Classy Tassie looking to double up at Kelso
Friday 24th March 2017
Our impressive Ayr winner Silver Tassie will face six opponents when he steps up in class for tomorrow’s £17,500 Liz Adam Memorial Chase over three and a quarter miles at Kelso (3.15).
Silver Tassie has gone up 6lbs for that win, which was his first success since joining us from Noel Meade in 2015, but he again has his favoured heavy ground and hopefully he can make his presence felt at this higher level with the extra couple of furlongs unlikely to pose him a problem.
The weights are headed by Nicky Richards’ Baywing, who steps out of novice company for the first time after his very impressive win in the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby last month, while Yala Enki, who appeared to run his race on the way to the start at Doncaster last time, finished well ahead of Silver Tassie in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day and had earlier been a comfortable winner of Haydock’s Tommy Whittle Chase.
Three of Seldom Inn’s four jumps wins have come at Kelso, including a wide margin verdict over an in form Tenor Nivernais in last month’s Listed Premier Chase over three miles.
Silver Tassie gets plenty of weight from the top three in the handicap but we have to give weight to the other three, headed by Double Whammy, who was last of five at Ayr but had looked progressive previously and is entitled to come on for that first run for almost a year.
Alto Des Mottes is a thorough stayer who got no further than the first fence in the Eider at Newcastle last time but he’d earlier won a good handicap chase at the same track and is only 4lbs higher here, while bottom weight Morney Wing comes a long way for this and shaped as if he was running back into form on Sandown’s Imperial Cup card a couple of weeks ago.
Joe Colliver keeps the ride on our nine year old Shantou gelding, who’s a general 6/1 chance for what looks a cracking little race.
We also run Christmas Twenty in the novices’ handicap chase over an extended 2m5f at 3.50, where he’ll wear a hood for the first time and will again be partnered by Henry Brooke.
The seven year old needed the run at Carlisle last time after nine months off the track, he’s a nice prospect and we hope he’ll be more competitive tomorrow in this small field of five runners, none of whom have yet won over fences under Rules with Buffalo Ballet’s close second to Marlee Massie at Ayr looking to be the best piece of recent form on offer.
Our Becks becomes a Racing Welfare ambassador
Sunday 19th March 2017
We’re thrilled and very proud to announce that our head girl Becky Smith is now an ambassador for Racing Welfare.
Becks, who was a finalist in the rider and groom category in the 2016 Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards, is a successful amateur jockey and joins the likes of champion Flat jockey Ryan Moore, Grand National winning rider Richard Dunwoody MBE, award winning Racing Post journalist Lee Mottershead and highly respected commentator Mike Cattermole as an ambassador for the charity, which provides support for the workforce of British Racing.
Becks will ride in Racing Welfare sponsored gear this season and we know that she’ll do a fantastic job in her new role.
Newcastle turnout prizes round off great week for our Kerry
Sunday 19th March 2017
We didn’t have any winners at Newcastle yesterday but it wasn’t all bad news with a runner up and three third places from our eight runners, and it was quite an end to a really good week for our young stable girl Kerry Thompson too.
Kerry, from Chesterfield, joined us in December and is our latest recruit straight from the Northern Racing College in Doncaster. Kerry has settled in really quickly and this week she passed the first two assessments of her NVQ Level 2, as well as picking up two best turned out prizes at Newcastle yesterday as she led up Late Date (below) and Dakota Grey.
Late Date finished a good third to Vasco D’Ycy in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle, racing prominently and just being outpaced up the straight. He’s a winning pointer who will be seen to better effect over further, and over fences, and he’s a really exciting prospect.
Elsewhere on the Gosforth Park card, five year old Tiger Hill gelding Applaus ran a blinder under his penalty in the hands of Joe Colliver to chase home the exciting Reivers Lad in the opening novices’ hurdle, with the first two well clear of the third.
Meanwhile Justforjames was best of the rest behind joint favourites Dubai Angel and Sharp Response in the final of the Sun Bets Northern Staying Novices’ Hurdle Series, the eight year old Dr Massini gelding has done really well this season and was up against a pair of most progressive novices here but he best the rest well enough and he has a big future.
Justforjames in the hunt for big Newcastle prize
Friday 17th March 2017
We’ve got runners in all seven races at Newcastle tomorrow afternoon with J4J Partnership’s former point to pointer Justforjames set to face five opponents on his handicap debut in the £12,500 Sun Bets Northern Staying Novices’ Hurdle Series Final over 2m6f at 3.45.
Justforjames (right) has been a bit below his best the last twice, but he’d have every chance in this hot little race if he could recapture the form of his two novice hurdle wins at Sedgefield back in December and he’ll have the assistance of Fin O’Toole in the saddle for the first time. He clearly has work to do to reverse recent form with the in form Bollin Ace on just 1lb better terms and all six runners go there with some sort of chance, including fellow handicap debutants Dubai Angel and Lambourn raider Our Reward, but the extra couple of furlongs should suit Justforjames and we hope he can justify his place in the line up.
