere winning again at Newcastle with Steven Fox 

Gemma has proved to be a huge asset to the yard combining office work with taking the horses racing.   She has also been particularly successful at sourcing young horses that have done well.   Bingo d’Olivate – who loves the mud – has already won this season and For Three has run two great races to come second both times and will find the winner’s enclosure before long. Gemma is also responsible for acquiring The Blame Game who is due to run shortly. He came a good second at Leopardstown to a horse trained by Joseph O’Brien and should be an exciting prospect for Jim Gordon.

Gemma and her office staff!

Briony has successfully completed a first aid course at Dumfries College and is now the official Defibrillator Warden for the area so you are in safe hands when you visit!

At the evening meeting at Newcastle on Friday 15th February I am Dandy (bto for Gemma) had his 13th run for the Craig Farm Syndicate. In the 7 furlong Apprentice Handicap, he was ridden by Russell Harris to finish sixth. He has now been dropped another 1lb and so hopefully he will have a chance of winning again soon.

It was fast and furious last weekend and we had a total of nine runners over three days.

Newcastle – Saturday 23rd February

The Bumper was run on the Tapeta as the first race of the meeting and Nikgarde ridden by Brian Hughes ran another excellent race. He was the pick of the paddock and won best turned out for Gemma.   He travelled well throughout and probably hit the front too soon but was only beaten by one length into third place.   He reversed the form with Basildon who had beaten him in his previous run and this race was 10 seconds faster so it was a very good performance.


Nikgarde in the paddock at Newcastle

Aristo du Plessis (Lucy Alexander) ran in the 2 mile Handicap Hurdle. He was in great form and won bto for David. The ground was good to soft and Aristo jumped and travelled well throughout but he is high enough in the handicap and was outpaced in the better ground up the home straight to finish fifth.   He still really enjoys his racing and attacked his hurdles with pricked ears but ideally he would like slightly softer ground over another furlong or so and to carry less weight!

Ascot de Bruyere with Steven Fox ran a brilliant race in the 2 mile 4 furlong Handicap Chase to win impressively by 18 lengths. Given a very positive ride, his jumping was fast and slick and he led throughout.   At the age of nine, Ascot has really come into his own this year - as a young horse, he needed time in between his races and his patient owners are now being justly rewarded.   For Wag and Jane Smith in their career as owners this was their 25th win, 11 of which have been with Civil Unrest. All credit is due to Byron Ambrose who works very hard at home to keep Ascot calm and settled.

Ascot de Bruyere after his win at Newcastle

Carlisle – Sunday 24th February

In the 2 mile 1 furlong Novices’ Hurdle Brian Hughes rode For Three and was just beaten by a ½ length into second place.   This was his second really good run over hurdles and he jumped well and has a great attitude. A flatter track would be more suitable where he can use his speed to greater advantage.

For Three at Carlisle

Steven Fox rode Ca Le Ferra in the 2 mile Handicap Chase but he needs much softer ground and did very well to stand up after a serious error three out. It also might be worth an appeal to the Handicapper.

We had two runners in the competitive Mares Bumper.   Tortuga Bay (bto Briony) was ridden by Lucy Alexander and is a lovely big mare who has already won a Point-to- Point.   She was a little bit keen early on but travelled well throughout and went rather wide before tiring in the last furlong to finish fourth beaten by four lengths.   She would prefer softer ground and a flatter track but this was a pleasing first run and she showed great attitude.

Billy Garrity was on Apache Valley who was making her racecourse debut. She ran a good race to finish seventh beaten by 9 ½ lengths. She now needs a step up in trip and will be schooled over hurdles.

On Monday 25th February we had two runners at Ayr.

Honourary Gift (Steven Fox) was having his first run over hurdles in the 2 mile 3 ½ furlong Novices’ Hurdle and this was quite a tough test. There was a decent size field and his jumping was impeccable, particularly considering the hustle of the race. So well done to Tom Forsyth who schools him at home. He finished ninth beaten by 17 ½ lengths but possibly he does not stay this far and a stiff 2 miles would probably suit him better.

In the concluding Bumper Steven Fox rode The Maestro.   Unfortunately, he was just not himself and was very unsettled all day so we will need to do some investigation.

Civil Unrest returned to Musselburgh on Thursday 28th March for the 2 mile Handicap Chase.   Ridden by Steven Fox he jumped rather stickily at first but then the gallant 13 year old warmed to his task and ran on gamely to come second by six lengths. What a season he has had running eight times with one win, four seconds, two thirds and a fourth!   He is a credit to James and the team who have kept him in such fine form for so many years.

Tom Forsyth is looking forward to riding Ground Control in a Point-to-Point at Alnwick on the 10th March and Empire de Maulde won at Doncaster on Saturday 2nd March (report in the next blog) and entries at Newcastle and Southwell next week.


Tom Forsyth prepares for his Point-to-Point whilst Paddy watches on

Three in a Row!
Back on Track
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