Friday, 30 December 2011

Lots of Pics!

Bitterly cold at Kelso yesterday and overnight rain produced testing ground, not what we wanted for Isla Pearl Fisher but we ran him and he put up a reasonable effort to finish 4th all things considered, he is bright and well this morning and the plan is to head to Musselburgh on 13th Jan to defend the Kilmany Cup (although the actual Cup of course is still sitting in a certain Mr Wyllie's cupboard, will it make it to the course on time this year??).
The ever-handsome IPF heads out to the course

 Lucy took another couple of heavy tumbles, upsides the leader on the favourite in the last, that's racing but it isn't fun..

Today she heads to Haydock to ride Lockstown in the Last Fling Chase at 2.35, one degree and snowing on the M74 she reports. After that she has four good rides at Musselburgh on New Year's Day.

Of course this week we heard that Mark Bradburne had retired after an illustrious career involving more than 350 winners including two at the Cheltenham Festival, he is a top class horseman and often rode for us when available in the North, he was marvellous at educating young horses and his insight when he came back in was invaluable.  Both his parents rode for us and speaking to Mark recently I don't think it will be too long before we have the opportunity to leg up a 3rd generation of Bradburnes!  Frank took these pictures in September, Mark coming in after his final Perth winner on Jetmaster.....

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Stormy again.....

Another westerly storm blows in off the Atlantic and batters our little farm, fierce weather but amazingly we managed to get first lot out onto the grass where they worked well, brave horses, brave riders, 2nd lot confined to the school and all-weather in shocking conditions and, well, 3rd lot were yesterday's workers so I relented and they went on the "walking machine" as dear old Francois used to call it.  I was accompanied for most of the morning by a senior man from the Charity Sector, wisely he spent much of the time sitting in my car on his Blackberry, I think he was formulating plans for the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Workriders, evil trainers........... anyway, down to earth with a bump for Lucy with two falls on her first two rides at Catterick, other two got round but on her way home now, battling the winds on  the M74.
Isla Pearl Fisher at Kelso last season
Big day tomorrow, we run Isla Pearl Fisher in the 2.40 at Kelso, 7 run, Lucy rides and the ground is soft.  He came out of his seasonal debut in mid November very well and I have been balancing a desire to run him again with a niggle in the back of my mind that I would like him to have a quiet winter campaign in the hope that we can have him in tip top condition come the spring, one thing or another has stopped me running him so far but he needs to go again now and although the ground may end up being a bit too soft for him he should still put up a bold display. Lucy also rides Edinburgh Gin Time, Mr Manson, Storm Surge and Eurohunter, the latter two both winners on their most recent visit to the track (as is IPF...)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Kauto Star
Racing on the front pages for the right reasons today, the simply magnificent Kauto Star wins his fifth King George VI Chase as an 11yo with an awesome display of galloping and jumping, in doing so he warmed the heart of racing fans and the wider public that looks in on our sport every Boxing Day.  Not since Desert Orchid has the national psyche been so gripped by such an outstanding steeplechaser.  I think what endears these horses to such a wide public is that they are animals, they therefore transcend human frailties and jealousies, Kauto's brilliance is pure, a beautiful animal with exceptional athletic ability and, above all, heart and courage that has been given generously year after year in return for nothing more than care, I salute him.
Lucy unsaddles Charingworth after winning the Castleford Chase at Wetherby
Meanwhile, a fine day here and schooling over fences first lot and working on the grass second lot led to a productive morning, looks like Isla Pearl Fisher will be heading to Kelso on Thursday, Papamoa badly needs to run somewhere and the forecast for Ayr next week continues to concern me, decsion time is nigh...
 Lucy had a fine winner on Turbolinas yesterday at Wetherby but topped it all with the biggest win of her career to date today on Charingworth in the Castleford Chase at the same track, she has four rides at Catterick tomorrow - Dynamic Drive in the 12.20, Jupiter Fidius in the 1.50, Emotive in the 2.50 and Danny John Boy in the 3.25, none of them look to have much of a chance so home safely will be the main target.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day

Boxing Day, 6.45am, the Kinneston kitchen, I come in from feeding the horses, make myself a lemsip, Lucy at the computer, packed up and ready to go, checking the traffic situation, very stormy outside, she has 5 rides at Wetherby this afternoon (4 hour drive first), then booked for one at Wetherby tomorrow, three at Catterick on Wednesday, four at Kelso Thursday and one at Haydock Friday - nothing confirmed beyond today but she heads off, nomadic, unsure where she will be spending next two nights, where she will be riding exercise, what horses she will be riding where, its a unique life, that of the NH jockey, made more unique by living on the periphary.  
Riders at Dawn
I head to the office to prepare the daily worksheet. 7.15, pitch dark blowing a gale and raining, the girls start to arrive here, by 8.30 the yard is mucked out and 8 horses are trotting in the school warming up, I head over to assess and talk to each of the riders about what I want to do, can't believe it is still to all intents and purposes dark, shortest day behind us, trying to keep things simple this morning, repeat the process for second and third lot, big winds and fresh horses, sticking to the all-weather, all twice up apart from Isla Pearl Fisher, due to run on Thursday so he goes up a third time, a bit faster, strong work, he was the only horse exercised on Xmas Day, the rest on the walker for 50 mins but him, a lone dark figure training up and down the all-weather.....will do more with them tomorrow, back on the grass, perhaps a trip to Lucinda's woodchip, some schooling, take advantage of the open weather, although these south-westerlies are unpleasant they are preferable to cold hard weather for this job. Our only other entry this week is Papamoa who may go to Haydock on Friday if weather looks dodgy for Ayr next week.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

