Tuesday, 30 November 2010

I have a snowplough…

… its been on order from our local farm machinery dealer for the last month, they hope it might be with me by Friday, oh well, it just keeps snowing and we now have  a good 18 inches, all 16 horses in full work trotted half a mile in the deep snow and then cantered steadily for a mile a a half, not perfect but it made them sweat.. I was having fun with the camera..

greylag geese…

some hungry roe deer (magnifying glass required..

a brown hare with Isla Patriot..

Daasij, a new recruit….

the snow has invaded the bedding store….

heading home after 3rd lot, still snowing!

oh, and don’t forget the Buffalo….


Monday, 29 November 2010

"oh gallop, where art thou?"

 Some pictures taken here at mid-day on 29th November 2010.... further comment would be superfluous!

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Driving home late last night I realised conditions were pretty severe but I was still surprised this morning, there was a good 8 inches of snow and it seemed to have blown into every corner of the yard, Seeking Power had about 3 inches in his feed trough, there must have been a blizzard more severe than anything we saw last winter which is saying something.  I console myself with the thought that at least Carlisle was off because there is no way we would have been able to get there anyway!

No plans to ride anything today so they all have an hour on the walker, looking ahead at the forecast for the week I am concerned and I find myself cutting the feeds back a little, not ideal but pouring in the rocket fuel when we might not be able to gallop them hard can have disastrous consequences.  I am heartened by the work ethic of the team who always make the effort to turn up despite conditions that would have most of the country staying at home, its probably the thought of the consequences of leaving me in charge that spurs them on!  Nevertheless conditions are so bad that I told the Sunday squad not to come back this afternoon and they have passed the baton to Mrs A & the "C" team..... silly old me will sneak round with a special treat - I've been sent a bale of sun-dried lucerne from the USA, its smells wonderful - a little taste of the American summer for the horses on a dark cold day.

Pictured below is Buffalo Ballet, this imposing 4yo son of Kayf Tara is a very exciting prospect to have in the yard, we bred him as we did his Flemensfirth brother who the champion trainer bought for Sir Alex Ferguson for a lot of money and "Buffalo" is twice the horse his brother was, he has a pedigree of the highest class and is a big strong powerful chasing type, he is also quite quirky and will need handled carefully, we have just started to let the handbrake off ocassionally and he doesn't disappoint, he is incredibly light on his feet for such a big horse.  I have held on to him in the hope that he can do something for the yard, I will need to find an owner for him at some stage or we will need to sell him, let's hope we can keep him here - in the mean time he is one of the many reasons that make slithering around in the snowy dark mornings worthwhile. Oh, and his name, where does it come from? the answer is here....enjoy....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOL2kwBrm4Y
and in the summer..

Saturday, 27 November 2010

been here before

the "warmest" temperature today was minus 2, not unprecedented for the time of year, I actually took this photograph on the same weekend two years ago.  Blizzards forecast for tomorrow, I'll be hoping it rains!  Managed to work all the horses this morning on the all-weather today which was fine, they will have a quiet Sunday with an hour on the horse-walker and some will probably go out in the fields again as they did today unless conditions are completely horrific, last winter I stopped turning them out and I don't think that did their lung health much good so we will persevere. 
A wonderful renewal of the Hennessy, won in taking fashion by an improving young horse and a magnificent performance in defeat by Denman, it's what the sport is all about, Silver by Nature needs softer ground to be seen at his best but I am sure Peter looked after him when his chance had gone and he will be a very interesting prospect for the Welsh National. 
This weather looks set in for the whole of next week, we will just concentrate on keeping the horses fit, healthy and fresh... just not too fresh!

Friday, 26 November 2010


Well, Newcastle off, Carlisle no chance of being on and I'm in danger of becoming grumpy, we couldn't go to Lucinda's this morning because of frost, am hoping to go there tomorrow but snow forecast for tonight, at least our gallop is holding up well and 12 horses worked on it today, the other four - who had all had more intensive physio yesterday - just a a long (and cold!) walk out.  It's a lovely sunny afternoon though so plenty of them are turned out in the fields for extra rations of fresh air.

