Thursday, 31 March 2011


Three runners at Newcastle tomorrow where the ground looks likely to be good to soft, Native Coll goes in the 3.30, 9 run, Peter Buchanan rides, if we have sorted out the little problem that affected him at Carlisle then he should have a chance - we won't know till tomorrow though!  Daasij runs in the 5.00, 11 run and Harry Haynes rides, I am looking forward to seeing how the step up to 3 miles works, he has been looking like he hasn't stayed in his previous two runs for us but his flat form suggests he should and it may be that he just hasn't been quickening, again hopefully we will find out tomorrow.  Twelve Paces runs in the 5.30, Lucy rides and 8 run, he has cheek pieces on for the first time and is slipping down the handicap.......... as ever, plenty of optimism!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Boom boom

Tremendous day at the Lanark point-to-point yesterday winning the first two races with Commercial Express (Kit) and Almost Blue (Jamie), Jamie then came good second in the Mens Open on Noir et Vert, the only disppointment was my "nap" Skipping Chapel who didn't really act on the fast ground and was pulled up. To top it all Jamie then won the inaugural Alex Fergusson Memorial Trophy for the leading rider at the meeting - not bad for someone who will be 46 this week and was most definitely the oldest rider as well!
Almost Blue

Delighted this morning to have been to pick up The Paddy Premium who has come here to be trained after finishing 2nd at Stratford yesterday for Mark Fleming; previously trained for him by Mark Molloy in Co Tipperary he looks in great shape and seems a lovely horse to deal with, hopefully he can give Mark (and us!) some fun over the spring and summer. 
Commercial Express

Friday, 25 March 2011

Blogamus, blogatis, blogant...

Well she says they are getting boring again, can't read them without yawning, he says what do you expect, he has had toothache for two weeks and has lost his sense of humour, can't eat properly so making up for it by overdosing on ice cream, not even losing any weight therefore, anyway tooth nearly better, much poorer though so sense of humour still elusive, she says he never had one anyway and why hasn't she been invited to write a guest blog, he says she will just be rude so he won't give her the password, ha ha!  He's going to take advantage of the absence of racing in the North next week and take the elder two away for a few days (the eldest hasn't had a holiday for 2 years - her fault for not seeing the main reason for being a student), she says what, again? so she is going to spend as much money as possible in Scotland for a few days, he says it's cheaper being on holiday than doing his day job because he can fly 3 to Geneva and back for less than it costs to fill the thirsty one up with diesel and that happens rather a lot, she says who's calling who the thirsty one?
 So, if we can afford to fill the big thirsty one up with diesel we will send four horses to the Lanark point-to-point tomorrow and run them if the ground is OK, they should all have a chance if the riders don't give everyone else too much of a start.  After that it will be a quiet time until Newcastle next Friday where we have a wide range of entries but will be hoping for a decent drop of rain, (but not too much!) then we will be bypassing the Berwickshire p2p but will hopefully have a few runners at Kelso on Monday 4th.  Today we enjoyed a joint visit first lot from Rebecca Rickets of Scottish Racing and Stuart Earley of the SSPCA, the horses mainly did slow steady work on the grass and a few of the pointers schooled over fences - they all seem well and then some of them enjoyed a spell in the field.
Fabby Frank's cross with me too for not giving out his Cheltenham figures, the independently audited returns to a £10e/w stake on his first two "system" selections produced a profit of £698 at Tote returns or £707.80 at Betfair SP after commission, so there says he, I say why muddle it all up with your own "tips" just give us the stats!
Alflora 2007 ex Minora

Isla Patriot

Four Fiddlers and Isla Patriot

The Buffalo (left) is back!

