Friday, 31 August 2012

Farewell, wet August (and google blogger)

So, August ends, a chill in the air, autumn mists, horses hungry and aggressive at breakfast time.  Builders finished (for now!), gallop and schools all sorted, website complete, new software up and running, stables full, youngest back to school - times move on, busy but lots to look forward to and forecast set fair.
Routine work this morning, mostly on the all-weather, final spin on some of the grass before it was harrowed twice and top-dressed with seed in some areas, will be rolled and given a little tickle of fertilizer over the weekend then rested for a month, badly need the weather forecast to be correct or it will be all-weather only! Schooling fences and hurdles scheduled to go out early next week but been giving them plenty of jumping in the school this week, most particularly yesterday when Here's to Harry, Papamoa, Spinning Away, Buffalo Ballet, Elmaatigra, Issabella Gem, Makhzoon, Bertie Milan and Academy did lots showing varying degrees of competence, all going well in the end though!
Lucy on Lillioftheballet, how many "Dregs" will make it to "Rasen"
Lucy in action at Market Rasen tomorrow where she rides Altnaharra in the 4.45, Lillioftheballet in the 5.20, Carrietau in the 6.25 and Toshi in the 6.55.
Well, here endeth the grillionth blog on "google blogger"- from tomorrow I will be boring you via a new platform which will also form the core of the new website.  The latter is still slightly a work in progress so please bear with us and also any technical hitches I may have with "wordpress" - if you want to continue following there will be an opportunity to register on the site to be alerted when it is updated and I will also continue to alert via facebook and twitter.
If you decide that this is the perfect excuse to cease reading my drivel then I don't blame you and thank you for being with me so far.... however, be aware, the story is only just beginning........

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wet Wednesday

Rain again today and log burner looking tempting from the other end of the office but it's still August and heartened by the forecast.  Weather induced focus on the all-weather and schools today, although we haven't been on the main grass gallops yet the other areas have taken a bit of a hammering so plans are in hand to repeat the normal spring restoration work later this week and then rest them for a month, hopefully before too long we should have some stubble to use and if the forecast is correct the riverbank should be back in action again next week.
Of course there's nothing wrong with the all-weather, 90% of racehorses in training never use anything else, I think it's just me that gets a bit bored and prefers to throw in a bit of variety.  No runners planned over jumps until the end of September, perhaps the odd foray on the flat before then.  An average sort of evening at Sedgefield yesterday for Lucy, two also rans and a fall from a 100-1 chasing debutant, not ideal, today she heads to Catterick where she rides Tongalooma in the 5.10, a sprint on the flat, thereafter it looks like being Market Rasen on Saturday.

Monday, 27 August 2012


A fine Sunday here yesterday and OK so far this morning but a wet and windy afternoon in store.  A quiet-ish Sunday, making plans, shuffling horses around, working on the new website hoping we will be ready for 1st September launch.  Quick trip into Edinburgh to drop Kit at station, assuming he found his way there he is due to start work this morning for Nicky Henderson, a month's secondment, hopefully he will come home armed with new ideas, his mathematical brain has been usefully deployed here recently with the assistance of GPS and heart-rate equipment, some interesting analysis emerging, you never know - I might end up being able to tell when a horse is fit!
A rare chance to read the Sunday papers, the two Golf Clubs which are unfortunate enough to have me as a member are coming in for quite a lot of flak regarding their male only membership policy; this is only likely to intensify in the lead up to the 2013 Open at Muirfield, it's a very tricky issue and I don't envy those on the relevant committees.  One hates seeing the Members being portrayed as a bunch of  neolithic misogynists but  they shouldn't be forced to have an any sex policy just because they happen to play golf, it would need to be applied across the board which would have implications for many other institutions.  I wonder what would happen if an existing male member had a sex change operation, at what particular point would they no longer be admitted to the changing room?  Must have a look at the Club Rules, not that I am planning anything of course!  Personally, whilst I don't necessarily agree with it, change is inevitable at some stage and Clubs might be better to be proactive before they find themselves backed into a corner.
Fleet Fox
Some jumping this morning for Buffalo Ballet, Four Fiddlers, Papamoa, Issabella Gem, Makhzoon and Fleet Fox, others in the schools and on the all-weather. Cartmel abandoned today, Sunderland home game abandoned on Saturday but 15 miles down the road they are watering at Sedgefield for their meeting tomorrow - such is the nature of this barmy climate, Lucy is there to ride Word of Warning in the 4.40, Itstooearly in the 5.10 and Isitcozimcool in the 6.10, the last evening meeting of the year, so that was summer...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Boots and things...

