Week ending Sunday 25th May 2014
It was a joint decision between us as a family and the team to retire Docofthebay today.
Please find below a montage of his pics from over the years.
Week Ending 18th May 2014
Monday busy day for entries, and I send off two new two year old colts passports to Weatherbys for naming.
Tuesday, Hoofbeats come for a stable visit and video some of the horses on the gallops for their new promotional video involving their horse Procurer. Shares are selling in him and you can visit their website at www.hoofbeats.co.uk for more information. Pearl Noir aka "Charlie" Johnny & myself depart for Beverley. The going is very soft and Charlie does not have the best of draws. He runs his race but finishes mid div. Graham Lee reports he did not like the soft conditions. A crowd of the "Partners" have enjoyed a sociable afternoon, and always are happy to enjoy an outing even if we are not placed, which is refreshing and reassuring. Shares in this four horse syndicate cost just £150 plus vat per month. They are a very sociable crowd, and I can highly recommend becoming involved.
Wednesday I am off to York for a busman's holiday. Tattersalls the sales company have invited Becky and myself to their box at York racecourse. We meet up with friends and breeders Mick & Fiona Denniff, and have a really enjoyable day. Its rare for me to go racing without a runner. Its very relaxing and totally stress free. The box is buzzing and I enjoy meeting and socializing with some really nice people.
Thursday Askaud "AUD" is declared for York. The race is a listed handicap, and looks right up her street. I would have preferred some better ground for her. Freddie Tylicki flies up specially from Newmarket to ride her. She runs a very game race and finishes in sixth place. Happy with her, and a good result as this race was a qualifier for a race on Champions Day at Ascot, which has a very valuable prize. Her racing club owners The Doncaster Racing Club are as ecstatic as ever about her. Everyone enjoys the atmosphere in the owners and trainers bar. The new saddling boxes and pre parade ring, are in use and I have a quick look at the new weighing room complex. The pre parade ring is possibly a little on the small side considering some of the big heritage handicaps staged there, and as the stables open straight onto the walkway I can see a few problems occurring. The winning connections box looks fabulous and has a great position overlooking the course. Threes Grand "Mole" is at Newmarket later, for Robin and Jayne Jackson. Its her first run back and I am hopeful. Unfortunately, another becomes very upset next to her, and she loses a couple of lengths at the start. She comes home safe and is not disgraced. She will be back to winning ways soon.
Friday I have some terrific news that the yard has been sponsored by "Fine Fettle Feeds". They have an array of excellent products including "Happy Tummy" charcoal and "Full Spectrum Herbs" which I can heartily endorse. Please visit their excellent website www.finefettlefeed.com.
Becky as organized as ever, is now into Royal Ascot countdown. Badges have been applied for, and so now its onto hats and outfits, invites and picnics. Hopeful we can have a runner or two this year.
Saturday Piceno "Pi" and Six Wives " Wivesy"are at Thirsk. Both have terrible draws. Neither are placed. Frustrating when the draw plays such a vital role on certain courses. I enjoy spending time with the Ontoawinner crowd of owners. They cater for all the needs of all racing enthusiasts. Ownership starts from as little as £250 per year for a share of eight horses including Piceno and Burnhope. Its so affordable. Please visit www.onotawinner.net for more info or contact our office for more info.
Sunday and I withdraw Sir Geoffrey on drying going at Ripon. Two breeze ready for Monday and I declare for Tuesday. Not a vintage week from winners this week, but our yard continues to attract attention for all the right reasons, and I am very grateful for the support of our owners who appreciate not every week can be a winning one.
Our sincerest condolences go to Jimmy Fortune, family and friends on the sudden and tragic loss of his wife Jan. Our thoughts also with Brian Meehan and his team after the awful accident involving his horsebox, and all those involved in the incident, both human and equine.
Week Ending Sunday 11th May 2014
Monday, May Day Bank Holiday. No such things as bank holidays in racing, other than in terms of us being usually busy racing. This particular one we had runners at Beverley. Its a really lovely racecourse and a firm favorite with our owners. We have Le Laitier (Jack) and Armelle (Princess) running. Lots of owners here, to entertain, which I enjoy, including my lovely ladies "The Friday Follies". I was hopeful that the drop back to a stiff 5f would suit Jack, and he has a good draw. The draw bias at Beverley always suits a low number. Unfortunately he is never travelling within himself, and the drop back to 5f has not suited him. Armelle is a sweet filly, and usually gives of her best. She has a very wide draw however. Our apprentice Matt Hopkins makes use of her speed to get across as soon as he can, and she is a little too keen in front. She runs well until the last furlong. Without having had a placed effort, all the owners remain in good spirits however and all have enjoyed their "day-out".