Well, it's that time so Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2012 to everyone who follows the blog and, most importantly, thank you for taking an interest.
Isla Pearl Fisher
A mild, damp & breezy festive period with a benign forecast so happy trainer this morning as 20 horses had a couple of gentle canters on the all-weather, a quiet few days for them before we pick things up properly again on Monday.  No runners until Thursday when we will hopefully be represented by Isla Pearl Fisher at Kelso, just need the ground to dry up a little, should do, Lucy looks like being busy on Boxing Day, 5 rides at Wetherby - Turbolinas in the 1.15 for Kate Walton then four for Ferdy Murphy, The Holinwell in the 1.45 (live on Ch4), Ockey de Neulliac 2.15, Le Roi Rouge 2.45 and Sophonie in the 3.15....... we will have a busy morning here with the horses then watch Lucy and the might Kauto attempt to win his 5th "King George" in a very strong renewal, I can't wait........

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Buffalo has wings...

Far from the madding crowd, trainer and son opt for a close up view

Mild air arrives, bringing rain but banishing the frost. Another day of ups and downs at Musselburgh yesterday, Isla Patriot unseated Lucy at the first which was frustrating, she then had a good winner on Red Tamber, finally in the dark the moment arrived as Buffalo Ballet made his debut. It's an odd sensation, a process that began with planning a horse's conception, the foaling then five and a half years of preparation is distilled into 5 minutes of agony, in the gloaming round a track that won't suit and opposition that look decent enough. Normally no pressure, but this is a horse for whom I have always had the highest regard, doubts galore of course and they heighten as he turns for home, looking one-paced and weak, then the penny drops and in the last two furlongs he sprouts wings and flies, passes about 5 horses to finish 3rd at 40-1, beaten 5l by the winner, another furlong and he would have won going away, he tanks off round to the back straight, masses of energy left. Ate up, sound this morning, he eyes the lorry while he is being jogged up, ramp is down, he wants to go again. Trainer delighted, there should be so much more to come, we train our horses to come to themselves over time, he'd never really had a proper gallop before. Problem is that he is a valuable horse, I will need to put him on the market, being realistic we are unlikely to find someone that will keep him here, will try my best and discount accordingly if anyone shows interest...

Buffalo Ballet eventually returns to the winners enclosure

Back here today frost is on its way out but enough of it about still to confine us to the AW, it's riding well though and the horses look fresh and strong. They will all work tomorrow and then be wormed and have a quiet couple of days over Christmas, no runners until Kelso next week, no harm in taking the pressure off them for a day or two.
Vet in this afternoon to scan a couple of old injuries from last season, will help us decide when to start with them again. The mid point of the season, a chance to reflect on how we have done; 6 winners from 59 runners, 5 seconds, 44% placed - this time last season 2 winners from 18 runners so a material step up, loads of ambition to keep improving, targets for 2012 - well, a runner at one of the big festivals would be nice (not sure Perth counts!), 12 winners for the season, 20% first 2, 50% placed, main thing is just to try to keep the horses sound, healthy and running well.
Main story over the past couple of months of course has been Lucy, hard to believe that 3 months ago she was still an amateur, just hope she is lucky and avoids injury and she should continue to progress, she has 5 rides at Sedgefield tomorrow - Kealigolane 12.20, Samson Collonges 1.20, Stand Clear 1.50, Stanley Bridge 2.50 and The Ferick 3.20.. fingers crossed!

Monday, 19 December 2011


Unpleasant morning today, drizzle on top of frozen ground, fresh Monday morning horses all combining to create a trainer's nightmare, all just about in unscathed but laid-back temperament put to the test!  Happy about the forecast, turning mild and not too wet for the next week or so, no white Christmas this year.
Buffalo Ballet (left) heads up Lucinda's woodchip with Isla Pearl Fisher
Tomorrow we run Isla Patriot in the 1.50 at Musselburgh, 11 run, Lucy rides, a slight step up in class but I am hoping the drop back in trip to 2m 4f will suit.  And then, at last,  Buffalo Ballet runs in the bumper at 3.25 also with Lucy on board, 13 run, track won't suit and the winners of the last two Musselburgh bumpers line up along with a runner up from Haydock that was subsequently sold for £100k, hmm, have to start somewhere.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