A lot of things have made me happy this week but none more so than Teddy Grimthorpe's report in the Racing Post that Henry Cecil ate a lobster, a grouse, and even pudding in his box at York after Frankel's win on Wednesday. I think everyone was a little taken aback at how ravaged by illness he looked, but he has been there before and we can only pray that his fortitude will once again see him through.  I was also happy to hear that Sir Henry had bought some sets of the extremely expensive equine boots for soft tissue therapy that I rather nervously bought at Blair Castle International  Horse Trials yesterday.  Almost as expensive as the boots that I bought for myself, dangerous place for the wallet.  Also happy with the state of the horses that have stepped up to full work, they seem healthy and strong, a few more stepping up next week.
On the Riverbank

Some of the new boxes
Happy to have six new stables finished, an excellent job and a bit of a queue waiting to take occupancy, added to this week by Back on the Road, a grand type who has come over from Ireland and will point-to-point and Hunter Chase for brother Jamie.  Happy to have a big stack of haylage and a shed full of hay, miraculous considering what the weather has thrown at us; even this week it has rained every day in one way or another, the farm is sodden, harvest looms.
Horses grazing with cattle at a soggy Kinneston

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bitter sweet...

The Paddy Premium
Well, what a week so far, the power of sport to transcend life has never been as apparent as it has been this summer and sitting here on Thursday afternoon I feel mildly shattered.  It started on Tuesday at Perth where after yet another monsoon racing went ahead in extremely wet conditions;  The Paddy Premium having his swansong at his local track, just denied by the narrowest of margins in a driving finish by Silver Steel ridden by, guess who,  Lucy, bitter sweet doesn't begin to describe the mixture of emotions!  And half an hour later Lucy struck again on Spirit of a Nation to record her first double at her local track.

  Why wasn't she riding our horse?  Because at declaration time he was lame and had been for the previous three days, we knew what the problem was and hoped that the combined efforts of our vet, farrier and team might just have him right on the day - fortunately they did and he came so very close to having a fairytale ending to his career.  Hmm, you never know, there may need to be one more chapter.

Lucy is narrowly denied her first treble
King Brex (Kit)
And then to York yesterday, an astonishing pilgrimage of 30,000 racing people to pay homage to the mighty Frankel as he faced his greatest test;  his superiority was awesome and the reception he received like nothing I have ever known, simply wonderful and made especially poignant by the presence of his frail but masterful trainer.  

Frankel with a jubilant Tom Queally, most probably the best horse of our lifetimes

Monday, 20 August 2012

Summer Days

Seem to be a very fleeting experience this year and the heavens opened again yesterday afternoon with the result that unfortunately it will be soft ground at Perth again.  Although it is unlikely to suit our three runners we will be pleased to be racing and grateful to the course for staging this extra fixture helped by a new sponsor, Alistair Cochrane, whose company PPS also sponsors the Kinneston team clothing, most helpful - especially in winter! We hope to run; The Paddy Premium in the 2.55, Richard Johnson rides and 6 run, Balwyllo in the 4.25 with Lucy on board and stable debutante King Brex in the 4.55 with Kit riding.  Lucy also rides Purkab in the 2.25, Silver Steel in the 2.55, Spirit of a Nation in the 3.25, Colditz in the 3.55 and Toshi in the 4.55 - that will be six in a row for her, busy busy.
Trainer relaxing last week in Donegal,  the sun shone, seems an age ago
Back here this morning tomorrow's runners popped over a few hurdles (along with ground driven late scratching Goldtrek) and Makhzoon, Buffalo Ballet, Four Fiddlers and Papamoa did plenty of jumping over poles, the rest were in the school and on the all-weather.  Academy and Elmaatigra were back into work and Isla Pearl Fisher and Forcefield are in from the field and will be shod tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

At long last...

a golden morning, sun beating down, crops turning, it looks like late August for a change, ground completely sodden though after a wet end to the week.  Luckily Donegal escaped the rain and we enjoyed three special days on the golf courses of Rosapenna, a nice horse to see on the way home and a productive morning on the gallops yesterday, horses coming together nicely and the first batch of winter horses will have start more serious work this week.
Now that my face is back to normal I am allowed to resume Mrs A's position with iPad  and tea
Soft ground at Perth yesterday so we kept our powder dry in the hope that things will dry up for Tuesday but an exciting winner for Lucy in the bumper on Mister Pagan, hopefully energized her for the long drive to Southwell today where she rides Prideus in the 2pm.

