20th December 2014
Plus 7 and dry when driving in.
Racing should be fun and ownership certainly should be fun.
Yesterday we ran The Oscar Partnerships Midnight Oscar at Ascot.
We knew MO probably was not going to enjoy the ground but the chance of a Christmas get together and Ascot racecourse was a day not to be missed.
Most of MO's owners made the trip and those who came from afar stayed over.
Ascot are the best at looking after owners and 10 of us sat down for lunch and wine, given by the racecourse courtesy of Weatherbys Bank and BMW.
They all had a wonderful day and came away realising that racehorse ownership is not all about winning ( we do try hard on that front) it is also about having fun.
MO actually ran a blinder to finish 6th and picked up a bit of prize money. And Jason Maguire drove me home!
On a serious note it really is appreciated what Ascot do for owners. It is a great racecourse and I just love running horses there.
Knocklayde Express and Emily Gray had a trip over to Lambourn this morning. David Bass was there to ride EG.
Jane and Kitty Henry were here for 'a morning on the gallops and breakfast' as booked through CD Tours.
Jon Owens called in third lot to see his KBRP horse Knockanrawley.
We have no runners today or tomorrow but those who used my login page yesterday were rewarded, for the second day running, with a 3/1 winner.
My staff party tonight. Harry Cooks Free House in Cheltenham...Apparently all the male members of my team have to wear Christmas jersey and I am not allowed in/out without one.. Mat has tried it on for size.. I wonder what it will be like?
We will be missing Ed Cookson who had his operation last night and all went well.
Evelyn Faber sent this over...appropriate for tonight....?
A jockey walks into a bar and takes a seat next to a most attractive member of my staff.
He gives her a quick glance then casually looks at his new Apple watch for a moment.
She notices this and asks, "Is your date running late?"
No," he replies, "I just got this state-of-the-art Apple watch, and I was just testing it."
The intrigued she says, "A state-of-the-art watch? What’s so special about it?"
The jockey says, "It uses alpha waves to talk to me telepathically."
She says, "What’s it telling you now?"
Well, it says you’re not wearing any panties."
She giggles and replies, "Well it must be broken because I am wearing panties!"
The jockey smirks, taps his watch and says, "Damn thing’s an hour fast."
And that, my friends…......is Confidence!
19th December 2014
Plus 8 and damp when driving in. We had 4mm of rain overnight.
Premier Portrait winning at Towcester yesterday was winner number 39 for the season. My target was 40 by Christmas and with one runner today and one on Monday am I likely to make it?
I suppose if I count Sunblazer's Wolverhampton all-weather win then we have hit 40.. more important to 40 jump winners though.
As you well know there is no bigger fan of Jason Maguire than me and yesterday was one of his master rides.
Sorry Paul Rooney, but if I had the money and of course a 100 odd horses I too would be retaining Jason.
Premier Portrait is far from easy, in fact he is downright quirky to say the least. Sheepskin cheek pieces made little difference although as far as the betting public were concerned they made all the difference.
The difference was that Jason Maguire bullied him into agreeing to win; not by hitting him, but by out thinking him.
4 fences from home PP looked like either pulling up or being tailed off, but then Jason persuaded that winning was important and they did by 15 lengths.. Brilliant stuff and PP had a very very happy owner in Penny Perriss.
I love Towcester as a racecourse and will miss those 7 days that have been sold off to allow dog racing to take place.. shame.
We have all done it?..
Last night Clare and I were invited to supper with Tristan Bailey (no relation); we talked and sat around drinking waiting for the last two guests to arrive.
Finally a phone call was made to find out where they were lost; but no, they were in bed.. having forgotten..
Un Ace had a small wind operation yesterday.. It would be good if it makes the difference AP thinks..
Talking operations; Ed Cookson goes into have his operation on his wrist later today. Poor Ed, not good timing.
We have one runner today at Ascot and what a cracking card it is too.
