Monday, 31 October 2011


A little more daylight is always welcome..

is..... the clocks going back, once a year, an extra hour, badly needed after 3 trips to Edinburgh in the previous 24 hours aside from everything else that is going on, impatient though - are those "average speed" cameras that are to plague us for 5 miles on the M90 actually live, can anyone report "being done"? - I hope not because if so I am in trouble, I just can't help myself and to compound it all I was nabbed by a plain clothes car just South of the roadworks on Saturday afternoon, infuriating but if those cameras are working I suspect I will be requiring a driver - FINGERS CROSSED - and self-control the new mantra.  Anyway, a quiet Sunday and time to reflect and plan, horses seem in good order and am very keen for more runners, plenty of entries at Musselburgh, Hexham, Kelso and Carlisle over the next week.  Rode the three horses from the sales this morning;  Academy who was then gelded, Goldtrek and Issabella Gem - they all appear to have settled in nicely, we will teach them to jump and then make plans......
What on earth is he about to say?

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Who is this taking her first steps onto Kinneston?
Half an inch of rain overnight and its back to sodden conditions, only light showers this morning and the horses all worked on the all-weather, new arrivals introduced to horsewalker, Northern Flame and the pointers jumped coloured poles in the school then NF went for a four mile scamper round the flat ground, not even puffing at the end, schools rugby beckons this afternoon then theatre tonight to see James Corden in One Man, two Guvnors; absolutely no idea what it will be like!

Friday, 28 October 2011


The excessive demand for racing opportunities in the North at present meant that our two intended runners on Sunday were both ballotted out, not a disaster but frustrating for connections, particularly for those involved with Northern Flame who was due to have one more run to help us evaluate whether to continue to run him under rules or try a point-point.  We will now have to take that decision before Monday without the help of another run, he missed the "cut" by one and I am confident there will be non-runners by the time Sunday comes round, I fail to understand why the BHA can't run a reserve system like they do in Ireland as it doesn't help trainers to sell the sport when horses are ballotted out of races that end up undersubscribed...Lucy rides Phoenix Returns in the 4.20 at Carlisle on Sunday for Alan Swinbank, the entire field are making their racecourse debut, Alan always has his horses well prepared.. 
So, that minor grumble is off my chest,  a fine morning here; Isla Pearl Fisher, Amulree and Buffalo Ballet went to work on Lucinda's woodchip, the others did steady canters for a couple of miles on the stubble.  Frank Cornfield was in to take some photographs and put the finishing touches to two new ownership opportunities that we are putting together, both intended to enable people to become involved with the excitement of racehorse ownership here at a very affordable level - watch this space!
Big excitement though was the arrival at lunchtime of three horses from Newmarket Sales, I have hardly been able to sleep all week in anticipation of their arrival and I wasn't disappointed when they came off the lorry, over the moon! 
Someone wondered why nobody leaves comments on this blog, probably because they've fallen asleep reading it, do comment if you feel like it, at least then I know somebody's read it........ should have some runners next week - Musselburgh Thursday, Hexham Friday and Kelso Saturday are all on the radar screen

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quiet Thursday

Four Fiddlers
Dry today, a bit cool, a quieter day on the yard with Four Fiddlers and Northern Flame jumping 8 hurdles each ahead of their potential engagements this weekend, most of the rest had a long hack apart from the point-to-pointers who all had their first canter - Massini Man, Commercial Express and Flaming Thistle - all very fresh and enthusiastic.  Working on transport arrangements and stabling for 3 new arrivals due here tomorrow....... 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Exciting times..

It feels like the week has just begun but Wednesday evening already, oh dear, showery afternoon after a lovely morning but the ground remains sodden after yet more rain yesterday.  Monday was fair and we had a fox control visit from the Fife Foxhounds, luckily my furry friends escaped but good to see the hounds out and in particular to see ex promising young jockey Ryan Mania clearly enjoying his new job as whipper-in, there was also a good representation from Lucinda's expanding band of point-to-pointers including Peter Buchanan, remarkably fresh at 8am on Monday after a productive weekend riding in the States where he won a race and was 3rd in their Grand National.

