Thursday, 17 October 2019

Wetherby - October 16

Unseasonably wet weather is bringing them out in their droves, an eight race card on good to soft ground and those with recent form again proving that fitness is key at this time of year.

The two divisions of the juvenile held little interest here, particularly weak as they were especially the second leg where the double penalised Maria Magdalena wasn't out of second gear to win again. Nothing to see here.

The whole world wanted to take on Sam Spinner on his fencing debut it seemed and layers were preening themselves after the insubstantial seven-year-old was starting to tail off five fences out.

However, he was able to latch onto the leading trio on the long run to the next and his jumping, although rather low, seemed to get better the quicker he went.

Reeling in the much larger Beakstown on the run-in, the few who stayed faithful to the top-class staying hurdler were rewarded at healthy odds, and he will remain something of a conundrum next time.

Beakstown may just have needed the run and didn't seem to enjoy being in front, either early or late on. This muddling affair didn't see him in his best light I think it's fair to say.

Return Ticket looks a proper horse that has been minded until now by patient connections, and he ran a race full of promise in third.

Better ground may suit him and he will certainly be sharper next time...you could see him contesting a decent race at Aintree or Ayr come the spring.

Vado Forte continues to race on his nerves and was edgy beforehand, he still lacks condition possibly because of these tendencies but if he ever settles down he could prove very useful.

A decent novice hurdle came next where it was clear that a talented hurdling newcomer would be required to take down the double penalised Jatiluwih, who has the make and shape of a very good horse indeed.

All bets were off though when he unshipped D Maxwell on the way to the start - the double bluff meaning he went unbacked at tasty odds as he came home a cosy winner ahead of some promising types.

The heavily backed West Cork lost nothing in defeat on this rules debut, a decent looking type he's still weak in front and was certainly over-bet beforehand.

Young Bull had some tidy bumper form for a stayer and he looks tough as teak, a compact, strong individual who looked in need of the outing. As such this effort was meritorious indeed.

Dino Boy is worth a mention in fourth, while Eclair On Line was disappointingly small and only workmanlike in appearance. Russian Invasion is a lovely staying chaser for the long term.

Blowout of the race was the good looking Keep Rolling, whom R Johnson didn't fight early on and he was a spent force by the home turn.

The handicap chase wasn't as competitive as the numbers first suggested but by the time it was clear market leaders Crievehill and Sky Pirate were the ones to be with, neither made much appeal at 9/4.

The latter has his own ways of getting from A to B and it wasn't the first time he got low at one when capsizing four from the finish. He is capable of picking up a decent handicap this season with his high cruising speed if he puts it all together.

Crievehill looked in terrific health for his seasonal debut and was ridden positively on this drop in grade - he looks sure to go well if they tackle the Grand Sefton next.

I say the same thing every year but it should be evident by now that the Sue Smith horses are not wound up on their first starts of the season at this time of year and they were all very much in the need of the run this day.

The staying handicap hurdle looked wide open despite several players racing from career high perches, race fit trio Jacks Last Hope, Victarion and Justatenner coming to the fore in a daft little race where they pottered round for the most part. No sectionals required here.

Teescomponents Lad probably just needed the run but the dawdle wouldn't have suited and he's worth sticking with, however Monkey Puzzle proved disappointing.

Ecu De La Noverie was the buzzword ahead of the 2m handicap chase but connections are clearly finding out about him as they go and the ducks weren't aligned this time.

Held up off a fast pace, 'Dave' made good headway in search of the double but took a pull round the home turn, ceding first run to B Hughes on Ballyvic Boru and that proved the key to the race.

Ecu looks a very useful chaser in the making and an extra half mile should suit, while I thought he would tighten up a bit for the outing.

The winner had a recent spin under his belt and it finally clicked for this frustrating type who had disappointed me too many times before. To be fair you could have made excuses but he took his chance this time, benefiting from the strong gallop.

Sir Egbert rallied nicely to get third and he ought to prove capable from his current mark, while Treshnish was only half fit and shaped quite well in the circumstances.

The closing 0-140 was a weak race for the grade and presented Project Bluebook with his easiest assignment for a long time despite being high enough in the handicap.

Poor Jonjo Jnr had his brain scrambled by the low sun and chequered flags, mistakenly bypassing the third last when setting sail for home. It was a chance gone begging but whether he would have beaten the impressive Antunes is a moot point.

The Skelton horse caught the eye in a big way beforehand, being a big rangy chaser and looking very fit for this seasonal debut. It can't be long before they switch to fences and the way he went through the race was impressive.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Hexham - October 12

Quite a warm day for the track and drying ground, looking nearer good to soft than soft the way they were finishing.

