Welcome back to your weekly intake of life at James Ewart Racing! The Gold Cup of all other blogs, the Champions League of sports writing, the best horse racing read in the county… If that’s what you are looking for then the Racing Post is a great place to start… But if you are looking for more of a cross between ‘Dear Deirdre’ and ‘The Pointing Plus’ rolled into the Border Grand National of Racing Blogs, then this could be the place for you!
13.30 Tuesday 15th March 2016… The starter calls them in… They are off..!
The hairs stand up on the back of the neck as the famous Cheltenham Roar echoes throughout the Cotswolds and all over the British Isle’s as the Irish invasion began… but wait… what’s this? Willie Mullins favourite Min is passed by Nicky Henderson’s Alitior who storms up the hill... 1-0 Britain.
This blog really isn’t about me and I think everyone in the yard is sick of hearing it but Min was the only horse to let me down in my accumulator for £5600… Gutted is an understatement!
Moving on and it was back to usual procedure as Douvan eased to victory in the Arkle, followed by an equally impressive Annie Power, who deservedly won the Champion Hurdle . It was then left to Vroom Vroom Mag to wrap up a hat-trick for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, as she moved her way up the pack to win the Mares Hurdle.
The Return of the King!!!... Sprinter Sacre brings a tear to the eye as he wins the 2016 Queen Mother Champion Chase! In a story that they could make a movie on, he beats the odds on Un De Seaux to send the Cheltenham crowd wild. "Dreams do happen, it's unbelievable” said an emotional Nicky Henderson, and to be honest I don’t think you could call yourself human if you are a horse racing fan and didn’t feel any emotion watching this champion lead up the hill!
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be a dream return for the other king in the form of Balthazar King. The former winner of the Cross-Country Chase taking a fall on his first return since his near fatal fall at the Grand National last year. 13 year old Any Currency ended up being the deserved winner after going 2nd in the previous 2 running’s of one of my favourite races of The Festival.
The ever impressive Yanworth met his match as Yorkhill made him look rather average in a high quality renewal of the Neptune, with Diamond King taking the Coral Cup and the Paul Nicholls trained Diego Du Charmil winning the Fred Winter.
So at after 2 days the half time scores are as follows:
James Ewart: 5 David MacLeod: 4 Hizzy: 3
Maybe I should just leave it to the professionals…
The curious case of Sa Suffit! If Benjamin Button was a horse then I think our boy Sas would get the part. 13 years young and this superstar beats a horse that defeated him by 30 odd lengths the last time they met and gallops on to get a close second to the winner, who is more than half his age! An absolutely fantastic effort from the old boy at Ayr last Saturday and clearly Mr Handicapper thinks that too as he goes up 3 pounds… for a 13 year old horse finishing 2nd? Sas may be getting old but he certainly didn’t use his bus pass to catch the X77 from Prestwick to Ayr on his 1st circuit of the track, nor did we get the use of any form of Zimmer frame on the run in for home, so I personally think this may be slightly harsh.
On the Sunday it was off to Kelso when I had the pleasure of travelling with Ange Des Malberaux, when Diarmuid O’Regan again took up the ride. His second ride in 2 days for the team and with his 5 pound claimer he has been a valuable addition for us in Dale’s absence and another fantastic young jockey worth looking out for. Ange made it round safely into a respectable 4th, where he would have liked better ground and probably a bit further too. He will get his handicap mark now, which will give us options to where we go next with him. In a day where we were delighted to host around 30 of our wonderful owners in our box, it was great to see Grand National hero Many Clouds jump like a dream and win a competitive renewal of Kelso’s Premier Chase. I hope all our owners had a fantastic day and enjoyed their hospitality at of our local courses, in what is just one of the highlights of being an owner here at James Ewart Racing!
As the Stuttgart hangover slowly eases, it’s off to another Stag do! This time a little closer to home as Newcastle takes the bombardment of around 20 of Dumfries’ finest young gentleman. I have been lucky enough that it has fallen on the weekend where we might be racing at Newcastle (ground dependant) and that I will be going to see my beloved Newcastle United take on Sunderland in the Tyne & Weir Derby the next day at St James’ Park. So a couple of winners for #TeamEwart and a Newcastle win on Sunday, with a few quiet alcoholic beverages in-between, would make for a fantastic weekend!
It’s fantastic to announce yet another World Record here in the yard! Yes, to go along with World Record holder Stone Of Folca (fastest horse in the world), there has been another record set right here in Langholm!!... 3 whole days without rain!!!!!!!! The longest period of time since my arrival at the yard and quite possibly ever, there has been 0mm of rainfall at Craig Farm here in ‘sunny’ Langholm... quite unbelievable scenes that I have no doubt jinxed now!
This week in the yard we all started an hour earlier to make sure we all got away in time to feast our eyes on the Cheltenham Festival. We have been running a tipping competition (similar/stolen to the blogs one), in which with a bit of cash involved is getting quite competitive. Obviously after day 1 yours truly was top of the leader board, closely followed by Hot tipster (take that in whichever context you like) Briony Ewart and Wee Jimmy Gormley (also take that in whichever context you like)… Tune into next week’s blog to find out who scoops the prizes and who struggled to stay the distance!
Elsewhere in the yard Callum Murphy has a week’s ban from riding, due to weighing in 12lbs over after eating all of Daina’s birthday cake (Happy Birthday Daina!).
Tom Forsyth gets another ride in a Point to Point this weekend as Lonely Solider goes to post at Overton, so good luck to them both! And last but not least everyone at James Ewart would like to wish Lucy Alexander a speedy recovery after her fall last week...I’m not sure who’s missing you more, the horses that you would be riding or Tom Forsyth!
Paddy Power ran one of their ever entertaining promotions using the image of Ruby Walsh, topless with tattoos of the names of such horses like Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Vautour. So I have committed that if Aristo Du Plessis wins the Scottish Champion Hurdle next month, then I will have him tattooed onto me!!
Join me next week to review the final 2 days of the Cheltenham Festival, along with a look ahead to some of our upcoming entries, all the yard goings on and possibly a bit of ‘carpool karaoke’ (If you don’t know what that is, you better type it in to You Tube!). And for all you lucky enough to be at Cheltenham or if you find yourself off to a race meeting this weekend, always remember… A bad day at the races is always better than a good day at work.
See you next week!