Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Frost Free

Amazingly we have escaped frost for the past two days so with a bleak forecast we have done plenty of work on the grass gallops today with some of the others schooling over hurdles and fences.  Entries have been made for Musselburgh on Sunday and Ayr on Monday, sadly the P2P that we had hoped would be rescheduled for Saturday has now been abandoned.  Lucy had a good day at Ayr yesterday with four of her five rides finishing second, tomorrow she heads to Newcastle where she rides Raggios Boy and Danny John Boy for Barry Murtagh. 

Monday, 30 January 2012


Frost strikes, p2p off, Sedgefield off, a quiet day on the yard yesterday, horses all on the walker, all calm and relaxed.  Weather looks like it could go two ways later this week, either an icy blast from Siberia is going to set in or the low moving in off the Atlantic will keep things reasonable, opinions differ, time will tell.  We have no runners this week, hopefully get going again at the rescheduled Jedforest p2p on Saturday, Musselburgh on Sunday (squeezing in a trip to Murrayfield in between!) and Ayr on Mon 6th.  Lucy has a busy day at Ayr today, they have passed their early morning inspection and she rides Jetmaster in the 12.50, Rossini's Dancer in the 2.20, Something Silver in the 2.55, Carters Rest in the 4.00 and Lillioftheballet in the 4.30 - a marathon eight race card, small fields (50 runners in total), poor prize money but eight races - why?  

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Creeping South.........

A crisp frosty morning but all-weather in fine condition and plenty of work on it for most of them with those having an easier time heading up for a hack in the forestry.  A splendid afternoon's racing on the television and plenty of clues for the big Festivals coming up in the Spring, disappointing to see so few Northern trained horses featuring, even at Doncaster they were thin on the ground though James Ewart had a fine winner and Lucy won the last at Uttoxeter on Sophonie for Ferdy Murphy, notching her 20th winner of the season and her most southerly one to date.  Poor fare for a Saturday at Uttoxeter, a 0-120 hurdle for £3800 added, dismal, Sir Stanley will be turning in his grave and these people (Northern) are about to become the largest racecourse group, scary stuff, thank goodness they haven't crept into Scotland.  Lucy is now on her way to Sedgefield for 4 rides tomorrow....    
Little Glenshee enjoys the view from the top of the gallop on a cold January morning, she should be ready to run in a couple of weeks

Friday, 27 January 2012

Tipsy by name..

Northern Racing doesn't stretch to providing a "big screen" on weekdays at Newcastle with the result that most of the racegoers watch the races in the bars, this kills the atmosphere outside but creates a great atmosphere inside, Mrs A seemed to think that I became a little over-excited yesterday when cheering Tipsy Dara to an emotional first win yesterday, in fact, she thought I made a complete fool of myself, somehow getting carried away outside isn't as obvious but at least I wasn't with the owner Mark who I am sure was even more exuberant, together we would have made a right pair! A wonderful result for Mark and Jane who having had her since she was 3 were within one phone call of have her euthanased in the autumn, fortunately they decided to give her a chance with us and made the required investment (financial and emotional); she repaid us all yesterday.  Papamoa ran a similar race to last time, disappointing after showing so much early promise, we need to find the key... A quiet weekend for us I think as I think the pointers probably need a little longer to get over their exertions in the glue at Alnwick, busy for Lucy though with 3 rides at Uttoxeter tomorrow and 4 at Sedgefield on Sunday.
Tipsy Dara sails over the last at Newcastle yesterday 
A fine day here today, touch of frost but still plenty of jumping and working the horses in the schools and on the all-weather, cold forecast though, looks as if winter might finally be going to intervene, shame but we've had a good run so far....

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Reality bites...

