Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Progress report

Panto is quickly becoming a minor celebrity. Several visitors to our open day enquired about him and Peter Wheatley, who has sent me two really nice letters from Shropshire, also sent Panto a box of Polos.

I'm happy to say he's doing really well at the National Stud. The two pictures to the left and below show him when he arrived there from NEH on 21 August and then nearly six weeks later on Sunday. He's not a horse who ever carries much condition so the most recent photo is not far off what he usually looks like. Incidentally, his skeletal state in the first photo is not a reflection of the care he received at NEH. He was in the ICU for four weeks and for at least half that time he was unable to eat any food. It's only thanks to their extraordinary skills that he's still with us at all and, believe it or not, when the first photo was taken he had already started putting on a little weight.

As you can see there's quite a difference and I can't thank the staff at the National Stud enough, especially the wonderful Cassie, for all the extra trouble they are going to on his behalf.

Obviously I can't wait to have him back at home but one of the great treats of going to visit him every day, apart from the fact that the National Stud is just a beautiful and quiet oasis in Newmarket, is that I have to drive past Amberleigh House's paddock every day to get to Panto.

I'm happy to report that the 2004 Grand National winner, who is now 20 years old, looks absolutely tremendous and he's clearly enjoying his retirement at the stud, where he is greatly admired - and spoiled with Polos - by visitors.

The end of the Flat season usually brings with it a certain amount of yard reshuffling in Newmarket and one team which has a very exciting move to look forward to is Marco Botti's.

On Saturday morning, Marco and Lucie threw a lovely party in the autumn sunshine to christen their new yard, Prestige Place, which has been built on the old Kremlin Stud. Hugo Palmer is also on Kremlin Stud land and his yard is the one formerly rented by Luca Cumani and which housed his two Derby winners Kahyasi and High-Rise. John, Marco and Lucie are all graduates of the Cumani academy - in fact, John worked at what was known as 'the bottom yard' when Kahyasi was in training, which does rather age him - and as Luca is on the other side of Prestige Place from Hugo, Newmarket's two favourite Italians will be able to keep a close eye on each other.

Prestige Place takes its name from the Prestige Stakes, which in 2006 was won by Sesmen, who became the first Group winner for Marco and Lucie. An equally important winner for them was their very first, which was Ceremonial Jade, who is still in training at the age of nine and quite rightly became the first horse to set foot in the new yard at Prestige Place. He is a magnificent horse who will make an extremely smart hack for someone when he retires and he is seen above with Lucie and Marco.

It was Gemma Waterhouse's birthday on Friday, which is always a high point of the Newmarket social calendar. This year it coincided with the National Horseracing Museum quiz. Even after drafting in Ed Prosser from London our team still managed to let Gemma down by finishing something like fifth.

I dragged Ed out on to the Heath on Saturday morning and it was a great day to be out there. There was no Frankel to be seen as he took his exercise later with a racecourse gallop before racing at the Rowley Mile, but there were plenty of lovely horses to be seen, including these two, which I think are Sir Michael Stoute's, stretching out on the Limekilns.

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