The opener saw a well-backed favourite in Le Grand Fromage, the first of four raiders from the T Lacey yard with N De Boinville up, however there were definite fitness concerns on paddock appraisal on this first racecourse visit.

There were a couple of nice types in opposition and both came in for support in their own way, The Ferry Master having a bit of size about him and a good moving horse looking one to mark down for the future.

Eventual fourth Teescomponentstrig was given a good mention by trainer Gillian Boanas in our recent stable tour and the striking chestnut looked in good order, having strengthened up while still on the leggy side.

He was very novicey throughout, jumping big on occasions, and should come on a bundle for the experience, showing plenty of stamina in coming from further back after jumping the second last.

Eventual winner Darry Desbois was the fittest and more forward of them all in the paddock, despite looking rather unfurnished and lacking the quality of those previously mentioned. He made his experience and fitness count.

Phil Kirby's horses are yet to fire but Sometimes A Fox should be placed to advantage in handicaps, he's quite a nice type but isn't bred to stay this far. Whateva Next looks an expensive buy, lacking much physical scope, but shaped with some promise.

The first chase of the day was an intriguing contest of its type (0-120) with Dorking Cock being asked a lot to concede weight all round on his chasing debut. It took a while for the penny to drop over hurdles and it could be the same this time around, he has his quirks too.

Ain't My Fault is a big, strong staying handicapper in the making but looks to have a touch of the slows. In common with the Russell horses he looked fit for this seasonal debut and got them all at it from the front, unable to deal with the classier Weakfield from the last.

Brian Ellison's son of Court Cave was well backed and travelled sweatly throughout considering his winning over hurdles came at 3m. He looked to carry some baggage but that's not uncommon of the yard's horses and he was clearly ready to do the job.

I was most keen on Stoney Rover at surprisingly big odds, but although his price collapsed late on the cash went west as the scopey son of Scorpion was novicey throughout and got too far behind as a result.

The fact he was able to come home so strongly is to his credit, and he should be well up to winning from this sort of mark with more practice as his best form over timber suggests.

Honourmission shaped nicely on his first start for Sam England, appearing to have physical quality beyond his current rating. Lacking somewhat in size and fitness, he should be able to find races at the smaller tracks.

The staying hurdle didn't look like it would take much winning but Ryedale Racer looked on particularly good terms with himself, very fit and on his toes. With loads of course form behind him he had to be a player and being allowed his head with over a circuit to run proved a masterstroke.

The plunge on Kings Eclipse was mystifying. Once a plot horse always a plot horse the saying goes but this robust chase type doesn't have much toe and tends to require much softer ground than this.

Eureu Du Boulay looked in good heart but was quite edgy and nothing about him suggests he will stay this sort of distance, while Irish raider Military Hill is probably quite well handicapped the way he went through the race, simply not seeing it out as well as the winner.

The seven-runner handicap chase was a weak affair and was fought out by a couple with course form in Classical Milano, who was on a going day this time, and Misfits, who looks a tad high in the weights but would surely have won if he winged the last, which he looked on a good stride to do so.

Just Georgie was solid in the betting for one very much in need of the run, and he got extremely warm as well. Misdflight must have traded low the way he went through the race but his strike rate says it all.

Lacey's bumper winner Floating Rock and the H Whittington-trained Lantiern dominated the betting in a fair looking novice hurdle, the former looking a nice sort and preferred getting the weight from a penalised Lantiern, who hasn't looked straight forward in the past.

However, neither looked like winning at any stage with Miah Grace travelling like a dream throughout and having it won a long way out. Running well in a good bumper at the track last term, the Malinas filly should be up to defying a penalty against her own sex.

Fyfin Patsy was another on the day to make fitness count by staying on for second ahead of Get Help, who is sure to come on for the run and stay further, sentiments that apply to fourth placed Milvale, who wasn't knocked about and looks one to keep onside with softer ground likely to suit.

Some of the usual suspects rocked up for a 0-100 handicap chase with Roll Of Thunder running his  solid race despite the handicapper's reassessment, this time giving best to Casimir Du Clos who was nicely backed despite looking as if the run would do him good.

The Blue Bresil gelding won at Sedgefield on chase debut last term but handn't backed it up, however he was by far the least exposed here and could well have more to offer as he goes back up in trip.

Bocasien Desbois landed a bit of a punt at the last meeting but this inconsistent sort threw in a shocker with the run coming too soon, although even with more time between his races you wouldn't trust him to back up last week's effort.

There were some nice types for the future in the closing bumper but the warm favourite Dakota Beat was an entirely different proposition, quite a small Flat type with plenty of experience and winning form over further.

He was simply much more forward than the rest and put that experience to good use, comfortably beating chief market rival Neville's Cross, a horse with plenty of size who may just lack the pace to win one of these.