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Glorious spring weather today, warm and sunny.  The horses that worked hard yesterday were allowed to take advantage of it and went for a long hack up the hill and through the forestry, others worked in the round school, on the all weather and on the rapidly drying out grass.  The winter floods have at last receded and we can assess the damage to the winter wheat, some fields are in good shape but one or two are very poor, some aspects to our strategy need reconsidered.  Conditions on the racetracks are drying out fast as well, it will come as quite a surprise to most people that Newcastle are going to start watering on Monday for their fixture next Friday, I think everyone had assumed it would remain a swamp forever.  Extra vigilance is now required to avoid running on ground too firm, I find that after a long season in training horses are more prone to soft-tissue injuries at this time of year and it can be tempting to run on "good" ground when it is actually quite firm, an injury now can rule out the whole of next season so care required!
It's also the time of year to consider any wind operations, I have had very mixed results from the operations that we have done but it appears that every trainer now is operating on half their yard to try to achieve a few lengths improvement.  I think it stems from the champion trainer being so fond of them, he even cauterized the mighty Denman's soft palate after his awesome run in the Hennessy, did it improve him a pound, statistics would suggest not an ounce but it will have given him a hell of a sore throat for a few weeks.  I'm not sure why "firing" legs is against veterinary practice but "firing" soft-palates isn't; maybe it's to do with what the eye can see...    We are lucky that we can use the same surgeon as the champion trainer as he operates up here every couple of months and we've got the Weipers Centre's fantastic overground scope facility, indeed wind ops have become a little goldmine for a select group of vets.  Some very good trainers I know do no wind operations, hmm, there are probably one or two horses here that would benefit from surgery but I will be thinking very carefully before I do anything... 

the mighty Denman..

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


Plenty happening again this morning with "Alf," Minimo and Four Fiddlers all working nicely at Lucinda's all-weahter, "Alf" showed particular improvement on his earlier visit there which is just as well.  Back here Daasij, Amulree and Papamoa worked on our all-weather and the point-to-pointers who are likely to be running on two consecutive Saturdays just had a stretch on the gallop.  I decided against running Native Coll or Amulree tomorrow at Carlisle, I feel they would both benefit from a little longer after their last runs.
The Kinneston lorry at the top of Lucinda's gallop
Meetings in Edinburgh later this morning then up to Perth to collect car from being serviced and back to Perth tonight to try out the Fair City's Tapas restaurant, superficial coverage on the radio of the budget and a couple of emails on the subject make me think George Osborne is barking up the right tree and starting the process of reversing the way the economy is presently throttled by red tape and a confusing and opaque system of high taxation.  It will take 3 - 5 years for the real impact to be felt but he has the right ideas it is just rather tragic that further devolution to Holyrood may mean the benefits are missed up here where arguably they are most needed... 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Back to routine work here today with most of the horses working on the all-weather this morning, Minimo & Commercial Express schooled over fences and then this afternoon Peter Buchanan came in and we schooled "Alf" over poles then Little Glenshee, Papamoa, Four Fiddlers and Forcefield over hurdles - all went well.  Stuart Mactaggart from Doncaster Bloodstock Sales visited this afternoon to assess our young store horses and selected a few for their premium Spring Sale, I would prefer to keep them here!  Isla Patriot ran well enough yesterday, I was pleased with him as he seems to be progressing, unfortunately Playing Footsie was badly hampered at the start and was unable to regain contact with the field so the exercise was a waste of time though at least she has now seen a racecourse and has a better idea of what is involved.  This week we have Native Coll and Amulree in at Carlisle on Thursday and five entered for the point-to-point on Saturday at Lanark, as ever, weather etc will decide who goes where...
Little Glenshee at Carlisle

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Busy Day

Hmm, six runners yielded two thirds & a fourth, not bad, all ran well enough apart from Northern Flame who didn't seem to want to know, frustrating as I've long regarded him as one of our best prospects, Campbell's initial reaction was that mentally he doesn't want to race but I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume something physical is ailing him - problem is finding out what, I will do my best.  Forcefield's run was the most encouraging of the day finishing a good third behind two much more experienced in-form rivals on his handicap debut.  Newcastle's St Patrick's Day meeting was once again mobbed with well-refreshed dressed up Geordies having a ball, live on Channel Four, very profitable I am sure yet we were racing for buttons, eventually no horses will bother turning up - what will they do then?
I was sad to be absent from some highly competitive racing at the Buccleuch point-to-point, a record numner of runners I suspect, I suppose it shows that sport rather than money will always be the driver in National Hunt racing.  Dennis Penny kindly sent me some great pictures which give a good feel for the day, I share those below...

