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Busy two days at Warwick as autumn begins

Autumn 1It’s such an exciting time of the year, with the autumn campaign just getting underway and the finishing touches being put to our team at home, so we’re looking forward to a very busy few months ahead.

We’ve got six runners out at Warwick across the next two days and I’m sure the meeting will be garnering plenty of publicity, as it will be just the second time since March that racing will take place in front of a crowd.  While I’m sure everyone agrees the most important thing is that we keep the show on the road, it is a very positive step to see members of the public back on the racecourse and hopefully all will go well, those attending will enjoy the day and we can look to start bringing back crowds gradually over the coming weeks.

Steve Clarke’s Judex Lefou runs in the opening novice hurdle for us on Monday and I am hopeful that a good break can see him return to form, while Timely Gift belatedly looks to make it three wins in a row, following two soft-ground successes last backend. His best form has come on soft ground and he is up in the weights, but is ready for his seasonal reappearance and hopefully he can make a bold bid for a great bunch of owners.

We have another four runners on Tuesday’s card at Warwick.

Let The Heirs Walk joined the yard from Brendan Duke in Ireland midway through last season and was a good winner on stable debut at Sedgefield in February. He has to give weight away all round, but he has done well over the summer and we’re hoping he can defy the penalty for owner Olly Harris.

Oceans Racing’s Laugharne was consistent last year and deserves to get his head in front again in the coming weeks, while Looksnowtlikebrian runs in the feature handicap chase for Steve and Reg Botham.  He goes well fresh and we’re looking forward to getting him started for the season.

We also have Cool Tara making her debut in the mares’ bumper for owner Wayne Jones. She’s a sister to two winners and while it looks a deep race for her debut, we’re keen to start her off on good ground.

DickyAlan Johns’ recovery is going well and he is hoping to return in time for Chepstow’s meeting in mid-October, but it’s great to have Richard Johnson riding for us over the next few days. Dicky rode our first winner of the season, Tight Call at Southwell, a few weeks ago and has been into the yard on a couple of occasions recently; he is pictured here with three of his biggest fans, Ed, Henry and Mason.

 

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Lauberhorn rockets home at Chelmsford!

A winneEaqWQWEXgAA6r0Sr on the All-Weather at Kempton Park last August, Lauberhorn Rocket didn’t get the clearest of runs on his reappearance earlier this month, but with that run under his belt, he took a step forward to score at Chelmsford yesterday evening for owner John Bolton.

Ridden for the first time by promising 5lbs apprentice George Rooke, he settled in midfield and in a race that turned in to a bit of a sprint, was outpaced briefly on the home turn before rallying up the straight, finishing best of all to hit the front inside the final furlong, eventually winning by 3/4L.

He is declared at Lingfield Park on Friday and would have a very good chance if going there, but the race may come a little too quick, in which case we’ll wait for something towards the end of the month/early July.  I think there is plenty more to come from him on the flat, while longer-term we’ll also give hurdling another go!

I was really happy with the comeback run of Barrier Reef earlier on the card, as he travelled nicely through the race and wasn’t beaten far.  Hopefully he can find a winning opportunity very soon.

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On this day…

Nigel Kirby PhotographyDovils Date is part of the scenery at Pant Wilkin, having joined the yard in November 2012. Since then, he has won 12 times, for seven different jockeys, from exactly 50 starts for us.

Alan Johns and George Blackwell both won on him as 10lbs claimers, and most recently it was Charlie Price’s turn, claiming 8lbs in a conditional jockey’s contest at Uttoxeter on this day last year.   Having dropped to a very workable mark, Dovils won his first race over hurdles since 2016 (though he had won three on the flat the following year), hitting the front approaching the last and keeping on in customary game fashion to record a very popular win for his owners in the Itsfuninit syndicate, several of whom are local to the course.

He has always been a horse to follow when in form and went on to record the second hat-trick of his career, addition an impressive win at Southwell before another easy success at Stratford. He will be back on the flat this summer and it would be lovely to see him back in the winners’ enclosure.