There are few things more agonising than having to pull out a warm favourite but I have done that today at Carlisle.  My view is that the very worst sort of ground is heavy with a hard frost coming out late, whilst Papamoa is a soft ground horse the holding glue-like conditions with frozen bits that arise just swing the risk-reward ratio the wrong way, let's hope he has his chance soon at Kelso or Ayr at New Year.
Rather a flat effort from Sydney at Newcastle yesterday, 8th of 13, perhaps it came a little soon after Musselburgh, perhaps he didn't handle the gluey ground, he will hopefully be back at Ayr at New Year as well.  A fine winner for Lucy in a £15,000 chase at Haydock on Storm Surge, her first big "Saturday" winner, good press including nice article in Sun

Hard frost this morning here, an early start in vain but a chance to go for a decent walk up our hill in glorious conditions.  I say in vain but such is my peculiar fascination that I enjoy surprising the horses by feeding them early some days, its curious, they all react in different ways, some are still asleep, others are always grumpy, just wanting their grub as quickly as possible, happy to try to eat me first if they have the chance.  I don't do much apart from feed, just wander quietly from stable to stable, feel the odd leg, dispense a bit of arnica to those that might be sore or who have a big day ahead of them, think, dream, make plans, it's nice, family all home for Xmas (well, apart from the nomad), all tucked up inside, hmmm, time to start worrying about the next runners which will be at Musselburgh on Tuesday, perhaps Isla Patriot and then the Buffalo, a horse I love but will not be suited by Musselburgh, needs decent ground, nearly six, where else is there to go, and Isla Pearl Fisher, back over hurdles or keep waiting, desperate to run him, the words of the late great "Duke" ring in my ear, you need three things to train racehorses - "patience, patience and patience"........   

Friday, 16 December 2011

Party Time

I think the expression is "OMG" - well, didn't everyone scrub up well for the Xmas night out, great fun but not sure about all the girls wearing such high heels, made me feel a bit stumpy! Slower start this morning but no frost and all the horses worked on the all-weather, I sped off to the Carol Service where of course she read impeccably, can't really believe it was the same person that was downing the toffee vodka and black sambuca shots not many hours before - my sort of wife!  Early alarm tomorrow, Sydney Cove in the first at Newcastle, 8 am inspection, ground soft, Peter Buchanan rides, 15 run, hope to change the tactics with him, could go well in an ordinary sort of race.  Lucy at Haydock - another 8am inspection - rides Baccalaureate for Alison Thorpe in the 12.40, Storm Surge for Martin Todhunter in the 1.40 and You Know Yourself for Sue and Harvey Smith in the feature at 2.45 (live on C4).  Then to Carlisle on Sunday (haven't announced when their inspection will be yet - going to be one of those winter weekends I fear!) where we run Papamoa in the 2.40, Lucy rides 8 run, he is improving and will relish the track and conditions but its a trappy little race, Lucy also rides Edinburgh Gin Time and Ballycarberry for Lucy Normile - let's hope the weather behaves!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Big night out....

Sun shining this afternoon, most unusual, frost beckons no doubt, 8 horses first lot down on the grass but unbelievably wet so back to the all-weather for the rest of them.  Busy afternoon, Peter in to school Academy over hurdles, physios looking at a few.  Carlisle passed its first inspection so hope remains, Newcastle putting the frost covers down.  Stables night out in Perth this evening, should be lively, sadly no Lucy as she is destined for Uttoxeter and will need to head down the road tonight, she rides Stanley Bridge for Barry Murtagh in 11.35, decent chance but meeting must pass 7.30 inspection.  Mrs A most disappointed, she is filling in for Lucy at dinner, not that she minds a good night out it's just that she's reading the lesson at school carol service tomorrow and she feels she might perform better if she hasn't had a night on the tiles first, well, we'll be doing our best to lead her astray, reading to 500 people much easier through the haze of a hangover (perhaps not!).  First for Lucy last night with a live radio interview conducted secretly from her room after trainer had retired for the eveing, I think you can just hear him snoring noisily in the background, she gives a horse to follow for 2012, he could be the one, you will have to listen here on iplayer 5 live racing , wind forward 37 mins, tee hee.
A clue