Another of our novice hurdlers, Late Date, runs in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle at 3.10. He was put up 9lbs for finishing second on his handicap debut and the handicapper is clearly finding it hard to forget that run as his mark has been left unchanged despite three subsequent lesser efforts, but his latest second to Sammy B at Kelso was a big step back in the right direction and this strong travelling gelding should have no problems with the drop back in trip here. Joe Colliver will be on board.
Joe also rides Joe Buzzeo’s course and distance winner Applaus, who carries a penalty for that recent success in the opening novices’ hurdle over two miles and half a furlong at 2.00 and looks to have the doubly penalised Reivers Lad to beat. The same colours will be carried by The Ramblin Kid in the 2m7f handicap chase at 2.35, it’s hard to believe that it’s more than three years since he won his novice hurdle at this track and he’s only had six runs since then, he needed his reappearance run behind Gold Opera on the Eider card and he’s nicely handicapped if he can build on that. Brian Hughes rides.
Roxyfet just couldn’t quite get to Duhallowcountry at Sedgefield on Tuesday and he might just have the same connections’ Gin Cobbler to beat off the same mark in the extended two mile handicap chase at 4.20. Roxyfet’s best form is all at the Durham track but he’s won at Catterick and run well at Wetherby so the course shouldn’t be a problem, he has his ground and he’s well handicapped, his regular partner Fin O’Toole will be on board.
Dakota Grey has struggled over fences and he reverts to the smaller obstacles for his handicap debut of a mark of 120 at 4.55, while we run two in the concluding handicap hurdle for conditionals and amateurs at 5.30 where Hugo Thompson Brown rides Pertuis, who will come on for his recent reappearance at Catterick where he was very free, and Billy Garritty will ride Politbureau (above) who looked on the way back last time and is a course and distance winner who loves soft ground and is well handicapped if he can build on that last run.
Oakwood Minions’ Major Ridge and Joe Colliver at Hexham – pulled up, but what a lovely view
Rat Pack hoping for Hexham repeat from Knocknamona
Wednesday 15th March 2017
We’ve got three runners up at Hexham tomorrow and the one with obvious claims is the Rat Pack Racing Club’s Knocknamona (right), who got off the mark over hurdles at Newcastle last Tuesday and can race off the same mark in the concluding 2m4f handicap hurdle at 5.40.
Already proven at this trip on heavy ground and 8lbs well in according to the handicapper, Knocknamona’s chance is there for all to see, there are seven runners and the main danger is likely to be Cougar Kid, who has gone up 7lbs for beating an in form rival at Catterick a fortnight ago.
Oakwood Minions’ Major Ridge (3.05) reverts to novice company as he attempts to bounce back to form after being pulled up at Musselburgh a couple of weeks ago.
The good ground there was against him and he’s probably better judged on his previous run at Carlisle, he was finding plenty for pressure there when he came down four out and he runs off the same mark against eight opponents in this three mile handicap chase. We’ve always thought that testing conditions would suit him best so we’ll find out if we’re right tomorrow!
Longueville Flier runs in the 2m7f handicap hurdle at 3.45, the eight year old has lost his way a bit this winter and his hopes of a revival here rest on a drop in class and a 4lbs lower mark than when he was pulled up over the marathon 3m3f trip at Sedgefield last week.
Joe Colliver rides all three of ours tomorrow, best of luck to Joe and all connections.
Well deserved Ayr success for Silver Tassie
Saturday 11th March 2017
The Howard family’s nine year old Shantou gelding Silver Tassie (8/1) went one better than last year as he stormed clear after the last to win the three mile handicap chase at Ayr this afternoon under an excellent ride from Joe Colliver.
Facing four in form rivals, each of whom had won last time out, Joe was content to bide his time on our heavy ground lover who jumped beautifully before making good headway to close on the leader Courtown Oscar into the home straight. Travelling much the better of the pair, Silver Tassie was pushed into the lead coming down to the last and bounded clear up the run in to win by six lengths.
To say that Silver Tassie deserved a win is a bit of an understatement, he unseated Fin O’Toole with the race at his mercy over today’s course and distance on only his second run for us and went on to finish second in this race off a 4lbs higher mark twelve months ago, he’s been placed off 135 in the past year and was fully entitled to finally get his head in front today.
Given a similar test Silver Tassie ought to be capable of at least going close again next time, meanwhile novice hurdler Blue Hussar carried the same colours into a creditable second place behind the useful Wenyerreadyfreddie at Doncaster last week so it’s exciting times for the Howards and we’re absolutely thrilled for them!