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On this day…(Or nearly) Pt 11

Postmaster, Manjam and Reality Show schooling17th May

We have to go pretty deep into the archives to find a (small) schooling photo of the Bill & Ben Partnership’s Postmaster (in front under Katie Ash), a real stable favourite who won on this day in 2012, Matthew Barber (7) doing the steering in a hunter chase at Folkestone, just over a month after running in the National. ‘Postie’ finished fourth in his next outing in the Champion Foxhunters’ at Stratford (behind Salsify, who had won the big one at Cheltenham that March).

Makhzoon made the long trip to Perth worthwhile to win on this day in 2012, winning the claiming hurdle under Richard Johnson in the colours of Middleham Park Racing, S Morris and C Davies, the final of his four wins for us, as he was claimed afterwards and stayed in Scotland with Nick Alexander. 

Caspian Piper 16th May

Baily Storm had won two of his first three after joining us in 2009 and returned from a break to make a winning chasing debut in a three-runner race for owners Chasing Gold, in the hands of Daryl Jacob.  It wasn’t without drama though, with the leader falling two out and the margin of victory over the runner-up (ridden by AP, who had dropped his whip at the second fence…not something that happened very often!) was just a head.

Five years later, Caspian Piper (pictured on the gallops the week before that win) scored for owners Oceans Racing,  bolting up at Uttoxeter under Richard Johnson to win by 13 lengths. The handicapper reacted with a stiff 17lbs rise, but thankfully he was able to follow up on his next outing at Ffos Las the following month.

DdQ3wNPXUAAC2ge15th May

Dubh Eile featured in Pt 7 of this and makes a quick return, having won on this day in 2015.  Racing in the colours of Paul Bowtell and Jonathan Shinton, she followed up her Newton Abbot win the previous month with a runaway 12-length success at Aintree under Richard Johnson, the course where her dam Aine Dubh twice finished third in Grade 2 contests at the Grand National meeting.

Three years later, Laugharne made it third time lucky since joining us, David Noonan doing the steering at Southwell for Oceans Racing.  A really game individual, I hope Laugharne can return to winning ways this autumn.  The photo may be more than a little blurry, but it’s the best we’ve got of the occasion!

 

 

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On this day…(Or nearly) Pt 10

DP4wBY1XUAAHayLNathans Pride was a talented individual on his day and he recorded the fifth of his six wins for us on this day in 2016 at Aintree, Alan Johns (5) bringing him through to lead two from home and keeping on strongly to win for owner Paul Bowtell.  He wasn’t the easiest to train, but was a lovely horse to have in the yard and her went on to add a win over fences the following year at Musselburgh (pictured).

536122_10150779687725119_1420932444_nOther 13th May winners include Michael Owen’s Paddy Partridge (pictured) at Uttoxeter in 2012.  A brother to Holoko Heights (who appeared on the blog last week), he was retired the following year and has since been enjoying life with our former Head Lass, Katie Ash.

Paddy provided the second leg of an across-the-card treble that day, an hour after Spanish Optimist‘s novice hurdle win in the hands of Richard Johnson for owners Hugh Doubtfire and Tony Evans.

Following those two winners at Uttoxeter, Dingat made his second start back from a long absence a winning one with a win at Worcester under Dougie Costello for owner Graham Handley.  A dual bumper winner with a good deal of ability (he beat the likes of dual Listed chase winner Duke Of Lucca when winning his second bumper), it was a real shame that his career was limited to just 11 starts.

 

 

 

 

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On this day…(Or nearly) Pt 9

unnamedEva’s Oskar (pictured right) is the most recent of our 11th May winners, the Sally and Dick Prince-owned son of Shirocco scoring at Hexham a year ago, his first run of a very successful season that also saw him win at Warwick in October and then twice at Chepstow, including a memorable success on Welsh National day.  Just a six year old, he is a really exciting prospect to go chasing with and I’m looking forward to his return in the autumn.

Stonethrower, who has featured in an earlier edition of ‘On this day’, was a winner back in 2011, another to justify odds-on favouritism and maintaining his career record of only winning in April (1 win), May (3 wins) and June (1 win)!