Again, Flutter Down out-ran his odds due to superior fitness on a frustrating day for the yard, Grumpy McGrumpface the next best with Kearney Hill carrying plenty of condition on this occasion.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Stable tour - Phil Kirby

It hasn't taken long for Phil Kirby to re-establish himself on the up just three years after setting up an entirely new training complex just off the A1, on the outskirts of Richmond.

The former farrier and amateur jockey made great strides in the training ranks during the early 20-teens but found himself getting too big, too fast, and that meant searching for a new yard.

When all options were exhausted, he was able to design his own establishment - from the layout of the gallops to the stables and office buildings - thanks to investment from a friend, and the winners have begun to flow.

Last winter saw phenomenal success with 43 winners over jumps, comfortably beating his previous best of 28 set in the 2013-14 campaign.

Far from allowing the grass to grow under his feet, Phil has been planning ahead by investing in a handful of broodmares to keep the show on the road, while also attracting the attention of bigger owners.

"The aim is to beat last year's total - we count the calendar year and we'd like to reach 50, we've made it hard work for ourselves but you'd like to think there are more that can win this time," he said in early October following a quiet few months, both on the Flat and summer jumps.

"I want things to continue to get bigger and better, we've 74 stables at present and a barn where we have all the youngsters in - that would take another 20 and that would definitely be the end. But there's no plans to do that yet.

"I'm very happy with what we've got. We put 10 boxes up this winter, another 10 last winter so we've gone from 54 to 74 in two years, which is not what we set out to do. But they're all full which is grand.

"We've got great owners who appreciate what we're doing, and if somebody wants to buy us nice horses that would be great."

The newest stables at Green Oaks
The yard hit the headlines in the spring when the free-spending Darren Yates sent him Blaklion, followed by Don Poli and £620,000 purchase Interconnected before withdrawing his support a couple of months later and sending the horses elsewhere.

However, Kirby remains unflustered by the whole episode and he seems happy with the way things have panned out.

"It was fine, I was disappointed for half an hour but to be honest it was a bit of weight of my mind," he told me. "None of them were in work at the time so it's not like we felt we'd done anything wrong.

"I'd already bought Magellan and South Seas and he wanted a National horse so he bought Blaklion, who went wrong 10 days before the National which was a bit of a sickener, and then he bought Don Poli.

"He wanted a proper nice horse so bought Interconnected, we only had him for 10-12 weeks, a lovely big horse who was on his holiday and we only did a bit of flat work with him.

"We had a bit of bad luck but that's the way it is and we haven't fallen out in any way. It was more of a relief at the time but I'd definitely have them again if anyone wanted to send that type of horse here.

"I'm trying to make horses all the time so anything half or threequarters made would be great."

Phil currently does all the buying of horses himself and seems to enjoy that side of racing almost as much as training them.

"I enjoy going through the catalogues and I like buying form horses, that was what we always did. I've always been around horses and I didn't think I needed anyone to show me round.

"If they're sound and have form there'd be a race in them, we didn't have many superstars but we had a lot of winners from the amount of horses we had.

"It's time consuming and as long as I can make the time to do the catalogues I'll continue buying them, it's just a time thing and I enjoy doing it and getting stuck into the form.

"We've got six mares and when we first came here we were low on numbers so it was a part of the business that we needed to do to get going again, so we had a lot of stables and not a lot of money coming in.

"We bought foals to sell as yearlings and it kept us going for a couple of years. We got some nice mares and a couple of Lady Buttons siblings by Robin Des Pres and Presenting, plus an unraced sister of Buttons by Westerner, who is in foal to Buck's Boum.

Hopefully some future stars in the barn
"It's not something I'll go more into, it's done its job and we'll keep a couple of mares, but it's a job for someone else now.

"If I don't sell the young horses to owners in the yard they'll go to the sales at three, running them myself isn't the plan.

"They're a nice bunch of mares and it was grand when we had more time and room, whereas now they are starting to get in the way a little bit, which is a nice problem to have I suppose."

I wondered how Phil had built up so much experience and confidence in his own ability to buy the right horses and broodmares.

"I started at Ferdy Murphy's and was there for three or four years, rode as an amateur winning on my first ever ride, but things went rapidly downhill and soon realised things weren't going to happen.

"I then started working as a farrier and once qualified started to train a few Pointers and things soon took off, we were champion hunter chase trainer in the first year and I quickly got my licence to train under rules.

"The numbers soon swelled and I had about 35 between Castleton near Whitby and Keith Reveley's yard, at that point I had a chance to go to Middleham so I kept the yard going at Castleton and moved the rest to Middleham.