You will have to login to find out my thoughts...
Thanks for all the emails after yesterdays winning selection.. most of you paid for the year let alone months subscription.
Thanks Gavin James for the photos from Towcester.
Jeremy Ker sent over one his wartime memories..
An elderly Italian man who lived on the outskirts of Rimini, Italy,went to the local church for confession.
When the priest slid open the panel in the confessional, the man said:
"Father, during World War II, a beautiful Jewish woman from our neighbourhood knocked urgently on my door and asked me to hide her from the Nazis. So I hid her in my attic."
The priest replied: "That was a wonderful thing you did, and you have no need to confess that."
"There is more to tell, Father. She started to repay me with sexual favours. This happened several times a week, and sometimes twice on Sundays."
The priest said, "That was a long time ago and by doing what you did, you placed the two of you in great danger, but two people under those circumstances can easily succumb to the weakness of the flesh. However, if you are truly sorry for your actions, you are indeed forgiven."
"Thank you, Father. That's a great load off my mind. I do have one more question."
"And what is that?" asked the priest.
"Should I tell her the war is over?''
18th December 2014
Plus 12 and windy when driving in.
Well done Ludlow. A huge crowd, great racing and stunning prize money.
Sadly we did not take any of it home but there were positives to be taken from both my horses runs yesterday. They will be far better horses in the spring and on better ground.
It makes you realise that if Ludlow can do it then courses like Newbury should be slapped down for being outshone and out prize monied by such a small racecourse.
As one well known owner said to me... Newbury, or in fact any Grade one racecourse should lose their grade one status if they don't produce grade one prize money. Newbury rely heavily on races like The Hennessey and the rest of their meetings their prize money is pretty dire.
Yesterdays meeting at Ludlow produced 90K in prize money and next year they are forecasting 100K for the same day.. I will be interested to see if Newbury make it to 60K on their day next year..
Yesterday our postman droped a note to say that somebody has not put enough stamps on their letter... I had to pay extra to receive the said letter.
It is never a cheque or a bill, but over Christmas it could be a letter from abroad .. who knows.
I paid extra for an envelope which when opened produced some fine looking oats.. not for my porridge but for my horses.
Highclere Castle Horse Feeds Ltd must have sent out several of these packages to trainers.. I wonder how many paid extra to receive them?
I am sure HCHFL produce very fine oats but I use Nene Milling who make Vixen Racechorse Feeds. Their cubes/nuts have done me well since my second year as a trainer.
I forgot to mention that Maurice and Pim Greenaway caled in yesterday late morning to see their A&RRC horse Fizzy Dancer
Thursday is our easy day and with very few horses to run over the next week we are heading for a quite time.
Towcester today with one runner. Premier Portrait needs to buck his ideas up. My thoughts..
A prominent owner (not the one I was talking to yesterday as he was does not have a title) had a private trainer called Sid Fardell.
A creature of habit the Lord liked to receive a telegram updating him every evening if he had had a runner. He would then meet his trainer every Friday in his London Club to discuss the week’s racing.
Sid had trained the Lord many winners but was currently experiencing a long losing run. As the losing run extended so did the length of the telegrams which were costing His Lordship more & more money.
They met as usual on the Friday & the Lord explained to Sid that as a loyal man he would stick with him but that he must save him some money by cutting down the length of the telegrams.
The following Monday they had a runner at Plumpton & in the evening the Lord received the following telegram "SF.SF.SF.SF"
Despite lengthy consideration he could make head nor tail of this.
Meeting again on the Friday of that week His Lordship asked Sid what on earth his telegram meant.
"It’s quite simple" said Sid "Started, Farted .Slipped & Fell. See you Friday. Sid Fardell "
TNDGB would have fitted the trainers description well.
17th December 2014
Plus 10 and dry when driving in. We had 6 mm of rain overnight.
David Bass called in for a couple of lots on his way to riding at Ludlow.
