Saturday, July 19, 2014

Busy times

There's thunder rumbling away over Newmarket but we've largely had a pretty good week, which has been much cheered by the horses running well.

Ethics Girl gets her head in front where it matters at Epsom
Good old Ethics Girl was back in the winner's spot for the seventh time at Epsom last week and her soundness and enthusiasm for the game is emphasised by the fact that, at the age of eight, she has raced every season since she was two, winning seven of her 56 starts and finishing in the frame on another 18 occasions.

One filly who reminds me of her very much is Indira, so it was great to see her get off the mark at Catterick on Wednesday. She's also quite short and stocky, but also hardy and ethusiastic in her work. Let's hope she can have a career as lengthy and rewarding as Ethics Girl's.

We've had some new arrivals in the stable over the last few months, including Near Wild Heaven, the daughter of Robin Des Champs who is now fully syndicated and has been broken in. She too is proving to be very straightforward in these early stages of her career and the excitement will continue to grow over the next few months as she is gradually prepared for a bumper debut.

Oscar's been in pre-training after a lengthy break with Nicky and he'll be back soon, along with two new arrivals to the yard this coming week for two new owners, which we are course delighted about.

Joe Akehurst has put in a lot of work with Russian Link
I'm also excited about Russian Link's first run over hurdles, which I hope will be a week on Monday at Uttoxeter. She's been schooling really well with Joe Akehurst so we know she's a good jumper but that won't stop me getting very nervous as the big day approaches.

We had Liam and Jenny Norris staying with us in July week. Jenny was here for the TBA Awards and had to return to Clairemont Stud to oversee the horses while Liam stayed on to try to buy a broodmare for himself and a filly in training for a syndicate I'm hoping to put together. The first objective was achieved, and Liam took home Clutter, a very good-looking Juddmonte filly, to join his broodmares at Clairemont. We weren't so lucky on the filly in training side but will be trying again at Doncaster in September. Earlier this year, I helped Liam set up his website for Norris Bloodstock and he has recently started a new blog which will be worth keeping an eye on as he gets busier through the sales season, both selling horses with Jenny for Clairemont Stud and Norris Bloodstock, and buying horses with William Huntingdon as Norris/Huntingdon.

Noel Cecil unveils his father's paving stone
July week was the usual whirl of sales, racing and lovely social occasions, including the TBA Awards, the Darley stallion parade, Castlebridge party and Shadwell lunch on July Cup day. All in all, we were very spoilt. It's always one of my favourite weeks of the year. The most special part of the week was the unveiling of the Legends of the Turf project in Newmarket High Street. John is chairman of the project's committee and he and his fellow committee members have put in a lot of time and effort to get it off the ground. For the inaugural year, two candidates were nominated in each category – horse, jockey and influential person – and from 2015 on it will be one in each category. The first six to be honoured were Frankel, Hyperion, Sir Henry Cecil, Sir John Astley, Lester Piggott and Fred Archer and their names can now be found in special commemorative paving stones along the High Street. To find out more about the project please visit the website via this link.

Near Wild Heaven ridden for the first time
For those who have been following the Hatchfield Farm saga, which has been rumbling on for more than five years now, the latest twist is that Secretary of State Eric Pickles has called in Forest Heath District Council's decision to grant permission for Lord Derby's second application to build 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm. Now it's a case of wait and see, but of course the racing industry is very much hoping that Mr Pickles will overturn the decision.

Another issue of Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder went to press yesterday with a massive bloodstock section of sales previews and reviews. That was a lot of work but it's always nice to spend a couple of days in London when the magazine goes to press as it also gives me a chance to catch up with old friends there.

Seems an awful long time ago now but while I was at the Goffs Land Rover sale in mid-June to research a piece on the store-horse market which is in the next issue of TO&B, I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Lorna and Harry Fowler at Rahinston in Co Meath. Like Camilla and Jamie Trotter, Lorna and Harry are much missed in Newmarket but they live in a magical house in Ireland, surrounded by farmland and the Summerhill point-to-point course which Harry hopes will be back up and running next season.

Beautiful Rahinston
Among their young horses on the farm is a three-parts sister to the Cheltenham Festival winner Don Poli and it was great to have a tour of the stud to look at some of their jumping stock. Lorna's also training at Rahinston and is starting her jumpers off again after a summer break. She's got plenty on her hands with two-year-old Rosie and four-month-old Johnny, but like many people in the industry, she and Harry are both real grafters and they are sure to make a success of Rahinston.

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