"We had a lot of winners that first year, we had a lot of well handicapped horses and we had a really good run. But I was driving over to Middleham every day and it was tough so I decided to downscale a bit and when I heard Keith was packing up he said I could use his yard which was perfect as I was only living five minutes away.

"But Keith decided to stay on a bit longer which left me stranded a bit, but I got an extra six months at Middleham and then this place came up and luckily I had a friend and owner who wanted to have a good go, and that's how we ended up here. I couldn't have afforded it on my own, and he's been brilliant."

As for the future, Phil reckons that he'll be focusing more on the National Hunt side of things with 90 percent of the yard now being jumpers, although he still has one or two nice ones for the Flat.

"If people want to send us a Flat horse that's grand, but I haven't been buying flat horses on spec to sell," he said. "We've got a few nice Flat horses that we've looked after but the few we've been sent haven't turned out to be much good.

"The two year olds are not really two year-olds but they've had their three runs and will be better next year. It looks like we've had a poor season but we've had loads of horses placed.

"It starts to get annoying after a while and it'll be nice when we start having winners because then you can start comparing what you've got.

"This year is turning out a lot like 2018 with a quiet few months in the summer and then things started to click, you do worry about this and that but the horses that we expected to run well did so, without winning. Hopefully things will start to get going soon."

When, as seems inevitable, Phil decides to build those extra 20 stables, he'll have a near 100-strong team of horses at his disposal and it would be a foolish man to bet against P Kirby becoming one of the biggest names in Northern jump racing in the years ahead.

Horses come to the end of the 6f woodchip gallop
December Second
He’s on a break and we aim to bring him back for the big all-weather races at the end of winter and then he’ll stay on the Flat. I hoped we would pick up a bumper with him, which is what we did, and he’s just got sharper and sharper. He’d make a great jumper but the prize money is just too good on the Flat.

Lady Buttons
Very similar to last year, she’ll start off in the Listed mares race at Wetherby and may take in a race or two in Ireland, she schooled this week over French style hurdles and was really sharp. For a horse that jumps fences so well she switches back no problem. She’ll definitely go to Doncaster again for those races over hurdles and fences that have great prize money. I’d love to keep going with her for as long as we can and it’s not set in stone yet that she’ll be off at the end of the season.

Top Ville Ben
He’ll probably start off in the Charlie Hall and will have an entry in the Ladbroke Trophy (Hennessy). He’ll be wrong in the weights at Wetherby but I’d love to win that race. Plus he needs more experience as he was fairly lightly raced last season. Newbury will suit him but whether the big field will, who knows.  The dream is still alive at the moment.

Little Bruce
Hasn’t come back in yet, he goes home and the owner does the pre-training and he comes in later. He’s not as slow as he makes out, and loves being in front. He’s not very big but he’s quite a nice horse and we’ll see if we can find a nice staying chase for him, he’ll have to run in some of the better ones this season.

Niven
I like him, hasn’t done a lot wrong for me. He doesn’t show a massive amount at home, and his mark is probably about right, but he’s had a proper break for the first time and he’s in fairly good order. He’s every inch a chaser and will probably stay over fences. He was beaten less than a length by Delta Work in a beginners chase this time last year, so there might be a nice race in him.

Wemyss Point
He’s had his wind done and will be ready for mid-November. We have tried to treat him like a nice horse and he doesn’t seem the same horse during the summer, so we’ll go novice chasing with him this season and he’ll stay 3m I’m sure.

Dubh Des Champs
Should be ready to run in the next few weeks after suffering a leg injury following victory at Doncaster. He’s a big horse who looks like a chaser but is very inexperienced at the moment, so might start back over hurdles. Should go on any ground bar extremes.

Suggestion
He was quite a big weak horse who seems to like things to fall his own way, if you put him under pressure too soon he gets into a bit of a flap. I always think he wants a bit further and I wouldn’t be afraid to try going further again. He’s got a high knee action but seems to act on any ground. There’s not a lot of leeway in his mark just now, and we may try him over fences at some stage.

Theflickeringlight
I thought she’d win a bumper first time up but probably bumped into one, and was a bit disappointing the second time. She’ll start novice hurdling sooner rather than later (ran at Kelso on Sunday)but whether she’s good enough to win a novice I don’t know...she could be one for handicaps. Runs very differently to how she shapes at home, as she works like a thorough stayer. She’ll make a nice broodmare being nicely bred by Flemensfirth.

Nicely Indeed
A tricky horse with plenty of ability, we used to ride him wrong so went right back to basics by dropping him out and getting him to finish his races a bit better. He’ll be ridden to run well every time and his day will come again, whether he’s a 120 horse I don’t know. He’s not one to force because we might lose him again.

Whoshotthesheriff
A nice prospect who won two novice hurdles for us last season. He’s a rangy chase type but he’ll have another season over hurdles and will be going up in trip.

