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Double up at Fakenham!

We sent two horses on the long journey to Fakenham yesterday and we were delighted to see both come home in front!

Ballyrock has had more than his fair share of problems over the years, but he retains plenty of enthusiasm for racing and, dropped into selling company, he looked a class apart from his rivals, making all the running for a wide-margin success under Alan Johns for owner Dave Pearn.

He is high enough in the handicap at present, but clearly retains a level of ability that will make him tough to beat in selling and claiming company and we’ll look to take him to Ffos Las next for a similar contest on 1st June.

Glimpse Of Gold has really got the hang of things of late and he followed what was the first win of his career at Uttoxeter a fortnight ago with another success yesterday. Travelling well throughout, he looked set to score with some authority on the home turn, but was closed down late and the winning margin was just a neck.

The handicapper is unlikely to be too harsh on him and, given the way he is progressing, he should make a very bold bid for the hat-trick next time.  Congratulations to his owners, The Craftsmen!


Honey wins at Towcester!

Honey Pound has been a really fun horse for his owners David and Sue Luke, and he recorded his fourth career success for them with a game, last-gasp win at Towcester under a fine ride from Alan Johns.

Held up in rear, Alan did a great job of getting him settled and he looked to be going very comfortably throughout.  However, the eventual runner-up kicked clear up the straight and it was only after jumping the last that Honey Pound looked likely to reel him in, getting up close home to win by half a length.

He shouldn’t go up much for that win and I am hopeful that he can go on to further success in the months ahead, as he is a real trier and handles any ground.


Exciting performances for the future at Aintree


Debece finished a close third in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

We sent three up to Aintree last week for the National meeting and I was delighted with all three of them, though the narrow margin of Debece’s defeat in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle did, at least for a moment, make me think of what might have been!

Debece (pictured above) had won his previous start, in a handicap hurdle at Newbury, by 19 lengths and that hugely impressive performance, despite being off a mark of 121, was enough to persuade us he was ready for the step up to Grade 1 company.

He travelled and jumped beautifully throughout the contest and was going strongly towards the turn into the home straight.  He just got caught in some scrimmaging on the bend, but kept on strongly all the way up the straight and, in what was a tremendous finish, he was beaten just a half length and a short-head into third.

It was a fantastic performance and, given we have campaigned him this year with his novice chase campaign in mind, to have gone so close to a top-level success of hurdles is a fine achievement.  He has come out of the race very well and will now be roughed off before a summer at grass, but I already can’t wait to see him over fences next season!

I was interested to see he has already been tipped up for next year’s RSA Chase by Nick Watts in the Racing Post! If you missed the article, you can read it at the bottom of this post.


Paul and Louise Bowtell with Dadsintrouble

Dadsintrouble is another to have made great strides in recent months, his two wins at Haydock Park in January and February coming off marks of 117 and 127, before running a fine race over an inadequate trip in the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival.  Back over three miles, he ran in a smashing race in defeat in the Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle on Grand National day.

Racing enthusiastically, he jumped as well as he has ever done and, though caught in a bit of traffic in behind the runaway winner, he showed a lovely attitude up the home straight, keeping on really well to finish third in what was a really strong contest.  He has always shown us a great deal of ability at home and it has been such a pleasure to see him fulfil that in the past few months.

His dam won six times over fences, including at Listed and Grade 3 level, and ‘Dads’ is another we are hugely excited about for novice chasing next season.

IMG_4431There was also a very promising performance from Point Of Principle (above, number 19), who finished 7th of 19, beaten just over 5 lengths, in the Grade 2 bumper.  Purchased for just 8,500gns last May, he made a winning debut on Classic Chase day at Warwick and had finished a close second on his next outing under a penalty at Carlisle, before showing further improvement with this latest run.  He looks like he’ll appreciate two and a half miles over hurdles and he looks set for an exciting campaign next season.  We’ll give him his summer break now and maybe look to have one more run in a bumper on his return next season before going hurdling in the autumn.




Racing Post, 12th April 2017

Nick Watts

Another eyecatcher from Aintree to have on your radar for next season is the Tim Vaughan-trained Debece.

Vaughan had a quiet few years after reshaping his training policy, recruiting more longer term and better quality horses.

It’s taken a while to pay off but he’s definitely getting there now, and this half-brother to Don Poli is a good example of that.

Vaughan has very much trained him with the future in mind this season, starting him off over two miles, racing him sparingly, and only putting him up in trip for his last three starts all of which has reaped a rich dividend.

He hosed up at Newbury two outings ago, and then last week, thrown in at the deep end in a three-mile Grade 1, he responded with an outstanding effort to be beaten only half a length into third by a horse, The Worlds End, who may well have had a say in the Albert Bartlett but for coming down two out.

Vaughan has repeatedly said that fences and three miles are what this horse wants, and it’s pretty much certain that is what he will be doing next season.

He is 33-1 with bet365 for the RSA Chase next season, and while all talk of Cheltenham 2018 should now cease for the summer, I’m willing to make an exception for this horse as he could be genuinely exciting.