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

chill chill

Cold but quieter today after a storm last night though another inch of rain confines us to the all-weather and hacking in the forestry for those that worked yesterday.  Entries made for Musselburgh on Tuesday - Isla Pearl Fisher, Isla Patriot and Buffalo Ballet - the latter two the more likely runners.  Warming to the idea of running Sydney Cove at Newcastle on Saturday, looks an open race and think the ground and track will suit well.  Like to run Papamoa at Carlisle on Sunday but must be a big doubt re the weather, only question in my mind is weather it will be waterlogged before the frost sets in!  Nice race for him at Ayr at New Year so we may have to wait and at least the forecast is for more clement weather next week.
It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that Mrs A has somewhere (or maybe several places) in our house that she keeps chocolate biscuits and bars of chocolate to which I am not privvy. This does not appear to be for her sole consumption but rather more so that she can occasionally produce a little treat for her appreciative husband, a bit like the way in which she produces biscuits for the dogs.  I am uncertain that this is in the best interests of a harmonious marriage, it can produce periods of unnecessary stress when she is absent and the addiction strikes, if eventually found it then produces another bout of stress worrying about whether the supply is counted and a missing bar will be noticed thereby leading to a new place of concealment.  In the distant pass I seem to recall the words "with thee I share my worldly goods," oh well, no doubt she will see it as in my best interests, "in sickness and in health"....

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

the joy of email.......

Rough weather today again, gales, blustery showers of snow and rain.  Good morning though with a few of the horses working on my favourite horseshoe gallop; Buffalo Ballet, Isla Pearl Fisher, Papamoa, Here's to Harry, Tipsy Dara (first time), Flaming Thistle (likewise), Isla Patriot all appearing to relish the good to soft ground - they just love it down there after working away on the all-weather and so do I, happy horse = happy trainer.  More tomorrow if the weather permits, it's about 3 weeks since we've been down there and at this time of year we have to grab every chance we have. Spectacular unseat from Lucy at the first today at Catterick on "I Got Music," Mr & Mrs A glued to the telly to see if we could see her walk away, most relieved when presenter reports her to be laughing and smiling with trainer - I don't think these TV people realise how much some people hang on to their every word in situations like that, followed up with a good second on Storm Surge, long drive home.    
Taking the plunge and ditching the tiresome aol email service and moving to am migrating historic data across, unfortunately this is leading to the best part of a year's worth of saved email being transferred as unread into my inbox in outlook, currently says 6604 unread emails and they are still going, interspersed with today's intake, help, what on earth am I going to do - need to postpone my Xmas shopping (again!)....

Monday, 12 December 2011

Hardy Types

They come from hardy stock, those that race their horses at Ratcheugh on the Northumbrian coast in deepest December, there were certainly plenty of enthusiasts present on what turned out to be a remarkably benign day weather wise.  Masses of horses from all over the place and big fields for all the races; I was delighted that our 3 runners all performed with credit - Native Coll appeared to be travelling nicely with the leaders when he blundered 3 out and unshipped Kit, Northern Flame was given a gentle introduction to this new discipline and crept into the race late on to finish 2nd of 13 - just the sort of confidence boost he required, finally Amulree tired late on but still managed 3rd of about a dozen.
Northern Flame
Benign also here this morning, the calm before the storm perhaps, but a chance to get back on to the grass and about 15 did long steady canters, some rather fresh, perfect.  Our entries this week are Sydney Cove at Newcastle on Saturday and Papamoa at Carlisle on Sunday, Lucy heads to Catterick tomorrow where she rides I Got Music for Keith Reveley in the 2.20 and Storm Surge for Martin Todhunter in the 2.50   
Native Coll (Holly)

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Freezing fog latest hazard here today but a productive morning with all the horses having a good spin on the all-weather which remains in excellent condition, early start tomorrow and an 8am inspection but here's hoping....
Some pics taken in the yard yesterday by Frank Cornfield -
The ladies barn - Little Glenshee, Goldtrek and Issabella Gem relax in the sun

Native Coll (Holly) leads Northern Flame (Kit) over the baby schooling fences

Sydney Cove (Gemma) leads  Flaming Thistle (Kelly), Commercial Express (Emma), Almost Blue (James), Academy (Amy) and Amulree (Kit) up the gallop

Academy (Amy) and Ocarina (Holly) lead the way back down

Isla Patriot and Here's to Harry

Amulree (Kit)

Friday, 9 December 2011


Well, a different country today, different planet perhaps, a fine quiet winter's day and a constructive morning schooling and working on the all-weather, very wet everywhere but only minor damage from what I have seen so far.
Our first ever pre Xmas point-to-point runners on Sunday when we send 3 down to Alnwick, Kit due to ride them all and the ground is on the soft side of good.  Native Coll runs in the 12 noon (= 5.30am start for trainer, sunday lie in?), the big question for him regarding point-to-pointing is will he stay as his forte was 2 miles under rules, not sure we will find out on Sunday as it's a hot race and he isn't very fit! Amulree runs in the 1.30, 3 mile maiden, 2nd in her only previous p2p start, she is fit and I am hoping for a big run.  The enigmatic Northern Flame is double entered but probably runs in the winners of one race at 2.30, we are hoping that he will deign to show a glimmer of his talent in a competitive environment..
Lucy in action at Doncaster tomorrow, Fred Bojangles in the 2.15 and Kellystown Lad in the 3.20 (live on Ch 4)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The eye of the storm