Tomorrow at Kelso the ground will be on the soft side of good, we have two runners; Isla Patriot runs in 2.10 for Philippa Gammell, Peter Buchanan is on top and 15 run, he ran a nice little race on his hurdling debut and I hope he can build on this.  Playing Footsie runs in the 5.10 for Jeremy and Sarah Billinge, Lucy rides, 15 run; she's a game young mare with a big story to tell, it's her racecourse debut and we will be trying to ensure she enjoys it...


Whose going to give me a leg up?

This young man has kindly obliged, me thinks he has done it before!

Kit, Commercial Express and Emma
I hate running two in the same race....Diane leads Jamie in on Nor et Vert followed by Kit on Commercial Express
Determination - JFA on Noir et Vert

Friday, 18 March 2011

Adieu, mon ami...

Timmy at Kinneston, 9th March 2011
A very sad start to the week when I found our stable stalwart Timmy in severe discomfort with colic early on Monday morning, the vet was here quickly but it soon became apparent that the kindest solution was to put him to sleep.  Timmy gave Clare one of the best days of her life hunting here only last week and that was typical of the fun he has given us all over the last 8 or 9 years; hunting, showjumping, x-country, dressage, one day events, pony racing - he did everything and Lucy in particular learnt a huge amount on him.  Latterly Clare hacked him here either on his own or with the string, he also became a regular visitor to all the Northern racecourses as our travelling companion with single runners and would sometimes clock up a huge mileage in a week visiting Carlisle. Newcastle, Hexham, Haydock etc.

It was thus a somewhat subdued party that belatedly headed off to Cheltenham on Monday afternoon, we were soon distracted when Lucy's agent rang with the offer of a ride at Huntingdon for Howard Johnson on Wednesday, this wasn't in the logistics plan for the week but we worked it out & she headed off there instead of having a busman's holiday at the Festival.  It finished down the field but some compensation arrived in the form of a big run from Seeking Power at Hexham on Thursday, backed in from 6-1 to 4-1 favourite he was driven for over over a circuit and only just failed by half a length at the end of 4 miles, so close and the first two were over 40 lengths clear of the field.

Busy day tomorrow with three runners at Newcastle and three at the Buccleuch point-to-point, not sure if we have enough bridles.  At the former we run Twelve Paces in the 4.30, 4 run, Lucy rides and the ground will be drying up and gluey.  Northern Flame runs in the 5.05, Campbell Gillies rides, 10 run and Forcefield runs in the 5.40 with Lucy on, 6 run.  To be honest I'm not keen on the ground for any of these runners but it will be safe just rather tiring and the with the races not looking overly competitive, the horses fit and well, and limited other opportunities in the next week or two I felt it was right to run.  At the p2p we run Almost Blue, Noir et Vert and Commercial Express, BROTHER Jamie (I say BROTHER because again the Scottish Farmer had a generational mixup in its report last week at my expense!)  rides the first two and Kit the other, all 3 were 2nd last time out and will be hoping to go one better.

And today of course, what a race, I don't think I will be betting, no added excitement required but here are Fabby's ratings.......
1.30: Grandouet(83), Zarkandar(80), Sam Winner(79), Unaccompanied(78)
2.05: Alarazi(87), Zanir(82), Cockney Trucker(77), Soldatino(76)
2.40: Bobs Worth(98), Gagewell Flyer(89), Court in Motion(88), Kilcrea Kim(87)
3.20: Denman(98), Long Run(92), Imperial Commander(90), Tidal Bay(81)
4.00: Gone to Lunch(97), Baby Run(93), Templer(75), Herons Well(73)
4.40: Prince Du Seuil(79), Son of Flicka(78), First Point(75), Dantari(68)
5.15: Pigeon Island(81), Oiseau de Nuit(80), Oh Crick(78), Shoreacres(74)
Deja vu ?
and the Wise Man says.... Midnight Chase...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fabby Thursday

Seeking Power runs in the 4.15 at Hexham today, ground is heavy, 9 run and Lucy rides. Conditions are perfect, and he should go well if on a going day! Fabby sin binned yesterday, but given a chance to redeem himself today...

