Sunday, July 14, 2013

Farewell to Floppie, a very special broodmare

The last few weeks I’ve heard plenty about former residents of this stable and have even been lucky enough to see some of them.

Brief Goodbye and Ex Con continue to thrive at the British Racing School and have been enjoying a three-week summer holiday with the rest of the school’s horses. Stardust Memories was in action at the Royal Norfolk Show with her new owner Sam, and Jill Dawson has recently been reunited with Alice. Tanya Bridgeman wrote to tell me that Ruby In The Dust and First Pressing, who left here last winter, are both doing well in the early stages of their retraining. Tanya has also done a good job bringing on and finding homes for Maroon, Douchkette and Asterisk.

Two talented Darley pensioners, Fantastic Light and Lammtarra
At the July Sale, I bumped into Robert Percival and Richard Kent, now the co-owners of Silken Thoughts, who was retired earlier this season after winning three races for the Renewal Partnership. She has been covered by Arcano and has tested in foal at Richard’s Mickley Stud, where she is now living. With a bit of luck I will have the chance to see her next week.

We sold Simayill as a broodmare at the July Sale but came back with another filly in her place, a well made three-year-old daughter of the Arc winner Rail Link from the Juddmonte draft. Named Russian Link, she has raced three times for Roger Charlton. John won’t be rushing along with her but we look forward to seeing what she can do in the coming months, initially on the Flat and maybe later over jumps. The expanded programme for National Hunt mares’ races certainly makes that a tempting option for a filly who is bred to stay and looks pretty scopey.

This week has passed in a blur but it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had friends and colleagues Sally Duckett, Ed Rosenthal and Ed Prosser to stay. All were in town for various July Week engagements. My own list of events included covering the sales for the TDN, racing, the TBA AGM and awards night, the Darley stallion parade and very nice drinks parties courtesy of Three Chimneys, Keeneland and The Castlebridge Consignment. Heartfelt thanks to all for their very generous hospitality.

It was quite a relief today to start off with a quiet ride on Panto with John and Grand Liaison, followed by Test Match Special on the radio while we ate a late breakfast. The Ashes series couldn’t have started better for England and I’m very jealous of various friends who are lucky enough to have tickets for the Lord's test later this week.

Panto in action last weekend with my friend Alice
During the week I caught up with Ed Harper of Whitsbury Manor Stud, where Panto was born. Ed informed me that Panto’s 23-year-old dam Floppie, a daughter of Law Society, died very recently. She had been in retirement at the stud, where she spent her entire breeding career and, like her son, she had proved to be very useful even in retirement. Her lovely nature made her the perfect nanny for the young horses at the farm and it is an attribute she has certainly passed on to Panto. 

Of Floppie’s 11 foals to race, nine ended up as winners, the best of these being the dual Group 3-winning sprinter Ringmoor Down. Panto (or Pantomime Prince as he was known in his racing days) is not quite the worst of her runners, but he was one of the two non-winners, his best effort coming when second on debut at Goodwood as a two-year-old. Most recently, his half-brother Nenge Mboko has been flying the flag for the family with two wins in a week at Windsor and Nottingham.

Panto may not have been the most talented of Floppie's offspring but in my eyes he is certainly the best. Her legacy could not be more cherished than it is in this yard. Rest in peace, old girl.

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