Réveillez-Alexander, un peu trop de l'absinthe, hier je pense - back to the real world today and a busy morning with Buffalo Ballet, Four Fiddlers and Commercial Express working well at Lucinda's and Almost Blue, Seeking Power and Little Glenshee working on the grass here.  Tipsy Dara and Papamoa had a pre race stretch here on the grass as well having schooled nicely yesterday. 
Papamoa last time at Newcastle
Tomorrow at Newcastle Papamoa runs in the 1.15 for the Papamoans partnership, 9 run, the ground is soft and Lucy rides.  Not an especially sensible move handicapping wise as he is wrong at the weights with a few of these but he needs to build his confidence jumping wise and a drop back to novice company from a 0-135 handicap last time should help in this regard.  In the 3.45 Tipsy Dara makes her stable debut for Mark Fleming, again 9 run and Lucy rides.  This is also her debut over fences and I hope I am not asking too much by starting her off in a handicap, she has jumped well at home and whilst she will improve for the run and a longer trip I expect her to put up a bold display.  Lucy also rides Kings Chorister in the 2.15 and Pyjama Game in the 3.15.  Today at Musselburgh she rides Misty Cloud in the 1.40, Stuff of Dreams in the 2.10, Baher in the 3.10 and Red Tamber in the 3.40 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Up Periscope

Well, another exhausting day putting logs into my stove, thanks to the latest addition to my office I no longer have to venture outside to monitor my horses in training.
I had oftened wondered what was becoming of the periscopes from the Royal Navy Submarines that were being decommisioned on the Clyde and after a few discreet enquiries I was able to secure one for the price of a modest family car, about 10% of its original cost, a suitable 50th birthday present to myself I thought.  Its installation has not been without problems but finally it is up and running, it extends to 40 feet above the office roof and has a tremendous 50 times magnification meaning that I can watch all the gallops and schooling grounds in close detail from the comfort of my office.  Combined with the short wave radio system that all the work riders are now using in their helmets I have much better control than when I used to stand outside freezing trying to bellow instructions in a howling gale, all rather wonderful and it makes my mornings so much more productive.  
It's so much warmer in here....
The next step will be to link the periscope to my office network which will mean that I can link into this from any 3G or WiFi connection, I will be able to sit in an Alpine cafe supervising first lot on my iPad!  Of course, I always maintain that about the most important aspect to training is being able to feel my horses legs each night, remote training therefore may be not that practical, however, delving around the internet I have discovered digital leg wraps - the big American trainers operating with barns in various States swear by them; they are wrapped round the horses legs by the grooms in the evening and transmit a digital heat picture to a PC via bluetooth enabling a trainer to monitor heat in the horses legs from anywhere he can get an internet connection, utterly brilliant if they work and my first set are being "DHL'd" as I write - I can't wait to test them because it might then be pssoible to become a completely remote trainer, sitting in the Carribean or the Alps with all those fancy flat trainers from Newmarket, won't they be impressed!
But of course, I'll miss the horses, won't I?????   

Monday, 23 January 2012

Brothers and Sisters

Five years ago this weekend 16yo Lucy rode her first winner on her first ride in a point-to-point at the West Percy at Alnwick;  it was a tremendous result yesterday therefore that Kit rode his first double at the same meeting on the homebred brother and sister Native Coll and Amulree, the latter owned by Lucy, all fairly unique I guess.  A marathon day with 89 horses contesting 9 races, fortunately in glorious sunshine and well attended.  Northern Flame ran no race on the sticky ground and returned with a nasty enough over-reach having pulled up 2 out, Flaming Thistle was booked for 3rd when taking a tired fall at the 3rd last.   Lucy was absent plying her trade at Market Rasen, today she rides Pistol Basc in the 3.40 at Wetherby.
Native Coll

Cold and frosty here this morning but plenty of steady cantering in the schools and on the all-weather, starting back in training for a spring campaign was Issabella Gem.  This week we hope to be in action at Newcastle on Thursday and we have made one or two entries for the Jedforest p2p on Sunday.   

