Saturday, July 02, 2011

Happy days at HQ

I'm writing this with one eye on the TV, waiting for what I believe should be the race of the year: Workforce vs So You Think vs Snow Fairy in the Eclipse.

I don't know when there has been another meeting of the previous year's Derby and Oaks winners in history (though I'm sure it must have happened), and to throw a dual Cox Plate winner into the mix is just too much excitement.

But prior to the main excitement on the major international stage, in our own little corner of Newmarket we've had a very satisfying morning.

The ever excellent Will Kennedy paid us a visit this morning, bringing with him his nephew and budding jump jockey Jamie Insole. It's always great to see both of them and this morning, along with Sara, they helped to give recent bumper winner Douchkirk and fellow four-year-old Asterisk an introduction to hurdles.

The schooling session couldn't have gone more smoothly. Both horses, under Will's confident but sensitive instruction, took to jumping like the proverbial ducks to water. After jumping the tyres and baby hurdle individually they schooled alongside each other with the equine equivalent of big smiles on their faces.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly thoroughbreds can learn something new and it shouldn't be too long before these two appear in novice hurdles, though I know the trainer will want a bit more cut in the ground before they go jumping.

We're fortunate to have two all-weather strips with schooling fences and hurdles plus a very good loose school here so the horses can always be schooled whatever the weather (jumps owners please note: Newmarket is just as good for National Hunt horses as it is for Flat horses).

The trainer kept a keen eye on proceedings from on board Kadouchski, who is masquerading as a hack in this picture below but was soon put through his paces over fences by Will, as you can see at the bottom of this post.

Kadouchski may only be a moderate horse in the grand scheme of things but he is very much a firm favourite in this yard and with good reason. He's a significantly better hurdler (who has twice given us a great day out at Sandown) but his flat form has been solid, if not spectacular, of late. He won at Kempton, where he has also been placed twice, most recently under a very polished ride from John's apprentice Hannah Nunn, who turns 17 on Monday.

We hope Hannah will be on board again on Thursday at Folkestone, and when the ground softens up a bit, Kadouchski will aim to add a novice chasing victory to his wins on the Flat and over hurdles.

He's a thoroughly likeable individual, who is a saint in his box, a hooligan in the field and an absolute professional when he gets to the races. I wish Timeform gave ratings for heart and attitude. If they did, Kadouchski would be right up there with Sea The Stars.

After we put the jumpers away, two of four two-year-olds we currently have in the yard did their first piece of fast work on Warren Hill. John accompanied them on Hotfoot, and Hannah (riding Grand Liaison, a robust daughter of Sir Percy ) and Terri (riding Wasabi, an extremely attractive filly by Tiger Hill) both declared themselves extremely happy with their respective mounts.

Terri has only recently joined us from Jane Chapple-Hyam's yard, and she's a really friendly and fun person to have around. She's also a very good rider, so we're delighted that she's joined the team.

Among other horses in action this morning, three-year-old Bertolini filly First Pressing (ridden by Hannah) had a spin on the Al Bahathri with the trainer's favourite pet pony Ethics Girl. The latter should resume racing in a week or so, having had a break after running so well through the winter. Despite the fact that she looks like a slightly dumpy broodmare, she shares the honours with Ex Con as the winningmost horse in the yard (currently) and she's so damn tough and enthusiastic that I am sure she will be adding to her five victories later this season.

In case anyone is wondering what has happened to our star summer jumper Ex Con, I'm afraid the news is that he is currently having what is likely to be a year off with a tendon injury. John picked up on it early and our lovely vet, David Dugdale, is cautiously optimistic that he will be able to return to racing next year. I hope so, because we all miss him enormously.

He's recuperating at Colton Farm in Norfolk, where my mare and yearling, Desiree and Jack, live, and where Alcalde has recently been holidaying. Alcalde returned to the yard this week to bolster our burgeoning jumping ranks and it's great to have him back.

HOOFNOTE: I took so long to upload the pics to this blog that the Lancashire Oaks and the Eclipse have both been run. Wonderful to see Gertrude Bell become a Group winner, as she is owned and bred by Rachel Hood, ROA President, Chair of Save Historic Newmarket and an all-round superwoman.

And as for the Eclipse, I feel as many conflicting emotions now as I did before the race. Workforce and So You Think are two of my favourite horses in training and what a performance they gave us. While I'm delighted to see So You Think come back after the 'disappointment' of Ascot, I can't bear to see lovely Workforce beaten. Any owner who makes the right decision to keep a Derby winner in training as a four-year-old should be rewarded for that move, and I'm certain that Prince Khalid Abdullah will be come Arc day.

No comments: