Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Another fine mild day in prospect, amazingly quiet forecast for next 10 days, always makes me feel uneasy for some reason, we will end up paying for it sooner or later... Lots of work on the grass gallops planned for today which remain in good order despite the daily efforts of 2000 greylag geese to remove all the grass, it is well fertilised! Looks like Lucy might be going to be lucky enough to pick up a couple of rides at the Festival in two weeks time, press seem to be going to make a story out of it, nice article in yesterday's Daily Mail and another in today's Daily Telegraph - she will be grateful for this man Ferdy for having such confidence in her to give her a chance on the big stage, his "balls of steel" quote is being well repeated, not sure she will be quite so enamoured by his quotes in the Telegraph article! (Mrs A certainly isn't), anyway, two weeks in racing is a long time so let's hope everyone gets there in one piece, today she is busy at Southwell with Seigneur des Bois in the 2.00, Samson Coolonges in the 2.35, Glasson Lad in the 4.05 and Red Danger Angel in the 5.05, late home! Some good pictures of our evening stable routine taken last night by the masterful Frank Cornfield, more on his site...

Checking them over....

Something's funny...

Apply some leg clay

Ready for the morning....

Add a little garlic.....


Tuesday, 28 February 2012


For many years I have sat in my office and from time to time heard the comforting sound of eighty-something year old Jock splitting logs into kindling...boom..... boom...... boom..... sadly Jock eventually retired a year or so ago, but today I hear the noise again, the ghost of Jock's past, what is going on, ahh, 'tis the multi-tasking Mrs A, for some reason makes me chuckle, then feel a little guilty...
Very mild today, quick trip to Lucinda's for Commercial Express and Academy, happy with them and most of the others here having a relatively gentle spin on the grass, Lucy is at Catterick where she rides Saveiro in the 3.20....
Academy - in an earlier life...........

Monday, 27 February 2012

Balmy or Barmy?

Slightly dreich today but tomorrow we are promised our warmest February day ever and Kelso look like having to water ahead of their premier fixture on Saturday, that is certainly unprecedented.  Looking further ahead I spy a little sting in winter's tail but, long range weather forecasting? this was meant to have been a very hard winter, not sure how they can get it so spectacularly wrong.
A splendid winner at Newcastle on Saturday for Lucy on the Ferdy Murphy trained Lord Villez and both our pointers ran with credit yesterday to be placed, slightly unfortunate quote in yesterday's RP with Saturday's victorious trainer saying Lucy had "balls of steel,"  perhaps more applicable to the entertaining streaker at Murrayfield who ran rings around the rotund flourescent jacketed security men as they tried to catch up with him, another "nearly" performance from Scotland, an entertaining match with an ultimately disappointing result.  
Led away... but he had a good run! (that couldn't be "Sir" Fred on the right could it?)
This week we hope to have a couple of runners at Kelso on Saturday, Lucy hopes to be at Catterick tomorrow, Southwell on Wednesday, Doncaster on Friday and then at Kelso....

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Another fair day and the grass gallops are in perfect condition, we use gallop markers to define where the horses work, by doing this we rotate the ground and repair as well as we can with a grass harrow once we move off it, as a result today's ground had not been used since late September.  Quickening up nicely first lot were Four Fiddlers, Buffalo Ballet, Academy and Amulree.  Others will have a gentler spin on it to freshen them up after a lot of work on the all-weather this week.
Buffalo Ballet
No runners today but tomorrow we send Flaming Thistle and Almost Blue to the p2p at Alnwick, Lucy is at Newcastle today and has three good rides, Lord Villez in the 2.20, Negus de Beaumont in the Eider Chase at 3.25 (Ch 4) and Big Water in the 5.10.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


Mild and blowy again, a quiet day for most of the horses but schooling over hurdles for Academy, Little Glenshee and Papamoa,decent piece of work on the grass for Sundays intended p2p runners Almost Blue and Flaming Thistle.
Racing has a curious habit of reflecting life, on Tuesday at Ascot Sales lot 43 was unsold at 400 gns, being sold by Rangers Racing and named Ibrox, poor thing is probably on it's way to Belgium by now which is really where the Directors should be going, a sorry affair but it's produced some cracking jokes!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Windy Wednesday

Blowing a bit of a gale here today but very mild and the forecast is for much of the same until early next month so  I'm going to relax, winter is defeated - salt spreader, snow plough etc can all go back into storage... (tempting fate?) Busy morning again, with Four Fiddlers, Papamoa and Academy heading over to Lucinda's and lots of others working hard here on the all-weather, very blowy over there but I loved seeing the horses work, twenty minutes standing in wind with soft rain but a skip in my step when I returned to the car.  A cracking winner for Lucy yesterday on Stanley Bridge at Wetherby, just holding on in a driving finish, today she is at Doncaster where she rides Go Amwell in the 4.10.
And how about the whip rules?  It appears from my brief look at the RP that they have effectively undone all the changes, that might or might not be the right thing to do and I am glad they are sorting it out before Cheltenham but what a huge waste of everyone's time, absurd, in any other walk of life someone would fall on their sword and that should be however presided over the whole debacle......

Monday, 20 February 2012

Blowy Monday

Wild and windy today but a top morning jumping a few young horses off the flat that are scheduled for a spring campaign over hurdles, nothing better than seeing the penny drop, also spent some time jumping some of the older ones who seems to be struggling with their fluency.  A quiet week on the racing front with only likely action the Percy p2p on Sunday if I can summon up the energy to drive down there again after yesterday, also am expected at Murrayfield, we will see what happens... Mrs A had a absurdly busy schedule driving her taxi yesterday afternoon to hockey matches and returning the younger two (and their gerbils!) to school, she kindly let me off after my 5 hour trip to Northumberland, I was left with a little time for contemplation and found myself on the scales - OMG!!! - disaster and emergency review of diet and exercise regime underway...
Sydney Cove has gone home for a short break, his run last week when 2nd at Ayr was possibly his best to date, I hope he can return to the track in the same fettle in the spring, he has become an unlikely favourite in the yard, here are another couple of fine pictures from Ayr taken by Frank Cornfield
Joe, Sydney and Kelly
The debrief..........
Nomadic Lucy has a busy day at Wetherby tomorrow.... Stanley Bridge in the 1.40, Naiad de Misselot in the 2.10, Bandamanan in the 2.40, Nine de Sivola in the 3.15 and Storm Surge in teh 4.25.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


A good morning with the horses yesterday, some here on the all-weather, some at Lucinda's and some here on the grass. I hope I am better at training horses than children to drive, Clare's first go with her Dad lasted all of 30 yards....(must let her drive next time!)
Oops, an early collision with a wall brought an abrupt halt to Clare's first driving lesson with Dad, I don't think I will go for a second career as a driving instructor!
A fine review of the website and blog in today's Racing Post, luckily he only thinks I've been at this since 2008, the old email blog started long before that, yawn, thanks for sticking with me!

Extract from today's RP
Frosty this morning and a fine drive to Northumberland and back with the horses, sadly no pointing though as for some odd reason racing was abandoned due to unsafe ground as it was still deemed to be frozen in places. These decisions are always difficult but I walked the entire track between 11.55 and 12.25 with my stick and in my opinion it was fine to race on, the only other person that I met walking the whole track with a stick was a very experienced rider from Yorkshire and she agreed with me, bizarre, I'm certainly not one for risking horses on unsafe ground and I walk a lot of racetracks throughout the year, three lories from Kinross-shire alone so a lot of diesel burnt.  In the event I wouldn't have run two of my four intended runners as for the second week in a row the ground was not as described on the Saturday, hmm, nothing to do with frost either, at least I was home to watch Luxy riding at Market Rasen, can't believe the amount of fantastic press she has had this week, still means nothing to her which is great really, she just wants to get on with the next race, tomorrow she rides Domolly in the 4.10 at Carlisle and then it's Wetherby on Tuesday... 

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Ahh, Saturday morning and a free run at the golden syrup, busy morning ahead with plans for lots of the horses to work in a variety of places, then looking forward to a cracking afternoon's racing on Channel Four, I watched Sprinter Sacre's performance at Newbury yesterday, broke the course record hard held, surely the best two mile chaser we have seen for a long time.  Should be a good day but nervous about being driven for the first time by 17yo Clare later this morning, might need sedated!  Weather resumes a more normal pattern, cold and windy but we have had a good spell so no complaining.  Tomorrow we will run four or five at Alnwick p2p, then a short break for them for a few weeks, Lucy will be at Market Rasen where she rides Sir Tantallus Hawk in the 2.40, Springfield Raki in the 3.15, Rich Lord in the 3.50 and Pistol Basc in the 4.20 - it will be a busy afternoon keeping a track of everything that is going on but I am sure I will be my normal chirpy self on Monday morning, a quiet week beckons after all.... 

In the gloaming......
Tipsy Dara, Lucy and Amy head out at Ayr, pleased to report all this week's runners appear bright and well.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Lucy on Kealigolane at Kelso yesterday
 Well, Forcefield failed to act on the fast ground and after the first hurdle refused to let himself down which was disappointing, probably not his sort of track either. Yet again though Lucy quickly cheered us up and won on Red Tamber in impressive style, what we didn't realise until after the event was that she had written herself into the record books - racing post, lucy makes history - just amazing, and I would like to personally thank all those who have supported her, most particularly the owners here who had faith in her at the start, my fellow trainers who have had the confidence to put her up and those who helped get her the jobs in the  right places that have been so important to her development - thank you all, let's hope she stays lucky....

Lucy on Red Tamber

Lucy sneaks a peek at the big screen at Kelso yesterday

On Miss Pollyanna in the bumper yesterday


Things didn't go to plan for Commercial Express at Kelso yesterday but we move quickly on to Musselburgh today where we run Forcefield in the 2.10, 12 run and the ground will be on the quick side, Lucy rides and we will be looking for a clear round after tipping up there last time, conditions should suit well and he is wearing a tongue tie. Lucy also rides Lord of the Gang in the 1.40, Red Tamber in the 1.40 and Battle Honour in the 3.15....

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


A long but rewarding day at Ayr yesterday with all three runners performing to their best, Sydney Cove was a game 2nd in the opening race, Tipsy Dara put up a tremendous effort to finish 3rd in a competitive handicap chase considering she pulled both front shoes off and it was only her second start over fences and Little Glenshee stayed on stoutly to also finish 3rd in the concluding bumper, denting a few lofty reputations in the process.  The circus moves on to Kelso today where we run Commercial Express with Kit on board in the 4.10, 6 run and the ground will be good to soft, whilst he will improve for the run he has been in good form at home and the small field and stiff test should suit him well.  Lucy rides Kealigolane in the 1.40, Sophonie in the 2.40 and Miss Pollyanna in the 4.40. 
Littel Glenshee with some of her happy connections yesterday

Monday, 13 February 2012


Fine weather today and plenty of work for the horses in the schools, on the all-weather and schooling over hurdles and fences.  No luck at the p2p yesterday but a fine winner on the all-weather at Southwell for Lucy, we hope to have a busy week and tomorrow we have 3 runners at Ayr starting off with Sydney Cove in the 1.20 with Joe Colliver on board, 12 run and the ground will be soft, he was 3rd in a similar contest at the course last week and will hopefully go well again.  Tipsy Dara runs in the 4.30, a competitive 14 runner handicap chase, Lucy on board, she has been in good heart since her Newcastle win and I think she will be suited by the step up in trip, this is much more competitive though; finally Little Glenshee (Lucy) runs in the concluding bumper at 5.10 by which time I expect it will be dark, she has been working nicely but the opposition are difficult to assess.  Lucy also rides Ancient Times in the 1.20 and Charingworth in the 3.35. 
Tipsy Dara
I'm looking forward to the day but am struck by how long it might feel for the racing public, an eight race card with several 35 minute intervals and medicocre prize money is unlikely enhance the racegoer experience.  These 8 race jumps cards (where there have been no divisions) are a new phenomenon and I wonder what is driving them (well, I can guess!), some of the races aren't terribly competitive and I am sure that compressing the day, increasing the money on offer and tweaking some of the race conditions would result in a more vibrant spectacle; though, from a personal point of view, I am happy to have as many different races to run my horses in as possible....  