Silver Tassie was our third winner of a very difficult week during which we’ve lost one of the nicest, most popular and enthusiastic blokes that you could ever wish to meet, Norman Smith really was one in a million. Norman was a devoted dad to Gemma and Becks and was so proud of their achievements at Micky Hammond Racing, he had an anecdote for every occasion and he lit up a room as soon as he walked in, and he’ll be missed so much by everyone whose lives he touched. Rest in peace pal.
Fingers crossed for our mudlarks at Ayr
Friday 10th March 2017
We’ve declared two runners for a really good quality card up at Ayr tomorrow and we have high hopes that they’ll both go really well in the heavy ground.
Nine year old Silver Tassie was a bit out of his depth in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day and then unseated his rider when faced with a more realistic assignment at Catterick last time, but he has his ideal conditions in the three mile handicap chase (3.20) where he’ll face four in form rivals, all of whom won last time out.
Hopefully a return to testing ground will help bring out the best in the Shantou gelding (above), who certainly has the ability to win a race of this nature and we’ve had this in mind for him for some time as he was a close second to No Planning in last year’s renewal and is now 4lbs lower in the weights. Joe Colliver takes over from Fin O’Toole in the saddle.
Joe also rides Maxie T (right), who ought to give another good account in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle at 3.55 with conditions in his favour, he wasn’t beaten far at Kelso last time and we know that he’s capable of winning off this mark.
With the exception of Rouge Ey Sage, who makes his UK debut, none of the eight runners have any secrets from the handicapper and Maxie T looks to have more going for him than most, although top weight Desert Cry has been enjoying a real resurgence this winter and drops in class here after running a blinder in the Rendlesham at Haydock last month.
Connections of our six year old chaser Caraline have endured a pretty traumatic week with their mare crashing out four from the finish at Ayr this afternoon, having been pulled up at Newcastle on Tuesday, she was still bang in contention when she came down today but the main thing is that both horse and rider Fin are ok.
Caraline tries again at Ayr
Thursday 9th March 2017
Ayr’s feature two and a half mile handicap chase tomorrow (5.00) has only attracted three runners but one of those is Give Every Man His Due’s six year old mare Caraline, who had been coming back to something like her best form prior to being pulled up at Newcastle a couple of days ago.
Caraline made a mistake at the first at Gosforth Park and after jumping another couple of fences Joe pulled her up as he was concerned that something was amiss, but she was checked over by the racecourse vet afterwards and found to be sound and we’ve had her checked as well, she’s perfectly ok and she’ll take her chance tomorrow as she had no sort of race on Tuesday.
Caraline is still 4lbs above her last winning mark but that doesn’t really matter in the context of this race, more importantly we have a 5lbs pull to try and turn around a four length defeat by Gold Opera on the Eider card at Newcastle, with Fin O’Toole claiming a further 5lbs. Bottom weight Mumgos Debut was unlucky not to win at Uttoxeter two starts back when he fell at the last, he was put up 6lbs for that but he returns to a more suitable trip after getting outpaced over two miles here last time.
With the turf season just around the corner a few of our Flat team are getting ready for a run, and Paul and Clare Rooney’s Choisir gelding I Don’t Believe It will take his chance in the seven furlong three year old handicap at Newcastle tomorrow evening, he’ll wear cheekpieces and he’ll be ridden by Graham Lee.
Becky The Thatcher swoops late for Catterick win
Wednesday 8th March 2017
McGoldrick Racing’s four year old filly Becky The Thatcher (6/1) came with a flying late run to reel in the pacesetting duo of Golden Vision and All My Love under a lovely hold up ride from Fin O’Toole in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Catterick this afternoon.
The two leaders set a strong pace and looked to have the race to themselves as they turned for home in the two mile contest, but Becky The Thatcher, who was reportedly matched at 400/1 in running, made steady headway coming down to the last and came between the tiring front pair to win going away by the best part of three lengths.
A winner on her hurdling debut at Musselburgh earlier in the season, Becky The Thatcher has done nothing but improve in her three completed races since then, and she was gaining revenge on her recent Wetherby conqueror Golden Vision here on slightly better terms.
Our conditional jockey Fin (right) was riding his second winner in the last 24 hours, having partnered Peter Atkinson’s Reverant Cust to victory over hurdles at Newcastle yesterday.
Carlisle stamina test for Witness
Wednesday 8th March 2017
We’ve declared four runners for Carlisle tomorrow including Richard Ball and R M & T Holdings’ eight year old Witness, who steps up to two and a half miles for the handicap chase at 3.45.
