Disappointing headlines once again ....

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We don't need the rain for our horses

Tuesday, 08 August 2017

"A nightmare is only a dream that hits turbulence."

Terri Guillemets.


It’s a damp, overcast morning with the forecast to get very wet from late afternoon onwards. The prediction is for anything between 5 and 35 mm and it is forecast for East Anglia to be the worst affected area. Absolutely typical when I have got horses that want fast ground at Yarmouth and it looks guaranteed to be very much on the soft side. Not a bad morning so far, but one non-runner again, which always annoys everybody. You would be amazed at how often this occurs in this industry and I can tell you that it happens to all trainers, on a daily basis. There are very very few that have a consistent workforce. The reasons for the problem can never be pinpointed and it is not just a British problem, it is a worldwide one. It seems this industry has its fair share of employees who suit themselves. I have been cantering close to home on Hamilton Hill and everything has gone smoothly so far.


It was a very strange coincidence that yesterday morning I gave all my staff a talking to about high energy drinks and coffee being brought into the yard, and the rule that it is highly dangerous if they pee in the stable, or spill their drinks. Drinks have been banned anywhere near the yard and the toilet facilities pointed out. The headlines today in the Racing Post were music to my ears, although unfortunate for Dean Ivory who lost a race under such circumstances. We, and everybody else, will be taking more precautions to cut out the chance of a reoccurrence. 


Angie and her staff at the stud have been very busy lately, getting on top of all the maintenance jobs and field work. It is a never ending cycle, as I have said before. Just last week we had a cherry picker in cutting down overhanging trees. We have been weed killing and aerating, plus edging and fencing. That’s along will all the normal jobs, of mowing, strimming, muck picking, mucking out, painting boxes and creosoting. There are always gutters and ditches to be kept clear, so along with the 101 other jobs, no two days are the same. It will be weaning time soon as the foals are really growing fast now and before we know it, the yearlings will be in for breaking and everything will be moved around on the stud.


It should stay reasonably dry today

Monday, 07 August 2017

"It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life."

Rachel Carson.

Pulling up their irons before jumping off

It’s an overcast morning with a chance of a shower later on. I think tomorrow and Wednesday will be the wettest part of the week and then I am sure we will be in for a dry spell during the rest of August. We have had a very good morning so far with the new Assistant Trainer, Tim, starting. He has had a tremendous amount of experience, will be calm under pressure, and will be an asset to the yard. It is amazing sometimes how changes work well and with the Assistant Trainer, Head Lad and Traveller all leaving within a week, it has meant new personnel coming in and filling those vacancies. This has gone very smoothly and the yard will work more efficiently because of it.

The horses have been cantering on the Rubbing House polytrack and Hamilton Hill for most of the morning and all has ticked over well. They are eating as well as I want them to and looking pictures. I just have to put them in the right races now and we should have a good run from now on.

Gee Sixty Six is keen to get going

... settled into a nice canter

I am very sorry not to have mentioned Velvet Voice running on the Friday column. It is very rare that we miss mentioning a runner, but for those of you who backed her she ran a very good race to finish second on ground that she loves. It required having a jockey change as Joey Haynes had no chance whatsoever of getting from Goodwood in time, and Dougie Costello was a good replacement. He gave the mare a sensible ride and we had very good feedback afterwards.

Our other runner, which I did mention, Astrosecret, was very unfortunate when being brought down two out. She had jumped well throughout although still a bit novicey at a few, which should be expected. Tom O’Brien, who took over from Tom Scudamore, another jockey not making it, was very pleased with her. There should be a hurdle race to be won with her over a bit further in time. 


The Goodwood week finished on Saturday, with the cavalry charge of the Stewards Cup. I am sure the bookies would have had a good week and although a few of the favourites did win, the majority were beaten and there were some massive outsiders. The weather and ground were the main reasons for the big prices as they are both such a leveller. Our tipping competition came to an end as well with the clear winner in MHT. I was only minus £93.41 and Richard minus £180.  I hope one or two of you managed to find a few more winners than we did, but I think having a tenner on every race is pretty hard.

True Calling

I see at long last a journalist is agreeing with what Sir Mark Prescott and I have always advocated, that if the whip rules are broken, i.e., the horse is hit more than the allowed number, the horse will be disqualified. As Lee Mottershead says today in the Post, horses are disqualified for breaking the rules and what happened at Goodwood showed that this week. Therefore, if the rule is not to hit them more than 10 times, and it is broken, then that horse should be disqualified. It would only happen once or twice and the jockeys would soon get used to it, as would the punters as they have to do now with the other rules that are in place. I am sure enforcing this rule, with a proper penalty, would make racing a much better spectacle. Instead of every big race with a tight finish you see the horses being battered, you would get horsemanship and jockeyship, pushing and kicking and we would have no headlines of whip abuse. It must be better for both the sport, and especially the horse.

Bracken Brae


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