Northern Flame

A 4.15am alarm yesterday for a long day at Newmarket's Horses in Training Sale, 1400 flat horses selling this week and an eclectic range of buyers from around the globe, some wonderful horses and having struggled to hit the mark in the morning I was exceptionally pleased with the two horses I ended up buying later in the day, sometimes one can feel a little flat (and tired) on the way back from the sales but  I was over the moon this time and smiled the whole way home, arriving at about 10.30pm.  Sharp start again this morning and 3 horses over to Lucinda's woodchip; The Paddy Premium, Capital Venture and Papamoa all worked nicely and I am looking forward to them running again soon though given the weather here I am a little perplexed to hear they are planning to water at Musselburgh, must be on a different planet!  Back here we worked Isla Pearl Fisher, Isla Patriot, Amulree, Four Fiddlers, Buffalo Ballet and Here's to Harry on the grass with the rest working on our cushiontrack.  Entries this weekend at Carlisle where we will be hoping Northern Flame pulls as hard as he did following the hounds....

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Just another Saturday morning..

Some pictures from first lot today..
You might call this a water trough, I would call it a bidet...

Heading up....

and away..

Back down...

Something's funny..

Ah, the sheep...

Seeking Power (Jen)

Four Fiddlers




Friday, 21 October 2011

Grimmus Maximus

Describes the weather earlier this morning, low cloud, howling gale and soft but persistent rain, 10 degrees warmer than yesterday but brighter now (well, less dull) and a good morning's work with Isla Pearl Fisher, Sydney Cove and Here's to Harry going over to Lucinda's woodchip (the latter's first time ever off the farm aged four and a bit - how about that, there's a big world out there.....).  Back here Ocarina and The Paddy Premium worked on the grass and the rest (due to work tomorrow) either lobbed round on the grass for 3 miles or popped up and down the all weather a few times (depending on their propensity for pulling arms out of sockets on the grass.) No runners from here this weekend but she who is now beginning to clock up rather a serious mileage is riding at Stratford tomorrow; Fool's Wildcat for Gordon Elliot in the 2.20 and Nevsky Bridge for Bruce Hellier in the 5.00pm.  I think she needs to find a sponsor - any ideas?
Here's to Harry (Gemma)
Oh and by the way, the BHA appear to have acceeded to nearly all the PJA demands on alterations to the whip rules, they've rescinded the bans imposed so far which means Soumillon will rightly collect his £55k and Hughes will be back riding at Newbury this afternoon........ and they all lived happily ever after.. maybe... perhaps there is no such thing as bad publicity (2nd item only to Gadaffi on Radio 4 10.00am news bulletin today - move over Sarkozy & Merkel) but all so unnecessary and badly handled by the BHA, the Chairman took full responsibility... is his position really tenable now.........  

Thursday, 20 October 2011


First frost of the year winter today after an inch of rain on Monday and some blustery conditions since then, a real joy to be out with the horses this morning in cold crisp sunshine, most worked yesterday so a quietish day lobbing along steadily on the grass for about two miles, all seem relaxed and focussed.  No runners for us today at Carlisle, a little soft for Isla Pearl Fisher and Sydney Cove balloted out; we will have a couple of entries at Haydock next week otherwise likely to be back at Carlisle on the 30th for our next runners.  Lucy rides Emotive today for Barry Murtagh in the 2.55.  
Pete (Lucy)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Champions Day