The ex French gelding (above) has had six starts for us so far and with the exception of a blip at Catterick on New Year’s Day, he’s run consistently well without quite managing to have a say in the finish. The best of his French form was over slightly shorter trips but he’s been suggesting that he needs more of a test, particularly when he was a never nearer third to Plaisir D’Amour at Wetherby last time, he’s been dropped a couple of pounds since then and he has bottom weight tomorrow which has to be an advantage in the conditions. Fin O’Toole claims 5lbs off his back too.
Grange Park Racing’s six year old Dubawi gelding Skywards Reward has his second run over timber in the 2m3f novices’ hurdle at 3.10. It doesn’t look the strongest of contests but Skywards Reward still looks to have plenty on his plate even though most of the six runners have something to prove on heavy ground, Joe Colliver will be on board.
Joe also rides Maybe The Last Time’s Rhythm Of Sound, who faces nine opponents as he tackles fences for the first time in the 2m5f novices’ handicap chase at 2.35, while Fin will partner Tim Tasker-Brown’s young Cockney Rebel gelding Charin’ Cross, who looks up against it in the three runner bumper (5.25) although he’s entitled to come on for his debut at Wetherby last month.
Ayr target for Just Cameron
Tuesday 7th March 2017
Our highest rated chaser Just Cameron will not take up his entry in next Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase and will instead be aimed at a Listed contest at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting in April.
Just Cameron finished sixth to Sptinter Sacre in last year’s Cheltenham two mile showpiece and the ten year old produced one of the best performances of his career to win under a big weight at Wetherby two starts ago, but he was a bit below form in very testing ground when we took him to Naas for a Grade 3 last week and he’ll now be given time to recover from that run before he tackles his end of season target.
“He won’t go to Cheltenham,” said the boss, “there’s a chance he could go to Aintree but more than likely he’ll miss both festival meetings and go for a race at Ayr on Scottish National day instead. Better ground will be fine for him, he goes well in the mud but he couldn’t handle the Irish heavy and it was good ground when he was second to Un De Sceaux at Punchestown.
“It’s a nice little race at Ayr, we won it a few years ago (1997) with Monyman and it’s about time we won it again!”
Joe Knocks ’em for six in Newcastle opener
Tuesday 7th March 2017
The Rat Pack Racing Club’s Knocknamona (11/8f) finally showed what he’s capable of as he made most of the running to land the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Newcastle today in the hands of Joe Colliver.
The six year old former Irish pointer, racing off a career low handicap mark of 80 after some low key efforts this winter, relished the testing conditions and jumped really well, coming clear in the straight and being kept up to his work to beat Rinnagree Rosie by a couple of lengths with the rest of the field well strung out behind.
It wasn’t the best of races but Knocknamona did it nicely and if the handicapper isn’t too harsh on him he might well be able to win again under similar conditions, we bought him to go chasing and that’s still the plan so whatever he can do over timber this season is something of a bonus.
“He jumped like a chaser,” said Joe, “we just wanted to get a lead and see where we finished, but they didn’t go much of a gallop and he’s gone and done it well. “
“He’s been a bit disappointing,” added the boss. “He’s done it nicely today but he was all out on the run in and basically we managed to find him a weak race.”
Improving Becky The Thatcher heads our Catterick team
Tuesday 7th March 2017
McGoldrick Racing’s Becky The Thatcher didn’t manage to win a race on the Flat but she’s not stopped improving since we sent her jumping and she’ll attempt to win over timber for the second time when she faces five opponents in the two mile mares’ novices’ hurdle at Catterick tomorrow (3.20).
It was a weak race that Becky The Thatcher (above) won at Musselburgh back in November, but she’s twice finished a close second in much better contests since then and she looks to have fair prospects of reversing last month’s Wetherby form with Golden Vision here on 5lbs better terms for a length and three quarters.
Pam Sly’s Market Rasen winner All My Love is the other runner with good claims, but Becky The Thatcher gets a valuable four year old allowance and ought to be in the shake up at least. Fin O’Toole rides.
We’ve got four other runners over at our local track tomorrow, starting with Maybe The Last Time’s Shalamzar in the opening two mile selling handicap hurdle at 2.20.
Shalamzar (right) won on the Flat at Haydock last year but is yet to get competitive over jumps, his last effort at Wetherby was a step in the right direction though and he’s been dropped 3lbs for that, this is an ease in grade and it wouldn’t surprise us to see him fare better in this company. Joe Colliver will be on board.
After three novice hurdle runs Paddling goes straight over fences off his opening handicap mark of 96 in the two mile novices’ handicap chase at 3.50, while Sthenic faces ten rivals off his lowly rating of 77 in the 3m1f handicap hurdle at 4.20.
Joe will partner Horizon’s five year old King’s Theatre mare It’s All About Me in the bumper for conditional and amateur riders (5.20), her third to Getaway Whiskey over this course and distance in November was a massive improvement on her debut run and she ought to go close if she’s as effective on tomorrow’s slower ground. She looks to have Brian Ellison’s dual winner Shearling to beat but Donald McCain’s Whiteoak Stroller could be dangerous if she’s fully wound up for her racecourse debut.
