Monday, 30 July 2012

A step...

... into the unknown tomorrow when we have our first ever runner on the flat, Goldtrek in the 3.55 at Ayr ridden by Lucy, 9 run and the ground is good with good to soft places.  This race is very much an afterthought as we had been hoping to continue her hurdling campaign but she needs good ground and it is too soft at Perth, should be fun though and she needs a run as its quite tricky going into her stable in the mornings at the moment.  Quick transfer then to Perth where Balwyllo runs in the 6.30, Kit rides, 14 run and the ground is good to soft with soft places.  I think this horse is well handicapped but would prefer better ground and further however I walked the track with Kit this afternoon and will hopefully be able to pick the better ground, I just hope the forecast rain stays away on Tuesday night for the sake of Wednesday's fixture.  Having ridden on the flat at Ayr Lucy then rides over hurdles and fences at Perth (not sure how often that has been done before, if ever, let's hope we don't get stuck in traffic!  She rides Lillioftheballet in the 7.35, Pete in the 8.35 and Toshi in the 9.05.  Her confidence should be high after winning the feature race at Stratford yesterday on Magical Legend, a late booking at 25-1, made the long drive worthwhile.
Goldtrek, no hurdles tomorrow, have these colours been seen on the flat before  I wonder?
Here this morning back into work were Four Fiddlers, Papamoa, Little Glenshee, Spinning Away and Tipsy Dara; in from the field were Here's to Harry and Isla Patriot - plenty going on, only problem is new boxes not quite finished so lots of juggling between field and barn, a little riddle for me to work out each day.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Comings and goings...

So, whistle-stop tour of Yorkshire yesterday left me feeling a bit like Lucy must feel most days, 5am start, 7 hours 45 minutes driving and back home early evening - main difference was not having to ride in 3 or 4 races in between but attend a couple of meetings instead; much easier and all-in-all a very useful day.
Back here this morning and a cool stiff breeze and most importantly no rain, lots going on and horses on the all-weather, in the school and hacking.  A new arrival today was King Brex (Den), came up from Charlie Mann's Lambourn yard  via Uttoxeter courtesy of Jean McGregor.  Perhaps the bracing Scottish air will help rekindle this Danish bred gelding's form.  Leaving us is Lucy Henry who is riding out for Lucinda prior to going to work for Philip Hobbs in September, she has been a great help and should have fun in deepest Somerset, hopefully she will be back in here to ride out from time to time.
Other Lucy away at 6am to ride at Southwell; Prideus in the 2.35 and Morning Farewell in the 4.50, then to Newcastle on the flat tomorrow to ride Hot Rod Mamma in the 3.05 and back down to Startford on Sunday to ride Hightown in the 4.35 - not exactly a quiet time of year... Entries for Perth next week are out, a little thin which is unsurprising, very disappointing news that Hereford and Folkestone are shutting down, let's hope it proves a spur to action rather than the tip of the iceberg............
See below - happy to share rations with pheasant!
Just in case anyone knows anyone looking for a broodmare or companion horse we have a 5yo chesnut mare available, she has been broken and is quiet and easy to handle but unfortunately we have discovered she has non-hereditary heart murmur, she would probably be free to the right home and has a good National Hunt pedigree, do get in touch...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sun last, hay mown and seldom will weather forecasts be more closely scrutinized than over the next 48 hours, fingers crossed.  Horses newly back in training doing flatwork in the school, trotting on the gallop and hacking, others more rigorous stuff on the all-weather.  Touring a few other yards to talk about gallop surfaces etc with other trainers, Lucinda and Scu very helpful today, daytrip to Yorkshire tomorrow.  Lucy back late last night, off very early to ride out the other side of Glasgow this morning, home now & riding here tomorrow prior to going down to Doncaster to ride Jake the Snake in the 6.45 at Doncaster.  Separate cars of course which is always a nuisance; for one reason or another we had four vehicles driving up from Cartmel to Kinneston on Saturday night - not at all sensible!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Damp again, forecast OK, perhaps a 72 hour window ahead to make some haylage.  All weather still under repair so schools and cantering on the grass again today, back in training this week are Buffalo Ballet, Fleet Fox and Daasij - the latter two looking particularly well, the former rather grumpy judging by the way he attempted to lift me up by my jacket as I was undoing the bottom bolt of his door going in to feed him this morning!
Splendid win for Lucy yesterday at Cartmel on Pete, today she heads to Southwell where she rides Red Danger Angel in the 5.10

Monday, 23 July 2012

Cheese or Sticky Toffee?