Monsieur Arkadin (pictured right) made the long trip to Carlisle worthwhile in 2017 for owners Derek Passant and Glenn Butt, making all the running under Alan Johns (3) to justify odds of 1-6…he was facing just one rival, after all!

It’s a real shame is fell on his reappearance back from a summer break that October, DLdZ1o9WAAAJTmCas he looked likely to win that day and was never able to rediscover his form after.

unnamed-110th May winners include a real old favourite in Wings Of Smoke (pictured left), who landed the fourth success of his long career at Haydock Park on this day in 2014.  He joined us in 2011 and had his final run of his 46-race career in July 2018, remaining as enthusiastic as ever, but at the age of 13 just finding he wasn’t as quick as he had been!

A strong traveller, he gave his owners Dave and Jodie Pearn so great days out, including when winning at Newbury on the first day of the Hennessy meeting in 2012.

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On This Day…

9th May has been a tremendously successful day for us, with seven winners, dating back to a double in 2010.

The Gill Owens-owned House Of Bourbon kicked off proceedings, winning on his seasonal reappearance a Uttoxeter under Dean Coleman in a 2m5f selling hurdle, while Pure Anticipation made it third time lucky with a ready win in the concluding bumper, defying odds of 25-1 under Johnny Farrelly for her owners Cloud Nine – she doubled that tally on her next outing, making a winning hurdling debut at Fontwell Park the following month.

A year later, Erdeli (Select Racing Club) and Holoko Heights (Owen Promotions Limited) combined for a double at Towcester, Richard Johnson doing the steering on both occasions.  Erdeli had got off the mark for us the previous year, winning on the flat at Wolverhampton and providing jockey Thomas Brown with a first ever winner.  Tom went on to finish runner-up in the apprentice title in 2013 and also landed the John Smith’s Cup in 2016 on Educate.

Interestingly, both Erdeli and Holoko Heights (who won four over hurdles and one over fences for us) were bred to be high-class performers on the flat; the former was out of Group 1 Moyglare winner Edabiya (herself a half-sister to Ascot Gold Cup winner Estimate), while the latter was a half-brother to Michael Owen and Andrew Black’s top-class stayer, the Irish St Leger winner Brown Panther.

Bells-1Other winners on this day include Kack Handed in 2012 (for 7lbs claimer Bradley Gibbs)and Bells Of Berlin, who provided the Steve Grys and Mick O’Boyle partnership with the first of several ‘Bells’ winners, notably Bells Of Ailsworth and this year’s winner Bells Of Peterboro (pictured).

The most recent of them was Tara Mac, who scored at Fontwell Park in 2018 under Alan Johns for Brian and Wayne Jones.

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On this day…(Or nearly) Pt 8

Our first 8th May winner came way back in 2009, with City Affair scoring in a novice hunter chase at Aintree under our then assistant trainer Rhys Hughes.  A triple winner over hurdles two seasons earlier, he had a tendency to misbehave a little before the start, but things couldn’t have gone more smoothly in the race, as he made all for a comfortable win for owners Optimum Racing.  Patrixbourne was another 8th May scorer, belatedly doubling her tally for us in good style at Plumpton under Richie Killoran, having won on her stable debut 11 months earlier.

There have been a couple on the 7th May, starting with David Lovell’s Apocalozzo, who won on his rules debut for us under Richard Johnson at Fakenham in 2008, having scored by 30 lengths between the flags at Bonvilston for Abbi the previous month.  Irish import Buy Back Bob won on 7th May 2015, Dickie again in the saddle and making all for a clear-cut success at Wincanton in the colours of Bob Michaelson (who sadly passed away last year) and Robin Clay.

Our 6th May winner recalls a memorable day in Ireland with Spirit Of Adjisa (pictured), who landed the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival. Having made most of the running, he was headed approaching the last, but Dickie was at his strongest and had a very willing partner that day, the pair rallying to get up close home.  spirit-of-adjisa-primas-vista_2593578That rounded off an incredible 30 days that had started with Saint Are’s Grade 1 win at Aintree and included Beshabar’s Scottish National success as well!