Bertie Milan
Back here easy day with horses on the walker, in the paddock and Tuesday's intended runners enjoying a quiet spin on the grass. A lot on this week but weighing up the idea of a pilgrimage to York on Wednesday to see Frankel, irresistible I fear.
Perth aftermath, a huge crowd enjoyed glorious weather and excellent competitive racing, will be a challenge having it all spic and span for gates opening on Tuesday! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Goldtrek (Lucy)
Cloudy today and cooler with an unsettled forecast but hey-ho we've had a good August week to go with our good week in May and our good week in March so not complaining (yet).  Riverbank gallop in great fettle so plenty of work there yesterday, very pleased with the way the horses are shaping up, quiet day today with horses on the walker and in the paddocks, back in light work tomorrow are Here's to Harry, Academy, Isla Patriot and Issabella Gem.
The Paddy Premium (Holly)
Can't believe the Olympics are nearly over, amazing performances and amazed by how capitvating I have found it personally and the effect it has had on the mood of the Nation.  The Alexander delegation were overcome by their brief trip on Friday and we all just pray that it can have some lasting impact after so much recent gloom.  I say get sport back into schools at every level, make it a core compulsory part of the curriculum and Society will benefit on many levels.

We are nearly finished the many renovations and improvements here, I am lucky to have some very experienced and hard-working tradesmen, the downside is that in tackling a place like this they will often discover something extra that needs done to ensure the longevity of their work, this draws things out and can cause frustration on behalf of impatient trainer, but I am always grateful for the depth of their commitment.

Four Fiddlers (Lucy)
Yesterday Jimmy the digger artist came up to me and explained that he would be coming in today (Sunday) because he was having to cut short his Saturday as his girlfriend was insisting on a trip to the Edinburgh Festival, he was apologetic - "it's no for me mind, to be honest I'd rather stick ma heid in the fridge"  - forgiven Jimmy!
Bertie Milan (Jen)
Some pics from this week, I can expect row from Mrs A for cutting heads off - sorry!

Friday, 10 August 2012

A different planet?

Forcefield and Isla Pearl Fisher - both enjoying ten days grass after a long summer inside
That is what it feels like anyway, four days of glorious weather and the mood change among the farmers and builders I am dealing with is almost tangible, hard work, everyone trying to catch up after three months of stop start but a huge feeling of relief and positivism, the horses even have their summer coats and various extra training areas on the farm are opening up by the day letting us give the horses the right type of work rather than just the daily grind on the all-weather; this is better for the horses that aren't in full work and refreshing for the few we have left going for the summer.
Recent addition King Brex (Gemma)
I failed to strike in two days at Doncaster Sales, came close on a few but good to see people and get a proper feel for the market, as ever there is plenty of competition for the better prospects but minimal interest in the rest, a few feelers out to buy privately but otherwise plenty of sales coming up soon.
Northern Flame (Dan)
Lucy having fun on the flat, a winner and a second on Monday and a good second on Wednesday at Newcastle, this afternoon she is back at Musselburgh where she rides Collateral Damage for Tim Easterby in the 5pm.  No runners for us until Perth next Saturday, so a few days away next week golfing in Donegal then it will be full steam ahead.  With half the family attending the finals of the hockey at the Olympics this evening, Lucy away riding and Kit on work experience in Edinburgh, trainer left manning the fort, can't believe how much needs done all the time!   On the way back from dropping them off at the station this morning I was lucky enough to pick up this on Desert Island Discs - if you've half an hour, listen to it, inspirational.

Or de Grugy (Toni)

Atholl Stronach

Daasij (Fran), Buffalo Ballet (Lucy) and Fleet Fox (Jen)

Trainer & Son

Heading home..

