Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Well, that's it, 50 years gone and statistically probably not another 50 years to go!  The last supper of my first 50 years was celebrated in Gretna services; a Burger King washed down with a Starbucks caramel frappacino with an extra shot, fantastic, well not at all fantastic actually, felt rather sick - could have done better!  Never mind, what really was worth celebrating yesterday was Daasij's impressive completion of a hat-trick in the 5.40 at Cartmel, he won eased up by 9 lengths and appears to be improving.  I struggled to find the right races for him after his win at Newcastle on 1st April and pinpointed this race and the one at Hexham last week some time ago, I hoped we might be able to pull off a quick double and am delighted that it worked, it rarely does and I suffered plenty of angst over the weekend wondering whether to run again, phew! 
Earlier in the afternoon Twelve Paces put in a rather unenthusiastic effort to finish 4th in the staying chase with Lucy having to push and shove for 3 circuits, it will be rather a contrast when she breaks out of the stalls in a 6f sprint at Redcar this afternoon where she rides Broctune Papa Gio for Keith Reveley at 5.30, I know what I prefer watching - one last about a minute the other feels like an hour!  Extra helpings of parental agony tomorrow when Kit rides Commercial Express in the 4.30 at Cartmel and Lucy rides Floreanna for the Boswells in the same race, 12 run and both have a good chance if they handle the unusual track.
It's been a hectic week at the end of a busy few months, I am delighted that I appear to have more energy for the job than ever, when they're running well you feel that you can go anywhere- it's invigorating.  We will hopefully have a couple of runners at Perth on Sunday but after that we will quieten down for a few months; I hope that by having the horses run consistently well from October until the end of May together with producing some real improvers such as Daasij and Isla Pearl Fisher we have shown that we can do a good job and might be able to keep the ball rollling, we can't do it without the support of our owners and I thank them all profoundly, we will be retiring a few to an easier life over the next week or so (horses not owners I hope!) and will have vacancies (for both!), we also have some extremely promising young horses here for sale, onwards & upwards - spread the word!

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Well that wasn't so good, Native Coll and Amulree both pulled up at Cartmel last night after apparently failing to handle the sharp track and appearing unable to keep up, then Amulree bit me when she was being washed down, a long drive home and somewhat inconclusive apart from it not being a good idea to run big long striding horses round horseracing's equivalent of Monaco. That of course is exactly what we are doing tomorrow when we run Twelve Paces in the 3.20, 6 run and Lucy rides; then Daasij runs in the 5.40, 13 run and he should have a good chance of defying his penalty, particularly if they have some rain. The lorry barely had a chance to cool down after arriving back in the early hours prior to departing for Hexham first thing this morning with Almost Blue on board which Jamie will ride in the Club race.

Almost Blue
It's a fair old trek to Cartmel but there is something about the place that makes you smile from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave, it is completely beguiling and I thoroughly recommend it.

Friday, 27 May 2011



Native Coll
We run Native Coll and Amulree in the 7.05 at Cartmel tomorrow, the ground will be on the soft side of good, 14 run, Lucy rides Amulree and Wilson Renwick rides Native Coll.  They both seem in good heart and should run decent races if they handle the track. 

Thursday, 26 May 2011


A fiercely cold wind at Hexham on Tuesday night but nothing like a winner to warm the heart and Daasij duly obliged in the 9pm; off late and run in fading light he quickened clear nicely turning in to prove his Newcastle success was no fluke, he may reappear at Cartmel on Monday prior to his summer break.  Earlier in the evening Isla Patriot stayed on well enough to finish 6th, it looks as if 3 miles will be his trip.
On to Doncaster Sales, much thinner trade than the vibrant May horses-in-training sales of the past but there are now so many boutique prestige sales that the better horses are spread around, I'm not certain that this works in the industry's favour - perhaps better to have all the good horses and all the big buyers together, would certainly create a bit more atmosphere which was definitely lacking at Doncaster.
Milder and quieter back here today, horses walking after a decent workout on the all-weather yesterday, much of my time spent inspecting the damage from Monday's storm, two big trees down and plenty of branches littering the farm.  Lucy heading back down the road to ride Perez in the 9pm at Wetherby for wiley Wilf, thereafter a potentially busy weekend with Cartmel on Saturday and Monday and the final point-to-point of the season at Hexham on Sunday
branches litter the carrot field after Monday's storm

