Skip to Content

Blog Archives

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!


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!


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!