The last couple of weeks has been a mixed bag of fortune with the horses – with some good, some very good, some not so good and some just being the worst kind of thing that can happen.
Last Saturday epitomised the roller coaster of horseracing. We were absolutely devastated to lose Crimson Ark at Kempton. He was a lovely, charming horse who had shown so much potential and ran some cracking races. It was so sad for all concerned that he never got to show what he was truly capable of.
Saturday was a bitter sweet day, as within twenty minutes of poor Crimson, Fortunate George ran a marvellous race at Uttoxeter for the George Inn syndicate – galloping and jumping superbly to a very deserving win in a valuable handicap hurdle. He has been a model of consistency all season and he seems to have come out of the race well. He has become very versatile regarding the ground he goes on too and there are plenty of options over the next six weeks for him. Furthermore, his jumping has become very slick and we are really looking forward to sending him over a fence next season.
It was a big step forward for Mr Fenton last Saturday at Kempton who ran in the colours of the Hawk Inn Syndicate to finish fifth in the novice hurdle. He still shows signs of greenness at the races and he blew for longer after the race than any horse we have sent out this season. It would be harsh to make comparisons between him and his name sake – Barry Fenton (my husband), but the thought is certainly there! It was great to get See The World back on the track in the same race as Mr Fenton, and his owners Nick Turner, Penny Tozer and Lottie Schicht have been very patient as it has not been an easy journey with him. Although he tired on the home straight and finished fourth, when galloping down the back he demonstrated that the ability remains and its likely he will go over a fence now as hurdles for a horse his size seem to just get in the way!
We absolutely love the horse that ran in the bumper Rooster Cogburn owned by Nick Mustoe, but the race was dominated by five year olds and he just showed his inexperience by trying to do too much early on. There is no doubt he will have learnt an awful lot for the run and ideally, we will get one more race into him before he goes off for his summer holidays.
On the Monday before the Cheltenham Festival we ran High Noon at Stratford in the bumper. I was delighted with him as he was making his racecourse debut. He is a big backward baby and there is no doubt that he is going to take some time before he is the finished article. Barry has done a fantastic job to get him to the races as he is still weak, but his very eye catching third gives us a lot to look forward to.
Cheltenham then kicked off and the racing last week was amazing! We had a quiet Festival, as we have plenty of young horses, who just weren’t ready for the hurly burly of it yet, but hopefully will be next season. So, we just had Junction Fourteen on the Tuesday for his owners Martin St Quinton and Tim Syder, who was having his last run before the Grand National. He hit the third fence, which was very out of character for him, and I think pretty shortly after burst a blood vessel. So, it was the worst prep run he could have had and rather disappointing. We will sit down now and have a think as to what our next move is with him.
Full Irish, also owned by Nick Mustoe, ran in the EBF final at Sandown Park (11 March). In the closing stages, it was looking like the race was his, but it was horrible ground and he was a bit slow over the second last and lost his momentum. The way the race panned out the finishers came from the back of the field rather than those that raced up with the pace, however, I am not convinced he truly stays two and a half miles and I also don’t think we’ve seen the best of him until he goes over a fence. I expect an interesting way to go with him would be to drop him back to two miles as he is such a strong traveller in his races.
As ever, last week proved that the races at Cheltenham take a huge amount of winning, and being married to an Irishman, meant I had to accept defeat in the English v Irish Festival challenge quite early in the week, not to mention the rugby on the weekend! The strength and depth that both Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins have with their horses is very impressive, however, it was good to see that not only the winner of the Gold Cup, Sizing John, is trained by fellow lady trainer Jessie Harrington, but the horse is British bred, so now all we should do is stop selling these lovely horses to Ireland!