The mares are getting close ...


Exercising on the Links today

Tuesday, 08 January 2019

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is 

happiness doubled by wonder."

G.K. Chesterton.

Walking to the Links this morning

It’s another bright start to the day and about an average temperature for this time of year. There is very little wind as yet but it is forecast to get much stronger as the day goes on, which will certainly make it feel colder. We have had a good morning so far with two lots out already. I took second lot up to the Links where we did two nice long canters on turf that would have been called good, verging on good to firm on any racecourse. Newmarket is an amazing place as we are on chalk based land which drains very well and quickly dries out. Around the Links is always a great and enjoyable exercise for all, horses and jockeys.

Cantering on the Links

Exercise is going well

I see Tony McCoy starts his column in the Racing Post today and has already called for a supremo to run our industry. The problem with that, and I have been calling for the same thing for as long as I can remember, is that there are so many different factors of our game and they all pull in different directions. Tony’s image and wish for the game is correct but it needs a very strong person and more than a lot of luck to sort it out. He comes up with some good observations about alternative Sundays for flat and jump racing. He talks about the congestion of meetings, which is completely barmy, and the programme book which certainly needs sorting out. I commented on the prize money situation yesterday and Tony’s concluding paragraph is about that. Wouldn’t it be a great and simple ambition for the BHA to concentrate their minds and say that if any horse wins three races in a season it would cover its costs, but nowadays you can win 10 or 12 and still not be anywhere near. It will be interesting to see how his column develops and let’s hope he can make a difference with his high profile.

Waiting to tee off

We were very lucky to have a double page spread on Dame Judi Dench and Bryan Agar’s new horse in the Racing Post on Sunday. Dame Judi has given her grandson a share in this new horse and I am sure he will enjoy it and bring a lot of friends along with him. If only there were more older owners giving their sons and daughters a share in a horse, even if they pay the training fees, it would encourage them for the future. If you have enthusiasm for anything it rubs off on your friends and family and the experience can become addictive. Sometimes it will encourage others to see what you are talking about. Whether they like it or not is another matter, but if they go to the right meetings and have a good time, hopefully they will become converts to our great sport.


Everything is going well

Monday, 07 January 2019

"Fate laughs at probabilities."

Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton.

Warming up on Hamilton Hill

Roof Garden cantering

It’s a dry start to the day with one of those mornings you are not too sure about the temperature. It wasn’t too bad at a quarter to five but suddenly got much colder as the light came up at half past seven and with a slight breeze, you certainly needed a few layers on to keep warm. I think it is set to stay this way for most of the week. With a good lot of riders in we have been getting on really well with the horses. The ones that I have given a nice break to are now back in and starting full exercise. The two-year-olds couldn’t be going any better, so it is so far so good.


We had plenty of visitors in over the holiday period and this last weekend. Mike Bowring, my oldest owner, came up for the night to see his bloodstock on the stud and horse in training. It was a great pleasure to see Mike and to anybody who knows him, he is still in great form and his memory of past races is second to none. The enjoyment that he, his mother and we had with them has made for many memories. We also had one of our youngest ever visitors at the weekend with one month old Faith calling in with her mum and dad to see their new horse and to get used to the Newmarket surroundings. It is a great age to start getting involved and I am sure we will be seeing her on the racetrack when the colt makes his debut.  

Last week we had a couple of South African visitors who were amazed at the way we do it here in England and the facilities we have on the heath. They could not believe all the variety of canters and gallops at our disposal, which is very unlike their training centres back home. I always like to show off our brilliant heath as it is a completely unique place in the world and as I have always said, we as trainers are just custodians for the next generation. It was also great to see Richard, Wendy and Rebecca who came to see the many horses Richard has in training and his mares on the stud. We are now making plans for who the mares will visit this year and will be viewing a variety of stallions this coming week.

Pulling out at third lot

I believe there was a section on the weekends racing on TV discussing the staff situation. I see both Nicky Henderson and Dan Skelton are talking about the problem saying it is now becoming more of a crisis. If you have been following me for the last few years you will know that I have always said it was going to be a crisis. I can foresee major problems ahead but nobody at the BHA understands this properly as they only work a four and a half day week and don’t have to look after animals 24/7.

There was a very good article in the Racing Post about New Zealand racing which has just had an investigation into the problems that are affecting the racing there. The conclusion was that it all boiled down to one thing, and it is always the same thing in every country that is not thriving and that one thing is prize money. Until the BHA and the government can sort this out our racing and those countries, like New Zealand with low prize money, will only go one way. Whether it is too late or not is irrelevant, if we want our racing to survive and flourish we have to do something drastic and quickly - reduce the number of fixtures and maybe close a few racecourses, especially in New Zealand. Also racing will have to be more centralised which will reduce costs, i.e. an all-weather track at Newmarket, somewhere like Wetherby and maybe Newbury as well. They could run all-weather racing all night long then, but prize money would have to be a minimum of £10,000 a race. It would attract more owners who would then have a chance of getting a higher return for their investment. This all looks very simple and it is in principle, but in reality the bookmakers have such a grip and such a lobby in the government that it would take an enormous effort to put this sport back in its proper place.


Page 4 of 5