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It's the first day of Aintree

Thursday, 04 April 2019

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."

Doug Larson.

(L-R) Velvet Voice, Belle Bayeux, Astromerry & Velvet Vista

It’s a bright frosty morning and feeling pretty cold in the wind. I believe there is snow in the West Country and Wales on the higher ground, but the general forecast is for it to get slightly warmer towards the weekend. There was quite a covering of frost on the gallops at first lot, but the ground rode very well when I worked four fillies Across The Flat. The other horses have been cantering on the all-weathers and with everybody in bar one ground worker, who has a hospital appointment, we are progressing nicely.

Walking onto the gallop at second lot

... and cantering single file

It is the first day of the big Aintree meeting today which for me is always the highlight to the jump season. I enjoy it better than Cheltenham and the racing is top class. It is a completely different track to the festival and suits different horses. A much quicker and flatter course, you have got to jump accurately and at the end of a long season, still have the energy and enthusiasm. With so much good racing at this time of year, there is the Punchestown Festival yet to come, horses will have been specially aimed at one of the Group 1 races.

Richard and I have done our tipping again and let’s hope we can point you in the direction of plenty of winners during the week. I don’t think we did too bad last time, considering we have to have £10 on every race at win only, and we will be doing the same this week. However, we will be picking three horses in the National with a £10 each way bet on each, which might make it interesting. We will also have double odds on the last race every day. Our selections for today are below:


1.45  Mengli Khan    2.20  Band of Outlaws    2.50  Kemboy    3.25  Buveur d’Air    4.05  Burning Ambition    4.40  Eamon An Cnoic    5.15  Minella Melody


1.45 Glen Forsa    2.20  Fakir d’Oudairies    2.50  Elegant Escape    3.25  Buveur d’Air    4.05  Kruzhlinin    4.40  Lady Buttons    5.15  Minella Melody

Garrel Glen

It was the first breeze up sale of the season yesterday at Ascot with over 90 horses going through the ring. The average and median both dropped by quite a bit and it looked very tricky trying to sell horses. There are still one or two owners who are spending but generally the market is very selective. There are many more breeze up sales nowadays concluding with the big one at Goresbridge, which usually finishes off the season. There will, as usual, be winners come out of these sales but the sales season to me seems to be getting bigger and bigger when it should be contracting. There is a never ending sales merry-go-round which only suits the agents, not the professionals.


More foals are imminent

Wednesday, 03 April 2019

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

Thornton Wilder.

A nice steady canter

Break Cover

It’s another bright cold morning but showers are once again on the agenda. It did rain yesterday afternoon for quite a while, but we could still do with a lot more. It was a hectic day yesterday with horses going in every direction, both in the training yard and at the stud, and we are covering another mare today. Two of the mares that are hanging on are imminent, fully waxed up and they must foal either today or tonight. All the horses are getting a good exercise although we are one down in the yard and one down on the riding front. I have been using the Farm canter mainly but have also sent a couple of horses over to the Bury Side gallops.

Walking back to the yard with Belle Bayeux leading the way

I see the BHA has picked a new chairman. Annamarie Phelps has been appointed the permanent successor to Steve Harman. I can honestly say I have never heard of this lady but according to the paper she has got a depth of experience in sport regulations, including five years as chairman of British Rowing, so at least she will know all about horse racing and how it all works. She was also in charge of the investigation of bullying in the British cycling team. She was evidently a unanimous choice of the nomination committee, whose chairman said ‘we are delighted to appoint a candidate of such high calibre’. We will all have to watch with interest and hope that it works out, but I have my doubts as somebody with no knowledge of racing, in my opinion, is not what we want. I don’t mind somebody who understood it and is a business person, i.e., Peter Savill, but we will just have to wait and see.

Information board

It is the start of the Grand National meeting tomorrow and Richard and I will be having our tipping competition once again. After his lucky win at Cheltenham I will be trying my best to square it all up this week. With the National full of Gordon Elliott runners, I think it is 12 at the last count, the main prize looks destined to go back to Ireland. The Grand National has always been a race that anybody, including the minnows, had a chance to win, but now it just seems that we may as well give it to the big battalions. To me, racing is going completely the wrong way, both on the flat and over jumps, with the big getting much bigger. Horse prices are being inflated by the agents, pushing them out of the reach of normal people. If the authorities don’t watch out the smaller owners and trainers will leave the sport in their droves as they are starting to do now. We will still get the crowds who just go to drink and have a bet, but the professionals who earn their living, especially in the lower to middle range, are being pushed out very quickly.


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