Lady Camelot
I quite like her but I don’t know what she wants yet, looks like she’s a fast ground horse but has plenty of form on soft. She went to Cheltenham as one of the favourites and ran okay but it was the end of a long season. We’ll try and build her confidence up and she should pick up a handicap or two.

Oak Vintage
He was badly handicapped when I bought him but is back down to a fair mark now, he’s not that quick and he wasn’t able to go the pace in those better races he was running in. Back in the right grade he should be capable of winning races around 2m4f.

Romeo Brown
He’s twice the size he was last year, really filled out. Not sure whether he wants 2m or 2m4f at the moment, ultimately I think he’ll be better over the longer trip on soft ground, but he goes on any. I didn’t think he’d handle the ground when he won at Carlisle so I’m hoping he’s going to better this season.

Asum
Another who is tricky to weigh up, he probably is what he is, not a superstar but there are races for him at the likes of Wetherby and Ayr and he’ll hold his own now that he settles better in his races.

Northern Girl
She’s very well bred and will probably go the paddocks at the end of the season. She should be able to pick up a race at around 2m4f from her mark.

Dares To Dream
Nice filly who will go straight over hurdles, should be competitive in mares novices. They’re a bit more competitive than they used to be. She might be good enough to compete against geldings with the allowance, but she’ll be looked after as she’s quite nice. She got lost in the Aintree bumper in bad ground, but she’d be better than that.

Desaray Girl
She’s a bit stuffy so will run in another bumper as I don’t want her to get tired in her first start over hurdles. She’s probably a couple of weeks behind Dares To Dream at the moment but they are similar types, although I’d never work them together to see which one is better.

Show Promise
Had a small fracture after his last run but is back cantering and will be back a bit later on, probably in another bumper. I bred him myself from a proper staying family and he’s quite a nice horse now, much bigger and stronger than he used to be.

Zig Zag
Quite versatile and goes on any ground, but he’s on quite a high mark at present.

Lady Kyria
She’s only young and hasn’t done a lot, but I quite like her. She’s been a bit unlucky here and there, injuring a foot when second favourite to a long odds-on shot at Ayr, but is a solid syndicate horse that will do a job and win races this winter.

Iconic Belle
A similar type that wants goodish ground,she’s been running solidly on the Flat without winning and has come break from a short break. Her marks’ about right but should remain competitive in the right conditions.

Dieu Benisse
She was bought out of Nicky Henderson’s and could be alright, a nice mare with scope to jump and she schools really well. Seems to be starting out on a fair mark on what she’s achieved so far (ran at Kelso on Sunday).

Gonn Away
She’s been back after a lovely break but I turned her away and she cut a leg and has gone back to the owner again. She’s a nice filly and the owners are in no rush with her.

Robbing The Prey
He’s just cantering away and we are finding out about him at the moment. Used to be with Ruth Jefferson and Donald McCain but seems to have lost the plot, however could be well handicapped if he comes back to form.

Lucky Icon
Won a couple of races in Ireland and looks a nice horse, has gone up again for coming over here but looks a solid type for the nice 0-140 type handicaps. He’s a bit keen and might want everything to fall right.

Sometimes A Fox
A nice horse that Gordon Elliott bought off the Flat but couldn’t do much with, he hasn’t quite clicked but was probably badly handicapped. Might win a little race or two if the handicapper isn’t too harsh.

Abington Park
Ran well in a bumper on his debut in May who will run in another bumper probably in the middle of November and you’d expect him to go close on the basis of his first effort. He’s a full brother to the James Ewart-trained Avidity.

En Meme Temps
Ran well for Tom Lacey, chasing home Suggestion on Boxing Day before going on to win at Ascot in March. He’s a very kind horse, he carries his head quite high but seems to run his race, I bought him to go over fences but will start off in a hurdle.

Fingareeta
Finished first and second in bumpers when trained by Malcolm Jefferson, she has had plenty of time off but is a lovely type and will start off in a bumper in November.

Lord Roccoco
A solid enough horse who won at Hexham in the summer, ran okay behind quite a nice sort at Sedgefield last time. Whether he’s a 120-type I don’t know, we had to run him in another novice and he’s going the right way, although I’m not sure where we go next with him.

Fille D’Avignon
Bought as a youngster, a very nice daughter of Getaway and if she’s as good as she looks will be very nice.

Two Thirty Yeat
A four-year-old, a proper nice horse who won’t be over-raced this year, she didn’t run last year but will make a lovely hurdler and eventually chaser.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Stable tour - Gillian Boanas

I enjoy the history of this great game and there’s plenty of it at the Reveley Farms, where Gillian Boanas has some 20 or so nice horses under her care in Lingdale, not far from Saltburn-by-the-sea.