So we won't be racing this weekend, our next engagements are at Ayr and Catterick on Wednesday - Native Coll might go down there as it looks the only place likely to be on for the next week or so, we will then have entries at Kelso on Sunday 5th.  With last weekend's runners both going so well and 7 of our 9 runners this season having made the frame I am understandably keen to get on, never mind at least there is the Hennesy to watch tomorrow with the mighty Denman on display, it would be wonderful for the area if Lucinda's Silver by Nature could run a big race and I will be urging Peter on but it's a bit of a shame for him that the race appears the most competitive its been for some time - if the same Denman turns up that won the race last year then I can't really see him being beaten.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Deja Vu

the first snowfall of the winter and it's back onto the tractor first thing to rotovate the school and gallop bringing back not very welcome memories of the slog of battling with the weather last season, stream of texts from the racecourses updating re conditions doesn't help either and an optimistic update to the owners of Northern Flame turns out to be a little premature as Newcastle announce that they have had 5 inches of snow overnight leading to a bleak prognosis for the weekend.  A fair amount of satisfaction though gained by the gallop coming up in perfect condition and all 16 horses in full work did a couple of steady canters which was just what I wanted, hoping to take Isla Pearl Fisher, Isla Patriot and Skipping Chapel to Lucinda's tomorrow if the weather allows so am happy to see her lorry in here today - using her gallop as much this season has been a big help and it makes me feel better about it if she is using ours too.
Grania our visiting physio came in at 9.30 and is still out there now at 3.30 with our in-house physio Gillian, they are going over all the horses and really take their time to go into detail, its hugely appreciated by me as they must be absolutely freezing by now, I am amazed by how often they find a little niggle that I suspected but said nothing about - I am sure that good quality pro-active physio must be hugely beneficial in enabling these horses to cope with their work, oh dear, another text just through, Newcastle abandoned.... drat!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


We schooled Seeking Power in a visor (blinkers with a slit at the back to let in light) this morning and it certainly stirred him up a bit, I think he will run wearing this on Saturday and it should just help him travel and maintain his focus throughout the race. Also schooling well over fences were Native Coll and Skipping Chapel.  The rest of the horses took the chance to do plenty of steady cantering on grass as the forecast indicates that we will be restricted to the artificial surfaces for at least the next week.

This afternoon involved a trip to East Lothian to watch U13 rugby, very exciting but also absolutely freezing, the Belhaven rugby pitch is in a slightly elevated position right next to the North Sea which in todays north-easterly snow-laden breeze made it one of the coldest places on the planet, Aberdeenshire is now snowbound which comes as no surprise, lets hope it stays up there.  Saw a few old friends though which was fun....


Becoming very chilly here, like everywhere else I think, don't think we will be going to Carlisle on Sunday, metcheck says -13 for Sat night down there, ouch, hopefully Newcastle might squeeze through though, they are already deploying frost covers as it is their big "Fighting Fifth" meeting, we took our 3 intended runners to Lucinda's yesterday - Northern Flame, Seeking Power and Native Coll, they all worked well.  Working here on the grass were Isla Patriot, Buffalo Ballet and Skipping Chapel all well apart from BB who was more buffalo than racehorse...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A dark day

Yesterday the Scottish racing world woke to the shocking and tragic news that Peter Monteith appears to have taken his own life on Sunday evening.  Those of us that saw and spoke to him earlier that day at Kelso find this very hard to take in and our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go to all of those nearest to him.  Over the years I bought horses from Peter, sold horses to him and had a horse trained by him, he was always very easy to deal with and a pleasure to meet on the racecourse, he will be sorely missed by everyone in racing, particularly on the Northern circuit.

