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On this day…(or nearly) Pt 5

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 11.22.01Having fallen a little behind, we now have plenty of winners to catch up on, starting with The Ferbane Man.  Having won just one of his 14 starts in Irish points, he had scored three times for us in his first nine outings, but the winning margins were 1/2L, a neck and a head for those wins and it is fair to say he wasn’t always the most resolute in a finish!

The last of his four wins for us came on this day back in 2011 under AP McCoy, winning by a nose and a short-head in a three-way finish (pictured) at the end of three miles, two furlongs and 162 yards, fought out by three jockeys who between them won the 2009 (Liam Treadwell), 2010 (AP) and 2012 (Daryl Jacob) Nationals!

Our other 21st April winner came courtesy of Explained in 2014, winning a five-runner chase at Market Rasen in the hands of Michael Byrne for owners Nigel Churton and Caroline Wilson.  Two out of his previous three successes had also come in April, while he also took a notable scalp when winning his novice hurdle at Folkestone in November 2012, the beaten 1-4 favourite that day being the 2014 Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor.

Our 19th April winners include Bucking The Trend, who was a huge favourite of ours.  A 20-length winner on his debut in a point at Lower Machen, he had won twice over hurdles but improved when sent chasing, scoring at Ludlow on 19th April 2016 under Alan Johns (5).  Sticking to the National theme which seems to be dominating this blog, his next run after this Ludlow win came when runner-up at Aintree the following month, nine lengths behind Al Co, who had won the Scottish National two years earlier!  Bucky was such a star for his owners The Marinades and we await with interest to see what the progeny of his sister Tara Mac is like in due course!

So Now was our first 18th April winner, back in 2009, while another old favourite Quo Video was successful the following year, scoring at Wincanton under Richie Killoran (who will feature in tomorrow’s Where are they now’!) for owners the Folly Road Racing Partners (1996), headed up by Derek Shinton.

It’s also the day we had one of those things that we don’t like to talk about; a second at Cheltenham, with Destroyer Deployed just touched off in the 3m handicap hurdle – a race that Be Bop Boru also finished runner-up in the following year!


On this day…(or nearly) Pt 4

TimVaughan-TwitterSome big wins feature amongst our mid-April successes, starting with Beshabar on this day in 2011.

16th April 2011

A giant of a horse, Beshabar arrived with us as a very lightly-raced eight year old, but a very talented one, having scored in the EBF Final at Sandown Park in 2008 for Nick Williams and then in another Grade 3 at the same course two years later for Paul Nicholls.

Besh was very kindly sent to us by Harry Findlay and there was plenty of promise on his first start for us at Cheltenham, as he was just off the front three at the second-last and staying on strongly, only to be brought down.  Besh’s rider Christian Williams, who is now enjoying plenty of success in his career as a trainer, suffered two broken arms in the incident…things hadn’t got off to a great start!

A winner on his next outing at Doncaster three months later, we returned to Cheltenham for the National Hunt Chase and he ran another fine race, on this occasion under Tom David, finding only Chicago Grey, who had brought him down the previous November, too good.

downloadMiddleham Park Racing took a share in Besh in the days leading up to the Scottish Grand National and it really was a race to remember, as he made most of the running under Dickie, jumped from fence to fence and just had enough in reserve to hold off Merigo, who was to win the race the following year.  It is such a shame that he was only able to run once more after that, when an excellent fifth in the Hennessy on his seasonal return, before injury intervened.

14th April 2012

Successful in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle the year before, David Fox’s Saint Are was still a maiden over fences on his arrival back in Liverpool on 14th April 2012 and off a mark of just 137, he got the better of a fantastic duel up the straight with the runner-up Battle Group, another Aintree specialist who had won over hurdles at the meeting the year before and went on to record a double at the meeting in 2013 as well, including this Listed handicap chase.

Dickie was riding for Philip Hobbs that day, so Dougie Costello was on board Saint Are for the first time and gave him a cracking ride.  Off the bridle a long way from home, Saint Are kept responding to Dougie’s urgings and, despite being briefly headed on the run-in, the pair got back up near the line.

