Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brighter, later

It's almost August and we've finally had what feels like a summer morning in Newmarket. The constant gloom hasn't really inspired me to get out and about with my camera lately but there was no excuse today.
The first shot shows Zarosa and her regular rider Terri leading the string on the Long Hill canter. Oscar and Hugh are in behind followed by Kadouchski and John then unraced two-year-old Magic Ice ridden by Sarah Wynn.

Magic Ice is a graduate of the DBS breeze-up and John's hoping to run her before too long. She's a straightforward filly by Royal Applause and has strengthened up nicely in the last few months so it will be great to see what she can do.
Next lot we went up to the Side Hill grass with two-year-olds Many Levels (Hugh) and Roy Rocket (Hannah) really getting the hangs of things in the company of Simayill (John) and Grand Liaison (Terri).

Grand Liaison heads to Yarmouth on Tuesday and we're delighted to have secured William Buick's services for the race. He's having a tremendous season and while it was a shame not to see Nathaniel bag back-to-back King Georges this afternoon, he lost nothing in defeat by the smallest of margins to a very smart filly indeed. I'm always pleased to see owners keep the top fillies in training beyond three so it's great to see Danedream's connections rewarded for being so sporting.

With Teruya Yoshida having bought a significant share in Danedream prior to her Arc victory, it's safe to assume she'll be joining the list of extremely well-credentialed mares visiting Deep Impact in years to come. It was a treat to see Deep Impact's Japanese Derby-winning son Deep Brillante (pictured) on the gallops earlier this week even though he failed to shine in the King George.

Just as Galileo is emulating his amazing sire Sadler's Wells here in Europe, so is Deep Impact fast becoming the most exciting son of Sunday Silence as stud, and that's saying something. He's made an extraordinary start to his stud career and has been supported with some terrific mares.

Here at this yard we have a descendant of the great Sunday Silence and, even more excitingly, he's a homebred. The horse to whom I refer is John's two-year-old Roy Rocket, by Layman.

It may be early days to be getting excited about a little horse who still looks rather backward but John's spirits have been buoyed by Roy's three-year-old and four-year-old half-brothers winning five races between them this season and we're both very hopeful that young Roy (pictured with Hannah this morning) will add to the great start made by broodmare Minnie's Mystery, who is now two runners for two winners.

As always with horses, good news is accompanied by bad news, and while the boys are doing so well, Minnie's first filly, a yearling by Gold Away, had to be put down a couple of weeks ago after sustaining an injury in the paddock from which she didn't recover.

Minnie lives at Haras de la Cauvinière in Normandy and currently has a filly foal by the stud's flagship stallion Le Havre, whose first yearlings sell this autumn. She's in foal to Youmzain, who was every bit as tough a racehorse as she was, so I very much hope John won't be tempted to sell the offspring of that mating.

In 2007, the year we got married, John and I made a second foolish decision to become, in a very small way, thoroughbred breeders. We have restricted the project to one mare each, with the aforementioned Minnie, who belongs to John, based in France, and my mare Desiree closer to hand in Norfolk.

It has to be said that my boys have a long way to go to catch up with the flying start made by John's homebreds. Desiree is yet to have a runner but I'm extremely hopeful that her Sulamani four-year-old Oscar Bernadotte will grace a bumper field before too long.

Her second foal, a colt by Kayf Tara, died at birth but she has a two-year-old called Jack Irish, who is currently up at the farm with his mother and his young half-brother, Delatite, who is pictured here.

He's the strongest of Desiree's foals so far which is not surprising as his sire Schiaparelli is a really strapping horse. Most breeders would kill for four colts in a row but I can't wait for Desiree to produce a filly. She's in foal to Archipenko so perhaps next year will be the year.

Desiree (pictured with her less-than-trusty rider back in 2006) was the first racehorse I was ever allowed to ride after meeting John and conning him into believing that I knew what I was doing. I was so grateful for the fact that she never dumped me on the Heath that I became very attached to her and had to keep her when she retired. It's absolutely the wrong reason to become a breeder but over the years she and her offspring have given me an enormous amount of pleasure.

Of course that all may change once Oscar sets foot on the racecourse but for now, in my mind, it's still perfectly feasible that he will win a few bumpers then come back to the Flat and become the first English-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup. The likelihood is that he'll be no good but for now, untried, he could be anything. The dream is still intact.
 I'm relieved to report that I'm still intact too after suffering the humiliation of my first fall on the Heath. Somehow I managed to part company with my really quiet hack Panto at the walk, though in my defence it was at the famously spooky Neckstrap Corner on Bury side.

The resident ghost duly did his worst on a filthy morning, scaring my usually unflappable boy into a swift sidestep that left me lying in a puddle at the feet of Yarmy and Roger Varian's assistant David Eustace, who had just finished a stalls session.

The gallant duo scraped me up off the ground and caught my horse, who looked every bit as shocked as I did. Apart from a few bruises it was really only my pride that took a bashing, especially after having to ride home covered in wet orange sand from the walking grounds. Thankfully there's no lasting damage done, though, as you can see, my riding kit needed to be boil-washed. Remind me not to give up the day job.

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