Tuesday I am due to give a talk on racing to The Yorkshire Racing Club this evening. This is in Pudsey near Leeds. I arrive early as we have a runner at Catterick and I want to watch the race before the evening starts. Piceno for his Ontoawinner owners is back out at one of his favorite courses. He loves the bends and undulations. I would love to run him at Epsom, I think he would really enjoy the course. He does have a wide draw which is not ideal, he runs extremely well and Matthew gives him a great ride, just getting beaten by a nose in the photo finish. I watch the race from the betting shop across the road from the venue and a couple of the audience have enjoyed a small wager, which obviously puts them in a good frame of mind. The evening consists mainly of a question and answer session, and a few tales from the horses mouth. They are a really nice group, and I relax and enjoy the evening.
Thursday is a quiet day in the yard, but we are as busy as ever with three runners at Southwell, and two 2 year olds for stalls tests. Rather than seeing stalls tests as a chore. I feel its invaluable experience for them and its an extremely beneficial part of their training program. Both pass with flying colours and breeze nicely down the course before heading off home. A couple of new owners pop along to see their boy and Daz and Tracy stay to watch the racing with our regular crowd. Procurer (Timmy) is running for our latest new ownership group Hoofbeats Racing. Luke Morris gives him a super ride, and some very positive feedback. The owners are very happy with him. Masked Dance (MD) also has Luke booked to ride. Luke jumps him out and I am hopeful of at least a place, unfortunately another horse takes his position and knocks into Masked Dance ensuring we loose all our chances. Very frustrating. Six Wives (Wivesy) is the last of the three, and has probably the best chance of getting us into the winners enclosure. She looks tremendous, and right back to her best as I eye her critically before the race. Matthew is booked to ride claiming his valuable 7lb. He knows the course and the mare well. His instructions are to keep it simple. He rides her well, and she looks every inch the winner, just tiring a little in the last 150 yards. Its been a long road back to fitness with her, following an operation on her throat. She is the bravest of horses, and I love her to bits. Her lovely owners, Andrew and Bernie Baker, Barry and Gloria Cloran are not there to see her win, but I speak to them on the phone. Both are emotional and very pleased. Its great to have her back to winning ways for them. Their faith in her and me has been astonishing.
Saturday and stable stalwart Sir Geoffrey is declared at Nottingham. He is unfortunately withdrawn on the going. Pasturyes (Izzy) is off to Thirsk. The heavens have opened at Thirsk and the going although reported as "Good to Soft", looks soft even heavy, by her race. She runs well for five furlongs, but tires in the mud and drops away. She is sound and no issues, so will run again on better going for her lovely owner Jayne Jackson. Saturday evening the family are all invited to a party to celebrate the recovery of a very close friend who suffered a near fatal car crash. His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. As we dash about the country, from race meeting to race meeting. I reflect on the dangers of our day to day lives and the many risks involved in the name of our sport. I am truly thankful for the recovery of Luke, and hope for safe and sound journeys for all my friends. colleagues, owners and horses, as we continue to aim high on the stairway to success.
Week Ending Sunday 4th May 2014
Monday I make decisions on the entries for the week end. I have Askaud penciled in for the Thirsk Hunt Cup, but a listed race for fillies and mares at Goodwood also looks a realistic option, following her gallant second against the colts in the listed race at Leicester last week-end and in her current form, I feel its worth an entry. I also make a few entries for Doncaster.
Tuesday is a busy morning. Owners Jim & Chris bring down a friend to the yard, who is interested in joining one of the syndicates. They all really enjoy a morning behind the scenes in the yard, and I hope he has liked what he has seen. I also meet Des, another new owner for the first time. He is a highly entertaining gent, and we have an immediate connection, He enjoys seeing his horse out and we enjoy making plans for his future. I change and dash off to Nottingham with Six Wives "Wivesy". She has been turned out again quickly, as the race perfectly suited her demographic. Disappointingly, the going is softer than ideal, and although she runs well in third place, she tires in the last 100yards or so. She is a valiant little mare, and I have missed having her on course. She rarely runs a bad race, and one of her owners Andrew Baker, is there at Nottingham to watch.