Tara MacTara Mac (pictured right) wasn’t quite such a significant winner, but she was another to win in a tight finish, scoring on 14th April 2018 at Newcastle under Harry Reed (5).  A sister to black-type performer Ballyoliver and to our very own Bucking The Trend (a smart, six-time winner), she won five times for her owners Brian and Wayne Jones and having been retired at the beginning of last year, she has now been busy in her new career as a broodmare, having recently had her first foal, a colt by Jack Hobbs, who stands as a National Hunt sire at Overbury Stud.






On this day…(or nearly) Pt 3

There are some busy days to look back on in the weeks ahead, but 12th April isn’t one of them!  In fact, the only winner I can find is Ifan, who scored in an extended 1m1f handicap at Wolverhampton on 12th April 2014.

Ifan had been sent to us by Derek and Jean Clee, having started his career in the care of the late Bryn Palling, who did an awful lot for Welsh racing in his 40 years as a trainer until his retirement in 2013.

Derek and Jean went on to share the horse with WRB Racing, who also enjoyed plenty of success with the likes of First Fandango (a six-time winner over jumps and placed at Aintree and Cheltenham).  Though Ifan was certainly a bit of a character, it was something different to have a ‘full-time’ flat horse around the place and certainly something I wouldn’t mind having again should the opportunity arise!

He was ridden that day by then 5lbs claimer Dan Muscutt, who grew up in West Wales but is now Newmarket-based and has enjoyed a very successful career to date, with winners around the world and a very close second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on his CV.

Honey PoundWe’ve at least had a couple of winners on 13th April, the first of them 11 years ago with Option Money, in the hands of Lee Stephens (3) for owner David Lovell.  David played a significant part in getting the yard going by supporting us with a near-constant stream of horses in the early days and Option Money’s win at Huntingdon on 13th April 2009 was his third from just six outings for us, having also won his first two the previous spring.

Honey Pound was the other 13th April winner, scoring at Towcester in 2017 under A Johns (3).  He joined us from Ireland back in 2014 and had was another to have won his first two starts, adding another at Newton Abbot in 2015 for his enthusiastic owners David and Sue Luke (pictured after Honey Pound’s win) in partnership with Alan Gregg.



On this day…(or nearly) Pt 2

th_3cf28d6c10e87dca690a6548b05d3555_image_one10th April 2014 is a day we can look back on very fondly, as it featured an across-the-card treble.

Liberty Court kicked off proceedings, shedding his maiden tag under rules in style at Taunton under Richard Johnson for his owners Derek Passant and Glenn Butt.

10 minutes later, Lamool (pictured) scored at Ludlow under Michael Byrne on what was his first start for us and his owners Jeff and Rachel Frost, having been purchased from the Arqana Sale in France the previous November.  A smart flat performer in his youth (he finished fifth in the German Derby in 2010), he went on to become a real favourite in the yard and won a further five races, including four novice hurdles in the 2015/16 campaign.  An hour later, the treble was completed by Steve Clarke’s Stonethrower, scoring under then 10lbs claimer Alan Johns!  He joined the yard in 2010 and had already won four times for us prior to his Ludlow success.Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 12.15.32

Lamool was also a 9th April winner in 2016, but we have to go back further for our first winner on that day, courtesy of Hawkhill, owned by Royston Smith, a lovely man who joined us as an owner very late in his life but gained tremendous enjoyment from Hawkhill’s successes.  Out of a Listed-winning mare on the flat, herself a daughter of Sadler’s Wells, he had been pretty useful in that sphere in Ireland, but a win at Huntingdon in the hands of Richie Killoran (who will soon be featuring in the ‘where are they now’ segment on the blog!) on 9th April 2012 was the first of five wins over hurdles that season, culminating in Listed success at Kempton Park in October.

However, despite being a winning machine and in tremendous form at the time, I do seem to remember Tim (pictured far right, green with orange sash) managing to get him beaten in a charity race at Exeter two months after his Kempton win.  The attached photos, though not great quality, are proof!Walk-in


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.

Like 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!