Speaking out about jockeys’ mental health
Tuesday 28th February 2017
Our senior jockey Joe Colliver‘s recent problems have been well documented, but we were pleased to see the Racing Post give Joe the chance to tell his side of the story at the weekend.
Speaking to the Post‘s David Carr at Sedgefield last Thursday, Joe told how he had turned to drinking to cope with the pressures of his job, and urged other young riders who might find themselves in a similar position to talk to someone and make use of the help available to them.
“It could happen to anyone,” Joe said. “There’s a lot of pressure in racing. Even if you ride a winner, there’s the worry you might get taken off the horse the next time.
“You are always questioning yourself and the pressure gets to people in different ways. For some reason I turned to drink, I was drinking a lot, most nights. It got more and more. Being realistic I probably drove over the limit quite a few times, it was an accident waiting to happen and it’s lucky that when it did nobody else was hurt otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself.”
Joe returned to race riding last month and rode out his claim with a win on Major Ridge at Catterick, he’s going to have to work his way back to where he was before but he’s made a good start with four winners from his first 32 rides and we’re right behind him as he gradually rebuilds his career.
He’s been very honest and brave to speak up about the pressures of his job and the mistakes he’s made as a result of that pressure, and he really wants to use his experiences to try and stop others from disappearing into the same dark place.
“I didn’t realise how supportive people can be. Now I know family, friends, Racing Welfare and people in work are always there for you. I should probably have gone and spoken to someone to wake me up, because I was in a daze.
“That’s why I’m speaking out now, because anyone who gets into the same position I was should know there is someone out there who can help, even at the end of the phone.
“If someone feels they are going through the same sort of problems – pressure, anxiety, depression – there is someone there. Call Racing Welfare or even me. It’s better to do that than by learning the hard way, like me.”
Racing Welfare (www.racingwelfare.co.uk) have staff dedicated to helping people with mental health problems and addictions and they operate a 24 hour helpline, 0800 6300 443, to provide advice and support to those working in UK racing.
Middleham Open Day is back!
Tuesday 21st February 2017
Monday 17th April is a must for your diary, as that’s the day when the hugely popular Middleham Stables Open Day returns to the calendar!
We’ll be one of thirteen yards in the village opening our doors to the public on Easter Monday as part of the 2017 Open Day, which will be organised by Racing Welfare and sponsored by ARC Racing & Leisure.
In addition to the open yards, foods and gifts will be available in the village square, along with a selection of trade stands and a mechanical horse demonstration with a BHA accredited jockey coach. There will be a parade of fox hounds from the Bedale West of Yore and when the yards close at 1pm you’ll be able to make your way up to the Low Moor for a schooling display with locally trained jumps horses followed by an inter-yard stable staff competition featuring show jumping and gymkhana games, a fun run and tug-of-war.
Entry will cost £10 per person (£7 for over 60s, free for under 16s) and you can book tickets, and find out much more, on the official Open Day website, www.middlehamopenday.co.uk.
We’ll be looking forward to seeing you!
Stable Staff awards night – one year on
Monday 20th February 2017
We’d like to wish the best of luck to all the finalists at tonight’s Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff awards in London, we did rather well at the awards night last year and we’re sure everyone will have a fantastic evening just like we did twelve months ago….how time flies….!
Our assistant trainer Gemma, who won the Leadership award and the overall Employee of the Year award last year, is at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge with the boss for tonight’s star studded ceremony, which is being hosted by ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin, meanwhile Gems has given a brilliant interview to the Racing Post’s Steve Dennis about her year in the spotlight, which you can read by clicking here.
Employee of the year Gemma celebrates with the boss at the Godolphin awards in London a year ago
Motafarred’s hunting debut!
Tuesday 21st February 2017
Motafarred ran in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup in his 2006 heyday and was rated as high as 93 during a successful Flat career, but not surprisingly he’s more at home taking things at a rather more leisurely pace these days and we’re really pleased to report that the son of Machiavellian, now a spritely fifteen years young, thoroughly enjoyed his first day out hunting at the weekend.
Moto, now in the care of our stable lad Tim Jones, went out with the Bedale hunt on Saturday and had a ball, jumping everything in his path, clearly his four runs for us over hurdles at Wetherby weren’t a complete waste of time!
Applaus scores in Newcastle opener
Wednesday 15th February 2017
Joe Buzzeo’s promising five year old Tiger Hill gelding Applaus (6/1) stayed on best in very testing conditions to win the opening novices’ hurdle at Newcastle this afternoon in the hands of Joe Colliver.