Monday, 23 May 2011


Fierce storm here today, best part of an inch of rain this morning an now gale force winds, horses all twice up the rather soggy all-weather.  Yesterday at Kelso Fleet Fox made a respectable enough racecourse debut in the bumper and will now have the summer (what summer?) to strengthen up, Lucy finished 3rd on Floreanna in the Hunter Chase and finished down the field in the Charity Race, thank you very much to everyone that donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund, such a worthy cause for anyone who enjoys racing.
Daasij (orange cap) on his way to win last time out at Newcastle
Tomorrow at Hexham we run Isla Patriot in the 8pm, Peter Buchanan rides, 13 run and we hope rain will ease the good to firm ground.  He steps up in trip for his handicap debut and is in great form.  Daasij runs in the 9pm, Paul Gallagher rides, 9 run and he shouldn't be far away if he handles the going and track. Lucy rides Daraybad in the 6.30.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Glad we booked!

As revenge for dragging her to a Fleet Foxes concert Mrs A kindly took me to see Romeo & Juliet last night, a first class Danish production but the populus of Dunfermline must have different things to do on a Friday night.
Cool but fair here today, horses working on the riverbank and the all weather, rain forecast for tonight which I am hoping lands on Kelso and Hexham.  Otherwise its the Irish 2000 Guineas and most intriquingly the British debut of the Hungarian wonderhorse, Overdose - see here in Rome.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Ladies Day

Fleet Fox who makes his racecourse debut on Sunday at Kelso if the forecast rain materialises
Very blustery today, squally showers and a strong north-westerly, freezing and even heard the snow word mentioned on the forecast early this morning.  Brrr.  Horses all worked on the all-weather this morning, steady stuff then they all have a couple of hours in the field, well rugged up.  Have declared Fleet Fox for the 5.30 at Kelso on Sunday, 10 run, Peter Buchanan rides, the ground is presently good to firm and the forecast rain will have to materialise for him to line up, it's his racecourse debut but I like him a lot, he doesn't show much at home, just honest and workmanlike.  He has a high class pedigree and whatever he does tomorrow will hopefully just be the beginning of the story.  Lucy rides Floreanna for the Boswells in the 4.55 and then doesn't know what she is riding in the charity race which is at 5.50.  After this weekend we will focus on Hexham on Tuesday where we have three entered, a fleeting visit to Doncaster Sales on Wednesday then it will be the idiosyncratic Cartmel next weekend after which I shall go into decline, don't ask why. (Lost youth I think, some may say long lost...)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Good Result

A quiet day on the yard with the 10 horses still in work all having a long hack on the flats, still breezy but a little milder.  I took Northern Flame to see renowned wind surgeon Geoff Lane and we made a plan for later in the summer; this horse has been disappointing this year, it's not clear exactly what is stopping him but he remains a good prospect if we can sort him out.
Big excitement down at Wetherby where Lucy rode a 50-1 winner for Barry Murtagh, this was a tremendous result for her as the horse wasn't particularly straightforward and Lucy looked strong and professional.  Personally I was particularly pleased that she has ridden a winner for Barry Murtagh who has been a great help to me in the past, it was also her first winner booked by her agent Richard Hale which is an important breakthrough.
Plenty of time spent studying weather forecasts for the weekend, rain on its way but how much and where?
Lucy on Northern Flame last autumn

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Flying Fillies

Cold, windy, blustery showers, February type weather here today but riverbank gallop in perfect condition and the potential Sunday runners worked on it this morning along with a few others that are still on the go; particularly pleasing were Daasij, Fleet Fox and Isla Patriot.

Lucy is on her travels riding Perez in the 7pm at Sedgefield this evening for Wilf Storey, could go well at a decent price, and then Danny John Boy in the 2pm at Wetherby tomorrow for Barry Murtagh.