A tumultuous weekend of sport, heroes crowned, Wiggins, Cavendish, Danedream, Els to name a few and what a gracious acceptance of a fortunate victory from the latter, a proper sportsman.  My Sunday less perfect than I imagined it was going to be; firstly the weather forecast changed, an increasingly important factor in my humour each day; as each week slips by a difficult summer becomes closer to a disastrous summer. Then, nipping down to quickly check  the condition of a gallop prior to watching the end of the Open, I bogged my car in a wet hole that didn't exist previously, some time later we re-emerged....anyway, on to the Olympics, I have to admit that having felt rather indifferent about the whole thing I am now becoming rather excited....  
After 16 inches of rain in six weeks followed by a dry 48 hours the ground at Cartmel was somewhere between semi-rip brie and sticky toffee pudding - very holding and it didn't seem to bring out the best in our runners who all completed but failed to get competitive, luckily with Lucy riding for a few other trainers as well we have extra chances of coming home with a smile on our faces and I was delighted that she won the Cartmel Cheese Hurdle, the calendar's richest Ladies  jump race, for Donald McCain; a special win at a busy fixture with the whole family present.  The same day last year she was runner up in the big Ladies race at Ascot, narrowly missing out on a wonderful Longines watch, this year more prize money but no watch, just champagne, sticky toffee pudding and, of course, cheese, not much use to a teetotal ladies jockey but won't be wasted!
We are balloted out today but will be trying to train horses and make haylage here (some hope) whilst Lucy goes back to Cartmel for five rides - Adios Saffron in the 2.20, Isiscozimcool in the 2.50, Pete in the 3.55, Allanard in the 4.30 and Carriteau in the 5.05.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Cartmel Saturday

Makhzoon (Lucy)
A fine day and with the gallop having it's annual "service" the horses being sharpened up on the grass, riding nicely and the cattle joining in the gallop, quite fast some of them (or maybe the horses are quite slow?).  Cartmel have put on an excellent new meeting tomorrow and Monday, with good prize money and as a result have attracted many of the top trainers, and of course, ourselves who run three, Lucy rides them all and the ground is presently soft but I expect will be drying out fast; Northern Flame makes his chasing debut in the 3pm - 9 run, its a good race for him but I doubt the track will suit, he is very well though as is The Paddy Premium who despite being 12 shoulders top weight in the 3.35, this is a drop in grade for him and he could go very well if he has luck in running.  Our recent acquisition Makhzoon takes a big step up in class in the 5.25, it's ultra-competitive for a big prize but conditions should suit.... Lucy also rides Constant Contact in the 4.50 and Grethel in the 5.55.
Northern Flame (Lucy)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

As promised.. wet again

Well, a morning spent mostly managing the heavy rain running down the gallop, luckily the newly resurfaced round school has taken the rain brilliantly so a bit of work in there prior to a hack for most of them.  New surface has drained perfectly, becoming a bit of an expert on gallop and arena surfaces, some huge variances in cost, plenty of food for thought given that a second all-weather is in the pipeline.......(or should that be "pipe -dream"?)
The redoubtable Jimmy with another load of "arti-turf"
Becoming quite excited about the prospect of actually having a few runners on Saturday, Lucy in action on the flat again tomorrow at Hamilton, she rides Lillioftheballet for the infamous "Dregs of Humanity" in the 3pm.
Makhzoon at the Tuesday night weigh-in.....


Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Just to prove that the sun did shine one day this summer some pictures from Kinneston this morning....
Heading down the gallop, heavy rain forecast tomorrow so Saturday runners did their work today with gallop in good order,  baler in action this afternoon we hope!

Milling around, Little Glenshee and Spinning Away watch them turning at the bottom of the gallop

Makhzoon (Lucy) and Northern Flame (Dan)

Up again, The Paddy Premium (Kit) in rear

Tipsy Dara wants to join in.....

Monday, 16 July 2012


A fine day, decent breeze and sunny spells, drying up, forecast being scrutinized!  A morning on the all weather and riding seven new horses for the first time, all very well behaved which is always a relief, long may it last.  Entries through for Cartmel on Saturday, looks competitive but hopefully we will run Makhzoon, The Paddy Premium and Northern Flame.  One fall and two pulled ups for Lucy at Southwell yesterday, in the circumstances coming home in one piece was a good result, I have never seen horses jump so badly, unedifying stuff and plenty of jockeys including AP took heavy falls, not sure what the problem is but something must be wrong.  Racing then delayed due to ambulance problems; I suspect the racecourse skimping on costs doubt it would have happened at Ascot (or Perth for that matter), 4.40 ended up going off at 6.10. I suspect most of the racegoers had lost the will to live by then, Lucy home very late as a result. Back down the road to Beverley tomorrow where she rides Landesherr for Steve Gollings in the 5.30.
The Paddy Premium

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Breezy Sunday

Balwyllo (Holly)
 Cool but a fine south-westerly breeze this morning, beginning to dry things up but forecast not great, two more to Lucinda's this morning, Balwyllo and Goldtrek, seemed to appreciate the change in scenery, both of course were due to run at Perth today.  Back here all on the walker and out for a spell in the paddocks, few mud fever type issues to deal with, never seen the gateways as wet at this time of year.  Plenty to catch up on in the office this morning before an afternoon watching Lucy at Southwell with Mrs A in her familiar position behind the sofa, been most relaxing not having her riding for a couple of weeks, not that she would see it that way!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Back to the blog...