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Cold and breezy today but mainly dry and a constructive morning with the horses, Four Fiddlers, Papamoa and Tipsy Dara headed over to Lucinda's, some worked on the all-weather here and tomorrow's runners had a scamper round the farm and a pop over the fences.
Desperate day yesterday in the end as we lost Massini Man, with a rating of 123 arguably the best horse in the yard he had developed an infection in his suspensory ligament on a hind leg, this had been caused by a minute but penetrating puncture wound, no blood or anything to indicate it had been there but the infection destroyed the ligament leaving us no alternative, on Monday he had been completely sound. Brother Jamie bought him with me at Doncaster in August, he was the first horse we saw, he ticked all the boxes and we were both delighted that Jamie managed to buy him, he was a great prospect as a classy Hunter Chaser for his Corinthian rider, until this week everything had gone perfectly and he was due to make his debut for the yard before the end of the month, there we go, at peace now.
Much happier of course was the return of Joey, I am still trying to piece together exactly what has happened over the last three weeks, she is very thin and infested with worms but as boisterous as ever, I am sure Mrs A will have her back in tip-top condition in no time; she appears to have been used for hunting by local poachers, no doubt starved to make her more aggressive, our four cats better beware! Afternoon spent watching 13yo's knocking seven bells out of each other on the rugby pitch and listening in to the racing from Ascot. Lucy suitably impressed by ladies changing facilities of which she had exclusive use, she heads to Market Rasen tomorrow, we have an early start taking four down to the Alnwick p2p where it promises to be rather chilly!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Busy Weekend

Cold again today, horses having a couple of spins up the all weather before some more serious work tomorrow, hoping to run four at the West Percy p2p on Sunday- Northern Flame, Native Coll, Amulree and Flaming Thistle, all due to be ridden by Kit. Mrs A and I are speeding up the East Coast mainline after a productive day in London yesterday, will be joined by Kit in Newcastle by which time we will have sped past Catterick where Lucy is riding Stanley Bridge in the 12.30 and Sam Lord in the 2.40. She then heads back South to ride at Ascot tomorrow, The Holinwell in the 3.45 (on Ch 4) and another in the 4.15, she is then due at Market Rasen on Sunday to ride Jaws in the 2pm, and probably Wetherby on Monday, hopefully eventually returning home on Monday night by which time she will have been nomadic for a week. Main excitement of course is going to be Mrs A being reunited with her little Joey, missing since trainer stopped to listen to that owl late on 31st Dec 2011, seems like an age ago!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Joy of joys!

Miracles do happen and 2012 is suddenly getting much better, yesterday afternoon a dog resembling joey was spotted by a friend being walked in the Lomond Hills, the "walker" was followed home and confronted and joey is now back in friendly hands and will be returning home tomorrow. I was in the loo on the East Coast mainline as this news was breaking via a suddenly hyperactive mobile, keen not to do a Mrs A and drop it I had to ignore it but by the time I returned to my seat I was able to break the news to Mrs A, unbelieving at first news was confirmed via photograph and emotional scenes followed, not sure what the other passengers thought was going on! Yipeeeee!
Away today but a quiet day for the horses at home after plenty of work yesterday, an hours hack around the farm and up into the forestry,weather cooler and a quick cold snap but hopefully ok again by the weekend.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


A change in the weather again, much milder, all-weather in good fettle so plan is for plenty of work there there this morning, interestingly still a little bit of "bone" in the sand school indicating that the grass will also still be frozen underneath, go canny, I say.  Sydney ran a better sort of race again yesterday and finished 6th beaten by a few improvers having their handicap debuts, he should have his day again and we may now put him away for a sping campaign at Hexham.  Lucy has two rides at Southwell today assuming (a) that she can find it and (b) that it passes what appears to be rather a prolonged inspection, Penton Hook in the 12.40 and Douglas in the 1.45, we will next be in action at the West Percy p2p on Sunday, weather permitting of course.
Sydney Cove (left) at Hexham - a spring campaign there beckons
By the way, if you are in need of extra excitement in your sporting holidays have a look at this, Mrs A is in the final stages of booking our trip.  Oh and another thing, quite a few horses at Ayr yesterday were particularly poorly turned out, whilst it doesn't making them run any faster trainers should recognise that the public upon whose goodwill we rely expect racehorses to appear well cared for and looked after, they certainly don't need plaited but they should at least be properly clipped and have their manes and tails in good order, otherwise they just look unloved and whether or not that is actually the case, it is certainly the perception.
STOP PRESS - Southwell goes ahead, will be on a train journey, no longer a relaxing one. 

