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On this day…(or nearly)

Aland IslandsA year ago today, we were stood in the paddock at Aintree, cheering on Point Of Principle in the Grade 3 handicap hurdle.  Charlie Price gave him a great ride and together with an enthusiastic bunch of Oceans Racing owners, we were all getting quite excited, but the pair were reeled in close home.

It’s a shame he got caught and slightly surprising too, given we used to be quite good at training winners on 5th of Aprils.  And 4th of Aprils too.  And doubles.  George Woolf (R Johnson) and Swift Escape (R Kirk (5)) combined for a double at Exeter on 4th April 2012, whilst we also had a double on the 5th in 2010, courtesy of Jimbatai (R Johnson) and Kilmore West (M Murphy (5)) at Chepstow, though we had to wait a few months for the latter to be awarded the race having originally finished second.

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 11.03.57The 5th of April also saw the debut of one of the most promising horses we have had in the yard, the very sadly ill-fated Aland Islands (right, M Byrne).  A lovely horse and much-missed, he made a winning debut at Exeter that day, subsequently became the first horse we had in training for JP McManus and went on to win three of his next five starts, before suffering a fatal fall in 2012.

Paul Bowtell’s Dadsintrouble (pictured left, A Johns) was sent off at 20-1 for his handicap debut off a mark of 109, which seems quite big looking back at it now, particularly as he was rated 25lbs higher by the following spring.

unnamedLike Point Of Principle, he went on to place in a Graded handicap at the Aintree Grand National meeting, as did First Fandango (pictured right, but at Cheltenham), who finished third in the same race as Dadsintrouble, but back on 4th April 2013, in the hands of Bradley Gibbs.

I suppose having some time off from racing gives us time to study what we have done right and what we’ve done wrong in previous years.  So I’ll take the following notes for the 4th/5th April next year;

1.  Run more horses in bumpers.  We seem to have a better strike-rate on 4th/5th April than any other day.

2. Ensure at least two horses at each meeting, to give us the chance of a double.

3. If at Aintree, prepare for the horse to run well in defeat (thankfully, the dates for next year are 8th-10th April)









‘Where are they now’ Part 1!

DOgGNGrXUAEK73uThe combination of no racing and the lockdown has given many of us a taste/reminder of the precious commodity that is time!   What better way to use it than to get in touch with some of our former staff, to see what they have been up to since leaving Pant Wilkin.  The first of our ‘where are they now’ interviews is with Limerick native Jason Kiely.

Jason joined us back in 2011 and Pant Wilkin became his home for the next six years, during which he established himself as an excellent work rider and member of the travelling team. We had a catch up to see how he has been getting on in the three years since flying the nest!

When did you join us at Pant Wilkin?
I came over from Ireland in January 2011, in the hope of taking out my licence. I didn’t have to wait too long for my first ride in the UK (Duneen Point at Fontwell Park in April 2011, the same day Saint Are won the Sefton at Aintree!), but a little longer for my first winner, which was Got The Urge at Hereford the following May.

Who was your favourite horse?
I did a lot of work on Be Bop Boru at home – he wasn’t the most straightforward, so it was very rewarding to see him develop into a useful hurdler and he went very close at Cheltenham one day.   Hawkhill shares the accolade, as I not only won on him, but was also on board at Cheltenham’s December meeting and in the Listed handicap at Market Rasen too. He was such a tough horse and a real star for us.

What (if anything!) did you learn at Pant Wilkin?
It might surprise you, but I learned plenty! If I were to take just one thing away from my six years in Wales, it would be the self-confidence that was instilled in me. Tim always has a positive mindset and I think that rubbed off on all the staff. It certainly helped me in taking the next steps in my career.

Jason Kiely 2When did you leave?
I had always been interested in exploring a career in the media and when the RMG and JETS announced a media internship for jockeys, I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones to get picked, so after six enjoyable years in Wales, it was time to pack my bags!

What have you done since?
I had worked a couple of summers at Guillaume Macaire’s in 2015 and 2016 and during that time, I had developed a keen interest in French racing. That served me well during my internship, as Racing UK, who were broadcasting French racing at the time, invited me on as a pundit on a few occasions.

I then moved over to France in early 2018 and have been based in Chantilly ever since. Alongside my media work (I write for and have also done some work for Jour Du Galop in France), I ride out most mornings for one of the leading trainers in France, David Cottin.

A leading National Hunt jockey for many years, David trained his first Cheltenham Festival winner in the Cross Country last month. Leading Easysland back into the winners’ enclosure afterwards was an incredible experience and I hope to be there again with him next year!


800 winners!

Glimpse Of GoldI’ve been reliably informed that we are now on the 800-winner mark…and that’s not an April Fools joke!

764 winners over jumps and 35 on the flat, together with one winner (and a Grade 1 at that!) in Ireland, from the 6030 runners we have had, dating back to our first runner Lonesome Man, who won at Aintree under Richard Johnson back in June 2005.

Given we will be stuck on the 800 mark for quite a while longer, I thought it might be fun to look back on some happier times.  We’ll start with Glimpse Of Gold, who won on this day in 2017 under then 3lbs claimer Alan Johns for owners The Craftsmen.  The photo is very kindly provided by Nigel Kirby Photography.