We also have two budding young amateurs in; Ed Bailey and Ed Henderson
We schooled Gaelic Myth, Knocklayde Express, Midnight Oscar and Emily Gray.
Jump racing faces a crisis with the number of small fields in novice chases, in fact we face a crisis because we have small fields generally.
Paul Bittar, the soon to be departing BHA Chief Executive has been, if I am correct, hammering on the door of more races during his tenure. Yes there are 650 of them so he has achieved that goal.
Goals or targets always looks good until you realise that there are about 1600 less horses in training than there were 6 years ago.
Prize money certainly helps in some cases; I would have run Un Ace at Doncaster last Friday rather than at Cheltenham on Saturday, but the prize money was so poor that Faerie Reel almost won more for winning a novice hurdle on Sunday at Southwell. Either way there were very small fields as there are just not enough Un Ace's to go round.
I know there are too few horses in training for the number of races. We are down on numbers from last year, but I am still struggling to find suitable races for some of my horses, and ground certainly becomes an issue when deciding where you go.
There is no point in bottoming horses on heavy ground when you have to train them all season; there are other days.
You only have to look at the success of a small racecourse like Ludlow who consistently put on great prize money (90K today) and as a result have good cards and competitive racing.
Ludlow's novice hurdle today had about 10 horses balloted out today.. a rarity nowadays. Their races are worth more than what is on offer at Newbury (55.5K), a Grade One track, who also race today.
You can hark on for ages about small fields and why, but the end product is that if there are not enough horses then races with have small fields and we trainers will be picky as to where they run.. we want winners and a winner of a 3 horse race is better than finishing 2nd in a 12 runner field. We are judged on success not seconds!
Talking Ludlow we have two runners there. Ballyknock Lad and The Scarlett Woman with Jason Maguire and David Bass.
Ed Cookson is out of action; Ed has fractured a couple of bones in his right wrist and is having an operation later this week.
Sadly Harry Topper will not be running for at least a month. I am just not that happy with him so he will miss the Welsh National and The Lexus and wait.
My second travelling head girl Casey Carter turns 23 today.. She is going bowling tonight to celebrate..
Paddy and Murphy stopped off at a Pizza Express in Dublin and ordered a large Margarita.
Murphy: "Shall I cut it into eight slices or ten"
"Oh just the eight " replied Paddy "there's no way we can eat ten"
16th December 2014
Plus 2 and dry when driving in. Frost on the windscreen.
Knockanrawley was second at Ffos Las yesterday.
It was heavy old ground which he seems to handle well but he was beaten fair and square but a horse who liked it more? It was another good run from this enigmatic grey, whose adoring owners just love my comments about him?
Mat, my head lad and assistant drove Jason Maguire to Ffos Las yesterday.
Jason normally has a driver but Mat proved a capable deputy yesterday, although conversation between the two good mates was limited as apparently Jason wore out his mobile phone battery talking so much.
Jason Maguire has announced that he is now a retained jockey to owners Paul and Clare Rooney who have the best part of a 100 horses in training
Hopefully this new arrangement will not mean we don't see so much of Jason.. especially as we don't train for PR..
Donald McCain, who trains the majority of PR's horses obviously supplies Jason with the bulk of his winners, but after DM we supply Jason the most..Jason is an important cog in our wheel and his advice is invaluable..
Jason, Lauren and their daughter Darcey live near Birdlip, only a few miles from here.
Toby Balding's memorial service was right packed at Marlborough College yesterday. Racing turned out in droves to pay their respects and rightly so.
Leading conditional jockey Tom Bellamy was in for a couple of lots.
Ed Cookson is out of action after hurting his wrist when falling at Doncasterr on Friday.
Keith Huggins called in third lot to see his promising A&RRC horse Fizzy Dancer and Sylvia Dibben was also here to see her recent winner Agent Fedora.
Graham Potts was in for his weekly vet visit.