Applaus won a soft ground juvenile bumper at Wetherby on his second start back in December 2015 and has been remarkably consistent in his fledgling career so far, only finishing out of the frame at Kelso last month when an extended 2m6f proved too much of a stamina test for him. Prior to that he’d produced two very solid performances over today’s course and distance, finishing third to subsequent dual winner Sam Spinner, who’s now rated 136, and fourth to Elgin, who went on to win a good novice hurdle at Kempton before chasing home Neon Wolf in the Rossington Main Hurdle at Haydock, earning a rating of 142.
Dropping back to two miles today Applaus looked to have similar form claims to Crackdeloust and Thisonetime, who was sent off a well backed 6/5 favourite and was confidently ridden by Harry Skelton, tracking early pacesetter Invictus before sauntering clear in the home straight.
The picture changed, though, as the leader began to tire and have a good look at his hurdles, and Applaus was the chief beneficiary, sticking to his task determinedly and going past the favourite on the run in to win by just over two lengths.
“He’s grown,” said Joe (right) after the race. “We gave him four and a half months in a field during the summer, and he’s come back stronger. He’d probably prefer better ground, it’s quite holding out there.”
We’re really pleased for the horse’s owner, Newcastle based Joe, who has a very nice prospect on his hands and might have a fair bit to look forward to, with his talented but fragile novice chaser The Ramblin Kid hopefully not far away from a return to the track, watch this space!
The Skeltons took their revenge when Al Shahir put his previous experience to good use to beat our debutant Wig Wam Wiggle by eight lengths in the bumper, but it was a really pleasing first run from the Gilberts’ five year old Mahler gelding, who finished way ahead of the third and can only come on for the experience.
Lingfield trip pays off for Becks
Thursday 9th February 2017
Our amateur jockey Becky Smith made her first visit to Lingfield a winning one as she partnered the Marjorie Fife trained Ansaab to an impressive win in the 1m2f Betway sponsored lady riders’ handicap this afternoon.
Becks (above) produced one of her best hold up rides as she brought the 75 rated nine year old, who was considered good enough to run in the Listed Winter Derby Trial over this course and distance two seasons ago, with a strong run to hold off the odds on favourite Starboard and win by a length and a half.
Ansaab is the seventh Flat winner of Becks’ career and her eleventh under Rules, she’s riding better than ever and she’ll be back in action at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening, where she’s booked to ride Bad Girl Caoimhe for the same trainer in the extended mile handicap at 5.45.
Well done to Becks and we hope this is the start of a great year in the saddle for our popular head girl!
Landmark winner for Catherine at Alnwick
Monday 6th February 2017
Our lady amateur Catherine Walton continues to lead the way on the northern point to point circuit and she reached another milestone at the Percy meeting at Alnwick yesterday as she clocked up her 75th winner between the flags aboard the Justin Landy owned and trained Knocklong.
Carrying a 7lb penalty in the Ladies’ Open, Knocklong took it up at the last before sprinting clear to beat Trop Fort by three lengths, with Denbigh raider Kilcross Boy a further five lengths away in third.
Knocklong showed no ill effects from his heavy fall at the track last month and forthcoming hunter chases at Catterick and Hexham are among his possible targets.
Well done to Catherine, who has recently been seen to great effect under Rules aboard Catchamat, something tells us it won’t be long before that 75 becomes 100….
Major winner for Joe as Ridge scores at Catterick
Wednesday 25th January 2017
Our conditional jockey Joe Colliver rode out his claim as he partnered Oakwood Minions’ eight year old staying chaser Major Ridge (7/1) to an impressive all the way success at Catterick this afternoon.
Having failed to trouble the judge in ten starts, Major Ridge didn’t exactly headline the Goffs August sale when we bought him for just £800 last August, but he’s so lightly raced and he’s been working so well at home that his maiden success today didn’t come as a complete surprise, even though we thought he’d need softer ground to show his best form.
In front from the off, Major Ridge jumped really well, as he’d done for Becks at Wetherby last time, but he looked to be a sitting target for the strong travelling Mister Don as the leaders swung into the home straight with three to jump.
Our Indian Danehill gelding found plenty for pressure, however, and he took full advantage of his lowest ever handicap mark to stay on gamely and pass the winning post with the best part of three lengths to spare over second placed Suzy’s Music.
We won this race with Auldthunder twelve months ago and all being well we’ll look at a similar campaign for Major Ridge, starting with a better race over this course and distance next Friday before possibly going on to a Challenger qualifier at Sedgefield in March.
Major Ridge is the second horse to carry the Minions’ colours to victory after their dual purpose gelding Summerlea won on the Flat at the same track last May.