Wednesday we have an early start down to Ascot. I am guest of Paul & Susan Roy, in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal, at a charity event for SIA. I had an entry for Cock of The North in the conditions race, but decided to give him just a little more time. The day is extremely enjoyable, and raises a great deal of money for this fantastic charity. I have two, two year olds for stalls tests at Southwell, who both pass with flying colours. Also three runners. Cadeaux Pearl "Cad"runs well in second place. The other two run disappointing, but are safe and sound which really is the most important aspect. Hope their time to shine will come soon.
Thursday, after making the decision where to run Askaud "Aud". I plump for Goodwood. I head off to Redcar, with Piceno for his Ontoawinner owners. "Pi" is a really happy character and enjoys his "days out" at the races. He runs a great race, and finishes third. He was a big price, and I hear that his "gang" of happy owners have all enjoyed a little each way wager. He will be out and about soon for them.
Friday and another potential owner at the yard, as I am at the breeze up sales, I leave the "home guard" to show them around. The Newmarket breeze up sales complex is busy. I am amazed at the prices of the lots. Not only the two year old's, but the horses in training prices are strong too. I am quietly very pleased with my two purchases from Doncaster. Shares have been sold in both already. A sharp looking Tagula colt has been sold to a fabulous couple, who had horses here a few years ago. It is lovely to see them back in the yard again, and I take it as a real compliment that they have honored me with having their colours back in the yard and the privilege of training for them. They have had some fabulous success and owned some great horses in their time. I hope I am lucky for them.
Saturday, is a very busy work morning and a few owners come down to watch. I have left early for Goodwood with "Aud", so again leave it to the team, to entertain. I meet up with the owners of Six Wives at Goodwood as its close to where they live, and I enjoy their company. Barry is a great story teller, Gloria incredibly glamorous and funny, and the day goes by quickly. "Aud" runs another game race and finishes in fourth place. She nets over £2k for the Doncaster Racing Club's owners, and looking at the form of the race and the finishers in the Thirsk Hunt Cup, I feel my decision was a good one. The team at home head off to Doncaster with three runners. A total of 24 owners are in the owners and trainers bar, and of the three runners I feel Pennine Warrior is the best chance. As I travel North home in the box, I listen to the commentary and hear he runs his race, but is unplaced as are the others. Back to the drawing board with them. I will watch the replay and study the races in the morning.
Sunday I am again in early work mode as we breeze two runners for May Day at Beverley. Hopeful of a good result with both. As I head off on the train, to York for an afternoon out, I feel definitely well traveled this week and although we have not had a winner , I am optimistic for what the future holds. My horses, my team and my owners are very much part of that.
Week Ending Sunday 27th April 2014
Easter Monday, we have three horses entered at seaside venues. Pennine Warrior is entered at Yarmouth and Le Laitier (Jack) & La Paiva (Miss P) are entered at Redcar. Unfortunately Pennine Warrior (Brio) is a non runner at Yarmouth. This leaves myself, Becky, Johnny and Flo to concentrate on the Redcar runners. Both are in the same race and I feel both have decent chances. La Paiva is a big filly, and is still a little green she ran very creditably from out of the handicap. Le Laitier is all fire and brimstone, and Graham Lee was I feel a wise choice for a jockey booking as he uses his expertise to keep a lid on Jack's enthusiasm until the final furlong. A great win, for some super syndicate partners, and we all enjoyed a glass or two in the winning connections box with Lord Zetland afterwards. What an absolute gentleman, he made everyone feel so welcome.
Tuesday we have some potential new owners down to visit. Full breakfast and a busy morning on the gallops. Kevin and Mark take the two runners to Wolverhampton, Biscuiteer and Piceno. Biscuiteer has the excellent Luke Morris booked. Biscuit is sporting a new hood and blinkers combination, which she obviously feels comfortable in, as she behaves beautifully in the stalls, and proceeds to win for her group of partners. One of whom William, is enjoying his second success in two days. Piceno has a horrid draw. Matt Hopkins does his level best to get him out and across, but "Pi" sulks a little and is unplaced. He will bounce back again I am sure. His Ontoawinner group of owners love him to bits, and he is still made a fuss off afterwards.