On Sunday she is riding in the "Flying Fillies" lady riders Charity Race at Kelso which will bring the curtain down on their 2010/11 Season.  This race is to raise funds for an extremely worthy project, namely the House that Jack Built which is an Injured Jockey's Fund project spear-headed by the tireless fundraiser Jack Berry.  The plan is to build an 'Oaksey House' in the North. Oaksey House in Lambourn has been a tremendous success as a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys whether actively riding, retired or disabled. It is regarded as a huge asset in the South and it would be marvellous to have a similar facility in the North, most particularly for jockeys that are seriously injured in riding accidents.  If you would like to donate then please do so at Lucy's page on justgiving (easy to top it up with gift aid) or a cheque to Kinneston, KY6 3JJ payable to Injured Jockeys Fund would also be most gratefully received.

We hope to have a few runners on Sunday (rain please), it's Ladies Day, live band after racing, fashion show, arcade of boutiques and more -there should be an excellent end of season atmosphere, more information here
I understand Ladies Day at Kelso on Sunday is going to introduce Cheerleaders to the Northern Racing Scene - see you there!

Monday, 16 May 2011


Late back from Hexham last night and breezy today, a little milder.  Well watered ground produced more good competitive racing; Commercial Express was a good third in the Mixed Open, flying at the end but failing to get up by a length and a half, this was his 3rd race in 17 days so he should have a little break now.  Skipping Chapel was a remote third in the Intermediate race, he has had a few training setbacks since his win at Balcormo so perhaps lacked a little fitness. Both were ridden by Kit who has edged clear again in the Novice Riders title, one fixture left, not sure if we will be represented so might be a bit of a nail-biter!
Dried out here a bit now so 8 horses worked on the riverbank this morning, they all seemed fresh and well, remarkable considering how long they have been on the go and unusual for me to still have so many in work at this time of year.
Not much on this week but Lucy is booked to ride at Sedgefield on Wednesday and Wetherby on Thursday; our next entries are at Kelso next Sunday, I had a look at the ground there yesterday on my way to Hexham, it was pretty firm so we will need some rain to assist their watering programme...

Friday, 13 May 2011


An excellent lunch before racing at Perth at the Anglers Inn then the splendour of Ladies Day, crikey; conditions had dried out a little so we ran The Paddy Premium who jumped well and finished 2nd in the Beginners Chase. We then ran Little Glenshee in the bumper who ran on strongly to finish 4th after being outpaced in the middle of the race, very promising. This weekend it's the long and winding road to Hexham where we hope to run Commercial Express and Skipping Chapel at the Haydon point-to-point which is run on the inside of the racecourse, we just need a drop more rain.  Some pictures from Perth this week courtesy of  Dennis Penny

The Paddy Premium

Little Glenshee - on the tubby side!

Little Glenshee with Amy

Little Glenshee scraping the paint!

Thursday, 12 May 2011


Ground was very soft at Perth last night and having checked the track earlier in the week and seen how much rain they had overnight I withdrew Daasij and The Paddy Premium; the latter is declared again today in the hope that things might dry up a bit, the race is at 2.50, 4 run and Wilson Renwick rides.  We will see what it's like but he might run anyway as there's not a lot else coming up for him and a Beginners Chase should be a less searching test if the conditions don't suit him particularly well.  It will be perfect for Little Glenshee in the 5.40, Lucy rides and 10 run, she is a big strong mare but my worry (there's always a worry!) with her is that she hasn't run since her debut in March and she might be a bit stuffy.
Little Glenshee
We ran Amulree last night despite being aware that the conditions wouldn't suit, I didn't want to withdraw all our runners, I was delighted with her effort as she travelled nicely into the home straight prior to tiring in the closing stages, she just doesn't stay 3 miles in soft ground.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Back to Perth

The Paddy Premium
Heavy showers yesterday and I suspect conditions at Perth this evening will be testing for the time of year.  We have three declared to run;  Amulree runs in the 6.40, 9 run and Lucy rides, I have been desperate to get her on the track for weeks now as she has been threatening to explode at home, this race is not ideal though as she is out of the handicap and I am uncertain that she will stay the trip in the ocnditions, she is very well though!  Having failed to stay over 3 miles last time The Paddy Premium drops back to 2 miles in a competitive looking handicap chase at 8.10, 10 run and Wilson Renwick rides.  This trip is on the sharp side for him but the soft ground should make it more of a test and there is sure to be a lot of pace so he could creep into it late on.  Daasij is declared to run in the 8.40 but I will assess conditions prior to committing him.  It should be a fun evening meeting, particularly if the showers stay away..... 