Monday, 16 January 2012


Minus 4 driving home at 8.30 last night and at least minus 4 now at 8am, sharpest frost of the winter so far but luckily the forecast looks better from tomorrow when we hope to be running Sydney Cove in the 3.10 at Ayr for Lisa Ogilive with Lucy on board.  Gallop has already been harrowed this morning and doesn't look too bad so horses ought to be able to do their work, for me a rare away-day in the sporting field, back for evening stables though.
For those that don't buy the RP here is the article that I referred to yesterday - Racing Post - there is also a profile of Lucy in today's paper...

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Kelso abandoned, Ayr on Tuesday next target, quiet morning on the yard, horses on the walker, a few visitors, time in the office and perhaps a visit to War Horse this afternoon (if it's not too odd to have been to the cinema four times in 2012, twice the total for 2011 and its only the 15th Jan!). Yesterday morning when I was heading up the brae to feed the horses I felt particularly knackered, Friday had not been a great day despite Lucy's winner, she'd had a heavy enough fall and the proud parents were concerned when she drove off to Northumberland, she would be leaving very early from there to ride out in Yorkshire and was then booked for two rides at Wetherby prior to a four hour drive home, all too much in our view but certainly not in hers. Added to that I had a couple of (hopefully minor) setbacks in the yard, our horse had fallen and looked a bit sore, I had been out to dinner and only had about four hours sleep, another busy morning beckoned, reasons to feel a bit tired I think. However by the time I had fed the horses I felt completely reinvigorated, I don't understand it really, it seems to come from the horses themselves, my desire to do the best for them and their desire to reciprocate (well, most of them!), perhaps it was just seeing Forcefield bright and well and shouting for his breakfast after his fall, I don't know but there is some sort of force that works better than cafeine, just as well really! I remember marvelling at Scotland's great dual purpose trainer Jim Goldie's schedule last summer where he appeared to have runners all over the country under both codes, always smiling and jolly I asked him how on earth he managed, he replied simply "adrenalin is a great motivator" - long may it last I say. Frank was in yesterday and here are some marvellous photographs that he took on a dull and frosty morning...

Forcefield, none the worse, looks on as his colleagues head out to exercise.

Two greys by Terimon, Little Glenshee (Lucy H) left and Papamoa (Gemma) right.

Seeking Power (James) right shows Native Coll (Jen) a turn of foot!

Little Glenshee cooling off
Ooh, afternoon already, cinema foregone, too nice a day, harrowing gallop instead, some more great pics from Musselburgh on Friday, this time from Mike Bishop.... and by the way nobody should miss Tom Kerr's sensitive article in today's RP about the horse that died in the first at Kempton yesterday whose owners he had been assigned to follow for the day, he manages to convey so much of what all owners and trainers experience through this sport.

Isla Patriot (Peter and Kelly)

Red Tamber heads for home

Rossini's Dancer (Lucy)

The debrief.........
PS - if the Chief Operating Officer of Tesco didn't know that there was a negative statement from Tesco looming when he sold £200k worth of stock two weeks ago then is he fit to do his job anyway?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

I'm not sure...

... I like Friday the 13th, a difficult morning at home and then a heavy fall for Forcefield and Lucy at what is becoming our "bogey" hurdle in the back straight at Musselburgh, both a bit battered but battling on. On the other hand Isla Patriot at least put in a clear round this time, he ran well enough but is going to need everything in his favour if he is to get to the winner's enclosure. Also a cracking winner for Lucy on Red Tamber and a splendid article by Alan Lee in the Times, proud parents! Back here today frost not too severe and a nice dry gallop opened up beautifully and we were able to do plenty of work with the horses. Tomorrow's meeting at Kelso is subject to a 7.45am inspection, we run Sydney Cove in the 2.50 for Lisa Ogilvie, 16 run, Lucy rides and the ground is good to soft - he should go well if the ground isn't too sticky, we then run Seeking Power in the 3.20 with Peter Buchanan on board, his participation will depend on ground conditions. Lucy also rides Jetmaster in the 12.50 and Toy Gun in the 3.20. Some fun pics from Musselburgh yesterday taken by Frank Cornfield and Dennis Penny.

Forcefield and Gillian

Adjusting the Visor

Jockey on Board

Washing down, disappointing to fall when horse seemed so well and still travelling strongly
Isla Patriot and Peter skip over a hurdle

Lucy and Red Tamber on their way to a Musselburgh hat-trick
Forcefield - he's much nicer than this!