Wednesday, I head off for the morning to Doncaster Racecourse, to watch the Goffs DBS 2yo breeze up sales horses work on the course. This gives you not only the opportunity to watch how the youngsters work, but also how they behave in a near race day environment. I make copious notes, on all the lots. Some are standout performers and beautiful individuals. However , I know realistically at the moment, some of them will be way above what I can realistically afford to spend. I have a few owners in the pipeline for the right type of horse, however I am very clear in my mind that I treat their money like my own and unless I see something I feel is right and value too I will not be purchasing tomorrow.
Thursday is a declaration deadline for Saturday. I have made an entry for Askaud in the listed race at Leicester. She is in such good heart. It would be super to gain some black type for her. She will make a fantastic broodmare, as she has the conformation, the size. the page and the performance to match. The course is her favorite, with two wins there last season. The going looks favorable, I read the other entries, I declare her, and start to fret if I have made the correct decision. I also declare Docofthebay "Docster" for Haydock and not for Doncaster. I have a list of lovely lady amateur riders to disappoint who would all love to ride him, and Sacrosanctus "Sacro" for Wolverhampton, who is on a comeback from injury trail. Head off to the breeze up's and feel like I am going into battle. Competition will be fierce, between the agents, owners and trainers for the best lots.The sales complex is buzzing and I ask the vendors to pull out my shortlisted horses for inspection. Following this I ensure they are vetted, before making my shortlist. I bid for and bring home a Monsieur Bond colt, who I am very pleased with. He has been purchased for some existing owners.
Friday, I drive to Doncaster Races with Six Wives. "Wivesy". She has an absence of some 240 days to overcome and the going is softer than ideal. Her owners the Sexy Six, are not able to attend, but they are very much looking forward to watching her back in action. She runs a marvelous and very brave race with Matt Hopkins in the saddle. Just getting nabbed in the closing stages. I am delighted with her. She is a very brave and absolutely lovely little mare. I start to worry about the going at Leicester as it has been raining persistently over Leicestershire for the last 24 hours. I read through the form of the others in the race on softer going, and I spend the night wondering what the going stick will read in the morning.
Saturday morning, and the going at Leicester is given as good. The rain has missed the course, so we go. Kevin heads off to Haydock Park and Wolverhampton, and I drive with Flo to Leicester. "Docster" runs a blinder and comes in second, as an aged gelding, he is not ready for retirement quite yet, and still enjoys working his jockey's hard. Luke is the perfect foil for his antics, as Luke simply never gives up, and "Docster" although not winning, rewards his jockey ,owner & trainer with a little prize money and a return on an each way bet for his owner. Askaud has a great membership band with The Doncaster Racing Club. Not all can make it sadly, but we have a dozen stalwarts who are all so excited to have a runner in a listed race. "Aud" looks amazing, and tosses her head as Flo leads her round. This is a sign of her well being and I begin to feel I may have made the right decision before the off. The DRC members have all backed her anyway, at 50/1 e/w. No pressure then ?!! Freddie Tylicki knows the mare well. He rides her with aplomb and she just holds on for second by sticking her long neck out in gutsy style. Precious black type for her as a broodmare achieved , a nice e/w bet for her owners and a good prize money pot for coming second too. Freddie comes in beaming, thumbs up, job done he laughs before running off to drive up to Doncaster. Busy lives these jocks. As I drive the box home with Flo. I speak with Matthew about Sacrosanctus in the 7.20 at Wolverhampton. I arrive home just in time to see the race. He misses the break, and hangs to the right. He needs some confidence after his lay off, he is still rated on his runs two years ago, and I know I will be calling the handicappers Monday to discuss all the horses results. The reassessments they make before the new ratings are printed are vital in ensuring we can remain competitive, We do not have a store cupboard full of well bred lightly raced well handicapped horses. Ours are valiant and brave soldiers, who regularly go out there for us and put themselves out under the spotlight with the best. I am proud of my horses and my loyal team of staff and owners, who all work hard and play hard too, in this sport and game I love that we call racing.
Week Ending Sunday 20th April 2014
Monday we had some super new owners come and invest in shares in a few horses, and its always enjoyable to have visitors in the yard. We start to think of names for a unraced 3yo stable name of Timmy.
Tuesday sees a short trip to Southwell for a stalls test for Timmy .His passport has been sent off to France Galop, for their approval of the name we have chosen. We have to pass not only the BHA but the French authorities too, as he is a French bred. The red tape that surrounds racing is sometimes extremely frustrating. He passes his stalls test with flying colours though and I am looking forward to him racing very soon.
