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5th March 2024

Plus 3, foggy and dry when driving in. 5mm of rain overnight

We have no electricity today so be warned if you wish to contact me.. The phone works on Wi-Fi calling only, so if I am in the office you will not get me!

Constitution Hill out of the Champion Hurdle.. Marine Nationale also out..Sadly there are quiet likely to be a few more as the pressure cooker of Cheltenham heats up..

We took four away for an away day..

We have our usual Tuesday vet visit and this weeks mover and shaker in the BHA handicap charts was Does He Know who went up 5 to 154..

It is with a heavy heart that I have to say the time is right to retired my favourite racehorse First Flow.

He had a very hard race at Lingfield and frankly with the handicapper raising him to a rating of 160 (dropped to 159 last week) thus making him the highest rated 12 year in training, it leaves me with very few options for the old boy.

I really don’t believe carrying top weight in a handicap is now ideal and also there are so few races for him. So time to say enough is enough, but what a phenomenal horse he has been to own and train.

First Flow’s story is probably well known, but I will tell you again if you don’t already know it!!

Originally bought as an unbroken 3 year old by Irish event rider Karrie Fanshawe for 4500 euros at the Tattersalls Derby Sales in Ireland.

Karrie broke him in and after a year she rang me and asked me to come and watch him work..

David Bass rode him in that work on the 'back of the hill' gallop in, and after watching him strut his stuff on that bitterly cold snowy day we sat down and 'did a deal'..

Tony Solomons was looking for a horse to replace Harry Topper and First Flow fitted his budget and hence the start of a wonderful partnership.

FF started his racing career in two bumpers and finished 4th in both. Then in November 2017 he went to Lingfield to start his hurdling career.. He won easily and his proud owner, who had questioned my ability to buy a horse with no pedigree, agreed with me that we might have a racehorse!.

From there FF went to Newbury and Haydock and won hard held on both occasions .. the latter being the Grade 2 Rossington Mani Novice hurdle.. He ended his season pulling up in the Supreme Novice hurdle at Cheltenham..

The following season was a horror as the ground was almost too fast for him all season and this is where you need and appreciate a really patient owner, as FF did not run until March in the Imperial Cup, where he finished 5th.. That his only start that season.

November 2019 FF went chasing and was second on his first two starts at Uttoxeter and Ascot..

To be honest we spent more time not watching his jumping as he was awful at home so we called in the help of event riders  Laura Collett, Lucy Jackson and Ginnny Thompson.. They spent many hours with him trying to help..

The end product was that he jumped ok on the racecourse, even if at times we wondered what he and David Bass were doing.. But they built a totally understanding on bravery, based on trust and stupidity, which was to set them up to take on the big boys in Graded races.

We played around with his novice season to try and build his confidence as he won at Hereford, Leicester, Doncaster and Carlisle where he 1/16..

November 2021 and covid! A truly great win in a handicap at Ascot and Wetherby and this was followed by winning the Grade One Clarence House at Ascot..

First Flow was always better right handed, but we tried the Champion Chase at Cheltenham and considering David nearly pulled him up because he could not steer him round the bends, he still probably ran his best race ever by finishing 6th beaten 6 lengths behind Put The Kettle On.

A new season and again the ground was too fast for him, so he never made an appearance untill the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon which he won in fine style.. the applause that day was awesome.. He was loved by the public..He ran only once more that season, at Ascot in the famous Shishkin/Energumene match.. FF finished 3rd….

December 2022 he tried to win the Peterbourgh Chase again but was third to Pic D’Orhy, he then fell at Ascot and that was a first and thankfully only time.

To end the season he went to Sandown where I arose form my 'death bed' expecting to retired him, but he again he proved me wrong by showing that he was not ready for old age and slippers by jumping the last in front, only being caught close home by the mighty Hewick.

This season he was second at his beloved Ascot and then at Chepstow, but then he carried top weight at Lingfield which was to be his last race and win.. Perhaps I should have retired him there and then, but there was not a bucket big enough to hold my tears in if I had..

David Bass understandably adores him and yes he is the only person to have won on him.. they were made for each other..both brave, determined and tough..Quirky, but don’t we love that in racehorses ..

Sadly his owner Tony Solomons is not in the best of health so his colours like his horse will be retired.. Wonderful memories of both Tony’s enjoyment with all his horses and frankly I really don’t believe I have ever trained a horse who showed such passion and guts as First Flow..

Many thanks to Tony for being his most wonderful owner. Sadly Tony, due to those covin lockdowns, was unable to be there when he achived his finest wins at Ascot. The last time he saw him in person was in December 2019 when FF finished 3rd..

Thanks to David Bass for riding him the way he liked, although we will never know, as bar Chester Williams (fences at Sandown) and Richard Condon (rode him in a bumper) nobody else has sat on him on a racecourse..

A huge thanks to all my staff who have looked after him and loved him, even when he stood still for ages looking at the wonderful Cotswold countryside when he should have been doing something else..

And finally a big thank you to Tony's daughter Nicola for allowing me to keep the old boy in training for her father..

First Flow ran 28 times. 12 Wins, 6 seconds, 3 thirds and 2 fourths.. Total prize money of £307,409.00

What star he is.

There will be few others as tough and enjoyable to train as FF.. Thank you for being the horse that I just loved..

Now Mrs B needs to do her bit and find a very suitable home for him.. that will be difficult as I am loath to say goodbye to him..

If that was not enough I had to do it all again on Nick Luck's podcast!