Seeking Power (Amy)
Ferocious weather today, storm force winds and two quick lots cantering up the grass this morning, the 8 that worked hard on the all-weather yesterday were confined to the walker...... yesterday, what a day, Seeking Power ran his heart out in the 3m 1f handicap chase in extreme conditions, closing down the leaders all the way to the line to finish 3rd, luckily he doesn't read the Daily Telegraph in which he features in an entertaining article about Lucy, he's such an honest horse, just can't go very fast but I admire his courage.  Lorry was late back last night and away sharp this morning to pick a horse up from West Lothian, Jim managed to nip over the Bridge and back before the wind closed it mid morning, Jim Barclay is one of the many rocks on which this operation is founded, his help in driving the lorry etc when we are busy at this time of year is invaluable.  Conditions yesterday can be ably summed up by this little vignette.... Lucy received her first fine from the Stewards for breaking a rule - an £80 fine for pulling up and then passing a horse that was still in the race, problem was the horse still in the race had slowed to a trot having jumped the last when Lucy wisely pulled up before it and then cantered very slowly home thereby overtaking the horse still in thge race, rules say she should have stopped and waited for it to complete, for how long I wonder, darkness was falling!  hmm, rules are rules... With a meeting in Edinburgh this morning and a drinks party to attend there last night on the way back from Hexham lazy trainer stayed away with Mrs A, Hotel Missoni  was very convenient but by the time we were coming home from the Open Platform offices in the Gyle the weather had caused gridlock in central Scotland and a half hour journey took two and a half..... oh well, Kit trying to get back from Durham to sharpen up the pointers tomorrow over the fences before the scheduled start of the season on Sunday, and Lucy due to be at Doncaster by 10am tomorrow where she rides Red Lite in the 11.50, Tinseltown in the 1.35 and Oniz Tiptoes in the 3.20 - another early start beckons!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Seeking Power - just denied at Hexham
Hard frost but fantastically beautiful morning here with blue sky and snow-covered hills.  Gallop working well so all horses working on it today.  Superb day at Musselburgh for Lucy yesterday, her first double, combined odds of 100 and something to one, unbelievable.  Sydney ran a solid race, ridden from behind to get the extended trip he appeared to stay on well but couldn't get close enough to land a blow, finished 5th of 12, I think he can win again.  Tomorrow we run Seeking Power in the 3.20 at Hexham, 13 run, ground heavy, Lucy rides, subject to an inspection this afternoon, snow on the track, I always say he needs at lease two inspections from the ground to be wet enough for him to be competitive, so, here's hoping! Today Lucy is at Sedgefield riding King's Chorister in the 2.50, 8 run, an each way chance in a competitive little heat.  She has a couple of other rides at Hexham tomorrow it its on, then she is at Doncaster on Fri & Sat, we will be appearing next at the Alnwick point-to-point on Sunday where we have 3 entries, most odd point-to-pointing before Christmas, good idea.
Changing for the races on Sunday morning at 10.15 I was staring at myself in the mirror whilst shaving, reflecting, literally and metaphorically, a pause in the rush - I try to start an hour later on a Sunday so it should have been an easyish sort of morning but even in that short period there seemed to have been so many ups and downs, my head was spinning, crazy really, it's such a bizarrely intense sport to be involved in, and all about whether my horse can run faster round a  big field than someone elses.... big deal.  I was unable to attend Musselburgh yesterday, I as at a funeral with Rose, my 3 brothers and mother, someone very dear to us all, she always supported Lucy in her races having cared for her a lot as a child (that was 25 years after caring for the four of us!) and she usually phoned in the evening after she had a winner - her partner loved to bet on Lucy, we all watched the 1.20 at Mother's house before going to the church, a winner, bittersweet funeral and burial and back in to watch the 2.50, another winner.....

Monday, 5 December 2011


Proper winter morning today, bit of snow & frost, out early to sort gallop, came up perfectly, happy trainer!  Cold day at Kelso yesterday but a great atmosphere to warm the soul, huge crowd despite the weather and gritty National Hunt racing, Forcefield ran a solid race to finish 3rd, holding ground and extended trip just finding him out.  Today we run Sydney Cove in the 1.50 at Musselburgh, 12 run, Keith Mercer rides, ground on soft side of good.  Big step up in trip, if he stays he should go close, if he doesn't he won't! Lucy rides Kealigolane in the 1.20 for Hugh McWilliams, Humorous in the 1.50 for Brian Storey and Red Tamber in the 2.50 for Bruce Mactaggart.
Some pictures from a cold Kinneston this morning.....
down the gallop