Catterick was also the venue when Joe, then aged 19, rode his first winner on a horse called San Deng in a handicap hurdle just over six years ago. A fantastic horseman and a natural talent in the saddle, Joe has reached his landmark success with 48 winners over hurdles, ten in bumpers and seventeen over fences, with his best season coming last year when he partnered 26 winners including a notable double at Cartmel aboard Alderbrook Lad and veteran chaser Tullamore Dew.
Joe was top conditional at Wetherby last season and has regularly delivered fantastic race rides for us, with 57 of his first 75 winners coming aboard our horses. He’s our senior jockey and we’re sure he’ll continue to impress in the saddle now that he’s a fully fledged professional, he puts in so much good work with our horses at home and we can’t overstate the part that he’s played in our success over the last couple of seasons.
Well done to our Oakwood Minions Racing Club, Joe and Major Ridge, it was a really popular and quite emotional success today for various reasons and these are the days we love our job for.
There are still places available in Oakwood Minions, click here for more details.
Exciting Festival prospect for sale!
Wednesday 18th January 2017
Our newly acquired French bred five year old gelding Bulkov has been placed five times in eleven jumps races, including a third placed finish in a £30,000 Listed hurdle. All of his runs have been at Auteuil and Enghien, the top two jumps tracks in Paris.
Bulkov was only beaten two and a half lengths by France’s prolific top rated four year old hurdler, Device, in a Grade 3 at Enghien and on his hurdling debut at Auteuil he finished in front of subsequent dual Grade 1 winner and Triumph Hurdle third Footpad.
He has constantly run well against his own age group in France. The third in that Enghien race, Mocalacato Has, was sold for €260,000 and is now rated 156, while the fourth, Perfect Impulse, has won three times, including a Grade 3 chase.
Bulkov is yet to win a race so he’s a novice and he’s ready to go on with, he’s definitely a Saturday horse and quite possibly a Cheltenham and Aintree prospect too. He goes on most types of ground but is particularly at home on winter ground. We think the best plan for him is to go down the route of winning maiden or novice hurdles en route to better things!
Since Bulkov has joined us, we’ve found him to be sound in wind and limb and very agile. He eats well, he’s always interested and happy in his work and he jumps like a buck!
He’s been running over 2m2f, but we feel that he can do even better dropped back to two miles to take advantage of his strong running style. He should have won at Enghien last time but he was sent to the front too soon, he’ll go on to make a two mile chaser and there’s no reason why he can’t go chasing next season when he’d only be lining up against a handful of runners in his grade.
Joe Colliver, who rides Bulkov most days, says he’s the fastest jumper we have in the yard. The handicapper has told us that he can’t possibly rate him lower than 139 based on what he’s seen and what the French handicapper has told him, basically that he’s mixed it with the best in France. “This is a good horse.”
Bulkov is for sale to stay in the yard for £30,000 plus VAT. If you’re interested please call Gemma on 07809 428117.
Snap up a Micky Hammond Racing calendar for £17!
Wednesday 18th January 2017
We’ve got a few copies of our 2017 calendar left in stock and you can buy one for just £17 including postage and packaging (reduced from £20).
As ever, the A3 sized calendar features a selection of great pictures of some of our winners from the past twelve months and lists all UK race meetings for the coming year.
If you’d like one please get in touch with us by email at email@example.com or give us a ring on 01969 625223.
Just Cameron jumps his way to Wetherby glory
Saturday 14th January 2017
Our highest rated chaser Just Cameron (5/2cf) deservedly got back to winning ways as he put in a fantastic round of jumping in the feature two mile handicap chase under a confident ride from Henry Brooke at Wetherby this afternoon.
With the horse in cracking form, the plan was to try and make all in the five runner field but the well backed Sew On Target and Harry Cobden had other ideas, setting a strong pace with Henry and Cameron happy to bowl along in second. Cameron’s jumping was much the better of the pair, though, and a superb leap at the first fence down the far side took him into the lead, which he never really looked like losing for the rest of the race.
Henry wound it up nicely from the front and Cameron continued to fly over his fences, putting in an exhibition round as he kicked on up the home straight and he saw his race out really well to beat the rallying Grey Gold by two lengths, with a further eight lengths back to third placed Raven’s Tower. Our other runner, Rathlin, is in good form too and he went well for a long way under Fin O’Toole but like the others he couldn’t stay with Just Cameron in the last half mile and was eventually eased down in last place.
Just Cameron clears the last on his way to an impressive win (photos copyright Phill Andrews)
Having joined us in December 2014, Just Cameron struck up a great partnership with Joe Colliver and won his first three races over fences in the early part of 2015 before chasing home Arkle winner and subsequent Champion Chase runner up Un De Sceaux at that year’s Punchestown Festival, he’s kept very good company since then but he relished the return to top quality handicaps when he finished a close third to Yorkist under a big weight in the Castleford Chase at Christmas and he certainly wasn’t winning out of turn today.
