Thursday, 17 August 2017

Jim Bolger

      I flew out to Ireland to see a horse trained by Jim Bolger a couple of weeks ago and it was quite an experience.  Jim Bolger is unique in the racing world.  He started out by owning and breeding which normally would be a very good way to the poor house – but he has made an enormous success of it, with some of the wealthiest people in the world investing with him and buying his classic winning stock.
       Some of the best people in racing have also started their careers with him including AP McCoy and Aidan O’Brien [who was champion amateur rider there].  They have learnt the job of training as well as conducting themselves properly and most of all respect for others.  It was great to be welcomed into his home and wonderful that he found time to sit down with me and chat about things in the past.  
       We then went over to his stud where he has 50 youngstock running around plus the broodmares all on wonderful pasture, they looked fantastic, I am sure this is where future soundness starts with good quality grass and feed whilst still growing; it really was 300 acres of dream land in the middle of Ireland.
       He also showed me his grass gallops which were a straight mile and a quarter long and about the width of 3 motorways, I won’t tell you which grasses he had planted as it might give away a secret. I also saw his 2nd cut of grass for hay or haylage coming along and try as I might I couldn’t see one weed.  
       I have to say Jim Bolger sets the standard - he is also a very kind and generous man who does a lot for people and charity behind the scenes.  I had mistaken the man and I will never judge someone again by what I see on TV. He clearly does not like the media glare, and prefers to be surrounded by his horses at home, horses are much easier than people!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Tattersalls Newmarket July Sale

                I got up at 5am yesterday and drove our lorry up to Newmarket sales full of excitement and hope that it would be coming back full!  I had two good orders – one from a past owner who was with me the day I started training and who I used to ride for and another was for a new client.
                There were two horses that I had my eye on and I had done plenty of homework on too – I’d also been to see them at their yard before the sales. They looked and felt super, were not over trained or crippled as I often see when buying horses off the flat as a lot of them are trained and run too early.  I had them both vetted at the sales and they passed with flying colours.  I started to get nervous!  I was hoping we would get the first horse for between 20-30,000gns but it went for 45,000gns!  I think he goes to the Middle East so we are unlikely to see him again – let’s hope he gets looked after well as he was a lovely, good looking horse with a great, honest attitude. The second horse had rather thrown in the towel and had lost his form and personally needed sweetening up.  We were hoping to get him for under £5,000 but he went to Gordon Elliott for 15,000gns!  It will be interesting to see how he gets on and how I will feel when he lines up at Cheltenham after winning a few!
                There was a lot of foreign money at the sales pushing the prices up – as so often happens at Newmarket – but we will keep looking.  Sadly I came home late last night with an empty box but on the upside I had a great afternoon enjoying the racing at Newmarket, with some new friends.  It is important to try and get value for money for my owners.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

In the Money - Headly's Bridge 4th again at Hereford and Get Back To Me 4th at Stratford

                We ran Headly’s Bridge at Hereford over 3m1f which was the furthest he had been and it looked like it was too far for him but he still kept going well enough to finish 4th (not far behind the 3rd).  It was certainly good to be back racing at Hereford especially after the racecourse was closed down for so long.  Headly’s owner is from Herefordshire and she enjoyed going back there, especially driving home through the beautiful Wye Valley.
                Get Back To Me ran back over fences at Stratford on Saturday, after finishing 3rd in horrible ground at Huntingdon 20 days previously.  He came there nicely at the end of the back straight looking like he could win, only to run out of energy.  The Huntingdon race probably took more out of him than we thought and we might have run him again too soon.  We shall give him a good five or six weeks and then find another nice race for him, again over fences.  Thank you to Stratford for putting on a race worth over £11,000 for us to run in.  It’s not very often we can say there is good prize money!  Although with the new levy replacement receiving support from across the political spectrum in the House of Commons, it is expected that up to £40 million of extra funding is expected each year for our sport – so perhaps there are better times ahead with better prize money?

Pictures below of Headly's Bridge schooling and Get Back To Me in the paddock at Stratford

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

3rd for Get Back To Me at Huntingdon on 5th March

                We were really very pleased indeed with the run from Get Back To Me (Tommy) at Huntingdon recently.  He is essentially a good ground horse over fences (being by Presenting) but we had been waiting a while for better ground and couldn’t see it coming so we decided to give him a run over hurdles.  I was hoping that Huntingdon would get rain in the morning to loosen the ground but they didn’t get much and the ground was soft and very tacky so although it would be safe for him to run, we knew he wouldn’t like it so to finish 3rd, knowing he could be a lot better on the right ground was very pleasing.  He had also been off a racecourse for over 300 days.  He was given a super ride by Daryl Jacob.

                It was great to see Robert Dacombe, his loyal owner at the races and we are very much looking forward to running him over fences next time, hopefully on better ground.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A 4th at Exeter with Headly's Bridge

      It was wonderful to see Headly's Bridge coming back to form at Exeter last week when he ran on to finish 4th in a handicap chase. He had just begun to turn a corner a week before and will hopefully improve more. He came out of the race in a positive manner and we will look to run him over further next time. 
      Headly was ridden by young 7lb amateur Zac Baker. It is really good when you find a keen, young lad with a good attitude. Zac gave Headly a lovely ride and was in unison with the horse over the fences which to me is important. We are hoping that he can continue to ride him and build on a good relationship with horse, owner & trainer! We were really pleased for Headly's owner, Mrs Bridel, and are hoping to build on that run. The photo below is of Headly immediately after the race in the stables at Exeter racecourse. And for those that are interested, Headly ran without shoes.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Frosty mornings..

             We have had some lovely frosty mornings when out early on the gallops the past few days so I thought it was worth taking a few photos of Lester Symonds riding Headly's Bridge (who will be running again soon). We are very lucky that even before the ground had the sun on it there was plenty of give underfoot due to the tremendous thick old turf that has a bit of moss in it - something that you rarely see these days. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.

Update on Headly’s Bridge run at Chepstow

         Headly’s Bridge ran for the first time this season at Chepstow after a while off.  The ground was no where near soft enough for him as he really needs a bog to be seen at his best.  The ground was good but was safe for him so we decided to run.  The race also wasn’t run particularly to suit as they went steady and then flew up the straight.  I said to the jockey if his winning chance was gone then to keep hold of him and ride a race for him to finish well and that’s what he did.  Consequently he has come out of the race positively and ready to go again but we just need more rain.  Below are pictures of his preparations before his race doing grid work and also relaxing with his magic rug on!