It’s a dark, cold morning and it has been trying to snow for most of it. It has not quite got the hang of it though and there is nothing settling. Thank goodness the wind is not strong or else the cold would cut you in two. We have been stall handling again second lot with the rest of the horses cantering close to home on Southfields and Hamilton Hill. It has been a good week and everybody, despite the weather, is in good spirits.
Hold Firm ran a cracking race last night, we just met one on the night who was in great form. However, he stayed the mile and a quarter well and it gives us all the options between a mile and a mile two. I was very pleased with Gabriele Malune who carried out his instructions to the letter and without doubt he is a boy going places. I just hope we can use him as much as possible this coming season.
Jewelled got to Ireland without a hitch yesterday and is now ensconced with Des and Mariann. She had most of the swabs needed here and she will just need to start cycling properly and then hopefully we can have an early cover to Ruler Of The World. She will stay there until tested in foal over 40 days. Our other mares are getting nearer and with the full moon tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we have one pop out.
I don’t like to sing my praises, but I am sure the runners this week have all benefited from my feeding. It is hard work getting in at 4 o’clock but it is well worth it as results have shown. Good staff, good stable management and patience are the three most important things in a trainers yard, and although we are a bit short still on the staff side, we have got the other two in abundance.
There is a big article in the Racing Post today on the Irish bookmaking scene and how the on course layers are suffering. I would think it is very similar over here as the internet and telephone betting have taken over most of the betting in the past decade. We must keep the bookmakers on course as they do add to the atmosphere, but work needs to be done between all parties with some sort of incentive to keep them. What that is could be quite difficult and as the paper says, there is no silver bullet answer.
Below is the video I made of Ness Of Brodgar who was not named at the time but has now got a very good name. She is a half-sister to numerous winners including this week’s winner Lost The Moon. There is one quarter left for sale in her as my brother and Mike Harvey have had the other two, and I will keep one. So, anybody who is interested, and everybody should be as she is a most lovely filly, please give the office a ring on 01638 661434 and come and have a look.
Well before Dorothy Paget, who I wrote about the other week, another wildly extravagant woman strode across the racing scene – Caroline, Duchess of Montrose.
In the 1880s, when ownership was confined to men, she defied the rules and kept several horses in training. They raced under her pseudonym Mr. Manton, with considerable success.
Her first husband, the Duke of Montrose, died in 1874 but she kept her own title and later married Stirling Crawfurd, himself a successful owner. During their early association with Newmarket their horses were trained by Joe Dawson at Bedford Lodge, but they were later moved across the Bury Road to Sefton Lodge. It was the duchess who named the stable after her second husband’s 1878 Derby winner Sefton.
She was devoted to Stirling Crawfurd and when he died in 1883 she built the church next door to Sefton Lodge as a memorial to him, called it St. Agnes, and Stirling Crawfurd’s remains were eventually buried there.
As she had built the church she was its patron, with the right to hire and fire the vicar. The weather during one summer had been atrocious which suited the duchess, if no-one else, as she had a runner in the St. Leger which had any sort of chance only on very soft ground. She was horrified when, one Sunday, the Rev. Colville Wallis led his congregation in praying for a fine spell so farmers could gather in the harvest. She took him to one side afterwards and told him: “Do that again, and I’ll sack you.”
The horse did not win, but the vicar kept his job.
The duchess was popular in the racing world, but had an acid tongue at times. She hated all handicappers, convinced that they always treated her horses unfairly. She called one, “The man who murdered his mother.”
Some of her trainers did not fare much better. At one point she had horses trained by a Mr. Peace at Lambourn. She described him as “the Peace that passeth all understanding.”