Monday, 22 November 2010


A good run from Four Fiddlers finishing 4th of 15, rain-softened ground just took the edge off his speed but travelled very nicely into the race turning for home.  Delighted with both the weekend runners coming 4th at 50-1, just a shame 4 Fidds wasn't 3rd!  Seem OK this morning though and both horses to look forward to.  Very cold & wet at Kelso and much of the day spent enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Rosie's Bistro, plenty of time in the car over the weekend, yesterday's journey made very entertaining by Alice Cooper on Desert Island Discs otherwise much discussion over 3 horses we have in training that are un-named - good for passing a journey - watch this space!  No racing this week until next weekend, entries close this morning, don't like the forecast though...

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Highly satisfactory run from Forcefield yesterday to finish 4th in good company at Haydock, raises the expectations somewhat for Four Fiddlers at Kelso today, long drive home last night but much easier when the hrose has run well.  Quiet day here, horses all on the walker and in the fields, my time spent rotovating the gallop to help it dry ahead of forecast frost later this week, Forcefield tired and a bit wound up after his 9 hour lorry ride yesterday not to mention his race, ate most of his feed though and legs feel good.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Back in action

Well, a short break for all from my ramblings but here we go again I am afraid; no runners last weekend and we by-passed engagements at Hexham and Market Rasen over the last couple of days however we hope to be busy this weekend and we go to Haydock on Saturday to run Forcefield for the Earley-Macdonald partnership in the bumper at 3.55.  Lucy takes the ride and the ground is likely to be on the easy side of good.  Forcefield finished 2nd (below left) on his last start in the spring but with this being one of Haydock’s big days and decent prize money on offer I suspect this will end up a very competitive affair, hopefully he will run well though.


Four Fiddlers (below) then runs in the 3.40 at Kelso on Sunday for the same partnership, again Lucy rides.  I told everyone in the spring how much I liked this horse and was slightly taken aback when he tired in the gluey ground and finished last.  He has strengthened up nicely over the summer, has continued to impress and should have conditions much more in his favour – I hope he will run well.  He is in the ballot and if it looks like he won’t get a run we will swap these two if we are nimble enough on the computer!FOURFIDDSAYR

Having been searching for an excuse for Northern Flame’s poor hurdling debut I uncovered this picture of a jockey bailing out as he went in to his first hurdle, he is second from left, it is not impossible that these strange goings-on spooked him for the rest of the race as we haven’t practiced this at home…


Last but not least, a fine picture of our last runner, Isla Pearl Fisher, in the winners enclosure at Kelso, he is fit and well but having a slightly easier time until we identify his next targetDOK220

Monday, 8 November 2010


Well, that was some weekend for lovers of the turf; at Doncaster on Saturday we had the emotional crowning of Paul Hanagan as only the second Northern based champion flat jockey in the last century, earlier the brilliant Kauto Star put up the bravest of performances to see off two rising stars at Down Royal however his jockey, the peerless Ruby Walsh ended up spending the night in a Belfast hospital with a double break to his leg facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, then over to Kentucky where the dazzling French mare Goldikova wrote her name into the history books with a record third Breeders Cup win shortly before Zenyatta failed by the narrowest of margins to grab the Breeders Cup Classic and a perfect twenty from twenty racing career leaving her jockey to break down in tears at the press conference.

Friday at Hexham was gritty stuff; strong winds, driving rain and heavy ground – proper conditions for National Hunt racing and a large crowd of die-hards to take in the action.  Papamoa put up a most encouraging effort to finish 3rd on his hurdling debut despite some sketchy jumping, he was a professional throughout and should improve in every way.  Seeking Power had a real tussle all the way up the home straight but ended up going down by a head in a stirring finish; to be beaten by about 9 inches at the end of 3 miles is pretty tough and he seemed to be in front 50 yards out only to think he had done his job.  At least he is fit and well though and we might try some headgear next time. 