Capital Venture (courtesy of Dennis Penny)
An average sort of day at the office yesterday, Capital Venture jumped nicely on his hurdling debut but the tacky ground blunted his cruising speed a little and he finished midfield, he will come on hugely for this experience.  The Paddy Premium's training had an interupted pattern since his run at Perth but he jumped and travelled well until they turned for home and he should also improve.  Northern Flame did little to silence his doubters looking unenthusiastic from flagfall, but he ran to the line and we will run him again soon.  Forcefield seemed to appreciate being ridden a bit handier but was on and off the bridle finishing mid-div in the end, hopefully the handicapper will give him a chance soon, 6 races later he is still paying the penalty of finishing within 16 lengths of the Grand National winner Ballabrigs.  All ate up and sound this morning so plenty to look forward to.
A magnificent day's racing at Ascot and the wonderful Frankel duly made it 9 out of 9; it was a fantastic starting point for the new "Champions Day" concept and it gives RFC a great mandate going forward as many sceptics (including myself) were hugely encouraged by the sheer quality of the racing across the board, they just need Newmarket to release a couple of 2yo Group Ones and perhaps tweak the date and they will be there, I think it proves that if you put up the money the horses will come. The quality racing fortunately overshadowed the whip fiasco but the penalties imposed on Christophe Soumillon did highlight the absurdity of the detail of the rules and the manner of their introduction.  Sadly this typifies so much that emanates from the BHA, like it or not the stakeholders have no confidence left and the embattled Chairman sounded pretty desperate when interviewed yesterday by Nick Luck (listen here), however everyone must take heart from the success of yesterday, I reiterate my thoughts of last month that where there is a sport that provides so much fun and excitement to so many people the laws of supply and demand will ensure it succeeds in the long term.  I've never known Kelso as busy as yesterday and there are over 250 entries at Carlisle on Thursday, including two from here, Sydney Cove and Isla Pearl Fisher..........
Isla Pearl Fisher

Friday, 14 October 2011

Big big day

Oh dear, British racing's biggest day tomorrow and the whole thing is being overshadowed by controversy regarding the new whip rules, most unfortunate and now the jockeys are thinking of striking on Monday.  BHA not looking clever, the magnitude of change was such that they should have phased the rules in gradually and this scenario could have been avoided, as a result the racing authorities appear in disarray and of course the press are making hay. A noticeable turnaround in opinion from many leading figures in the industry (McCoy, Nicholls etc) which doesn't say much for them, personally, I stick to my guns, in the long term the changes will prove worthwhile but the manner of their intoduction has been crass.
Still, huge day at Ascot and sports fans quite like a bit of controversy so maybe more people will end up paying attention to it, and a big day for us at Kelso where there are 8 races including 4 maximum fields; ground is good to soft and  we have 4 runners, all with Lucy on board...
Capital Venture (Lucy Henry)

The Paddy Premium (rt) at Perth

Northern Flame (Emma)

Forcefield (Lucy Henry)
We run Capital Venture for Ray Calder and Jan Scott in the 2.45, 14 run - hmm, this is a smashing horse with a high class pedigree that won his bumper over course and distance last time out, new trainer now though and I deliberately haven't been hard on him, he seems very well and I will know a lot more about him after tomorrow's run.  In the 4.30 we run the enigmatic Northern Flame for the Peglegs, 11 run,  first time blinkers as last season his attitude came into question, he would probably prefer better ground but I am just looking for him to show some sort of desire to finish ahead of some of the other horses.  In the 5.05 we run Mark Fleming's The Paddy Premium, 7 run, the handicapper was tough on him for his win at Perth in June considering he is 11 and he didn't relent after running back there in September and he is likely to continue to come up against improving younger horses, we are giving him some assistance this time via Lucy's 7lb claim.  In the 5.40 we run Forcefield, 16 run, first time visor, 2nd top weight but in great form and hoping for a decent effort.  Lucy also goes for the three-timer on Pete in the 3.55..... 

Monday, 10 October 2011

And now........ Frankel

A quiet Sunday at last and some time to catch up in the office,  reflect on the recent runners and make plans for the coming week.  Isla Patriot wound himself up a bit at the start at Hexham on Saturday but he bowled along nicely at the front for almost two circuits, just tiring when he met the hill at the end, there were plenty of positives to take away from the run.  On reflection last week's runners all did well enough but unsurprisingly needed their races and will come on for them, they are all fit and well this morning. 
This week we will have plenty of entries at Kelso on Saturday and Lucy has possibilities all over the country all week but schooling here this morning first (most important!).  New whip rules in force from today, bound to be controversial but hopefully the racing world's attention will be focussed on the appearance of the mighty Frankel on Saturday at Ascot's inaugural Champion's Day, wherever you are on Saturday, don't miss this...
The mighty Frankel