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Another grand day and off to the woodchip went Four Fiddlers, Commercial Express and Amulree back here more schooling all adding up to a productive week ahead of a (hopefully brief) frosty spell.  Tomorrow at Musselburgh we run 2 in the 2.40, Kinneston Racing's Forcefield (Lucy) and Philippa Gammell's Isla Patriot (Peter Buchanan), 9 run and the ground is good. We hope that Forcefield will return to form on the better ground, I think he will also be better going right handed although the track may be a little sharp.  Isla Patriot bids to make ammends for unseating Lucy at the first here last time, he ran well enough in a similar contest to this prior to that and I would hope he can step up on that effort, though I think his best trip would be 2m 4f on a stiffer track.  Lucy's long day today (another 4am start, expected home 8pm) was eventually rewarded with an excellent shadow of the post win on Big Water for Alan Swinbank, she has two other good rides tomorrow - Red Tamber in the 2.10 and Rossini's Dancer in the 2.40, the Kilmany Cup, won decisively last year by Isla Pearl Fisher, sadly not able to defend his crown as planned but hopefully back on the track next month.
Forcefield Kelso sidebar

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Two more...

.. fine days and a busy time using all the different facilities and Lucinda's woodchip, yesterday with Tipsy Dara, Flaming Thistle and Northern Flame and today with Here's to Harry, Massini Man and Native Coll.  Working on the grass here yesterday were Isla Patriot, Sydney Cove and Forcefield and today Buffalo Ballet, "Flora," and Almost Blue.  Back into work after a short hold-up was Academy and we have started Goldtrek with some light work.  Plans firming up for Musselburgh and Kelso but a little concerned about frost re the latter.  Tomorrow at Catterick Lucy has 3 rides, Hennessy for Ferdy Murphy in the 2.15, the "North Yorkshire Grand National," Turbolinas for Kate Walton in the 2.45 and Big Water for Alan Swinbank in the concluding bumper at 3.45 

Monday, 9 January 2012

One fine day

Glorious morning, the promise of spring round the corner, not yet, mustn't get carried away. After a productive Sunday mending storm damage and preparing surfaces it was nice to be able to do what I wanted with the horses today rather than be dictated to by the conditions. So a Monday and lots of schooling, hurdles and fences, most pleasing of all was to see Four Fiddlers jumping with zest back over the hurdles, he is a horse that I feared the worst for when he left Kelso on 5th Nov for the Royal Dick Veterinerary Hospital, his recovery has been remarkable and he jumped hurdles with plenty of enthusiasm considering this was the first time he had seen a hurdle since this...

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Back down the road to Newcastle yesterday and a so-so sort of day, Seeking Power seems to need four miles these days to be competitve, he plugged on in his own style to finish 5th, Papamoa's hurdling wasn't slick enough against decent experienced handicappers but he ran well enough to finish 4th in decent company, staying on strongly at the end.  Back here a useful morning with 15 working on the all-weather in good conditions, forecast is not too bad at all for the time of year so plenty of plans hatched for next week, no runners until Musselburgh on Friday though.
We have started some of the spring horses this week, including Daasij (above) who is back on the horsewalker each day.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A lost week?

Well, after 3 days without power it finally came on sometime last night, not sure precisely when because family Alexander were once again taking refuge in the Odeon, probably beginning to smell slightly and given a wide berth by the other cinema-goers.   All sorts of knock-on effects of both the prolonged power cut and severe storms but horses and people all well, only dark cloud remaining is the missing dog.  The stable routine was quickly adjusted to compensate for it being pitch dark from 4.15pm until 8.15am, none of the horses missed any exercise or feed and they are certainly fresh judging by this morning's exercise, the only ones that missed out were those on the barns and walker regime.  Family have survived well but it will be a while before I return to "Fife Leisure Park," the novelty of which wears thin quite quickly, I did manage a flying visit with the boys to watch Newcastle thump Manchester United on Wednesday evening, there is nothing like the roar of the Geordie fans enjoying a famous victory on a wild January night to warm the soul!
Seeking Power
Anyway, back down the road to Newcastle tomorrow where we run Seeking Power in the 1.25 and Papamoa in the 1.55, 8 run in both races, Lucy rides and the ground promises to be particularly gluey.  I was going to wait until Kelso next week with SP but seeing the bucks he was putting in as he went on to the gallop this morning I just couldn't resist declaring him in what looks like an ordinary sort of race.  Papamoa has also been very fresh and well at home, we have taken the decision to up him in class and this may backfire as he is still inexperienced after only four hurdle races but he should handle the track and going and I am hoping (expecting?) that he will also improve for stepping up in trip, we will see tomorrow!  After that nothing until Musselburgh next Friday....