Monday, 9 May 2011

Quiet Monday

Warm but showery today, first tennis match of the year planned for this evening so bound to rain.  Ground likely to be pretty soft at Perth I guess, suits me generally. Most of the horses had quite an easy day,  hacking across the arable ground and some gentle canters back on the grass, Louisa in this afternoon to give Daasij and The Paddy Premium some dressage pre their potential Perth engagements.  Best sight of the day was seeing Isla Pearl Fisher ridden again for the first time since injuring himself at the end of January - roll on next season!

Sunday, 8 May 2011


So, rain arrives, ground softens and competitive point-to-pointing returns with lots of runners in front of a good crowd at Aspatria deep in the Cumbrian countryside.  We ran two in the Mens's Open but we were up against it taking on an improving young horse from Cheshire ridden by the man who has ridden more point-to-point winners than anyone ever, Richard Burton, who was sent off the 2-5 favourite; Commercial Express gave him plenty to think about in a ding dong battle all the way up the home straight but he just failed by a neck, it would have been a famous scalp for Kit to claim as a novice rider but he just didn't quite get there.  Almost Blue stayed on to finish 3rd having somewhat disgraced himself in the preliminaries; he started by bucking and "double-barrelling" the winning post twice smashing it up completely, he then ran backwards through the running rail breaking that, then reared depositing Uncle Jamie heavily on his head, he then took off across the course and trotted round and round a field of spring barley delaying the race for about 10 minutes whilst his hapless connections tried to catch him, not surprising that he then ran a bit "flat."  The only upside was that I didn't manage to get to the bookies and Robert M-B failed to answer his mobile when I attempted to delegate this task.  Robert later told me the sad news that his splendid horse Thunder Hawk wouldn't be racing again this season, I'm sure he won't mind me sharing the pictures below of his latest run with Lucy on board winning at Hexham - that damn rollercoster again!
Noir et Vert then finished a good second in the NPPA race, he's found one too good five times this season which is a trifle frustrating but I am sure he will be winning soon.  The end of the pointing season looms and championships come to mind, Kit is involved in a tussle for the Novice Rider title and having lost the lead last week is now level with two fixtures to go; it will be touch and go as to whether we get Skipping Chapel back on the track this season and Commercial Express has now had two tough races in 9 days - the horses' welfare must always come first but there is definitely an added frisson with the title race in the background! I also have possible targets under rules for both horses which don't count, hmm.  Hats off though to Lucinda's Badger Foot which will be the top horse after winning the Ladies Open, he has won his last five races carrying five different riders from the yard, tremendous and I am sure unique achievement - I almost thought of asking her whether she would let me ride him next week but then again it would be a shame to end his winning run!
Very pleased with myself for managing to stay awake to watch the Kentucky Derby, superb TV coverage, record crowd attended of 167,000, quite incredible.  Desperately sad about Seve, almost a relief knowing how ill he had been but awful to lose such a charismatic genius who did so much for his sport.  Focus now is on sifting through the entries for Perth, watching the rain fall and wondering what the ground will be like... Thunder Hawk........
Over the water..