1.30: Wishful Thinking(96), Noble Prince(93), Mr Gardner(90), Blazing Tempo(86)

2.05: Rivage D'Or(93), Kayf Aramis(85), Sivota(81), Son Amix(73)
2.40: Poquelin(99), Gauvain(89), J'y Vole(85), Voy Por Ustedes(83)
3.20: Grands Crus(94), Big Bucks(91), Mourad(85), Ashkazar(83)
4.00: Bible Lord(84), Peplum(80), Quartz de Thaix(75), Aigle D'Or(72)
4.40: Pomme Tiepy(83), Junior(81), Far More Serious(70), Den of Iniquity(66)

Betting Advice: Wishful Thinking, Poquelin and Grands Crus in a treble

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Winter returns

Cold & wet here today but at least the snow from yesterday has mostly vanished, we withdrew Forcefield from Ayr once the ground had turned heavy and the Cumberland p2p was abandoned so a welcome weekend at home.  I note that Nicky Henderson walks the course at Cheltenham on the Sunday to alleviate stress, I bet he needed it this morning, what a disaster, to have to pull the favourite out of the champion hurdle for a technicality must be devastating; I think he should provide a little more detail on what actually happened to try to dampen the rumours, it's a great shame and will detract from the race - damaging to the sport in general.
Seeking Power on his way past Sammy Spiderman at Newcastle in January, the latter won at Ayr yesterday, the former runs off a 15lb lower mark at Hexham on Thursday (if its on!)
We will not be represented at Cheltenham this year, one day we will, hopefully we will be at Hexham on Thursday with Seeking Power who runs in the four miler off 9st 7lb on heavy ground (unraceable at present), conditions should be perfect for him, this is his Grand National!  Other potential runners are - Northern Flame at Newcastle on Saturday; Noir et Vert,  Almost Blue, Commercial Express & Minimo at the Buccleuch p2p on Saturday; Forcefield at Carlisle on Sunday; Twelve Paces, Isla Patriot and Playing Footsie at Kelso on Monday 21st but that seems a long time away, could do with things drying up a bit.. planning to head to the Cotswolds for a couple of days tomorrow, teeth permitting.  Still waiting to hear from Fabby Frank re some tips, probably best if we don't!  If we do will update blog but will not alert via email you will be pleased to hear.

Friday, 11 March 2011


Satisfactory day at the office yesterday with Amulree running better & finishing 4th (a bit remote!), Native Coll also finished 4th and Little Glenshee made a most encouraging debut to finish 6th in the bumper.  Blizzards on the way home though and this weekends runners will very much depend on what the weather does, if the forecast is wrong Forcefield will make his handicap debut in the 2.50 at Ayr, he looks quite harshly treated off top weight and Noir et Vert will run in the 3pm at the Cumberland P2P, we'll have to see what happens.
Apolgies for the rather dilatory blogging over the past 48 hours, I have been flattened by the world's worst ever toothache & haven't been able to think about much other than when I'm allowed to swallow more ibuprofen, have a whole stack of different pills to take now & Dentist promises they will make me better, her's hoping & he might be another guest blogger....

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Wise Man speaks...

Daasij was 5th at Catterick today, I expected him to run better than that, he returned with a nasty gash to his near fore - this may be an explanation.
We run three tomorrow at Carlisle where the ground will be on the soft side; Amulree goes in the 3.15, 6 run, Native Coll runs in the 4.50, 11 run and Little Glenshee makes her racecourse debut in the 5.20, 11 run.  Lucy rides all three, Native Coll would have  decent each way chance on his second last run, unless I am missing something you can put a line through his last effort.  The other two will come on for the experience.  Interestingly all three runners are out of the same mare, doubt that happens very often!

