With Christmas festivities and New Year’s celebrations out of the way, I was very embarrassed to see how long it has been since our last blog. So, we are now back on track and ready to make up for that!
The horses have continued to run very well and since our last update De Rasher Counter ran a super race to finish second at Doncaster (16 Dec), and then stepping up on that, won at Fontwell (8 Jan) convincingly. He is a horse with plenty of ability, is hard as nails and more importantly seems happy to run on anything, which makes him very exciting for the future.
Vibrato Valtat also ran a blinder at Doncaster (16 Dec) to be beaten by just a neck in a valuable chase up there. It was his first attempt at three miles and he stayed every yard of it. The plan is to go for the SkyBet chase with him on the 27 January back at Doncaster, where hopefully the ground will not be too horrendous. I think he probably prefers if not good going, at least ground that he can get some help from.
Gunfleet also won nicely at Southwell (17 Dec). He is a horse with huge amounts of natural ability, but is still going to need some time to strengthen up. The ground was softer than ideal for him, but he could not have been any more honest or jumped any better throughout the race and I think he is a horse that will make up into being very decent in time – an exciting one for the future!
We sent Irish Prophecy to the Christmas Festival at Kempton (26 Dec) to run in the novice’s hurdle. He was very lucky to stand up having been badly interfered with at the third last when one fell in front on him. It effectively put paid to his chances, however, I think with the ground on the soft side, it probably did not help him either. He is a horse with so much talent, but standing at over seventeen hands, he is just still a bit too immature to do himself justice when the ground is slower than ideal. If we eventually get some dry weather, I would love to run him again, and then decide about The Festival, and if not, the route maybe the EBF final before looking at Aintree in April. When he strengthens up he will be a serious horse.
Flemcara (pictured) has been a revelation this season and is certainly at the top of Paddy Cowley, our conditional jockey’s, Christmas card list! He has now won three on him and just seems to keep improving. He travels, jumps and only does as much as he needs to when he gets to the front but by winning his third race this season at the re-arranged Welsh National fixture at Chepstow (6 Jan), it makes him looks like a force to be reckoned with. He gave his owners – Andy and the Frisky Fillies plenty to cheer about – their interview after the race has become legendary!
On the same day, Fox Appeal did something he hasn’t done during all his time racing, (although on occasions it has looked rather more probable!), he turned an absolute somersault at Sandown in the veteran’s chase. He was in a great rhythm and travelling beautifully, but he gave the downhill fence no respect, and paid the penalty. He was furious about it, as he got up galloped around and then dragged Laura, our travelling head girl, back to the stables! He has come out of it unbelievably well, and it will not be long before he gets to make a mends. He has no idea he has now turned eleven and he is as mad as ever but an absolute joy to have around the place.
Another veteran, Shotgun Paddy has just decided if he can get away without doing any more than he has to, life is a great deal easier! When he ran somewhat disappointingly at Plumpton (7 Jan),we decided we needed to try something different so he has gone off to have a few days hunting to see if that sharpens him up and gets the enthusiasm back into him. I hope he loves it and behaves himself, otherwise Ryan Bliss who has taken him, could well have the most interesting days hunting he has ever had!
Woolstone One has also been a little star for us this season. Having won her first start, she was then second on her next outing before winning a sixteen-runner handicap at Doncaster (9 Jan), galloping as hard as she could all the way to the line. She seems to love her racing and the mare’s final later in the season at Newbury could well be her target. It was nice to see her winning on ground that wasn’t bottomless, as she has shown she can handle the very wet stuff and on this occasion the slightly nicer ground as well.
One of our most exciting runners this season, has come in the form of Paisley Park. He nearly died last year after his very good second in his first bumper. He had what appeared to be a grumbling colic, which went on and on, and he got thinner and thinner and spent a month at the vets. They did the most amazing job with him and although he came back as skinny as a rail, he hadn’t had to be operated on and most importantly seemed fine. We spent the summer fattening him back up and he made his seasonal debut at Hereford (16 Dec), where he won beating the odds-on favourite. It would be unusual for us to run one next time in a Grade 2 hurdle, but he has always shown us plenty at home and we thought he was worthy of a try at Warwick (13 Jan). After Barry’s splendid interview on ITV before the race he had to run well (!) and he certainly did that going down by only a length to finish second, having just lacked the experience of the winner. He has come out of the race very well and I think the sky could be the limit for this horse which is very exciting for us all. Barry was the one that was adamant we should buy him at the store sales, having fallen in love with him at first sight.
We have a lot of youngsters coming on in the wings, and it really is a very exciting time for us, so long may it continue. We have a few runners this week and fingers crossed we can keep up the momentum.