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Jump season upon us

Now that the jump season is starting to get going, updates on Bonita’s Blog are going to become more regular again you will be pleased to hear!

We had very few runners over the summer and we are just starting to get going now. Having tentatively run a few, pretty much all of them will improve on their first start, having just needed it.  We’ve done plenty with them on the grass, but not a huge amount of sharp work and that is what they probably just lacked and are now tightening up at home.

Of what we have run, they have all come out of their races very well, and in varying ways I have been very pleased with them, especially as I know that they will have come on immensely. Fortunate George made his debut over fences on Friday (6th October) at Fontwell. He was a little careful over the first few fences, and on good going you can’t afford to give away any ground at Fontwell.  So, having found himself a lot further back than he wanted, Aidan Coleman did the sensible thing and gave the horse a really enjoyable run and I have no doubt he will improve no end for it. Looking on how he ran I don’t think Fontwell was the ideal track for him and a little bit more juice in the ground will also be to his liking.  I have no doubt he will put this run behind him as the season progresses.

We put a visor on Fox Appeal for the first time, also at Fontwell, which did light him up a bit! In the main I was very pleased with him as he finished fourth in a competitive handicap and showed all his usual enthusiasm. We hope to get him out again quite quickly, probably in a veteran’s chase at Chepstow this weekend.  I expect we will leave the visor on him as it did have the desired effect, but probably just have him ridden with a little more restraint.

We then ran Gunfleet on Saturday also at Fontwell. He won his only bumper last season and we think a lot of him.  He is a pretty sharp horse and not one that you want to do too much galloping at home with as it does set him alight.   He is a proper athlete and mainly jumped very well, which I was delighted with and finishing second in such a hot contest was a lovely start to his career over hurdles.  I would expect it will take a very good one to beat him next time.

We are starting to make more entries and I think we are nearly there now with fitness and schooling, so the next few weeks should be very exciting, with the likes of De Rasher Counter (pictured), Majestic Moll and Enniscoffey Oscar making their hurdling debuts as well as plenty more runners.

While we have been busy getting horses fit on this side of the pond, on the other side Casino Markets has remained in America.  He ran a much better race when finishing fourth in the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Hurdle at the end of September. He was only beaten two and half lengths, in a race where they take the last two hurdles out for the final circuit, so he had a six-furlong run in.  For a two and half mile chaser it probably isn’t the ideal scenario!  We look forward to him running at Far Hills in their Grand National, which is a very valuable conditions race on the 21st October.  It is over two-mile and six furlongs on a track I feel will suit him.  He has had a super time while he has been out there, Lesleie Young has been brilliant in helping us, and the team at the NSA could not have been more supportive.  It’s been an amazing experience and something that would be fantastic to do again.

We look forward to some exciting runners over the next ten days especially as I think the trainer may be close to having them all fit!

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Gearing up for the jumps season!

There’s no doubt that after a holiday in Australia and a trip to the races in America, Barry has officially grounded me!  We are extremely busy here, gearing up for the start of the jumps season and at this stage the horses look fantastic.

America was amazing, and I hope to repeat it, but just with a horse that’s more tailored for the experience than Casino Markets.   He travelled over there brilliantly and settled in straight away to his new state side surroundings.  He never stopped eating and along with Laura, who travelled with him, loved the whole adventure.

The problem for Casino was that although he enjoys better ground, he just couldn’t handle it as the turf is very quick out there and he was not happy to let himself down on it.  Also, in American jump racing they take the last hurdle out on the final circuit, which means the race from the last fence is just over four furlongs at Saratoga and at Belmont it’s closer to six.  So, for a two and half mile staying handicap chaser it is not helpful.  The jumps races there are designed for the nippier flat horses, none the less until you experience the process for yourself, it is hard to be certain what the ideal horse is and the ideal preparation.  Having done it now, the Halpern’s who own him, and myself are very keen to nail it next time.  For quarantine reasons Casino Markets is still out in America and may or may not have one more race before coming home at a track with different conditions.  Although, now he is at a spa in America, and feel I would be rather happy to trade  places with him!

As far as runners here are concerned they have continued to be few and far between but we are not a million miles away from having plenty more.  However, what horses we have run recently I have been really pleased with, with Vendredi Trois who was third and Balibour who finished fourth. Vendredi Trois was running in a 0-120 at Worcester (30 August), after winning a 0-100 and I think put in a better performance than when he won. He is a fun horse and if a continues to run like that, another contest should fall his way before the ground goes.

