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11th June 2020

Plus 10 and dry when driving in.

Yesterday afternoon I went up to see Jason Maguire's Ivy Lodge Farm latest in mate..

Ajero owned by Julie and David Martin had just arrived over from Ireland. His family don't really need much of an introduction to Thorndale being a half brother to Charbel...Exciting.

The retired Sunblazer is also up with Jason, having banged a spint.. Anyway I drove the horsebox up there to see Ajero and bring Sunny back.. When dropping the ramp I found a ride on mower in the back!!

Yes I know I should have looked before leaving, but it was not the sort of conveyance I was expecting to find? To say that I felt rather a fool was an understatement, and Jason much enjoyed taking the piss...

Talking retirement.. Julie and David have decided that it is right that Charbel now heads to a new life away from racing. Charbel has been a fabulous horse to own and train. Charbel's race record speaks for itself. A hugely popular horse with the racing public.

Charbel started his racing life in Ireland with Thomas Mullins (as has Ajero) where he won two bumpers.

Charbel was bought by Jill Lamb with the help of Tom Hogan and then moved to the Martin's Bondwood Farm and then on to Thorndale..

He started his hurdling life with a win at Stratford. He then went on to finished second at Doncaster and then again at Ascot to Yanworth.. He then had a break and headed North to Musselburgh to win a Scottish Supreme Novice hurdle trial.. The Cheltenham Festival was next in the Supreme at Cheltenham where he finished a very gallant finished 5th to Altior in what was probably the best Supreme ever run..

Altior was to become his Nemesis...

The following season Charbel went chasing and again started with a win at Uttoxeter beating Le Prezien and Top Notch. He was then second to Altior in the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown and then the  ‘nearly’ big day at Cheltenham when he fell two from home when narrowly leading Altior in the Arkle Chase.. To this day we are always being asked ‘would be have won?’

I believe that fall probably hurt his confidence as it took a while to get him back on a winning track.

18 months later and after a back operation for bad kissing spine, he returned at Perth and was second.. then Chepstow where he won a good and competitive handicap chase under top weight and brought tears to all connections eyes.. a good second at Ascot was followed by a wonderful and impressive win at Huntingdon in the Tattersalls Ireland Edredon Bleu Chase (Registered As The Peterborough Chase). That was his finest day and perhaps the last time that he raced on his favoured good or faster ground. It was poetry in motion watching..

Last season he was never happy and the ground was totally against him..

So rather that see a lovely horse run down the field into a winning handicap mark, Julie and David have rightly decided it is time for Charbel to retire and enjoy another life..

What a journey and what a lovely horse.. We have been totally honoured to have had him to train.. Kate Paddock who looked after him, loved him and cherished him; and thanks to all who have played their part; Mat, George, Graham Potts, Gil Riley, Lucy Jackson, David Bass and of course Noel Fehily...

He will be missed, but he will certainly always be remembered..The one thing I do know is that he will be spoilt in his retirement..

Melinda Laws has kindly taken up the mantle of the Kim Bailey Racing Community spirit..

My interest in horses came from my parents.

My mother rode virtually all her life, jumping ponies at Olympia horse show in the 1930s and was still riding when she was 85 years old. My father did not ride but loved jumps racing.

I spent my early years in Epsom and remember riding my pony up through the woods to the Derby start and sitting on the grass on Epsom Downs to watch the horses flash by in Pinza’s Derby.

We moved to Northumberland when I was 7 and most Saturdays we went racing, either to a point to point or to the wonderful northern courses like Newcastle, Sedgefield, Hexham or Kelso.

In the early 1960s we moved to East Kent which was more limited with only two jumps courses, Folkestone and Wye, sadly both now closed but we regularly went to point to points.

I never imagined that I would ever be fortunate enough to be involved in horse ownership. Fast forward some 50 years and when I retired, I joined the Million in Mind partnership which is good fun and gave me a taste of ownership.

My husband Mark, while loving all aspects of country life, was not especially keen on racing but had enjoyed the social side when coming racing with me. The rot set in when he decided to take a share of a point to pointer which won three times in his first season, so he was becoming hooked too.

For involvement with Kim, I ‘blame’ my friend Peter Woodhall.

Peter had taken a share in Silver Eagle and asked us if we would like to visit Thorndale one January morning in 2013. …… then that summer we heard that Kim had some horses to syndicate and Mark suggested we might just ‘have a look’.

Turned out in the fields we saw Knockanrawley and within a week Peter Kerr had signed us up in a KBR syndicate.

What fun we had with KAR and what an amazing training performance by the Thorndale team as he was more than a bit quirky.

I am sure Mat will recall his antics in the pre-parade ring at Ffos Las but he redeemed himself by winning the race by a neck.

Knockanrawley won 5 times in all, was placed 10 times including two Eider chases and beaten under 2 lengths at the Cheltenham November meeting.

I have always been interested in the breeding of horses and when a horse bred by the same stallion as Knockanrawley came up at the Doncaster sales, Battle Dust became our first horse in sole ownership.

A year later we bought Ben Arthur and when both of these retired, last May we bought Shanacoole Prince.

Kim has managed to find a race for each of them to win, although when Ben Arthur won at Ffos Las, it was so foggy we only saw him jump one hurdle and gallop past the finish  ……. We still don’t know if David Bass just joined in on the second circuit!

Our 3 wins with our own horses trained by Kim have been gained by a short head, a short head and half a length so it has certainly been exciting! We currently also have a share in Does He Know

We like the combination of sole ownership where, for better or worse, you make more of the decisions but also enjoy being part of a syndicate with like-minded people.

Ownership is not just about days at the races but also the enjoyment of stable visits.

Thorndale suits us with its friendly atmosphere yet true professionalism.

Thanks Melinda..

It would have been my mate Sam Morshead's birthday today..

Todays non virus video nasty..