The John Magnier article is a must read ...

The mares are getting in foal

Friday, 20 April 2018

"A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world."

Lois Wyse.

Trotting up the hill to warm up

The forecasters got it right yesterday when they told us it was going to be very warm. It certainly was and it looks like being similar today. It’s a sunny, bright morning with no wind but there has been a good dew overnight, which will give the grass a drink, if it needs one! We have one non-runner again this morning which disappointed me as I had to change plans for working horses at short notice. It is the same in every yard in the country though and probably all other businesses as well. All anybody asks for is a bit of continuity and often you are given no notification of absences. I am not sure how to cure the problem in our industry as it is getting epidemic proportions. I think the racing school could instil the work ethic better into the youngest who attend their courses. It just might sink in.

Velvet Vista

We are putting some horses through the stalls this morning, which will be interesting, and hopefully I will be having my first two-year-old runner in the not too distant future. We have got some sharp types this year and some of both the colts and fillies look like being able to run in the next couple of months.

As usual bubbles were burst over the last couple of days with plenty of head scratching. Newmarket is certainly becoming a specialist course as the undulations and dips are far more pronounced than they ever were. So many horses don’t handle the conditions and you could see the jockeys had no idea where the best ground was, or where to go to find it. I don’t know if we saw a Classic winner this week, but the Craven winner looked to handle the course well and certainly had plenty of speed. Whatever beats him should win the Guineas.

Belle Bayeux

It was a very hot day at Cheltenham yesterday and the stewards made a controversial decision to abandon the staying chase on horse welfare grounds. One or two of the horses had finished a bit wobbly during a few of the other races and the heat was blamed for most part along with dehydration. There are plenty of pros or cons either way in this decision and some trainers were obviously annoyed by it, but others agreed. My comments yesterday about giving horses and everybody a break stands much higher after yesterday's decision. In the summer if the weather is like it was yesterday, this situation will happen again. There are plenty of flat meetings to keep the punters happy and a month to six week break in the height of the summer for jump racing would do everybody good, especially the horses. However, the BHA are obsessed with wall to wall racing and are beholden to the bookmaking industry to keep the finances in place, so I very much doubt anything will change.


We are starting to get the mares in foal once again on the stud and have got several well down the line already. For those of you who follow the yard regularly we have just covered Bracken Brae, who went to Garswood, and Lost The Moon, who visited Equiano. Let’s hope they are both in foal when we first check them at 15 days. I have tried to put a bit of speed into both these mares that were genuine and possessed plenty of ability, but who both stayed extremely well. You can read all the breeding books in the world, have all the scientific facts, figures and charts to try and pick the ideal mating, but the main criteria is a healthy stallion, a healthy mare and plenty of luck. Keep your fingers crossed we have got it right.

Phil on Friday

This might sound like something from that popular TV show Would I Lie to You? in which panellists tell what sound like outrageous tales and their opponents judge whether they are telling the truth or lying.  It’s a pity the following story can never make it to the screen. If it did and anyone voted ‘True’ they would be right.

It all goes back a very long way, half a century or more, and concerns the formidable Mrs. Mirabel Topham. She owned and ran Aintree for many years and lived in a house, on the course, called Paddock Lodge.

Members of the Green family used to undertake an annual trip to the Grand National and one memorable year my father and his brother, Uncle William, walked unchallenged from the road skirting the track, through Mrs. Topham’s house, and straight out to the racecourse on the other side. Entrance was free that way!

That’s my story for Would I Lie ToYou? and after all these years I think it safe to tell it.

On that famous day father and Uncle William had become detached from the rest of the family party as we left the train. No problem – we had identified a spot where we could all meet up again between races. Anyway, as the pair of them regained their bearings and headed for the track they spotted a door which in all innocence they assumed was a racecourse entrance. That ‘entrance’ turned out to be what I believe was Mrs. Topham’s back door!

In those days, as I recall, Paddock Lodge virtually backed on to the Ormskirk Road - now it is well fenced in. As it was, father and Uncle William simply walked into it and progressed through the house via ‘a long passage’ as they described it. They eventually emerged through Mrs. Topham’s front door and on to the racecourse.

If you went to Aintree last Saturday, or watched on TV, you would have seen the house standing prominently between the paddock and the road, but don’t try father’s stunt these days – they are sure to lock the back door ….