A very exciting day for the whole team Wednesday, as we have been sent a stunning Dutch Art 2yo filly by her breeders. She is absolutely gorgeous. As she steps off the box and looks around with a very aloof expression she is promptly christened "The Dutchess.".I am so very grateful to have been given the honor of training her, and I cannot wait to have the famous silks out on the racecourse.
Thursday off racing to Ripon, a really lovely Yorkshire course, and a firm favourite with owners. Sir Geoffrey is entered in the apprentice handicap. The going changes from good to soft to good. Which is not ideal for Geffers, but he takes his chance. Matt gives him plenty of encouragement, but its not to be. He comes back sound and none the worse for wear. The raise in grade is possibly a little too much for the old boy, and I feel his purple patch may be coming to an end. He has served us well this winter, on the all weather but at the moment his split mark for the all weather and the turf is tough. He last won on the turf off a mark of 50 and he has been raised 18lbs since, which is harsh and it does look like some relief from the handicapper is needed before he hits the winners enclosure again.
Early start Friday, as we set off to Lingfield with Even Stevens for the All Weather Championships finals day. As we approach the course, its already busy and there is a great buzz around the place. The owners have been given a special facility with a complimentary buffet and prosseco. The room fills very quickly and luckily we have a great table for our owners to share. Jim Kennerley part owner of Even Stevens has made the long journey down from the North East and we start to enjoy a fabulous day's racing. Kate Hills from ARC greets us and invites up to the ARC facility, which has great viewing, and we thoroughly get into the party spirit. We cannot believe how packed the course is, and its great to see so many families racing. Clearly the day is a huge success and I am really pleased for ARC as the group have worked very hard to put the show on. All weather racing has come a long way in a very short time, and I can see great possibilities for the day as a whole in the future. Even Stevens looks fantastic in the pre parade ring, and we are greeted American style with our own leader board bearer, with name and colours blazing, the team have done a great job with him this winter and I feel proud and lucky to have a horse qualified for the day. We have a great draw in 1, 6f is a tad too far for Steve but we remain hopeful. He unluckily misses the break and our plans are foiled from the start. Tom Eaves is not hard on him. He has done us proud this winter and he deserves a break now. He loves the soft even heavy turf, so you will see him again when conditions suit. As I read through the racecard, I see Sir Geoffrey's name on the card too. He has won four for us this winter, and with a little luck could have picked up a couple more. I am pleased to see Andrew Balding's team pick up the £10k bonus for the horse with the most number of wins. After all the betting and withdrawal scandals in the seller and claiming races, it seems good old fashioned good handicapping has prevailed. A great day also for Phil Mc Entee who wins the fillies and mares race, and his team celebrate deservedly, "Living the Life" looks very aptly named.
Saturday evening we head to Nottingham with Incomparable and join up with owners Andrew and Bernie Baker and Andrew and Sharon Timms who are celebrating their wedding anniversary, And a big shout out has to go to Sharon on Sunday as she is celebrating a special birthday. "Compy" could not have looked better in the paddock, and I am mildly optimistic at a big price for a place. He is a huge horse, and as he is loaded his nose pushes onto the gates. They flick open and he walks through them. He has to be withdrawn due to BHA rules. He is absolutely fine and it is pretty frustrating that he is not allowed to race. Feel the end of the week is finishing off as it started, culminating in red tape and rules. However the highlight was undoubtedly the fabulous Friday feeling, I enjoyed being part of a new dawn in racing having a runner on the very first Good Friday race day in history.
Have a very happy Easter
Week Ending Sunday 13th April 2014
Runners at Catterick Tuesday, for Ontoawinner and our Scott Dixon Racing Syndicate, Paul J Dixon & Partners, good day for Ontoawinner and Piceno aka " Pi" with a convincing win, ridden in fine style by Matt Hopkins. Cadeaux Pearl "Cad" not bringing home the bacon, but a poor draw may not have helped. Back to the drawing board with him.
Frustrated by decs at Newbury on Thursday for Saturday meeting. Could not have been avoidedpan style="color:#000000;">Sunday saw the birth of another foal a Sunday's child full of grace, a full sister to Thunderball by Haafhd and a last piece for Even Stevens "Steve" in his prep for The AWT championships. Followed by a Sunday Roast and a pint watching the footy in The White Horse. Reflected on the week as saw pals and fellow trainers alongside Sheikh Fahad running the marathon to raise much needed funds for Racing Welfare. Please visit www.racingwelfare.co.uk and donate through just giving to enable the charity to carry on assisting those in need from within the racing community.