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Long Dark Night

After writing my blog early yesterday conditions deteriorated dramatically, on hearing of lorries blown over on nearly all the main roads to Ayr I decided it was unsafe to travel horses and withdrew them, first lot pulled out here but I could hardly walk up to the school to see them, sent them straight back in and shortly afterwards the power went off, I headed off to Ayr with Lucy but was only 20 mins down the road when they abandoned racing. Serious damage caused by the wind right across central Scotlnad and though we have lost about 50 trees and have minor storm damage to schooling fences and buildings we have escaped lightly compared with many who have my sympathy as they start to pick up the pieces. The weather was reasonable in the afternoon, a chance to launch another search party but still no sign of dog, needle in a haystack I am afraid, then time to remove branches etc from gallop prior to an early evening stables then a cinema trip. Fine morning today but still no power so morning put back 45 minutes and time to write the blog whilst I wait for the light to come up. Horses slightly surprised to be greeted by me earlier with my miners lamp but all seem well and hungry, fresh this morning no doubt so plenty of work, off to harrow the gallop now!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ayr today

Yet another storm blown in off the Atlantic but milder than forecast and not as much rain so Ayr goes ahead, going to be a rough journey but we run Papamoa in the 2.40 and Sydney Cove in the 3.15, Lucy rides both, the ground will be very testing, Papamoa faces five opponents and Sydney ten.   Lucy has four other rides, Desertmore Star 1.05, Something Silver 1.35, Posh Bird 2.10 and  Malibu Dancer in the 3.45 (it was virtually dark for the 3.35 yesterday so hope Malibu has been eating his carrots!).
Papamoa at Perth
Yesterday 24 hours of drying wind had turned the ground to holding and Forcefield failed to travel or pick up, we will definitley look for better ground for him now (did I say that after Kelso??!!).  Back here we will be on the all-weather today, I have already reduced the morning to 2 lots in view of the forecast, unfortunately still missing little terrier called Joey which is casting a bit of a shadow over the New Year....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to one and all, may the world be a happier place in 2012.  So, how did you celebrate Hogmanay? After a fine dinner I took the dogs out with younger son Johnny, we paused to listen to an owl, as one does, a few minutes later our minds returned to the business in hand, and guess what, the dogs had vanished into thin air, plans to watch a DVD were abandoned and the next hour was spent searching high and low on the quad, in vain, alas, we still await their return.
Forcefield (left) on the beach at St Andrews this time last year.
We've had a bit of everything here in the last 48 hours, frost, rain, snow, wind just not sure if we've had any sun, still a productive couple of days with the horses working all over the place, on the grass, up the all-weather and a couple of lorry loads along to Lucinda's woodchip.  No runners today at Musselburgh but four good rides for Lucy (Andrea Bambaleo 1.50, Marsh Warbler 2.25 - Ch 4, Fred Bojangles 3.00 - Ch 4 and Optimist 3.30) so we are going along to have lunch and support her and what looks like an excellent card, there is also the slightly bizarre annual Musselburgh Sprint to enjoy. Tomorrow we run Forcefield at Ayr, Lucy rides, 7 run and the ground will be heavy.  Having blamed the overly soft and holding ground for his defeat at Kelso last time I am unsure about how he will handle the conditions but it's a good race for him and the ground is relatively fresh so I am hoping he will go through it, the meeting is subject to a precautionary inspection as a bit of snow and frost is forecast... there are small shares available in this horse who with luck will provide plenty of fun, brighten up your 2012, great value! - kinnestonracing
STOP PRESS - Mrs A reported sighting of overweight dirty yellow labrador outside back door, enjoyed party apparently, ruined ours!