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Balmy Ecosse

Relatively of course but bizarre weather as for once we are frost free and able to work our horses on the grass gallops this morning and school over fences whilst the South freezes. Impossible to resist a little schadenfreude as we watch the Southern trainers deal with conditions more akin to a Scottish winter (3 lots on Redcar beach on Thursday for Lucy) but the other side of the coin is they appear to be filling their wagons with horses with the intent of robbing the hardy northerners of their coveted prize money over the next week. Extra rations are being deployed and our horses are girding their loins in preparation to repel the raiders.... battle commence!  
Little Glenshee (left) leads at Perth in the spring, her seasonal debut this week we hope
And it does at 1.30 this afternoon when Lucy rides Kealigolane for Barry Murtagh at Musselburgh, she also rides Carrietau for him in the 2.35 (Ch 4).  She then heads South for two rides at Southwell tomorrow, we stay nearby and will have up to five runners at the Overton p2p, then we will head to Ayr on Tuesday, perhaps Kelso on Wednesday (take on the Queen's Barber's Shop in the Hunter Chase? I don't think so!)  and Musselburgh on Thursday.  Amongst those working the morning Little Glenshee particularly took the eye, she appears to have improved and will make her seasonal debut at either Ayr on Tuesday or Kelso on Wednesday, there are shares available via Kinneston Racing Syndicates in this attractive and promising mare, astonishing value, brighten up your February and treat yourself (or somebody else for Valentine's Day?)........

Thursday, 9 February 2012


Freezing drizzle today and some tricky conditions but no frost and the horses just had a gentle time walking, trotting and steady cantering on the all-weather.  Very slow thaw underway, hoping that it does enough to allow the p2p on Sunday to go ahead; Ayr Kelso and Musselburgh  next week also on the radar screen so fingers crossed......... 
The future... this six month old brother to Buffalo Ballet by Flemensfirth arrived here last week, not sure who the fat bloke with the silly gloves is...... Michelin Man! (well wrapped up!)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Winter Rations

Well, I succumbed, after a week of frost I could no longer tolerate the "Special K Summer Berries" and switched to the winter porridge routine, hoped for a bonus in the belief that with school runs no longer required the golden syrup police might still be in bed, alas not, beady eyes watching, I suggest it might be nice if made with cream, she thinks water might be more appropriate, I reach for the wicked squeezy bottle, fortunately it all disappears below the surface, just a drop of course.....
Anyway, very frosty again but gallop in fine fettle and most of them worked three times up, a few went hacking in the forestry or around the farm, trying to keep them fresh and fit, seems to be working. Lots of entries at Ayr, a few strange names from the South, must be becoming very frustrated down there, clouded over here now and whilst its still cold I think conditions ought to open up to allow racing to go ahead at the weekend, sadly no entries this time at Musselburgh from the "nearly" champion trainer, NJH, suspect his owners smarting after last weekend's abortive travel costs, not sure the races look like "Cheltenham Trials" any more but still an excellent card, I hope they get the declarations they deserve as it is important these rescheduled fixtures are well-supported. Several nice articles in the press today re Lucy, I believe generated by her last school's PR department, I submitted one or two pictures, they used quite a boring one, prefer if they had used the one above, a good racing position for a 9yo schooling over hurdles! 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


A decent day's racing at Ayr yesterday, spring-like weather and I was pleased with our three runners finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th; all showing promise for the future.  The day was rounded off nicely with Lucy securing an easy win on Big Water in the bumper.  Delighted to hear that the BHA are rescheduling the recently lost fixture at Musselburgh for Saturday, we will hope the weather relents to allow that to go ahead along with Sunday's point-to-point at Lanark.
Lexi - the senior yard cat
Hard frost here today but the all-weather still serviceable and plenty of work on it for most of the horses with a few hacking in the alpine forestry, good clean pine infused air, wonderful, makes me think a trips to the Alps might be necessary for Mrs A..........