Gillian has been part of the furniture here for longer than she cares to remember (25 years and counting) but while any riding ambitions were quashed by a broken back in her late teens, a desire to train under rules was never really part of the plan.

However, when Keith Reveley – who had taken over from mother Mary in 2004 – decided to call it a day in the summer of 2016 she took the decision to rent a section of the yard and turn a part-time hobby into something more serious.

“I was training a handful of horses for Point-to-Points down the road in my spare time but then Keith dropped a bit of a bombshell when announcing he was going to quit that following January," she said.

Gillian with recent purchase Generalisation

"So I thought rather than doing that I might as well try to keep it going here, and the vast majority of the owners were happy for me to take over,” she said.

“Tees Components have been brilliant down the years and the horses they breed come here, while Richard Collins has been very loyal, giving me Brave Spartacus and now Bestiarius as well as keeping Crixus’s Escape with me. 

“So I did the necessary training courses in short time and we were soon up and running. There are 22 boxes and we have 19 in training including a couple of Flat horses that will soon be turned away, with another four elsewhere.

“There are four of us that work here although one is about to give birth so we are going to be snowed under for the next few months!

“Joe (Williamson) is attached to the yard and will keep riding a lot of them, he’s coming on all the time and has been helped by Phil Kinsella.

“Ross Chapman comes in once every week or so to get to know the horses and is a really good young rider.”

With Gillian’s number of winners increasing exponentially each season I thought it was a good time to see what she’s got going on at a yard where little has change over the years.

The legendary woodchip gallop has been rebuilt through the humps and hollows and is now a good six furlong pull from bottom to top, while there remains an indoor barn and a furlong round loop for warming up and slow work.

With a small team Gillian is out with most of the five lots including the galloping and schooling, and seems to be enjoying her time at the helm. With no plans at the moment to expand, she has a really nice bunch of horses to go to war with this season having replaced the likes of the now-retired Brave Spartacus with some cheap buys at the Doncaster Sales.

The famous gallop at Lingdale

The day after this interview took place Gillian celebrated her first winner of the winter campaign – her third of the season – when Sweet Vinetta battled to victory at Hexham at rewarding odds of 14/1.

There will be plenty of value to be had backing horses from a small ‘unfashionable’ yard like Gillian’s this winter and she is well on the way to beating last season’s tally of eight. She has set her own goal of 15 and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if she achieved it. I wish her well.

Teescomponents Lad
A little star, he was the first to run under my name and only just got beat in a bumper. I’m still waiting for my first bumper winner now! He’s so consistent and I don’t feel we’ve seen the best of him yet. We took him to Kelso in March but he reared up in the lorry and suffered a nasty cut that required surgery, but he’s fine now and will go to Wetherby over 3m first time out.

Bestiarius
Started out with Keith before moving to Nicky Richards, but he suffered a bad tendon injury and he came back and I gave him plenty of time off. Got tired on his first run back at Perth and it might take him two or three runs to reach his peak as he’s a big lad and came in heavy enough. He’ll run again over hurdles before we think about fences, but he’s a brilliant jumper.

Loch Linnhe
We gave him a wind op after he arrived from Mark Walford’s and it seemed to have helped. Finished last season by winning at Southwell when I decided to ride him more patiently and he got there just in time. He’d been ridden forcefully most of the time and I think he enjoyed having an easier time of it. He’s back after a niggle and I think he’s best with cut in the ground.

Teescomponentstrig
A nice big four-year-old by Black Sam Bellamy out of a mare that was bred here called La Calinda. He’s a brilliant jumper, a natural from day one, and we’ll be looking at races over 2m4f with some cut in the ground.

Just Call Me Al
‘Alan’ has always worked like a good one and he’s an easy horse at home but is very keen in his races and hasn’t been getting home. He hasn’t had any luck at all and had a tired fall at Southwell the other day, but when things fall right I’m sure he’s a well-handicapped horse.

Generalisation
Picked up for £8,500 at Doncaster last month, he’s a lovely big chasing type and I’m just finding out about him. He was ridden quite aggressively over 2m in Ireland but he’s by Arcadio and I can see him running over 2m3f at somewhere like Market Rasen. We’ll see what mark he gets as he’s still a maiden over hurdles as well.

Crixus’s Escape
A good looking son of Beneficial, he broke rib when winning at Hexham so he went into his second season over hurdles a very inexperienced horse. He finally came good, winning at Ayr when he got his ground, and he’ll start back at Carlisle before we think about going over fences. 2m4f looks like his trip for the time being.

Sultans Pride
From a family we know very well but he’s been pretty disappointing after showing a fair bit in bumpers. He’s always been a bit backward and didn’t really take to hurdles before getting a tendon injury. I’m hoping he’s going to be a better chaser.