cooling off


Heading in

Friday, 2 December 2011


A fine winter's morning today but a miserable evening now, gales and sleet.  Plenty going on, mainly on the all-weather here but Flaming Thistle, Amulree and Native Coll ventured over to Lucinda's woodchip. 
Forcefield (Lucy H)
On Sunday we run Forcefield in the 3.30 at Kelso, 10 run, Lucy rides and the ground is soft.  He is in good heart and ready to run, the extended 3m 3f trip shouldn't be a problem but I am wondering whether ground as soft as this will suit.  Lucy also rides Double Default in the Borders National at 2.30 (she is due to get up at 4am tomorrow to go and school this horse in Cumbria on her way to Wetherby where she rides Danny John Boy in the 2.55), she also rides Sported and Played for Lucy Normile in the 3.00.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Sharp air here this afternoon, cold and crisp whilst running a grass harrow over the "horseshoe" gallop, wet still but hopefully good to work on by Saturday.  Generally quiet day for the horses, an hour's hack round the farm for most of them, easy canters for Buffalo Ballet, Academy, Tipsy Dara, Alflora 3yo, Amulree and Native Coll.  Plans beginning to fall into place for next batch of runners, looks like Forcefield Kelso Sunday, Buffalo Ballet Musselburgh Monday, Sydney Cove Sedgefield Tuesday, Seeking Power and possibly Papamoa at Hexham on Wednesday.... much easier if they all ran at the same place however we have to give them all their best chance. 
Lucy rather embarrased by my "day in the life of" yesterday but she did point out that I omitted her 5 mile run in the afternoon, she runs at least 5 miles 4 or 5 times each week........
Papamoa (Holly) and Isla Patriot (Kelly)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Northern Flame
Bright, breezy and cold this morning, the first dusting of snow at the top of the all-weather where most of the horses worked, it has dried out (a bit).  Another trip to Lucinda's woodchip, this time the turn of Forcefield, Northern Flame and Seeking Power all of whom have important engagements in the next 10 days.  Off to a meeting at Perth Racecourse and staggered by the flooding, the River Earn has burst it's banks in a big way.  Useful meeting at Perth regarding our media deal for the next five years, I hope all the courses are about to see similar increases in their income and see fit to pass a fair percentage on to the owners via prize money, we could be looking at quite a different situation in 12 months time, it certainly needs to change.  No luck for Lucy down at Catterick, I hear her car arriving home now exactly 24 hours after she left, her commitment is admirable - in the second half of last week she did round trips to Wetherby, Musselburgh, Newcastle and Carlisle, yesterday she was up at 6am, fed 34 horses, went to Lucinda's to give the Buffalo his final prep for his first run on Monday, came back here to ride Academy, prepared all the evening feeds, did the bandaging & left here at 6.30pm to drive 3 hours to spend the night at her grandparent's in Northumberland, up at 5am to be at Alan Swinbank's to ride 3 lots prior to going to Catterick for 3 rides then driving 4 hours home... an average week, no more than what every successful National Hunt jockey does but I feel exhausted just writing about it, they really are a breed apart..

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Ayr abandoned and very wild here this morning, didn't stop us taking Isla Pearl Fisher, Here's to Harry and Buffalo Ballet to Lucinda's woodchip, all worked well, I love watching the bumper horses develop as they work with a good yardstick like IPF, these two both look pretty decent.  Going on our own gallop changed from marshmallow to porridge thanks to another inch of rain overnight but nice on the old turf and all the horses here cantered 3 times up the grass banks.
Buffalo Ballet and Isla Pearl Fisher on the woodchip a week or two ago
Tomorrow at Catterick Lucy rides Secret Desert for Ferdy Murphy in the 12.30, Emotive for Barry Murtagh in the 1.00 and Jan Smutts for Wilf Storey in the 1.30, some interesting comments in the latter's form on the flat, hmm. We will be quiet until Sunday when our only likely runner will be Forcefield at Kelso, winner last time at Newcastle he will go there with a leading chance and 5% shares are available for a mere £595 at  - roll up, roll up!

Monday, 28 November 2011


Bright, cool and breezy here today, 21 horses ridden, all seem well, last 7 brought in from grass - forecast pretty rough all week and whilst the horses seem fine it seems kinder to have them in, 4 pensioners and 3 youngsters, that will mean 34 needing breakfast in the morning! 
First jumps action of the winter at Ayr tomorrow, ground is soft and we run Sydney Cove in the 2.40, Keith Mercer rides, 9 run, I think he will like the ground and the step up in trip.  Lucy rides Alexander Oats in the 1.35 for Robert Goldie,  however if the forecast is correct the meeting will be abandoned as they are due about 2 inches of rain in the next 24 hours, that will mean no racing at Ayr this side of New Year - grump, grump.  
Lucy stands up for one of The Paddy Premium's less elegant efforts at Musselburgh last week (pic from Dennis Penny)