This weeks movers and shakers in the handicap charts are..Charingworth down 1 to 133, Darna down 2 to 142, Gallery Exhibition down 1 to 127, Magic Money down 1 to 114, Un Ace up 2 to 142 and A Shade Of Bay up a whopping 13 to 120.
We have no runners today..
Archie heading to London's Natural History Museum with his Granny.. Mummy at home while Daddy has his annual visit from his Weatherbys Bank Manager Mervyn Harman
Please note that this is not my bank new recorded message.
"Thank you for calling the bank, all our operators are busy at the moment, thank you for waiting, your call is important to us so please hold until you lose the will to live and your call is no longer important to us"
15th December 2014
Plus 4 and dry when driving in.
Faerie Reel winning at Southwell yesterday was winner number 38; it was the 14th race that we have won with a mare and the 16th winner that AP McCoy has ridden for us this season.
Faerie Reel would not have enjoyed that awful ground yesterday but she jumped well and although it was a 3 horse race she on well enough.
I was so thrilled for FR's owner Elizabeth Kellar who has not had much luck of late with her horses. It was a good moment for her and Paul.. A high five one I believe.
Faerie Reel was bought in France by Richard Venn after she had won 3 races on the flat.
Bizarrely FR sat on my web site for sale page all last winter; then rumours were heard of a useful 2 year old half brother made me take her off the market. (incidentally Un Ace was also on for a while)
Rumours proved to be correct and now FR's pedigree, which was not bad, is now considerably better. There is a good life after racing for FR.
FR is well this morning after her race. As are all my weekend runners.
Cheltenham was really quiet last weekend. The place felt empty.
Why does the International Cheltenham meeting always feel so quiet? There were supposedly 22,000 people there.. where were they hiding?
Saturdays runners did their best.
Un Ace ran a blinder and put the sword to the odds on favourite Champagne West, who is the 4th highest novice chaser in the country.
Un Ace jumped and travelled well and for a moment jumping the last I thought we might win. 2nd is not my favourite place but this was a good one and AP McCoy was hugely impressed with him.. Better ground will make a big difference.
Darna ran his heart out and found the tacky ground all against him. He again travelled and jumped well, but he ran out of steam coming down the hill. A good run and one that showed that there are some good days ahead for him on better ground.
I was hugely impressed with The New One..
Todays racing headlines...
Jamie Spencer predictably decides not to give up riding...I would have far more surprised if he had actually retired as he planned..
Jason Maguire called in on his way to Wales to jump Such A Legend and Harry Topper over fences.
Keith and Liz Ellis were here mid morning to see Liz's Amazing D'Azy and Keith's new horse the currently unnamed 3 year old gelding by Authorized.. This was followed by lunch at The Wheatsheaf. I then have a meeting in Banbury..
Yes you guessed it.. Mat heads to Ffos Las with Knockanrawley. Happy owners as they believe I am a Jonah. Jason Maguire rides.
Man Killed on Golf Course.. Not Royal Shipton I hasten to add..
A foursome of guys was waiting at the men's tee while a foursome of women was hitting from the women's tee. The ladies were not rushing and were taking their time.
When the final lady was ready to hit her ball, she hacked it ten feet. Then she went over and whiffed it completely. Then she hacked it another ten feet and finally hacked it another five feet.
She looked up at the impatiently waiting men and said apologetically, "I guess all those f....g lessons I took over the winter didn't help."
One of the men immediately responded, "Well, there you have it. You should have taken golf lessons instead!"
He never even had a chance to duck. He was only 63
13th December 2014
Plus 1 and dry when driving in.
We had a frost last night but nothing racing at Cheltenham needs to worry about.
A Shade Of Bay winning for The Have Fun Racing Partnership yesterday at Doncaster brought up winner number 37 and with AP McCoy riding (Jason Maguire and David Bass were both banned). ASOB was AP's 15 winner from 24 rides for us this season... 62%!