Well, a special week away from the rain in Majorca, persuaded Lucy to join us from Sunday so whole family assembled for five days, perfect weather and lots of laughs.  Normally my absence is the trigger for the sun to come out here, not this time and conditions have continued to be appalling, whole farm is sodden and  showers again this morning, racing abandoned from Perth to Salisbury and heavy ground for the July Cup at Newmarket - a drought in the Hebrides however, difficult to comprehend. 
Photo: Regret to have to tell you and despite valiant efforts by all the team here we have failed. A huge amount of pumping of water has taken place but simply no drying to help us. We thought best to make an early decision to help everyone make other plans and hope you can plan to come for our two concert evenings at the end of the month. Picture was taken earlier in the week. Murphy the terrier is happy, Derek not so! Sam
Perth Racecourse earlier this week...............
Straight back into the swing of things and Northern Flame, Makhzoon and The Paddy Premium all away for some work on Lucinda's woodchip this morning, Lucy diverted from Perth to Southwell tomorrow where she rides Pete in the 2.10, Secret Desert in the 2.40 and Ocean Bluff in the 4.40.
The girls have done a marvellous job while I have been away - the yard is in good shape and the horses look well.  Although we only have five horses in full work at present there are about a dozen others on an interim regime of being on the walker, in the barns and out in the field so there is a huge amount of to-ing and fro-ing, picking feet, changing rugs etc.  Amidst all of this all of the boxes have been steam-cleaned and repainted (thank you Scott!).  Some of the more major works have been held up by the weather but so far the round school has been completely resurfaced, work to the main school and the all-weather awaits together with a new track connecting the two and six new stables scheduled to be started on Monday; in the office we are trialing new stable management software and we hope to be launching a new website in early August.  Making haylage is also a serious priority and we badly need a window in the weather in the next two weeks or the grass will start to lose nutritional value; we will start riding more on Monday and bring another half dozen in from the fields, hopefully we might actually have some runners at Cartmel next weekend..... I highlighted the paucity of fixtures in the North during the summer recently, three abandonment's at Perth has accentuated the situation and we will be petitioning hard for a couple of replacement fixtures.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Spinning Away

So, two days of Perth abandoned, racing in Wales abandoned, heavy ground from Brighton to Hamilton, the Game Fair abandoned but it doesn't look like anything will stop T in the Park, a sea of mud already but it won't stop the party.
It almost feels appropriate that Perth has been cancelled this week, amidst the gloom of perpetual low cloud and rain there has been an almost tangible air of shared sadness among the Scottish jump racing community for the last week.  It feels better that everyone should have had the chance to grieve and celebrate a rare talent at Campbell Gillies's funeral on Friday before the circuit resumes.  Sometimes it feels a little glib when we say that the Northern jump racing scene is a close community, this tragedy brings a glimmer of hope in demonstrating what a genuine community it really is; regrettably I won't be there on Friday as we have longstanding holiday commitments that have proved too complex to adjust, the yard will be well represented and wherever we are at noon on Friday we will pause for a moment.
Campbell (right) is the first to congratulate Lucy after her inaugural winner against the professionals back in 2010  
One or two people have asked me where the name Buffalo Ballet came from, it's a rather melancholic but beautiful song by John Cale.  For a little while now I have been trying to think of a name for his 4yo sister by Alflora;  I have decided to call her Spinning Away, another wonderful John Cale song that happened to pop up on my iPod last week.  She is an exceptional horse, probably the nicest I have bred, and she is a particular favourite of two of Campbell's best friends, Pete and Dan, the latter of whom has done much of the work with her; so I name her for him, I am sure he would think it is old git's music but there we go. I've just discovered it was originally recorded in 1990 the year of Campbell's birth, try listening to it, give it a couple of goes, it's good...

A couple of this week's intended runners been turned away for a break, we can't keep them going indefinitely if we want them in good heart for next winter, others seem to be working so well that I will hopefully give them a run next week at Perth even if race conditions aren't particularly ideal.  Seven of the horses that were summering (oxymoron?) at Cunnoquhie have come back here and started in light work, we are also bringing half a dozen from here in over the next couple of days, they will spend their time between the barns, the walker and the field.