Northern Acres (Gemma)
Some great pictures from yesterday morning taken by Frank Cornfield

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Keep it coming...

I have to confess to a certain ambivalence towards the Olympics until I was completely blown away by the Opening Ceremony, since then it has just got better and better and at a busy time I have tried to duck in for a slice of the mesmerizing action whenever possible.  Last night it was in the bar in Gatwick Airport for GB's golden hour, the roar that went up when Jessica Ennis broke clear in the home straight of the 800m was simply amazing and demonstrated precisely what the Olympics are about, bringing people together in a shared passion for sport (a stark contrast to the headlines this time last year when the streets were ablaze).  Sport can change lives for the better, so far the Olympics are delivering more than the organizers could ever have dreamt, the trick now is to seize this momentum to make a lasting difference.
We were waiting for a late flight back after a day-trip to Glorious Goodwood, we were guests of one of the sponsors and proud parents watched Lucy assist in the presentation of the prizes for the Group One Nassau Stakes as a "brand ambassador" for the sponsors Markel. On Friday evening she rode her first winner as a professional on the flat and she won't be resting as she has five rides at Carlisle tomorrow night, Kay gee Be in the 6.05, Face East in the 6.35, Insolenceofoffice 7.05, Hot Rod Mamma 8.05 and Shakerstyle in the 8.35.  I am hoping to be there en route to two days at Doncaster Sales.
First past the post at Musselburgh
Overcast with light showers here today, fortunate to miss some of the heavy downpours, quiet day with horses on the walker and in the paddocks, one or two summer horses having a short break, others arriving (Elmatiigra on Friday) and others gradually stepping up their work, new stables nearly complete....
A well known vet and racecourse steward deplores the bad luck that struck Hamilton last night

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Back for more...

A better morning and a fine evening's racing at Perth yesterday, quite low-key but an enthusiastic crowd that seemed to be enjoying themselves, the rain stayed away and whilst the ground was soft it was perfectly acceptable.  The Paddy Premium showed a renewed zest for the game at the age of 12 jumping boldly in front to come second in the 2m handicap chase, retirement plans on hold I suspect, Northern Flame galloped and jumped well in his second chase but didn't quicken with them, he plugged on and may be seen to better effect at a stiffer track later in the autumn, better ground would help as well.
Relieved trainer with The Paddy Premium, Ryan and Emma  after making a bold bid at Perth yesterday, picture  courtesy of Mike Bishop
A general exercise for the horses here this morning, a lot of them came in looking a bit mouldy after such a wet summer but the efforts of the team are paying dividends already and they are looking well now.  No jump racing in the North until 20th August back at Perth, Lucy in action on the flat at Musselburgh tomorrow night -  Call of Duty in the 7.20 and Cyflymder in the 7.50 (challenging one for the commentator!)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Balwyllo (3rd from left) at Perth last night, notice the rider on the horse on the left, her rein has broken and she is trying in vain to grab it, the horse ran out shortly afterwards - scary!

Dull and damp today but racing at Perth this evening goes ahead, it will be soft ground and there is the possibility of further heavy rain so fingers crossed nothing extreme arrives.  We run two horses that would both prefer better ground but have nowhere else to run; The Paddy Premium runs in the 7pm Ryan Mania rides and 5 run, he has yet to find his form this season but I suspect that is more to do with the ground he has had to run on than his age (12), he certainly shows plenty of zest at home and he won over course and distance last summer, he just might run a little better.  Northern Flame runs in his second chase at 8.30, Lucy rides, 7 run and I hope he benefits from the experience.  Lucy also rides Adios Saffron in the 6.25, Word of Warning in the 7.30 and Pete in the 7pm if he reappears having run last night.  Lucinda supplies 14 of the 42 declared runners at Perth tonight, where would the racecourse be without her?  The Perth economy needs it's racecourse, the racecourse needs runners, very few Northern trainers are represented because there isn't a proper schedule of fixtures through the summer, listen up BHA!
Double header yesterday was fun, Goldtrek put up a satisfactory effort as our first flat runner at Ayr, the speedy transfer to Perth worked well and we arrived in the paddock at the perfect time.  Balwyllo ran too free, different tactics next time.  Pictures from Perth yesterday courtesy of Frank Cornfield, here's one for "the Dregs" - they know who they are........!!!!