Having not finished out any of his races last season, Balibour certainly stayed all the way to the line at Worcester on Sunday (3 September).  He will now probably go over hurdles over two and a half miles, and as he was at the last chance saloon at the end of last season, he has given himself the opportunity to keep going for a bit longer. He is a horse that shows us so much at home so I really do hope that he produces it on the track.

I think it will be end of September beginning of October when we start to have a real flow of runners, but they are coming along superbly and we are looking forward to a very exciting season ahead!

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Casino Markets heads state side

We are extremely grateful to our fantastic owners, many of whom re-invested as well as some new owners who have bought some outstanding looking store horses.  So we really can’t wait for the season to properly get going.

Whilst all the winter horses are now cantering, we have been light on the ground with our summer jumpers, which, judging by the weather has probably not been a bad thing as there hasn’t been much quick ground around!   However, with all the rain, we have been able to use the grass gallops, which would not be the norm for this time of year.

Fox Appeal did run for us yesterday (20 August) at Southwell with Nick Scholfield on board.  He has been in great form at home and jumped well but the race was run quickly and the two half miles around Southwell was just a bit too sharp for Foxy.

We are taking a big step into the unknown, this week as we have our first runner in America.   Casino Markets left for the states last Friday, and is now in Saratoga. There are some very valuable jumps races out there over the next few weeks, the first is the Turf Writers worth $150,000 on Thursday.  Next month there is a race at Belmont and with the final option being at Fair Hills in October.   He is the most gorgeous horse who has been a fantastic servant, he loves quick ground and has been in tip top form at home.  I think he needed his last run at Market Rasen and I could not be happier with him making the trip.  Laura who both looks after him and rides him every day at home has travelled out with him, and I think it will be a great experience for her as well.  Leighton Aspell is going to ride him, so he and I will head out state-side for a couple of days this week – what a jet-set life style we lead!

The rest of the troop are all looking great and I would imagine that the first of them will be out racing in mid-September, so it is very much exciting times ahead!

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Summer hols and store horse Sales

 

With very few runners and most of the horses turned out in the field, there hasn’t been a huge amount to update on the blog lately.  Both Barry and I, and a lot of the team have been enjoying a bit of a break now that the yard has been well and truly steamed cleaned and painted for the return of the horses after their holidays.

Of what has run recently, Vendredi Trois winning at Worcester on the 14th June was the best of them, with Richard Johnson giving him a masterclass ride and winning from the front.  He has gone up six pounds, but I am hoping now he has his confidence back he can build on that success.  He is a horse that needs the top of the ground so the weather of late has been perfect for him.

Sadly, after bursting a blood vessel at Southwell we are going to retire See The World.  He looked as though he had the world at his feet when he won his bumper at Wincanton, but he has not been the easiest to train. He has the most wonderful temperament and would go on and do any other job but both his owners and I don’t feel it is right to keep him in racing.  So, we are looking for a suitable home for him if anybody might be interested.

It was a busy start to last week at the Land Rover sales at Goffs and we are delighted with the four horses we purchased, an Oscar, a Westerner, a Flemensfirth and a Shantou – so in fairness we haven’t moved far away from our favoured stallions! They are smashing looking three-year olds, and are now off being broken by Claire Bonner who educates all our youngsters.   In my opinion, it’s a very specialist job breaking in horses, and needs plenty of time dedicated to it as it sets them up for the rest of their life and I feel once the yard gets busy here we don’t have the time.  It’s important that the start of their education is done by someone who will teach them not just the basics but how to carry themselves properly and to be a well-balanced happy horse and, over the years Claire has done a great job at that for us.

We didn’t manage to complete the purchase of all the horses we had orders for so we will be back at The Derby Sale at Tattersalls next week, where we may pick up a couple of additional horses to bring back to sell so watch this space…!

The horses have been dong brilliantly out in the field and there’s no doubt that although the weather is currently very hot it is preferable to rain, as they are thriving.  I think the ones in the paddocks are quite relieved that it’s not them going up the gallops whilst they stand and watch the others having to work most mornings in this heatwave!

We will continue to be light on runners for the moment, although Pawn Star is aiming for Uttoxeter on Sunday 2 July for the Summer Cup.  Set List will aim for back to back wins in the £20K handicap at Stratford in three weeks and Casino Markets is getting ready for the summer plate at Market Rasen in July.   So, I am hoping that our strike rate can continue at the level it has been!

 

 

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New jump season kicks off in winning style!

I am delighted to say that the new jumps season has kicked off in the same style the last one ended, with the horses continuing to run very well.