I am delighted to introduce my next guest blogger who does an admirable job in his role as Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA ( a Charity that is going from strength to strength leading animal welfare in Scotland (I suspect after yesterday's guest he might be looking for volunteers to set up a branch in Kabul - any takers?).  I have always been rather flattered that someone who spends his life working to improve the welfare of animals is happy to entrust me with the care of his own horses, I am also flattered by (some of!) his kind words below, then again, its amazing how nice people will be if Mrs A plies them with enough bacon rolls...........(he is also rather a good tipster & his selections for next week feature at the end)
'Inspired by Harold I was enthused to put forward a Guest Blog for Mr Alexander.

I haven't had the formidable task of chopping through the forestry atop the trainers head like Harold but now I come to think of it I first met the trainer in September 2007 at Perth which must have been shortly after one his biannual visits to Harold as there was no excessive topiary peering out from beneath his hat.

Lulled into this false sense of security we fell for the charms of Mr and Mrs Alexander and pretty soon found ourselves with a share of Art Investor a good looking bat gelding out of Sindarr. As the months progressed we noticed the alarming growth of shrubbery upon Mr Alexander's head but all became normal just before Cheltenham and at least we now know the reasons why.

Unfortunately Art Investor proved to be not a very good financial investment, but the return on investment from a fun perspective was wonderful and we were smitten.

Having found a good new home for Art Investor we went the whole hog and bought Smart Cavalier, an older horse with good prospects. Unfortunately Smartie sustained an injury in racing and had to spend a few months resting at our livery yard. Our intention was always to provide Smartie with a happy retirement at our place and he is such a wonderful and affectionate horse that rather than risk him again on the racecourse with this injury in the background we accelerated his retirement and now even I can ride him.

Once again the Alexander charm was turned on (although truth be told I’m not sure if there is an off switch) and further temptations were dangled before us and we now have a share in three horses. Forcefield, Four Fiddlers, and Alf (who has yet to be given a racing name).

To our amazement we have actually won some prize money now and have won considerable sums by betting on the horses!

I say amazement when winning prize money because we really don't expect and don't budget to win money and we are really are in this because we love the sport, we love the horses and whilst I've no intention of saying we love the trainer in public we do love having the privilege of visiting the trainer and the Alexander clan and joining him on the gallops. Indeed part of the fun of having race horses is Mr Alexander and the long suffering Mrs Alexander and all that brings.

One of the things that having your horses with Nick brings is constant entertainment and an interesting insight into sartorial elegance for trainers. Just last Saturday Nick sported a wonderful green pullover which I greatly admired. One of the very high tec and dare I say it trendy aspects of this ensemble was the clever holes in the elbow to provide cooling in warm weather. Just for clarity when I say holes that’s a slight understatement as there was really no elbow left to speak of, or really any pullover for about 2 inches above or below the elbow. As well as the cunningly designed elbow holes there were equally impressive asymmetric cooling vents on the chest and back. In addition to this fashionable ensemble Mr Alexander has been known to sport a pair of red cords on course, something which I support 100% as I have my own pair. Unfortunately Mrs Earley disowned both the trainer and myself when we arrived at Kelso for a race and found that both of us were wearing red cords, green/grey jackets and trilbys. Neither of us had colluded but Mrs Earley decided we looked too much like Tweedledee and Tweedledum (although that was slightly unfair on Nick as we are completely different shapes I could possibly balance two Nicks on a seesaw) and kept her distance.

Just as Harold ended with a thought for the Cheltenham Festival I'll try to do the same, but I'm conscious that there is still some time to go and horses have multiple entries and I've only really thought about the first few races.

In the Supreme novices if Willie Mullins runs Day In A Lifetime then he may well have a big price of around 20/1 and could well place or even win so a good each way bet.

In the Arkle Medermit or Starluck could be the best options.