Sweet Vinetta
Another home bred, she’s not very big but showed promise at Hexham before winning her novice at Catterick. I probably shouldn’t have run her in a decent race at Newcastle and she struggled a bit after that, but she’s come in looking and feeling stronger so hopefully we can find another race for her on soft ground on a left-handed track, as she hates going the other way. *Won at Hexham on Friday

Leading in Sweet Vinetta at Hexham

Lady Vinetta
A Sulamani half-sister to Sweet Vinetta, she may be a little more straight forward but will be even better next year. Ran okay in a bumper the other day and I’ll ease off her now for a while. There’s a mares bumper at Wetherby at the end of November before she goes over hurdles, and she jumps brilliantly.

Baby Jane
One I picked up at the spring sale for £4,000, a four-year-old by Oscar that goes nicely, she schools really well but she’ll start off in a bumper and if I think she can win one she might have another go. I’ve also got her half-sister by Milan and she’s another nice sort.

Noble Rose
A half-sister to Floral Bouquet who I used to train (now with Jamie Snowden) by Sholokov, a lovely big mare who has schooled really well, but she's had all sorts of little niggles and we've also had her wind done.

Arcadio x Arequipa
A lovely three-year-old I picked up at the May sale for 10k who is a half brother to Better Getalong, a nice horse that used to with Nicky Richards. He's a laid back sort I'm in no rush with but he's an absolute dude and one we can look forward  to.

Presenting x Northern Native
A full sister to the Reveley’s Dance Of Time and also Teescomponents Lad, she’s a nice big mare who we’ll hopefully get a run into in the New Year. I also have her half-brother by Shirocco.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Hexham - October 4

Drizzly but mild on arrival in Northumberland, the rain had got into the ground though and it looked pretty tiring, although they generally went a sensible gallop throughout the afternoon.

The opening mares handicap hurdle looked a competitive little heat but the only one with course form was 14/1 shot Sweet Vinetta and she made that knowledge count to win for Gillian Boanas.

As luck would have it I was round at chez Boanas the day before and the young grey was discussed at length - she certainly looked stronger than at this point last year and didn't deserve to be overlooked in the market.

Irish winner and Dr Newland newcomer Somethinaboutangela had plenty about her beforehand and this was probably a step up on what she had previously achieved, with more to come.

The market favoured Mega Double who looked well but much of her form is round Cartmel and she travelled like the best horse for a long way before the weight took its toll up the hill - that can happen round here and it was a slow motion finish.

Three went to post for a staying novices hurdle and they are all worth a second look next time, French import Echiquier proving a class apart and it looks like this chase winner will have a novice hurdle campaign this time.

Elle Est Grande is a lovely stamp of a horse still on the weak side, while Speak Of The Devil is every inch a chaser and the best may not be seen of him until next term.

He may be the next Buddha Scheme as the next race was a case in point in how so many of Lucinda Russell's horses improve for the switch to fences...Buddha Scheme showing little in three starts last term but again looking a great big chaser albeit rather gangly and gawky.

He looked beaten in the dip but the two fancied horses Trixster and Ard Chros clobbered the last opening the door for the 40/1 shot to land a wild staying novice chase, after Senor Lombardy had tumbled out of it having reached for the downhill fence five out.

Ard Chros, noted here last season running a fine race despite carrying plenty of condition, looks a really nice prospect and he will strip fitter next time, however the well-backed Trixster is an active horse who looked pretty fit, but he's not a brilliant shape and he's going to struggle over larger obstacles unless he smartens up his act.

I'd rate the race round runner-up Cairnshill who I suspect has run up to his best hurdle mark of 117.

The fourth was a tricky looking handicap hurdle that featured the return of Taxmeifyoucan, who looked a poorly handicapped horse last term after a couple smart efforts in his novice year.

As with Senor Lombardy earlier on the card the Keith Dalgleish inmate looked likely to benefit from the outing and he looked to have hit a bit of a flat spot when the taps were turned hitting the hill, but was in there pitching at the last where Old Salt took an unfortunate spill when his back legs slipped from under him.

He would probably have won, but he hampered Taxmeifyoucan in the process who looked booked for second as the outsider Eviscerating, a big rangy chaser, found himself several lengths in front only to pull up with the line in sight, B Hughes galvanising the Dalgleish horse for a final winning thrust.

Melody Of Scotland failed to catch the eye and looks little more than a summer type, the rest looked pretty straight although Carrigmoorna Matt is a big lad and may need more work under his new handler.

The cash came for Bocasien Desbois in the 2m4f handicap chase and the grey had certainly dropped to a good looking mark following a modest campaign when the M Todhunter yard was very quiet.