See The World was our first runner of the new campaign at Warwick (1 May). He was travelling well until a bad blunder down the back stopped him in his tracks. Having said that he kept galloping and finished third and it was a nice start to his chasing career. I am sure it won’t be long until everything clicks and he regains the winning thread, he is a big horse with plenty of scope so jumping fences should certainly be his game.

Set List went to Uttoxeter (6 May), and everything just happened a bit quickly for him up there. It is a track he just doesn’t seem to run well at, so it maybe, that his sojourns to this course are over. He has come back perfectly well and we will look to find another outing for him soon.

When you have a runner that starts at 4/11, in all fairness, there is only one ever acceptable result. From the prelimaries onwards, Swatow had no intention of delivering just that at Exeter on 9 May! When she returned from the races she was found to be in season, which may explain her behaviour, which was somewhat entertaining for others, a bit embarrassing for us and disappointing all round. She had a proper temper tantrum, having been a bit wayward in the paddock, and not particularly excited about going to post, when she did get down to the start and continued her bizarre antics, Daryl gave her a small kick in the belly on which she decided she was going to throw herself on the floor! If it weren’t for the fact that nothing wanted to lead in the race, as the other runners were a bit green, they would have gone two hurdles clear on her at the start, so consequently they waited. When she did jump off she did travel well and jumped nicely but definitely didn’t show her ability. She will now go out in the field and freshen up, she had been in training for a while so is ready for her summer holidays. However, she is certainly on the naughty step at the moment!

On the back of Swatow’s behaviour, with some trepidation, we took Talent To Amuse to Newton Abbott (10 May) hoping not all the girls were going to show the same degree of temperament. But thankfully Talent To Amuse continued her upward curve, she jumped beautifully, travelled well and impressively won a nice valuable prize. She is a lovely filly and will be better over a bit further or at least over two miles on a more galloping track than Newton Abbot. It was a very good prize generously put up by the racecourse and we were chuffed to bits to take it home. She is a very nice mare for the future.

Fox Appeal also at the same fixture continued to go from strength to strength. It was his tenth start of his campaign, and is showing no signs of his ten years of age! He finished a lovely second, and in fairness to him he has had a busy time and is going to have a month of going out and relaxing with a view to running him later in the summer. He is an absolute super star and continues to pay his way.

We then went to Market Rasen on Friday (12 May) with Pawn Star, who jumped superbly, travelled beautifully from start to finish and won with any amount in hand. It was a brilliant result for everyone and he looks a horse that is going in the right direction. He is a pleasure to have for the campaign and hopefully will pick up some nice prizes through the summer months.

We turned a lot of the horses out at the start of last week and although for the first few days they looked a little cold, they have certainly thrived since. The drop of rain we’ve had has made a massive difference to the grass and judging by the size of their bellies they look very well out there. It is lovely to see and a big relief for all the team who can get some holiday time and just relax a bit.

Over the coming weeks, we expect to have a few runners and if they continue in the same manner they have started the season we should be in for a very enjoyable time.

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Season review and can’t wait for Autumn already!

ast Saturday marked the end of the jump season and our first full year here at Bonita Racing Stables and I feel very happy with both.

Starting with our last few runners before the end of the season, Casino Markets was the busiest and ran brilliantly at Cheltenham (19 April) in a Grade 2 chase to finish third, beaten just four and a bit lengths.  It was a fantastic effort and he came out of that race so well we thought we’d send him to Sandown (29 April) for the novice handicap chase that Junction Fourteen won last year.    He jumped superbly round Sandown as well and was beaten a length and half finishing third again and we couldn’t have been more proud of him.  He will have an easy couple of weeks now before we look for another target for him – he certainly deserves that!

I sent Shotgun Paddy up to Ayr (22 April) for the Scottish Grand National and in fairness the ground, when we declared, was good to soft but there was no doubt it was quicker than ideal for him.  Also, having put the visor on him, he was travelling flat out and not really thinking about his jumping and hence went through two or three fences and the race just didn’t happen at all for him. Very sensibly Daryl pulled him up early, he came home with a nasty cut behind, but is completely fine and he will now go out on his holidays with a view to targeting the veteran’s chase’s next season.  The frustrating thing for Shotgun is, as it’s been so dry this winter he hasn’t had many opportunities to go to the races, but when he has, he has run really well and shown his ability is still there.  Soft ground is what he needs so everything else goes slower so we are definitely wanting a wet winter for him this year.