In the Champion Hurdle sometimes it’s the forgotten horse that come through like Punjabi in 2009. That was a Nicky Henderson horse and his potential forgotten horse this year could be Oscar Whisky. The other horse with real claims and a good price is Mille Chief. Pundits will claim he has no chance as he is a five year old and only one 5 year old has won the Champion Hurdle in recent years, but that was Katchit, also trained by Alan King so I still have hopes for Mille Chief.

Two other horses that I am very enthusiastic about are:

Sizing Europe - if he runs in the Queen Mother Champion Chase should at least place so another good each way bet.

Cross Kennon - due to run in the World Hurdle and whilst Big Bucks or Grand Crus should win Cross Kennon is capable of placing at a big price.

That my Guest Blog over with but in closing I would say you should never trust people’s tips, especially at Cheltenham without doing your own home work.

But my best tip of all would be that if you want to have a share in a racehorse irrespective of how it performs you will have a lot of fun if you have the great good fortune to have Nick as your trainer.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Brave Man

Cold & windy, snow in the air; some horses hacking today but Seeking Power, Four Fiddlers and Forcefield worked on Lucinda's woodchip, Papamoa & Noir et Vert on our all-weather and Playing Footsie, "Alf" and Minimo on the grass.  Daasij had a pipe-opener ahead of his run in the 3.20 at Catterick tomorrow, ground is good, 15 run, Paul Gallagher rides and he has a decent each way chance.  Buffalo Ballet remains under observation in the Royal Dick.
Well, I am pleased to introduce my next guest blogger who is currently working in Afghanistan, the light-hearted nature of his blog below belies the bravery and commitment required to carry out his job as chief executive of The Halo Trust ( which carries out the unenviable but deeply necessary task of clearing landmines in the most hostile environments in the world.....
Guy takes a breather
"Most perturbed to see you may be reducing your blog thing - can't be true. Here in Afghanistan the internet isn't great, but when it fires up there is little better than reading the Kinneston Blog - your meetings with Triumph and Disaster and treating those two imposters just the same. My tenuous link to your yard..... well am sort of on your website home page every time it opens.... look right side of the screen for the only horse with its ears pricked galloping strongly up the hill at Carlisle, coming in just behind yet another Kinneston winner. Ok, you've spotted it, but no rider! Even if I was in the ambulance at least the horse was very happy - and a happy horse is the key (as Lucinda said afterwards - oh so polite!). Over here it is snowing and foggy, Kabul airport is shut down, and chances of me making it home for Cheltenham look remote, and sadly missed Kelso at the weekend. Déjà vu - seems like only yesterday that I was stuck here just after the Russians left and Dessie went on to win the 89 Gold Cup. Horses in Afghanistan? The main sport is Buzkashi, which is like Polo but instead of stick n ball the riders have to reach down and pick up a dead bullock, tuck one of its legs under a stirrup leather, ride one handed / reins between teeth and gallop in the vague direction of a marked out white chalk circle and then drop the Buz (Buz - rhymes with Cruz) in the circle. Other than that, there are almost no rules. Two teams (each of 20-30 riders), but also individual prizes - so the rider can be going great guns for the circle, protected by his team mates, and then at last minute one of them grabs the Buz off him to try to score himself! Sounds violent, but actually there tend to be only a few real enthusiasts in each team, while the rest of the riders hang around coffee-housing, all rather like cub-hunting in Gloucestershire. Luckily no rules on non-triers, otherwise I would have been in the Stewards' Room after each of my few games. The annual Buzkashi country finals take place later this month (24th) at the Afghan New Year festival. The semi finals were two weeks ago (same day as electrocuting Newbury). One of the lead riders from years before had come out of retirement to play (for those who know Afghanistan he was a relation of the turncoat Commander Rasul Pahlawan), which made the other team very cross. They responded with drawing lots for a suicide attack - that then killed many of the opposing team (if you think I am just telling a tall story then see news link at ). Hopefully Nichols, Henderson, Twist'n'shout not hatching similar plans (though of course you/we have had bomb scares at key races before), but anyway for a variety of reason I'll settle on Imperial Commander for the Gold Cup. Have a great week, and don't stand too close to men with beards and black hats - you never can tell....Guy. "