Sunday, 27 November 2011


As wild a night as I have known last night, gusts of 94mph recorded at local weather station and well over an inch of rain.  There is always a certain amount of trepidation when one heads outside to feed the horses after a night like that but to my amazement there appears to be no damage, these ancient buildings must have been cleverly built.
Initial reaction has to be an ordinary couple of day's racing for the yard, that's the nature of the game, there will be plenty of them for various reasons but that reaction soon overtaken, firstly by the magnificent Overturn who became the first horse to complete the Northumberland Plate/ Fighting Fifth hurdle double in front of a rapturous Geordie crowd all of whom appeared to have backed him, great stuff, and then sitting in the car waiting for the jockey I opened my ipad to discover the wonderful news that Carruthers had won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury; after last Saturday's great win by Kauto the sport was again united in celebration, this time for a struggling but talented journeyman jockey gaining the biggest win of his career aboard a horse owned, bred and trained by the Oaksey family.  The manner in which Mattie Bachelor's weighing room colleagues celebrated this success with him sums up everything that is good about the sport, to quote Oaksey himself - "the brotherhood of hazards shared" - is one of the great but unsung qualities of National Hunt racing.  And of course, a wonderful victory for Lord Oaksey - sadly too frail to attend but hopefully aware of this great victory through the mists of old age, most of you will be aware that he founded the irreplaceable Injured Jockeys Fund which has done so much for so many people and was himself a thoroughly accomplished journalist and amateur rider, in the latter role giving my father his greatest moment as a trainer when winning the Aintree Foxhunters for him back in (dare I say it!) 1967.
Today Lucy rides at Carlisle, Red Tamber in the 1.20 for Bruce Mactaggart and Proud Times in the 1.55 for Alan Swinbank, we hope to be back in action at Ayr on Tuesday then Kelso on Sunday.
A day in the sun, Mattie Bachelor aboard Carruthers

Friday, 25 November 2011


Filthy morning here, cold, windy & wet.  Not ideal for schooling but with Kit home from Uni for a day needs must and we popped the pointers over the fences and a few over the hurdles, bad ground, but mission accomplished.
Capital Venture on a brighter morning!
Tomorrow at Newcastle re run Ocarina in the 12.35 and Capital Venture in the 2.55, Lucy rides both and the ground is good to soft, both seem in good heart.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Isla Patriot
It's a blessing that I cut short my career in the City, I could have done a lot of damage judging for my propensity to press the wrong button on the computer, fortunately today it only resulted in Buffalo Ballet being declared by mistake for Musselburgh tomorrow.  He is fit and ready to run well but for a variety of reasons would be better to wait another week or so, banned for 6 days now but not missing anything.  We do run Isla Patriot in the 12.10, this is a good race for him despite a minor setback earlier this week, Lucy rides, 8 run and it is on the quick side of good but rain forecast tonight.  We also run The Paddy Premium in the 2.25, 7 run, Lucy on board, he will hopefully benefit from the drop back in trip and Lucy's claim. Lucy also rides Red Lite for Wilf Storey in the 12.40, King's Chorister in the 2.55 for Barry Murtagh and All American for Alan Swinbank in the 3.30.
Tomorrow also sees the launch of our new ownership concept - have a look and do contact us if you are interested or know of anyone that might be.........

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Awesome Kauto
Cold and blowy up the all-weather this morning, pleased to be using it though, it has undergone a minor refurbsishment this week and Holly described it as like riding on marshmallows- perfect. 

Buffalo Ballet (Holly), The Paddy Premium (Lucy H) and Ocarina (Gemma) after their work on the grass yesterday

closer inspection of The Paddy Premium reveals why everyone might be quite happy to have the all-weather back!
Sedgefield has never been my luckiest track, best moment cheering on brother Jamie to win there a few years ago from the bar at Cheltenham, broken a couple of nice horses down at the track, yesterday the starter screwed up letting them go before Sydney and another were even on the track, they had an inquiry into it and have referred to to the BHA, too late for Sydney, at least he's back home in one piece having run a decent enough race to finish a never nearer 5th.
Today Lucy has two long-priced rides at Wetherby, I Got Music for Keith Reveley in the 12.25 and Jan Smuts in the 2.35 for Wilf Storey. Our next stop is Musselburgh Friday followed by Newcastle Saturday all being well, and big excitement is making first entries this winter for Ayr, too late though, they should have starterd there at least a month ago...

Monday, 21 November 2011


Sydney Cove
Fair and mild still here, plenty of schooling and cantering this morning.  Tomorrow we run Sydney Cove in the 3.30 at Sedgefield, 14 run, ground good and Keith Mercer rides - this is a good race for the horse but the soft ground and steep hill sorted out the opposition when he won at Hexham last time, I'm not sure this will suit as well but he's in good order.  Lucy rides Farm Pixie in the 1pm for the Hamiltons, such are the timings of the day that three vehicles will leave Kinneston for Co Durham tomorrow morning - something wrong there!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mighty, mighty Kauto