2018 RSA Chase
1pt ew at 33-1 (bet365)


Glimpse strikes Gold at Uttoxeter

Glimpse Of Gold is really now beginning to find his stride and, following an excellent run in defeat at Doncaster at the beginning of March, he shed his maiden tag at the 11th attempt with a game success at Uttoxeter yesterday under Alan Johns.

He travelled kindly throughout the contest and was brought through with a strong challenge to take up the running after the second-last, but he was chased all the way to the line by the eventual runner-up and it was a hard-fought success.

We may well look to send him chasing next, but wherever he goes he looks an improving individual and he is capable of winning further races this summer.  Congratulations to his owners The Craftsmen!


Termsnconditions sprints to success!

I can’t remember ever having trained a sprint winner, so the success of Termsnconditions on his handicap debut in a six furlong contest at Lingfield Park on Saturday will go down as a memorable one – even more so as it as was a first win on the flat in my colours!

Though his form in three maiden runs was uninspiring, he just didn’t stay an extended mile at Wolverhampton in December and had previously run well to finish just three lengths off the winner on his debut over the minimum trip at Lingfield Park, despite running green throughout.

On this occasion, he was actually a little keen through the first couple of furlongs and travelled well into the contest, but was pushed along on the home turn and, still looking inexperienced, he nonetheless showed a fine attitude to get up on the line under a strong ride from Kieran O’Neill.

He won’t go up more than a couple of pounds for that win and, now that he has got his head in front, I hope he can find further success in the coming weeks.


William Money records the hat-trick!

A bargain purchase at the Tattersalls Ascot Sale last May, William Money was given plenty of time before making his debut for us in January, but a second at Chepstow proved the springboard for a hat-trick of wins, the latest of them a first success over hurdles at Fontwell Park yesterday.

A useful performer in his prime, William Money had bounced back to that sort of level when a runaway winner on his second start for us at Newcastle in February, swiftly followed a week later by a game success in a competitive handicap at Ludlow.  Reverting to hurdles off a 6lbs lower mark, he was given a well-judged ride from the front by George Blackwell and, though he was under pressure when making his only mistake two from home and briefly looked in trouble with the eventual runner-up travelling well in his slipstream, he found plenty for pressure and kept on strongly up the hill to win by over two lengths.

He is certainly a better chaser than hurdler, but hopefully we can take advantage of his lower mark in this sphere and record another success in the coming weeks.  Congratulations to his owner Oliver Harris!



Benability bounces back to form

It has been quite a long time between drinks, but Benability was back in the winners’ enclosure yesterday after a front-running success at Huntingdon under Alan Johns!

A winner at Fontwell Park in December 2014, Benability had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when running out at Plumpton the following year, and he hadn’t been at his best in a light campaign so far this term.  However, Alan made the running on him for the first time and Benability seemed to enjoy himself in front, jumping fluently and setting a good gallop that his rivals where unable to maintain.

He was understandably a little tired after jumping the last, but kept on well for a six-length win, and hopefully that first chasing win can prove the catalyst for further success going forwards.  Congratulations to his owner Louise Bowtell!


Debece impresses at Newbury

We have long held Debece in very high regard, so it was tremendously exciting to see him take a big step forward at Newbury yesterday, putting his rivals to the sword with a hugely impressive win in the 2m4f handicap hurdle.

Settled in behind the front-runners through the first half of the race, he was sent into the lead down the back straight by Alan Johns and, hurdling fast and fluently, he quickly opened up an advantage.

Quickening off the home bend, Debece went clear and Alan never had to get to work on him at any stage.  A mistake at the second-last, his sole error in the race, didn’t stop his momentum and, 20 lengths clear at the last, he was able to coast home through the final furlong.

Having initially hoped to see him win so that we could get into the 2m4f handicap at Aintree next month, he is likely to have a substantial rise in the weights that brings the Grade 1 Sefton into the equation, as I have little doubt that he will improve for the step up to three miles in time.  Congratulations to his owner Robert Kirkland!


Pat sheds his maiden tag!

Following a good effort in defeat at Ffos Las on his previous outing a fortnight ago, I was delighted to see Get In Pat shed his maiden tag on his sixth start for us, and the 16th of his career, with a game, front-running success under Alan Johns.

He jumped very fluently in front and, though he was headed at the second-last, he battled on bravely and, left in front after the last flight, he really dug deep to hold the late challenge of the runner-up.

He clearly relishes both heavy ground and staying trips, and if the rain continues in the coming weeks then we’ll have him out again towards the end of the month, as he should only receive a very small rise for this win, our 61st of the campaign.  Congratulations to his owners Dom and Steve (looking sharp collecting the trophy!) in the Double Trouble Partnership!



Bassarabad off the mark over fences

BassarabadA winner over hurdles at Kelso in October, Bassarabad built on the promise of his chasing debut at Bangor last month to get off the mark at the second time of asking over fences.

Settled in second for the majority of the race, he was brought through to challenge the long-time leader at the second-last and Alan Johns cajoled him to get his head in front in the final 100 yards.

It was a career-best performance from the six year old, who looks to have stamina in abundance, and we could return to Warwick next month for a similar contest.  Congratulations to his owner Dave Pearn!