 

 

 

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On this day… (Or nearly) Pt 7

IMG_0349Plenty of winners to catch up on, including three on 3rd May, the latest of them being Bleu Et Noir at Sedgefield in 2016 for Alan Peterson.  Runner-up on his previous outing, he made the most of what looked a very good opportunity at Sedgefield, Alan Johns sending him out in front and the pair making all for a ready success, the first of three wins over hurdles in his novice season.

Jason Kiely featured in our ‘Where are they now’ segment a couple of weeks ago and he pops up again here, having ridden his first winner under rules on Got The Urge on 3rd May 2012.  The weather was dreadful and the race wasn’t much better, but it was a memorable day for Jason and Matt Chapman was at his most exuberant doing the commentary.

Steve Clarke’s Stonethrower is the final 3rd May winner, back in 2011, scoring by 49 lengths at Fakenham under Richie Killoran in a four-runner novice hurdle, the field for that race in Norfolk comprising of two from our yard and two from Evan Williams!

Chei1dVWkAAQonbA double at Kempton Park on 2nd May 2016, with Debece (above right) making an impressive hurdling debut under Alan Johns for owner Robert Kirkland .  Falcarragh (left) provided the second leg, Alan again on board and galvanising Mike Stratford’s nine year old to hold on in a very tight finish.

Irish import Dubh Eile had taken a little while to find her feet over hurdles, but she came good at Newton Abbot on 30th April 2015, Richard Johnson extricating her from a pocket on the home turn to win going away for owners Paul Bowtell and Jonathan Shinton.  Further success was to follow a fortnight later, as she won impressively at Aintree despite an 11lbs rise in the weights.  Subsequently retired to stud, she now has a two year old colt, a yearling filly and a colt foal by Kayf Tara, and is now being covered by Jack Hobbs – so lots to look forward to in the years ahead!

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‘Where are they now’ Part 2

As Richie Killoran was in the saddle on the last occasion we had a 29th April winner, on Lord Gunnerslake at Huntingdon a decade ago today, it feels an appropriate time for our next ‘Where are they now’ segment.

How did you start off in racing?

I joined the Irish Racing Academy (RACE), where I was in the same dorm as Brian Hughes, who remains a very good friend.  His career trajectory remains a little more impressive than mine!

My first job in the UK was with Andrew Balding, but I became a little too fat for the flat, so I switched to National Hunt and joined Nicky Henderson’s.

Little ShillingWhen did you start coming in to Pant Wilkin?

Too long ago to remember exactly, but I know it took Tim a little while to give me any rides.  The first winner I rode for the yard was Flying Grey at Newton Abbot in August 2008.  I was coming in once a week for a good while from then on, all the way through until my final couple of rides, which were both for Tim up at Hexham.  Unfortunately I had to sign off with a second!

What was your favourite horse?

That’s an easy one…Little Shilling (pictured).  He had run 16 times without winning, but he became a winning machine and won his first six for Tim and owners Optimum Racing, all within the space of 35 days.  I was on board for five of those wins, and added another on him the following season – off a 48lbs higher mark than when he started.  I also had a real soft spot for Hawkhill – I only rode him once (and won), but he was such a tough horse.

Mongol DerbyWhen did you retire and what have you been up to since?

I’d had a decent season in 2011-12 with 26 winners, but the following season was a struggle and by 2013 I had decided to hang up my boots.  I had been thinking for a little while about what might be next (I had plenty of time to do so while riding in the 1000km Mongol Derby in the summer of 2012) and when I did stop riding, I learned the ropes in a new career in asset management for a couple of years.

I moved on to CCLA Investment Management in 2017 and have been there ever since, qualifying as a Chartered Financial Analyst last year.  We manage over 10 billion for various charities and organisations in the UK and my role involves analysing stocks and advising the portfolio managers on what we buy, sell or hold.

I’ve also found time to get married (to Erin, a fellow rider whom he met during the Mongol Derby!) and we have a son, Theo.

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