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                     Velvet Vision wins at                       Newcastle


The weather is now so different

Monday, 05 March 2018

"The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."

Lloyd Jones.

Velvet Vision leading on Hamilton Hill

It is amazing how quickly all the snow and ice has disappeared. We started the weekend white over and cold and now this morning we are green and warm. In fact the lads are riding out without their coats on. It is amazing this British weather. We are a bit short on the ground this morning rider wise with one on holiday, but the others are getting on really well and doing a great job. With the weather changing and it getting lighter in the morning, it certainly helps, but we could do with a couple of new riders as quickly as possible. I am sure they will turn up now that spring is not too far away.


We had no new foals over the weekend and both Angie and I are pretty tired as she was sitting up, and I was on red alert to help. We have several mares overdue at present and it looks like we will have another couple at least this week. We tested a couple of mares in foal this morning to Nathaniel and Garswood, so the whole circle is starting once again. The fields have taken a real battering what with all the wet we have had then the snow and we are now hoping for a dry period and some warmth so that we can get the spring grass coming and move all the stock into new paddocks. With the weather like it has been, it has been prudent to keep them where they are.

     18_True     19_Vision
True Calling and Velvet Vision

Making their way back to the yard

I was very sorry to hear at the weekend of the death of Lennie Peacock. She was a great character and a very good horse breeder. Her Middleham stud turned out many many winners, including her best, Tirol, who won the 2000 guineas. Her stock was always brought up to be tough and genuine and she had lots of winners by unfashionable sires. You always knew that if you bought a horse from her, it would be sound and genuine. Our condolences go to all her family.

I must comment on the other death over the weekend of Sir Roger Bannister, who was the last of the proper amateurs, very unlike the overpaid, over helped athletes of today. He broke the four minute mile record and won many medals for Great Britain, all as a proper amateur. He then went on to be an eminent doctor and was a great example to many people, a long way from the celebrity culture we have today. Hard work and genuine talent got him to where he was with not an agent or social media in sight.


It is freezing today

Friday, 02 March 2018

"Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour."



The weathervane at Frankland Lodge says it all


The snow is waiting for more today

There is a biting wind which is making it really cold once again. The snow is still thick on the ground and some more is forecast for later in the day. We have had one non-runner through illness, but everybody else is working well and with Joey Haynes in and riding several out, this has been a great help. The heathmen have been doing an unbelievable job all over the heath to keep the tracks open, and apart from the odd one that has got thick drifting snow on, they have kept everybody able to exercise in safety.


Clearance, Rum Ration, Saint Anthony and Velvet Vision

There is no racing at present and I don’t think we will have a runner now until at least the end of next week, which won’t do anybody any harm. It is just a matter of keeping everything warm and happy, both humans and horses. The racecourses I know are desperate to run as they lose income when they don’t have meetings, but weather like this has been very rare in recent years and I would think we might not see anything like it again for a few years.


Melo Pearl

As I said I went to the BHA Roadshow yesterday at the Rowley Mile Racecourse attended by all the great and good from the area. It was a very slick presentation, compared well by Nick Luck who kept the whole thing moving along very nicely. It started with four senior executives outlining what had happened over the last few years, and what they hoped would happen in the future. There was a man who talked about the vision for racing, plus a panel of six who were giving us the chapter and verse on the industry workforce. There were plenty of questions from the floor, but my impression of the whole thing was that the industry is only going one way as regards fixtures, and the gist of it was that the bookmakers wanted more fixtures at very funny hours of the day i.e. evenings and weekends etc. There will certainly be no compromise on that and they seem to be completely out of touch with how the workforce thinks and how under pressure everybody is.

There was a lot of talk about recruitment, retention and how working practices should be changed to suit, but it is all very well on paper, but horses are living creatures and cannot just be shut in a cupboard and bought out when needed. A lot of the so called experts have got their heads in the sand if they don’t understand this. It seems to me that the BHA wants ten trainers with 500 horses each and nobody else. They think that people will enjoy this and go and watch it. How wrong they are. We need somebody with a vision, I didn’t hear any vision yesterday and suspect in three or four years’ time, we will have the same meeting with completely different executives all spouting the same thing. If we keep going down the same lines that is how it will end.


Astromagick's new born Charmed Spirit colt foal


Smile That Smile's just born Monsieur Bond colt foal

Phil on Friday


As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted (by the ‘ageing process’ I was cheerfully informed) the Grand National seemed a long way off. Now, though, we are getting there. Just six weeks to go.

The snow and ice can’t last that long surely, and even if it did it wouldn’t worry the likes of wily Bernard Bletsoe who bred, owned and trained the 1901 National winner Grudon.  In fact he’d love it. His sheer ingenuity and enterprise would give him an edge over everyone else.

The Aintree going on National day all those years ago was recorded as ‘very deep – course white with snow’. The weather was ‘blinding snowstorm’. Conditions overall: ‘very bad’.

So the shrewd Bernard Bletsoe sent out for a mountain of butter and carefully packed as much as he could into each of Grudon’s hooves. He thought the butter would prevent snow from balling up under the horse’s feet – and it did. Grudon galloped on safely while others slipped and slithered out of contention all around him.

On most of the second circuit jockey Arthur Nightingall was content to hack alongside fellow rider Algy Anthony who eventually finished unplaced. Then a mile or so from home, and thanks to all that butter, he was able to leave his rival well behind with the words, ‘Well, I must be going. Ta ta, old chap’. He won easily.

Such resourcefulness is unlikely to be repeated. Can you imagine racing being permitted these days on going ‘very deep - course white with snow’? With a blinding snowstorm on the horizon some clerks, who have a hugely difficult job as we all know, might call a ‘precautionary’ inspection and then abandon racing after everyone has turned up, or is on the way.

That’s not a criticism, merely an observation. ‘Better (butter?) safe than sorry’ was something unheard of back in 1901 though.

Meanwhile, come rain or shine, we have much to look forward to. Even before the National there’s Cheltenham, the start of the flat turf season which in itself heralds the arrival of spring, The Lincoln and, before you know it, it will be the Guineas.

Snow or no snow it’s a great time to be alive, even if old …!


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