Standing in a dank Perthshire wood on a dull November afternoon I was transported to a different place listening to the commentary of Kauto Star's magnificent victory over the heirs apparent at Haydock yesterday.   Seldom have I felt so overwhelmed with excitement listening to a horserace, no money involved, I don't know the connections, essentially it should have meant nothing to me but it meant everything thanks to the pure admiration I have for one utterly exceptional steeplechaser.  It was an iconic victory and united the fractured world of racing in rapturous praise, we all wanted to see him do it just once more, we all thought maybe the lights were dimming but doubts were swept aside, fantastic.. this is what it is all about, the horses, they are humbling in their ability to transcend.
Kauto Star
Well, back down to earth, another gentle Sunday morning in the office making plans, this week it looks like Sedgefield Tuesday (Sydney Cove and possibly Amulree), Musselburgh Friday (Isla Patriot, the Paddy Premium and possibly...... the Buffalo) then Newcastle and Carlisle next weekend.
Lucy will be in action on a few of the above and hopefully at Wetherby on Wednesday, Los Nadis ran well for a long way in the big hurdle at Haydock, great experience for Lucy to ride in a top class race like that with all the top jockeys, onwards & upwards! 

PFN greets the mighty one, how proud he must be

Friday, 18 November 2011

A bigger stage...

Well, after the usual 30 minutes box-walking trainer decides not to send Buffalo Ballet down to Haydock for his debut tomorrow, too far to travel for his first run ("didn't you know where Haydock was when you entered?" says Mrs A), it was a close decision because he is becoming scary at home, I have never seen a horse put in so many huge bucks whilst cantering round our BGF (big grass field) this morning, Holly did very well to stay put, he will now be entered for Musselburgh next week, he needs to run.  Lucy though has headed off down the motorway to Haydock where she rides Phoenix Returns for Alan Swinbank in the lucky last at 3.40.  Another step forward for her tomorrow when she has two rides at the big Saturday meeting at the same venue, Pokfulham in the 12.40 and then Los Nadis in the 2.30, an £85k race live on Channel 4, I am delighted that Jim Goldie has entrusted her with these two important runners.  The latter race is the precursor to the best chase of the season so far when a cracking field line up for the Betfair Chase including the mighty Kauto facing up to the great young pretender Long Run, Diamond Harry might just steal their glory, could now be the moment to back him for the big race in March?  
Seeking Power towers above his rivals at Hexham

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Any five mile races anywhere?

Well, all three runners from yesterday jogged up sound and seem bright and well, can never be taken for granted, always a big relief.  They ran well, all looking like they needed further, unfortunately Seeking Power was running over 4 miles, ground was soft with heavy places, bit sharp for the old boy, expanding middle-aged girth meant they couldn't find one (a girth) big enough for him (sounds familiar), late out, trainer narrowly avoided fine.  He ran to his form, improved actually to beat Matmata on 3lb worse terms than in the spring, only a short head away from 4th, will be better when the ground is really deep, also lower class race would suit.  Capital Venture ran well enough considering the ground, track and trip didn't suit - he was outpaced early on but stayed on stoutly, should be plenty more to come from him.  Papamoa was great, I thought he would run well, I actually thought he might win, I still thought he would win coming over the last hurdle, but he ran into a very well-hadicapped horse.  A horse now with a good northern trainer that has the benefit of a southern handicap mark earned whilst with an average trainer, there we go, just as well I'm not a gambler.  He was well clear of the remainder including 4 horses that had won their previous races, this was an excellent run from such an inexperienced horse, we just have to hope the handicapper isn't too hard on him.
Fun here this morning, weather OK, some jumping, some on the all-weather others hacking about.  Big decision required as to whether to send the Buffalo south to take on the big guns on his first start on Saturday, otherwise Sedgefield Tuesday the next stop.
Oh, and let's not forget the fixture list, announced yesterday and looks fine...... 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Capital Venture
A grey sort of week here so far, quiet and mild though so long may it last.  Horses mostly been on the all-weather here and a sortie to Lucinda's woodchip this morning involving The Paddy Premium, Here's to Harry and Amulree.  After a couple of winners the yard feels busy and industrious, lot of people working hard, plenty of visitors and the horses appear in good order.
We have 3 runners at Hexham tomorrow, Lucy rides them all and the ground is soft with some heavy places on the chase track and good to soft places on the hurdle track.
Capital Venture runs in the 1.40, 8 run, 2m NH Novice Hurdle, a few decent looking horses and I'm not sure he will like the ground much however the small field and stiffish track should suit well and he is ready for a run. 
Papamoa runs in the 2.10, 2m 4f handicap hurdle,12 run, ground should be perfect for him will improve when he goes up to 3 miles but the testing conditions and uphill finish will play to his strengths and he seems well.
Seeking Power runs in the 2.40, 4m handicap chase, 10 run, conditions to suit and horse in great form but is 6lb out of  the handicap and would have a better chance carrying more weight against lesser horses, can expect a big run if they go a gentle pace.
Lucy then rides Boston Court in the 3.40 for Wilf Storey.
Seeking Power just denied for the 2nd time last season by Matmata de Tendron, they meet again tomorrow - 3rd time lucky?