I am definitely on my soapbox today ....

H-Squared: Home | Battery Distributor | Battery Wholesale


It's a quiet week for the horses

Monday, 13 November 2017

"Never ruin an apology with an excuse."

Kimberly Johnson.





It’s a cold, bright morning with no rain forecast until at least the middle of the week. We are now starting to get into real winter weather and it will be a mixture of cold, wind and frost for the next few months. I gave the majority of the horses their flu vacs at the weekend, so the exercise for the next few days will be good healthy walking and trotting, without any pressure being put on them. The vets always say carry on straight after flu vacs, but there is a mandatory non-runner rule so why not give them an easy week. In my experience over the years the horses tend to get an infection if you stress them straight after their injections, so easy exercise until they tell you otherwise. 


Bracken Brae

        walking_in        babies_walking_in

          Some of the older horses walking home and (left) the yearlings coming back

I don’t know what the directors theme is on ITV racing, but we are now being bombarded with jumping stories from every angle. There was a good card at Doncaster on Saturday and this used to be the conclusion of the flat turf season where the presentations were made for winning jockey, trainer and owner. This has all gone by the board now and nobody has any idea of when it starts and ends and who the champion jockey is. If you went and asked any of the general public in any high street today you would no doubt be told Frankie Dettori, and they may have heard of Sir Michael Stoute, both of which are way out. The mess they have made of these awards will continue as long as we have people in charge who have very little idea of racing and what the professionals think.


The Casamento colt is now being ridden

Angie is now beginning to sort out the horses at the stud, starting with the yearlings that will come into me within the next 10 days. They will then move the weanlings over from one part of the stud to another for the winter, pregnant mares will move closer to the foaling boxes and the barren and maiden mares will be put together on another area of the land. We are also being inundated with stallions, new and old, for next seasons covering and there will be plenty of thought going into that in the next few months. You have got to decide whether you are breeding to race, or breeding to sell. Most of our owners breed to race, with just a few of their colts going off to pay a few bills. Breeding to race is a very different thought process because you can go to relatively anything, but the boys who have to sell their foals and yearlings to survive, have got to have an astrologer’s mind as it will be at least two or three years before they get a return on their investment. They have to foresee what is going to be popular in the sales ring at that time. A great slice of luck is what they need, both with the stallions and their offspring. 


Everyone in today

Friday, 10 November 2017

"When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?"

George Canning.


We remember



It's a dull morning with a little light drizzle at times. The forecast is for it to get colder this weekend as the air comes down from the north. Everybody was in this morning, in fact we had an extra one as well which always helps, and we have had a good first two lots. They have just been on polytracks local to the yard.



We shall be having no runners for the next 5 or 6 days as the horses are all having their annual 'flu jab and their EHV14 booster. The 'flu jab is an official requirement of every racehorse and the booster is now required in every overseas country. Being live vaccine it is better not to stress the horses in the immediate aftermath. It won't do them any harm and we shall be just walking and trotting for a few days next week. I wonder how long it will be before I am telling you of some loose ones. Once they are bucking and kicking again we can carry on cantering.



As I said yesterday, we have had the expert woodman in this week as there are several dead trees in the woods surrounding the stud. It is fascinating to watch the climbers go up the trees and they have been doing a marvellous job. We shall leave a lot of the wood for the insects and the birds, but we have several tons of logs which will soon get used on the woodburning fires.    

        clearance        rum

                          Clearance (left) and Rum Ration (right) with two lucky magpies

Tim has been doing a really great job of breaking the first batch of yearlings and three of them cantered properly for the first time in the string yesterday. All went well although one or two were quite fresh. We shall be getting the first group of homebred fillies into the yard, probably in about 10 days time. This gives us time to get more boxes steam cleaned and painted.                                                                  

      isaac          dandy

The yearlings first canter: Isaac Murphy (left),  the Dandy Man ex Boucheron colt (right) and below Garrison Law


Phil on Friday


It’s time for a confession. Some years ago, along with many others involved in racing, I was naïve enough to think that more TV exposure of our sport was a good thing. ‘Let’s show our product to the world’, we thought, ‘and all will be sweetness and light’. Wrong! On a day to day basis we tune in to see the very poorest fare our sport has to offer. Bingo is probably more exciting.

There are exceptions at grass roots level, notably Chelmsford where they at least try to make it worthwhile for owners and trainers to have a go. But how it all contrasts with the feast of racing we have just had with Champions Day, the Breeders’ Cup and Melbourne Cup.

Now obviously we can’t expect anything approaching that very often, but perhaps there is a lesson in there somewhere. A bit of class just now and again instead of daily dross would do racing so much more good.

I have been ‘confined to barracks’ lately and my enforced viewing of At The Races has left me stupefied. It isn’t the presenters’ fault, and certainly not that of the commentators for whom I have undying admiration. No, it’s those ads. Of course they are required to balance the books but, if they become such a turn-off that no-one bothers to watch the programme at all, what’s the point?

Goodness knows whether my family will be able to afford my funeral, although I have been asked dozens, nay scores, of times in the last week. As for that smelly youth whose mother is having to borrow money at toe-curling rates to get the boiler mended, tell him to jump in the river. And what’s the old man doing, just wandering off eating his toast?

There is so much else, not least that discordant jingle at the beginning and end of the commercial breaks which, in modern parlance, does my head in. But I’m out of space.

Keep trying though, ATR, your professionals handle it well. But what good is the whole package doing for the popularity of racing? Definitely a negative.


Page 3 of 7