In the coming weeks, we’ll have plenty more ‘On this day’ moments on the blog and Twitter, as well as catching up with some of our former staff, to see what they are up to now.


Baboin wins at Uttoxeter

PHOTO-2020-02-08-13-56-57 2A £10,000 purchase at the Doncaster September Sale, Baboin built on his first start for us, when third at Lingfield Park last month, with a gutsy display to win at Uttoxeter yesterday under Charlie Price.

Racing in the colours of the newly-formed Chepstow & Ffos Las Racing Club, Baboin was in an excellent position throughout, hit the front two out and kept on really well to hold off his two close pursuers.

That was just his fifth run over hurdles and I’m confident there is plenty more to come from this half-brother to Grade 1 winner Bapaume – we’ll look for something similar under a penalty next time.

I was delighted with the run of Copper Gone West, who finished a good second in the Mares’ Listed Hurdle at Warwick, having filled the same position on her previous outing at Sandown Park.  Her completion record under rules reads 271212122 and there looks to be further improvement to come. We’ll have a chat with her owner Paul Bowtell before deciding where she goes next.


Sedgefield stroll for Let The Heirs Walk

PHOTO-2020-02-04-15-43-42A new arrival to the yard late last year having been purchased from Ireland, Let The Heirs Walk made a perfect start for us when scoring in great style at Sedgefield yesterday under Alan Johns for owner Oliver Harris.

Prominent throughout, he was travelling powerfully on the home bend and was sent into the lead before the second-last.  A slight mistake at the last didn’t halt his momentum and he kept on galloping for a comfortable success.

There should be plenty more to come from him and though we’ll look to win another novice under a penalty next time, I am very hopeful that he can go on to be competitive in a nice handicap in the coming months and he looks an exciting recruit.


Cap scores at Taunton

Cap St Vincent has been a big improver since switching to the larger obstacles and the seven year old recorded his fourth success from just nine outings over fences when scoring at Taunton yesterday under a strong ride from Alan Johns.

Successful on his seasonal return at Exeter, a hike in the weights had seen him a little below that form on his next three starts, but back in slightly calmer waters and upped in trip beyond 2m4f for the first time, he produced a career-best effort to get the better of the eventual runner-up in a stirring finish.

He continues on an upward curve and the Forbra Gold Cup at Ludlow at the end of the month is a possibility next.  Congratulations to his owners Brian and Wayne Jones!


Theligny scores over fences at Ffos Las

Purchased in France as a two year old, Theligny is a huge favourite in the yard and it was brilliant to see him return to winning ways with a gutsy success at Ffos Las yesterday under a fine ride from Alan Johns.

Held up in last, he had plenty of ground to make up off the home bend, but a couple of excellent jumps at the fourth and third from home kept him in the contest and he produced a strong run to challenge over the last, battling on very gamely to get his head in front close home.

The nine year old won four times over hurdles back in 2016 and finished runner-up in the Listed Gerry Feilden that year, but he has only had 10 starts in the three years since, so it was a very popular success.  Congratulations to his owners Dave and Jodie Pearn, who have been fantastic supporters of the yard for a long time.







Eva’s Oskar wins on Welsh National day!

PHOTO-2019-12-27-14-37-49Eva’s Oskar is a hugely progressive five year old and the son of Shirocco made it four wins from his last five starts when landing the class 2 handicap hurdle on Welsh National day at Chepstow yesterday!

Settled in midfield, he hurdled fluently and was in an excellent position turning in, tracking the leading trio.  Though he took a little time to hit top gear, he was in front after the second-last and galloped on resolutely in the heavy ground to win well under an excellent ride from Alan Johns.

It looks a strong piece of handicap form and we may well look to target a Graded contest back in novice company next, with the River Don at Doncaster in late January a possibility.  Congratulations to his owners Sally and Dick Prince!

Click here for the post-race interview on ITV Racing!


Boxing Day win for Bells

BellsFollowing a busy spell for the yard, we had a quieter Boxing Day than is often the case, so it was fantastic to get a winner on the day, with Bells Of Peterboro gaining a deserved first success with a battling win at Market Rasen under Charlie Price.

Just a four year old, he was third on his handicap debut in October and looked to have every chance when unseating two out on his next outing, before finishing a very close second at Exeter last time…so it’s fair to say that this success felt a little overdue!  Having travelled strongly into the race, it looked as if he might have to settle for second once again when the eventual runner-up threw down a strong challenge after the last, but Bells kept on very gamely to hold on by half a length.

He looks to have plenty more to offer and I am confident that he can build on this success for his owners Steve Grys and Mick O’Boyle, though we’ll wait to see his new mark (published next Tuesday) before making a plan.


Copper takes gold at Doncaster

Copper Gone WestRunner-up on her latest outing at Market Rasen, Copper Gone West improved on that performance to win at Doncaster yesterday under Charlie Price and looks an exciting mare going forwards.

Settled in midfield off a slow pace, she was travelling noticeably strongly on the home bend, taking up the running at the third last and keeping on really well in tough conditions to score by just over a length.

There are lots of possible options for her next run in the next few weeks and I am confident that there is plenty more to come from her in the months ahead.  Congratulations to her owners Paul and Louise Bowtell!