Chelsea Flyer also ran at Sandown (29 April) but for him it was one race to many.   He is a lovely horse with lots of ability and ran a super race up at Aintree, but it’s now time for him to go on his holidays, so he is now being let down ready to enjoy some time in the field this summer.  His aim next season will be to either go handicap hurdling or more likely novice chasing.

We always have a few horses running across the summer, so watch this space, but from now and through to early summer it is certainly a time for the entire team to have a bit of a break and regroup.

Reflecting on the season in general it has been extremely rewarding.  Our move here has always been about the future, and we had a lot of nice young horses to go to war with.  The key thing was to nurture them and hopefully display their potential and that was certainly achieved looking at our bumper results, we have never had so many nice young horses to go novice hurdling with next season. There were still plenty that were too immature to run this time around but will be ready for the Autumn and look equally exciting.

It’s hard to name some horses rather than all from the stable, but from the bumper horses; Irish Prophecy, Enniscoffey Oscar, Gunfleet, Majestic Moll; novice hurdlers Buster Thomas, Talent To Amuse and Chelsea Flyer, and older horses Set List, Fox Appeal, Pawn Star, Fortunate George and Casino Markets have really stood out, as well as the Exeter loving Caulfields Venture! There are so many others to note so it really is exciting times ahead.

There’s no doubt it took us a little time to get a handle on the gallops here at Bonita following the move, and the best way of using them, but we feel we are there now, and watching the horse’s working up the grass, whatever the weather, certainly puts a smile on my face.

This has been a massive move for us and the success it has achieved would not have been possible without the support of all our owners and their horses, as well as our tremendous team here, who do their jobs with a smile on their faces (mostly!) through whatever weather is thrown at us and really are a pleasure to work with.  So, for everyone that is a part of this operation THANK YOU and we cannot wait for the Autumn already, when we get going again into full swing!

I will still be updating the Bonita’s Blog across the summer so please keep checking in!

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Treble winning weekend

After a quiet week prior to last Saturday, there is no doubt that runner wise things have taken off. And, with most of the horses in such good order its been the right time to be running them.

The only horse who really bucked the trend is Onderun, who went to Haydock last Saturday for the Challenger finals day in the hope that better ground would bring him back to form. As it happened he just couldnt go fast enough and eventually pulled up. His next date will be the Doncaster sales, where he will hopefully find a lovely home as he will make someone a fabulous point-to-pointer. He is very honest and straight forward and has given us some fun days racing.

Fortunate George also went up to Haydock off the back of a great season. He ran really well but missed the last completely and although it didnt cost him the winning of the race, it probably cost him a placing. Hes come home fine and will have a well-deserved break before going novice chasing next season.

I think the Challenger Series has been a great innovation as it offers the middle tier horses the chance to run for serious prize money and reward them for consistency. It is a series I hope continues for many years to come and The Jockey Club deserve plenty of credit for this.

On the same day, down at Newton Abbott Fox Appeal delivered once again. It is his eighth career success and has taken his career earnings to 150,000 what a complete super star he has been. He jumped beautifully under Nick Scholfield and won nicely. It was his ninth run of this campaign and it was our thought to turn him away now as he has been so busy, but as he has come out of the race bucking and kicking, we feel there maybe another option to go back to Newton Abbott in May, and then I have promised him he can have a break! We are not rushing into that, but if everything continues to go the way it is with him, at the age of ten there seems no point turning him out if hes still keen to go to the races. He is a serious character and been a great flag bearer for us over the years.

We had a wonderful Easter on a personal level as we managed to get all the family together on Easter Sunday, including the Australian contingent so there was much noise and chocolate – from a racing point of view the horses could not have performed better Monday and Tuesday.

We took four to Chepstow on Monday, all with varying degrees of chances. Swatow confirmed her promising performance at Southwell, by running a super race to finish second behind the short favourite Copper Quay. They didnt go much of a gallop and then sprinted, which probably didnt suit but I was still very pleased with her and feel she is a mare we will have plenty of fun with.

Vendredi Trois was just a little bit gassy through his race and never really had a chance to fill up his lungs and will certainly come on for that experience. Pawn Star then ran in the feature race and jumped beautifully and travelled very well. Sadly when he jumped to the front at the last fence, he pricked his ears and felt he had done enough and just got run out in the closing stages to finish second. I was absolutely thrilled with him even if he was a bit naughty!

Majestic Moll ran in in the first division of the mares bumper. Her form had been great and she has done nothing but improve and she won in the way that we hoped she would. She travelled and quickened and did it very easily. We have done plenty of schooling at home and she absolutely loves jumping so I cant wait to see her next season, when she will go and jump a hurdle. We are quite excited about Molly and being part owned by father and Nick Mustoe, its always good for family relations to keep them happy!