Not a horse with huge scope, the grey jumped soundly enough to win a shade cosily from Orioninverness, who looked fit enough and may have benefited from a more dynamic ride having form over much further than this.

Ripstick put up another sound effort in third having been given plenty to do, and if seen out again in the near future could be poised to pick up a small race.

The finale saw Court Baloo bidding to supplement his impressive victory here last time out which was achieved in a very decent time and has seen the well-beaten runner-up go in at Perth.

The ground was very different that day but this was water off a duck's back and, under a positive ride, stayed on too strongly for Our Nest Egg and Pleney after the last.

Two very different types, the former didn't appeal at all from a physical viewpoint unlike Pleney, who had come in for each-way support during the day and looked sure to enjoy the test of stamina.

This well made sort may have needed the run this time but should be able to find a similar opening closer to home in due course, he's still learning about the game and could yet prove ahead of his mark.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Sedgefield - October 1

It usually takes only one trip to dreary old Sedgefield to remind myself not to come back for another 12 months and this year will be no different, the question is did we glean anything from this particular rain swept visit?

The opener was a dismal 0-100 won by the mercurial Hey Bob, who appeared to relish underfoot conditions and consented to run on after hitting the front two out.

Jaxlight once again traveled like the winner only to flatten out and the fact remains she doesn't find anywhere near as much as you'd expect off the bridle. On balance she remains disappointing and doesn't have the scope to improve much.

There was nothing to get excited about behind the front three, who pulled clear.

Jatiluwih was sent up from the P Hobbs yard to complete a facile win under the guidance of 'Dave', this strong and useful looking sort the best horse on show during the afternoon. Lord Roccoco was fit enough but was put firmly in his place.

The four-runner novices chase saw Nietzsche and Tonto's Spirit re-oppose after matching strides at Perth and the placings were reversed in similarly dramatic circumstances, with the latter fighting back after Nietzsche looked to idle going to the last.

The pair were much the best in the paddock with the quirky Saint Freule not fully wound up at all - the money that arrived for him in the betting somewhat baffling. He's not that big either but a return to Hexham next time may prove suitable.

River Frost was a big drifter and once again showed little aptitude for the job.

Summer form took on winter promise in the next and it was the improving and consistent Snookered who ran out a convincing winner of the handicap hurdle, more or less repeating the all-the-way win here 26 days ago.

Brushing aside this much softer ground, the Ellison-trained youngster may find another rise halting his momentum although he does seem to have found a new level of form.

I'm To Blame is a nice big chasing type but still looked a bit awkward and immature beforehand, and carried that into the race landing with legs of jelly over two out.

B Hughes reported he was flat out over this 2m and we can expect more back up in trip, however this is not the first time he's looked uncomfortable off the bridle and for all that he has ability, I have a question mark over him just now.

The rest were a mile back, this 'puddingy' terrain likely doing for Prancing Oscar and possibly Rukwa who was off the bridle a mile out.

Ringaringarosie shows remarkable enthusiasm for the game with this being her 20th outing in 12 months and she saw out the longer 2m3f trip well enough to see off Instant Replay and Murphy's Law who were giving lumps of weight away.

The mare typically shot off in the front but fenced notably well throughout unlike the other pair who were a bit scratchy and quite possibly a little out of their comfort zone.

Instant Replay has done the bulk of his winning in deep midwinter but looked in pretty good shape for this return, while Murphy's Law couldn't back up his facile win at Perth and now faces even stiffer tasks than this, for all that he looks a decent enough type.

Inca Gold looked a small, poorly made animal with little scope for a fence, while big old Maxed Out King will need a few runs to shake off the rust.

I rather fancied Squouateur on this softer ground but they surprisingly pulled him out, leaving jolly Chanceiton to grind out victory in the marathon hurdle, doing what Murphy's Law was unable to do in making it two wins in a week. He's not as good over timber, but you can't fault his consistency. This may not have taken much winning with the opposition looking out of sorts.

It was slightly surprising that Dalkingstown was backed into 11/8 for the bumper bearing in mind his penalty and the doubts about the softer ground.

Nothing stood out on paper beforehand with the Irish raiders Danny Archer and Bold Pearl having shown little on the track, and neither looked especially forward in the prelims.

Faruzi was one of the nicer types on show but didn't run any sort of race on ground that may have gone too soft, but Order Of Thistle appeared to be some way short of peak fitness and overcame that to win quite comfortably.

Admittedly getting tired late on, the winner was giving Lucinda Russell a first bumper success since January 2018 and should build on this, although will struggle to defy a penalty as so many do.

Master Newton looked a decent enough type beforehand and shaped well at long odds for a new yard capable of readying a bumper winner or two.