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Musselburgh abandoned and the worst of all conditions here today, an inch or so of wet snowy slush has frozen solid turning the entire place into a lethal ice rink, dangerous for humans and horses.  Nevertheless an opportunity to put my new Logic salt spreader into action, having been very pleased to look at it gleaming and unused all winter today it swung into action with a vengeance.  I assume whoever designed it has in interest in a salt mine because by 8.30am I appeared to have used about 15 bags and will use the same again later, ouch, however it worked beautifully and combined with a couple of runs up and down the gallop with the rotovator it was all systems go and 20 horses went on the walker whilst tomorrow's intended runners had a stretch on the all-weather.  Some great pictures taken here yesterday by Frank Cornfield as the weather closed in, a small selection on the blog but see them all here.  

Butter wouldn't melt.................

Buffalo Ballet (Gemma) and Tipsy Dara (Lucy H)

Isla Pearl Fisher (Kit) and Forcefield (James)
So, no celebration induced cobwebs needing blown away after Scotland failed to overcome a very defensive and negative England side at Murrayfield, disappointing but fun, good atmosphere helped by substantial quantity of whisky mac, its amazing how the mood at the stadium has improved since they allowed alcohol back in, well, not really amazing at all but it has transformed the place.  Tomorrow at Ayr we have three runners - Four Fiddlers making his long-awaited reappearance in the 2pm, Lucy rides, the ground is soft and seven run.  I am just so pleased to have this horse back on the track after an awful crash in early November, he seems well but its a tight little race, the ground will be a bit soft for him and the main priority will be to continue the restoration of his confidence.  We run two in the 4.15, Sydney Cove ridden by Keith Mercer and Isla Patriot ridden by Peter Buchanan; both are well but I think the latter will be suited by better ground and may need to wait until the spring to show his best, the former is bouncing at home and should have conditions to suit.  Lucy ride Ancient Times in the same race and then Big Water in the closing bumper.
I suppose today will be spent looking at weather forecasts, they are not good and prospects for racing are bleak, Musselburgh are hoping the BHA will allow them to reschedule their fixture for next week, it would be a real boost for racing in the North, if they did, please........
Taking shelter....................

Friday, 3 February 2012

First Lot - Plans!

Sun rises over Kinneston, 3rd Feb 2012
Cold and frosty again this morning but a fine morning and the gallop in good order, some pictures of first lot below. Change forecast for tomorrow, probably too late for Wetherby where Lucy rides Charingworth in the 3.30 and Big Water in the 4.30, both winners last time out but an inspection at lunchtime today does not bode well. Musselburgh much more optimistic, let's hope it's on as it's a cracking card and the perfect way to blow away the cobwebs after celebrating a famous victory in the Calcutta Cup. We run Commercial Express with Kit on board in the 4.30, 9 run and the ground should be good. Lucy rides Kealigolane in the 1.30, Edinburgh Gin Time in the 2.00 (appropriately named but maybe a little earlier than 2.00?), Carrietau in the 2.30 and Sir Tantallus Hawk in the 4pm, fingers crossed and then we look forward to Ayr on Monday where the "bopping toff" will hopefully be featuring in his debut appearance on a Scottish racecourse since his return to his homeland......

Isla Pearl Fisher, "frothing at the bit," preparing for a spring campaign

Tipsy Dara, entered Ayr Monday but will probably wait another week

Sydney Cove, runs Ayr on Monday

Little Glenshee, entered next week but probably wait for Mares bumper at Kelso

Four Fiddlers, reappears Ayr Monday.

Buffalo Ballet, entered next week but probably wait for Ayr on 14th Feb

Forcefield, returning to Musselburgh on 16th Feb

Isla Patriot, likely runner at Ayr on Monday

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Frosty February

Sharp here this morning but somehow easier to cope with in February, the days are longer and there is plenty of birdsong early in the morning indicating that spring is not too far away. An open week so far has enabled us to do plenty of work schooling and on the grass so its no hardship to revert to the all-weather, frost deep though so three passsses required with the rotovator to knock it into shape and the water bottle in my car was frozen solid.  I am hopeful that the hiatus in the racing programme will be brief and that we will resume at Musselburgh on Sunday and Ayr on Monday, we have plenty of entries, the horses seem particularly well and with three of our last five runners winning I am eager to crack on.....