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sweet Pete

It was fitting that Pete, the horse that gave Lucy her last winner as an amateur should also provide her with her first winner as a professional yesterday at Carlisle when he just held on by a nose in a ding-dong battle up the run-in.  Earlier in the afternoon she had been runner up on Proud Times, 4th on Four Fiddlers and 6th on Ocarina, the latter two representing this stable.  I was happy enough with both of them, Four Fiddlers travelled into the race strongly before running out of steam after the last, he had a small hold up early on in his training and I suspect that told, Ocarina was a bit free and gassy on the first circuit which took the edge off his finish.  Today we run Isla Patriot in the 3.55 at Hexham, Campbell Gillies rides, 10 run and the going will be on the quick side of good.  He is stepping up in trip which I have been waiting to do but may find an easier opportunity.  Lucy rides Little Missmoffat in the 2.40 for the Hamiltons.
Isla Patriot

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Stepping Up

We step up another gear tomorrow with two runners at Carlisle's opening meeting of the season; Ray Calder's Ocarina makes his stable debut in the 2.45, Lucy rides, 11 run and the ground should be good, I will be having a good look at the track and if they miss the showers and there is much good to firm in it he will come out.  He is a big strong experienced chaser that I am delighted to be training, he seems fit and well.  We then run Dan and Michelle Macdonald's Four Fiddlers in the 3.20, again Lucy rides and 12 run.  This is being run on the new hurdle track and the ground is meant to be good, this is a horse with plenty of potential but tomorrow's race is pretty competitive and as ever I would just like him to run well.  Lucy has a couple of other good rides, Proud Times in the 2.10 for Alan Swinbank and Pete in the 5.00 for Barry Murtagh, both have a chance.
Filthy here today, horrid cold rain being blown in on squally showers - all the horses were on the all--weather this morning and Louisa is braving it as I write teaching "the Buffalo" some dressage - tee hee. call it "thumb's revenge!"
One thing that has me very puzzled is the strength in the yearling market, Tattersalls Newmarket sale yesterday had turnover/average/and median all up by 40-60% on this day last year, difficult to correlate with the general economic gloom, is this a lead indicator or an irrelevance, who knows.... 
Four Fiddlers

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Heart of a lion, a day of dreams

Big wind again today but quiet day in general for the horses after excellent work yesterday.  Home alone last night so fat-boy pizza and ice cream and a chance to sit down and enjoy the BBC coverage from Longchamp on Sunday;  well, I thought it was just great, former Northern jump jockey Tom Eaves takes his first Group 1 on the most glamorous stage of all on a horse trained at the top of Sutton Bank, then Dream Ahead runs the race of his life to deny the awesome Goldikova a winning swansong in front of her home crowd and then..... a EU9,000 diminutive German filly shoots clear off the best horses in the world to break the track record and claim racing's greatest prize, just fanatastic and the canny Japanese had already purchased her before the race to capture those very special German genes.  I have been banging on about the virtues of the German breeding system  all summer to anyone that would care to listen and it appears to be going from strength to strength...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Big Breeze

A big breeze today and a busy morning with nine horses doing important pieces of work; firstly Four Fiddlers, Buffalo Ballet and Isla Pearl Fisher on Lucinda's woodchip then Isla Patriot, Seeking Power and Forcefield on the grass here and finally Ocarina, Capital Venture and Northern Flame on the grass again.  All pleased me though Seeking Power doesn't seem to be getting any faster, still must be the slowest horse in training but give him 4 miles a stiff track and heavy ground and he comes into his own!  The others all cantered on the all-weather or grass. 
Isla Pearl Fisher (Amy)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Back to autumn weather this week, very breezy, showers and turning colder after a mild start.  10 riding out here this morning, plan to school over fences then Louisa in to do flatwork with some this afternoon, I have the "Buffalo" on her list, point blank refused to do anything with her last time and nearly took my thumb off feeding yesterday but most impressive work with Four Fiddlers on Saturday so I will forgive him most things, likely to be busy, meant to be my office day - will do my best!  A fine start to Kelso's season yesterday despite some rather inclement weather, we achieved exactly what we wanted to do with Sydney Cove, he was very keen, I am sure we will get there with him given time.  This week we have entries at Carlisle on Friday and Hexham on Saturday, ho ho, and what a surprise in the Arc, first three home all fillies and a somewhat overlooked outsider from Germany romps home in a record time, Herr Schiergen paid EU100,000 to supplement her for the race, he clearly knew what he had in his hands!

Sydney Cove