Magic Money had a tired fall two from home; she is OK. MM will have a break now until the spring as will Gallery Exhibition who found Cheltenham's rained on ground too soft for him.
Charingworth ran possibly the best race of his life to finish 4th yesterday.
Charingworth was hampered by a faller 2 from home which possibly cost him 3rd place.. It was still a great effort from the old boy who just loves Cheltenham.
A Shade Of Bay winning was a welcome tonic for her owner breeder Sandra Steer-Fowler.
Poor Sandra, who just loves her horses had just been given the news that her favourite 3 year old, out of Black Collar, has taken a fatal fall at the livery yard where he was being broken
I then rang shouting with delight after her horse ASOB , who she has leased to THFRP, had won. This is a tough game at times..
You guessed it.. I just could not keep my hand down at last nights Brightwells sales..
Tim Ricahrdson and Karen Masters, who are share holders in the KBRP's Knockanrawley called in 3rd lot to see him while Mark and Marion Hudson called in to see their KBRP horses Milord, Un Ace (who runs at Cheltenham today) and Sunblazer. Peter Kerr who manages my KBRP's was here too.
Those who read my web site.. Please don't be frightened to give me a call and get involved.. I still have a couple of shares left in The Have Fun Racing Partership's A Shade Of Bay and if you are charitable you should buy into our GSTTKPA Partnership as they have two bloody nice horses.
To end on an old one.
Paddy calls Easyjet to book a flight.
The operator asks,"How many people are flying with you?"
Paddy replies "I don't know! It’s your plane!"
12th December 2014
Plus 8 dry when driving in.
It was a very windy and wet night leaving standing water all over the place. We had 10mm of water land on us.
Frustrating was how I would describe my visit to Warwick yesterday. Not even Aiden Murphy's box cheered me up.
Such A Legend was going well and just behind the leaders (as planned) when he made his only mistake and shot Ed Cookson up his neck and nearly out of the saddle. Race over. The form book should have had a PU after his name.
SAL seems fine this morning. There will be other days for his lovely horse.
I was away early this morning.. To Cheltenham and the Cheltenham Brightwells breeze up sales where I will based all day, with a bit of racing in between; Mat headed off to Doncaster.
Cracking racing today at Cheltenham Doncaster and Bangor.
A busy day with 4 runners.
At Cheltenham we run Galley Exhibition with Nico de Boinville having his first ride for me and Charingworth with his mate Harry Bannister riding.
If you are going to Cheltenham either today or tomorrow dont forget the Apres Ski Party..
Jim and Lynda Clark sent this one over...
A little boy got on the bus, sat next to a man reading a book, and noticed he had his collar on backwards.
The little boy asked why he wore his collar backwards.
The man, who was a Priest, said, .... 'I am a Father..'
The little boy replied, 'My Daddy doesn't wear his collar like that..
The priest looked up from his book and answered, ''I am the Father of many.'
The boy said, ''My Dad has 4 boys, 4 girls and two grandchildren and he doesn't wear his collar that way!'
The priest, getting impatient, said. 'I am the Father of hundreds', and went back to reading his book.
The little boy sat quietly thinking for a while, then leaned over and said, "Maybe you should wear a condom, and put your pants on backwards instead of your collar."
If you fancy buying a horse at the sales tonight let me know.. unless your name is Tom Mcloughlin.
If you would like to read my recent stable tour on At The Races.. please click here
11th December 2014
Plus 5 with a strong wind up here on Thorndale hill..
The heating has failed to work this morning, so the office is cold..
Not ideal for poor Kerry and Sandie.
Winter woollies and thick jerseys are order of the day for them..
The Racing Post has a very interesting article today. 'The scourge of gastric ulcers..'
Gastric ulcers are something that we have to deal with on far more regular basis than we ever used to.
We have horses here who look wonderfully well and work well at home, but then perform badly on the racecourse.