Spot the Brit?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Weekend Review

Colder today, busy weekend made busier by late Friday night transfer of Buffalo Ballet from Loch Leven Equine to Royal Dick Veterinary Hospital, luckily he has made good progess there under the excellent care of John Mark O'Leary and should be home tomorrow.  Some of the runners ran above expectations and some below, details on (shortly), suffice it to say we came away with two seconds; most pleasing was the return to form of Commercial Express, narrowly defeated by Lucinda's Badger Foot with the pair well clear of a competitive looking field.  Interestingly she had held Buffalo for the vet at Loch Leven whilst he was being examined late on Friday night, although she didn't know it was my horse until I arrived to transfer it; a good example of the cooperative spirit between the local trainers, I was delighted for her when Bold Sir Brian won the big race at Kelso, this was an exceptional performance by such an inexperienced horse and it would be good for the area to have a really top class horse, just reward for Lucinda, Scu and their team who all work so hard.  Great reward also for Peter Buchanan who has now won the big race on three consecutive Saturdays, no rest for him as he was at the P2P on Sunday in trainer role and will be in here this afternoon to school having no doubt ridden 4 lots for his boss in the morning.  The worst thing about the weekend was the injury to Brian Harding at Kelso on Saturday; earlier in the afternoon he was on a high having ridden Skippers Brig to narrowly defeat National fancy Ballabrigs but then in the last he fell and was taken off by ambulance badly concussed and with a nasty break to his arm, he will struggle to be back in time to ride this horse in the National, let's hope he makes a speedy recovery.
Horses worked on the all-weather this morning, Forcefield and Four Fiddlers schooled over hurdles, more schooling this afternoon over fences and some doing flatwork.  We have entries this week at Catterick on Wednesday, Carlisle on Thursday, Ayr on Friday & Saturday & Cumberland P2P on Saturday - will need to sit down and work out what's going where!
Delighted to report that I have two more guest bloggers lined up this week - watch this space...
Commercial Express

Friday, 4 March 2011


We have three runners at Kelso tomorrow and another three at the point-to-point at Alnwick on Sunday, the ground looks like being good to soft at both. Tomorrow Isla Patriot makes his hurdling debut in the 3.05, Peter Buchanan rides, 15 run, he jumps well at home but tomorrow will be all about gaining experience, Twelve Paces makes his stable debut in the 4.50, 14 run, this is a competitive Hunter Chase but this horse is in good form is ready to run and should go well, Northern Flame makes his handicap debut in the 5.25, 14 run and Peter Buchanan rides. Its a step up in trip and I would expect him to improve for that, he should like the ground if it keeps drying up, I just wonder if he has enough experience for this type of race so early in his career, if he copes he should run well.  On Sunday Kit rides Commercial Express and Skipping Chapel, Jamie rides Almost Blue, exact targets still to be determined.  We sponsor at Kelso tomorrow and it looks like an excellent day's racing - let's hope all goes smoothly.
Buffalo Ballet
Back here today things have been busy again with all the horses working on the grass and the all-weather, Minimo, Playing Footsie and Native Coll are scheduled to go to Lucinda's woodchip third lot and we have made four entires for Carlisle next Thursday.  We have had a setback with Buffalo Ballet who has an impacted colon and has been transferred to Loch Leven Equine practice so that they can give him copious quantities of intravenous fluids, worrying times but with a fair wind he should be OK in a day or so and he is in the best of hands. 