Upsides at the last


Edging ahead

TH led in by triner Stuart Coltherd

the winning connections

Friday, 6 May 2011

Farewell England

So that's it then I suppose, the Nats have it, a proper mandate and a(nother) referendum beckons, of course it won't really mean the end of the Union, the people don't want that, they just couldn't bear to vote for potato head, who can blame them, and the LibDems were obviously in for a drubbing up and down the nation as their raison d'etre gradually wains, and the Tories up here; well, they are probably only going to have taxpayers voting for them and as in this curious nation only one in eight actually stump up on that front they haven't much hope.  Hmm, I voted LibDem actually because the candidate runs our local farm supply shop (rather badly in my view) and I can't remember whether I put a cross next to the Tories for my second vote or went for the Nats as an anti-potato-head-protest-vote.  Oh dear, the great things about Salmond are that he's mad on racing, he's a Royalist, he's good company and he's a brilliant politician who will fight Scotland's corner better than anyone; we should look for the upside in independence, control of our own fixture list will be a big start, nominations please for the first Chief Executive of the Scottish Horseracing Authority, and it would help if we could get our hands on all that lovely revenue from "our" oilfields.  You never know, it might just work if Salmond can sell a vision of a low tax, low red tape, small public sector economy that rewards endeavour, a million miles from where we are now but if he goes the other way there will be a mass exodus of people that can earn money and that 1 in 8 figure will probably become about 1 in 50 for those that remain............ interesting times.
Apologies, politics on the racing blog, unforgiveable, next thing I'll be trying to sell horses on it, leave that to the website.  On that front I struggle to keep much of it up to date and am looking at a new version to launch late summer, suggestions welcome.
The rain hasn't  affected the ground at Hexham which reamins good to firm so no runners there, we are planning to take three to the Cumberland p2p at Aspatria, hope the ground is OK.  Bit of rain here, enough to bring the riverbank gallop back into action so most of the horses worked there this morning.  Encouraging x-rays of Isla Pearl Fisher's surgery, he will be ridden for 10 days or so starting on Monday prior to be turned away to grass for six weeks. 
Isla Pearl Fisher

Thursday, 5 May 2011


At last some steady rainfall this evening, badly needed and plenty in the forecast for the next 10 days, I suspect the recent drought will soon be a dim and distant memory. Plans for the weekend are proving very difficult to make as I'm really not sure whether the ground will be firm or soft, a tricky weekend anyway but made all the more so when I still haven't a clue what and who will be going where - logistics - what logistics!  Will revert to day job and tackle my Single Farm Payment application, a challenge every year. Election Day apparently, I voted by post, that form was a bit of a challenge as well.  Entries done for Perth next week, hopefully have 4 or 5 runners over the two days, all had an easy couple of canters on the all-weather today, bit more tomorrow.  I'm not sure I've ever actually enjoyed the sound of rain before but I am now!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Quietening Down..

Skipping Chapel being led in at Fife.
A few of the horses are being turned away now and others are recovering from some minor bashes at Perth so we only had about a dozen to ride this morning; took the opportunity of no runners at Kelso to watch a prep school cricket match, Mrs A required lunching first & there can be few better ways to allow a Martin Wishart lunch settle than watching cricket in the sun even if we got the wrong result, very relaxing and quite a change from the slightly frenetic last few months. Checking the results on my return I see that there was a walkover at Kelso, 3 non runners in a 4 runner race, can't think of the last time that happened but makes me think that the ground must have been very firm, our horses are definitely in the right place mooching around the fields here, the weather is going to break tomorrow and we should get some decent ground this month to give a few another spin. One or two pics from the last week ot two.......
Holly in hot pursuit....

Four Fiddlers shows them how to jump

Commercial Express just gets up

Noir et Vert at the water

Playing Footsie

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Where next?

Men in Suits - it's a serious business!
April was a tremendous month for us and I am anxious to keep the ball rolling however the extraordinary weather continues so none of our 4 entries at Kelso tomorrow are running and our horses were also absent from the Lauderdale p2p on Sunday.  We have entries this weekend at Aspatria and Hexham on Saturday, the weather will break by then but I'm not sure if the rain will come in time.  We have started to turn some horses away for their summer break but will have 8 or 9 to run throughout May; of those Twelve Paces, Daasij and Seeking Power went to work at Lucinda's this morning and another batch will go later in the week, bizarrely our "riverbank" gallop is actually too dry at present so apart from going very steadily on that we only have our AW and Lucinda's woodchip to work with.
Commercial Express in the paddock.