Blood tests and Trachea washes show nothing wrong and then you gastro scope.. bang you find that the horse has ulcers..
There are 4 degrees of scores 1 to 4. 4 is bad and 1 is bearable..Treatment is expensive and the best form of treatment is gastrogard.
We turn horses out as much as we can and one of the reasons we do is that we believe this helps prevent the problem. But it does not on all.
Horses are grazers and being stuck in a stable for 23 hours being fed precessed (racehorse cubes) is probably un natural.
Most horses cope, but there are some who cannot, but the difficult problem is that they don't have to look wrong or stary in their coats to be affected.
Ulcers can be caused by stress, a fall or a hard race..Loss of form can be dramatic, as can the cure.
We gastro scoped the whole yard 5 years ago, on a trial basis, and of the 35 horses we looked at 5 were found to have grade 3 and above ulcers. The irony was that 2 of them had won in the previous fortnight.
We have one runner today at Warwick's big Christmas meeting.
Such A legend and Ed Cookson team up in the very competitive looking novice handicap chase. They are splashed all over the Racing Post.. Pressure? You will have to login in to read my thoughts on todays racing.
Andrew Elliot sent this parrot joke over..
A young man named Victor received a parrot as a gift.
The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.
Victor tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.
Finally, Victor was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back.
Victor shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.
Victor, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.
For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.
Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, Victor quickly opened the door to the freezer.
The parrot calmly stepped out onto Victor's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to
Victor was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.
As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"
10th December 2014
Plus 6 and windy when driving in. It could get worse yet.
We were delighted with Mor Brooks run in the bumper at Uttoxeter yesterday.
This huge horse was on and off the bridle on the heavy ground; turning into the straight he loomed large and on the bridle.. He floundered two furlongs from home and finished 3rd, beaten half a length for second.
On the face of it he just finished third in a small field bumper... in reality this is a bloody nice horse, who, when going chasing next season will be pretty decent.
Mor Brook will now probably not run until the second half of the season and have a few educational runs over hurdles..
Tom Bellamy was in to ride out one lot this morning.
Gold Man, Emily Gray, The Scarlett Woman, Mollys A Diva, Darna, Un Ace, Knockanrawley, The Playful Priest, Faerie Reel, Knocklayde Express, Bay Max and Taras Rainbow.
We also jumped Magic Money and A Shade Of Bay over hurdles
John Perriss was over second lot to see his horses Azure Aware, The Drinkymeister, By The Boardwalk, Mollys A Diva, Emily Gray, Knocklayde Express, and of course Penny's horses Premier Portrait and The Scarlett Woman.
Paul and Elizabeth Kellar were also here to see Elizabeth's horse Faerie Reel.
We have no runners today, which is a blessing as it is Archie's Carol service this afternoon and a three line whip would have been applied.
Our one intended runner today Crazy Jack had a disappointing scope yesterday.
Alastair Down we know writes well and today he pens a few lines on Oliver Sherwood in todays Racing Post.. It is a good read.
Christmas day fast approaches..
Four guys were playing their weekly game of golf, and one remarked how nice it would be to wake up on Christmas morning, roll out of bed and without an argument go directly to the golf course, meet his buddies and play a round.
His buddies all chimed in and said, "Let's do it! We'll make it a priority, figure out a way and meet here early Christmas morning."
Months later, that special morning arrives, and there they are on the golf course.
The first guy says, "Boy this game cost me a fortune! I bought my wife such a diamond ring that she can't take her eyes off it."
Number 2 guy says, "I spent a ton, too. My wife is at home planning the cruise I gave her. She was up to her eyeballs in brochures."
Number 3 guy says, "Well, my wife is at home admiring her new car, reading the manual."
They all turned to the last guy in the group who is staring at them like they have lost their minds. "I can't believe you all went to such expense for this golf game. I slapped my wife on the butt and said, "Well Babe, Merry Christmas! It's a great morning for either sex or golf.
And she said, "Take a sweater".