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Harold's Blog

Hello, I'm Harry, not sure why I have been chosen but "Trainer" was in today and was moaning that he had no volunteers as guest bloggers on his website...well, where do I start?  I have had the dubious privilege/unpleasant task of cutting his hair for the last 20 years, I didn't know anything about racing back then but have gradually become quite taken by the sport.  I suppose it's his endless optimism that fascinates me and it's also quite infectious.  However awful the weather, however many setbacks he has, he always seems to believe that the next winner is round the corner and that he has a future champion growing up in the yard; one day I am sure one will emerge.
As a customer, not quite perfect, always wants an appointment at short notice, always turns up late, never more than five minutes but late nevertheless.  Most amazingly though he only seems to have his hair cut twice a year, March Cheltenham & September Perth, walks in with a crow's nest stuck on his head, says "a number 4 please," smiles at the end and says that should last six months; I'm sure it's all about value for money, poor value for me though, takes ages!  Never mind, he's a good tipper so long as I get a  pretty girl to wash his hair, leaves nothing if I end up doing it; mind you he's no good at tipping horses and another annoying habit is that he always calls me Harold for some reaon known only to himself.
Harold smartening "Trainer" up for Cheltenham
He's good for business though, always sending his mates round.  Now he says he can't understand why they don't have hairdressers at airports, all those otherwise busy people with time on their hands, says he can introduce me to those Spanish people that own Edinburgh airport & sort me out some space, sounds good; and he says it's the same at the races, claims to know that dodgy chap that runs Perth, says he can sort me out a space there too, and he can put me in touch with the people that sell the Pimms, a glass of Pimms while you have your hair cut between races - how perfect is that - see you there! Oh, one other thing, he says I've got to give a tip for Cheltenham - how about Barber's Shop (ha ha, got quite a lot in common with the owner though..), the man with pink socks can't work out what trip it wants, I think I'll go for Diamond Harry instead...  


Busy day on the schooling grounds today; first lot Isla Patriot, Northern Flame, Forcefield & Daasij were over teh hurdles, Minimo & Playing Footsie jumped coloured poles, 2nd lot Native Coll and Almost Blue jumped the chase fences, this afternoon Peter was in and schooled Four Fiddlers and Little Glenshee over hurdles and then Minimo over the fences, they were all led by Amulree.  Louisa was in at the same time doing flatwork with Forcefield, Daasij and "Alf."  All the horses exercised this afternoon were also given their routine catering etc this morning so all in all it feels like its been rather a busy day.
Plans for the weekend are firming up and we look like having five runners, have made some entries for Catterick next Wednesday - am chasing up the guest blogger!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


 Another splendid & productive morning; Papamoa, Amulree & Skipping Chapel worked on the grass, 2nd lot did steady cantering on the "BGF," those that worked yesterday went for a long hack & Buffalo Ballet, Commercial Express and "Alf" worked on Lucinda's woodchip.  Not only that I have identified the first guest blogger, connection with racing a little tenuous, I hope he's not too rude!
It was particularly pleasing to see Papamoa back in action after a short lay-off, he has been back cantering for a month but we are stepping things up now and he seems in excellent form.
Bit of a fuss in the paper about me wanting to continue with the NW styling rather than being known as Nick or Nicholas, as I can't decide between the latter two I thought it was easier to stick with the status quo particulalrly as all our branding etc features "NW Alexander," appears there are only 5 out of about 800 who want to stay this way so it sticks out a bit which wasn't the intention..
Papamoa (James)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Another fine day, worked 7 on the grass (Saturday's potential runners and those planned to go away to work on Friday), all went nicely but Northern Flame particularly caught the eye, he is a horse I have always thought the world of and he is scheduled to make his handicap debut on Saturday, I am nervous that he lacks the experience to run in an open handicap already but other conditions should suit and he is ready to run again, will assess the opposition. 
Northern Flame
Tynedale point-to-point has been rescheduled to Saturday, clashes with the Hunter Chase at Kelso and will take away runners from what already look like being thin fields at the Alnwick fixture on Sunday, they are also now allowed to keep all the entry fees.............grrr.
Mrs A's big day looms so a quick trip to Perth required, struck by the recessionary feel, far too much vacant property on the High St, not many people about and those that are look like they haven't got much to do, they either look miserable or a bit drunk, few people seem to have much purpose - a bit grim really.  Back for evening feeds when called out to tackle some poachers with lurchers chasing my much loved brown hares, usual excuses, they look a bit like they could have been in Perth earlier in the afternoon - much more animated though...