We then had four runners at Kempton on Tuesday. Talent To Amuse looks like another decent filly. They probably didnt go fast enough for her early on in the race and so she was a bit lackadaisical with her jumping, but was very good down the home straight and winged the last to win cozily. She will only get better and I think a step up in trip will help her. Shes two from two now and I think could be very smart for us and Thurloe Thoroughbreds next season.

Mr Mountain made his debut over fences and had jumped very well early on until coming to the third last, where he jinked left, and Aidan put his weight right and his saddle disappeared and so did poor Aidan – however they both returned unscathed and the horse will be out on the track sharpish and the jockey went onto ride a winner at Ludlow the same evening, so they didnt come to much harm despite their antics!

Set List and Caulfields Venture then ran in the three-mile handicap chase. In fairness Kempton is probably a bit sharp for Caulfields at that distance, but he jumped with enthusiasm and once he returns to his beloved Exeter I am sure he will be back to winning ways. Set List also made a return to the track after a winter break. He is usually a horse that does need that first run but he did well to finish second, he had a good blow after it and should come on. I think we could have a nice summer with him, he loves the good ground, is a solid jumper and I think will be suited to a big galloping track. Considering the dry weather we have had over the last few weeks, Barney Clifford of Kempton produced beautiful ground in difficult conditions, but hopefully we will get a drop of rain soon to make everyones lives that little bit easier.

Our most recent runner was Casino Markets at Cheltenham and what a total star he is. He jumped superbly in the best race he has run in yet and stayed on all the way up the hill to finish a gallant third beaten just over four lengths. He has just got better and better and is an absolute joy to have in the yard as he never stops trying.

Its not long now before the end of the official season and although we will have a few for the summer season, we have started to ease off the work with a lot of the horses and are getting them ready for their summer holidays a drop of rain for grass growth and a few degrees warmer and everyone will be happy!

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Demographic back to winning ways

What an amazing Grand National Festival at Aintree.  The efficiency and friendliness with which it is run, is an example to everyone.  The facilities for owners and trainers were fantastic and the ground was like galloping on a carpet for the horses.  Hats off to the Aintree team.

The Grand National also produced a wonderful winner and story and I could not be more delighted for Lucinda Russell and the connections of One For Arthur.  Shotgun Paddy was clapping his hooves when he saw One For Arthur crossing line and felt that his run at Warwick was even more meritorious, as it was the young legs of the national winner that came past him when he was beaten back in January.

From our perspective, it was a shame Fortunate George did not get into the three-mile handicap hurdle race as I think he would have run a stormer. However, the two runners we sent up performed fantastically.  Enniscoffey Oscar was not able to get a clear run in the bumper on Friday, but still managed to secure a very fast finishing second place.  We could not have been prouder of him and more pleased with how he behaved in the preliminaries and after the race, it’s a big ask for a young horse at Aintree with all the noise and razzmatazz that goes with it – and yet he didn’t put a foot out of line.   Chelsea Flyer also ran a brilliant race in the grade one hurdle on the Saturday.  It was a seriously competitive race and Finian’s Oscar, the winner, couldn’t have been more impressive.  I think as Chelsea was in top gear from quite a long way out he struggled to see out two and half miles at this stage in that company.  But he travelled and jumped brilliantly and his performance on Saturday stands him in great stead for the future and I feel he is a very promising horse.  So, all in all for Bonita Racing Stables, it was a very satisfactory Grand National Festival.

There continues to be much debate about the Grand National fences as to whether they have now been made too soft and countless retired jockeys often comment on how ‘The Grand National wasn’t like that in my day’. However, with no casualties for the fifth consecutive year I believe it must be the right was to go, and those fences certainly still take some jumping.    I feel horseracing needs to continue to keep moving with the times and the welfare of horse and jockey must be the priority.

I am very pleased to say that the horses continue to be on great form and with Demographic winning at Wincanton last Wednesday it was a very happy day all round.  He jumped like a bunny rabbit and won in a tidy fashion.  We still have the option of going over fences with him, so as now he has his ground, he will stay on the go.  It was a great win also for the British Racing Club and hopefully they will have many more!

It’s a quiet week runner wise, but we plan to be at Haydock on Saturday with Fortunate George in the staying hurdle division of the challenger series final.  He is flying and it could be a blessing in disguise he missed Aintree as this looks to be an interesting race for him.

That’s all for now folks!

 

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