On to Kelso on Saturday, very different conditions with bright sunshine, perfect ground and a huge crowd.  Northern Flame ran a disappointing race in the opener, he jumped deliberately and never seemed to travel – he is much better than this, I think I probably just went to war with him a few weeks too soon.  Confidence was therefore at rock bottom when Isla Pearl Fisher came into the paddock, luckily nobody had told him, or the crowd that backed him in from 5-1 to a warm 7-2 favourite.  He walked round the paddock as if he owned the place and then he duly obliged by winning in the gutsiest of fashions on ground that was probably a bit on the easy side.  There is nowhere that I prefer training winners to Kelso, the chase track is a particularly fair test and the welcome that you receive from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd is second to none and makes you feel on top of the world, all the work I do with the horses from their youngest days has this underlying goal – can we win a chase at Kelso? So, as you can imagine I am prone to becoming rather over-excited whenever we eventually pull it off, so much so this time that I nearly had Paddy Aspell arrested by passing him my mobile when he dismounted so that he could speak to Mrs G in Australia where she had been listening to the race online – shouldn’t be a crime really but such are the bizarre priorities of the racing authorities….  


Sunday was on to Limerick where Lucy had her first ride in Ireland finishing a good fourth, I listened whilst watching Johnny playing in the Ardvreck Sevens tournament – I’m never quite sure what people think on these occasions when they see me jumping up and down on the spot with my mobile stuck to my ear, I’d rather not think about it but must try to stand still.

A quieter week ahead, entries at Newcastle on Friday and Wetherby on Saturday though and cold dark mornings have led to a return to the porridge for breakfast routine under the ever-watchful eye of the golden syrup police….

Friday, 5 November 2010


Hexham has passed its morning inspection and the horses are well on their way, we will hopefully have two runners at Kelso tomorrow; Northern Flame (below) makes his hurdling debut for teh Peglegs partnership in the 12.30 under Paddy Aspell, 16 will run and the ground should be good.  He is a tremendous long term chasing prospect but tomorrow will all be about experience


Mrs Gammell’s Isla Pearl Fisher (below) runs in the 1.00, also under Paddy Aspell, there will be about 10 runners and conditions should suit, it’s a step up in class from his Carlisle victory but all has gone well since his last run and he should go well with luck in running..


Thursday, 4 November 2010


We have two runners at Hexham tomorrow; Papamoa (below) makes his hurdling debut in the 3.10 for the Papamoan partnership, Paddy Aspell rides, 12 run and the ground will be heavy.  This is his first run of the season and his first over hurdles, he seems fit and well but the main aim tomorrow will be to ensure he enjoys this important next stage in his career


We run our giant Seeking Power (below) in the 3.40, Lucy rides and 5 run; he has to shoulder top weight in deep ground over 3 miles for this seasonal debut and it might all be a bit much first time out but the opposition look pretty exposed and I am hopeful that this horse can improve this season so fingers crossed…


Monday, 1 November 2010


The stable's unbeaten run for the season came to an early end yesterday when Native Coll was beaten at Carlisle.  I was convinced he would win and remained of that opinion as they turned towards the home straight but it quickly became apparent that 3 miles on tacky ground first time out for the season was too far and he finished a weary 6th.  The listed bookmakers won't need to advise analysts that an upward revision to their estimates is necessary but it was painful nevertheless.

Lucy finished about 9th of 17 at Wetherby on Saturday, good experience though to be riding at a big meeting in a highly competitive handicap hurdle against lots of the top pro's, her journey to stay overnight with her grandparents wasn't much fun, the A1 Northbound was closed & traffic crawling, steam started billowing out of the bonnet, her long range mechanic father issuing instructions from his phone on the way out to dinner said "just keep driving" - shortly afterwards a helpful motorist seeing that this was more than a little steam & that she didn't know what to do forced her over onto the hard shoulder & stopped her, the AA was joined then summoned and for reasons best known to themselves 4 different vehicles were involved in ferrying the car to the grandparents about 70 miles away where she eventually arrived at 2.30am - just what they needed I am sure.  Lucy seems to have inherited her father's aptitude for engines, one of the earlier mechanics had told her that it was probably the cylinder "head gasket" that had gone, by the time she passed this on to a later engineer she was trying to explain to him that there was a problem with the "egg casket" - oh dear.


Native Coll has come out of his race well and will now drop back in trip, this week we have entries at Hexham on Friday and Kelso on Saturday - as ever it will be the elements that determine where we go...