Paul and Jean Chapman’s ten year old still has relatively few miles on the clock with just twelve chase starts under his belt and we know he’s as good as he’s ever been, we’ve given him another entry in the Champion Chase but there are handicap options for him as well and we’ll see what he does over the next couple of weeks, he’ll tell us where to go next.
It’s fantastic to see our yard flag bearer get his head in front again and we hope there’s plenty more to come from this total legend of a horse who jumps for fun and absolutely loves his racing!
Mountain Path scores on bumper debut
Saturday 14th January 2017
Guy Reed Racing’s Mountain Path (25/1) fought back tenaciously to make a winning debut in the juvenile fillies’ bumper at Wetherby this afternoon in the hands of Joe Colliver, who was riding his first winner since May.
Mountain Path (centre) surges through to beat Shearling (right) and Cockney Wren at Wetherby (copyright Phill Andrews)
By Mount Nelson out of Guy’s maiden winning broodmare Vino, Mountain Path knew her job well and was soon taking the field along, leading for much of the mile and a half race before being challenged up the straight by Brian Ellison’s dual previous winner Shearling and Dorset raider Cockney Wren, a runner up at Taunton on her only previous start.
Shearling quickened up well and briefly looked likely to complete her hat trick, but Mountain Path responded willingly to Joe’s urgings and rallied between horses, getting up again close home to win by a neck.
“She’s been fine for us at home, but she’s not the quickest”, said the winning rider (right) afterwards. “I probably should have kicked on sooner if anything, she’s absolutely relished it and really stuck her head out.”
Mountain Path follows in the footsteps of Sherry, who raced in the same famous colours and won this race two years ago. Sherry went on to run in the Listed mares’ bumper at the Grand National meeting and we’ll probably look at a similar campaign for Mountain Path, who can only improve for the experience and ought to relish a greater test of stamina.
Well done to our whole team for a brilliant day’s work, and it’s great to see Joe Colliver back doing what he does best and riding winners.
Veteran Tuscan gives Hugo a day to remember
Thursday 12th January 2017
Littlethorpe Park Racing’s Tuscan Gold (6/1) came out on top in a stirring finish to the 3m1f handicap hurdle at Catterick today, recording the first jumps success of his career at the 23rd attempt and giving our conditional jockey Hugo Thompson Brown his first ever winner under Rules.
3lbs well in at today’s weights, Tuscan Gold was always in the firing line and led narrowly for most of the final circuit, he battled back gamely having been headed coming down to the last and eventually passed the post just ahead of fellow veteran Forty Crown with a further three quarters of a length back to The Doorman, who looked the likely winner for much of the home straight.
21 year old 10lbs claimer Huggie (right) won a point to point on a horse called The Rodeo Clown for John Ferguson back in May 2014, this was his 19th ride under Rules and he’d previously finished second on both Tuscan Gold eleven days ago and Alchimix at Carlisle last May. He’s struck up a fantastic relationship with Tuscan on the gallops, he’s a confident, unassuming and extremely competent jockey who will hopefully go on to enjoy a lot more success and his performance against some much more experience riders today was excellent.
Trained back then by St Leger winning handler Laura Mongan, Tuscan Gold was first past the post in a handicap hurdle at Worcester in April 2013 but he was disqualified for causing considerable interference to the runner up, it’s taken him almost four years to put the record straight but he’s finally a winning hurdler and he’s given Huggie a day he’ll never forget!
We were also over the moon with the performance of McGoldrick Racing’s four year old Becky The Thatcher, who stepped up plenty on her Musselburgh win to give long odds on favourite Giveaway Glance a real fright in the juvenile fillies’ hurdle.
Becky The Thatcher, given a lovely ride by Fin O’Toole, was sent off at odds of 20/1 but was upsides the winner jumping the last and was only beaten just over two lengths under her penalty with clear daylight back to the third. She struggled to get her head in front on the Flat but she’s clearly going to make a decent hurdler and it’s up to us to find the right race for her now!
Another Alnwick double for Joe
Monday 9th January 2017
Our amateur jockey Joe Wright is really making a name for himself on the northern point to point circuit and he completed his second double of the season at the West Percy meeting at Alnwick yesterday afternoon.
Having ridden two winners at the northern area curtain raiser, also at Ratcheugh Farm, back in December, Joe continued his highly successful partnership with Ardea in the Men’s Open and followed up aboard Weston Flame in the Restricted an hour later.
Joe won last season’s Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters’ Chase at Hexham on Ardea (above), and the Justin Landy trained nine year old extended his winning sequence between the flags to five races as he came from last to first under a confident waiting ride to beat Great Gusto by a distance. Ardea’s main target during the first half of the season is the Walrus Hunters’ Chase on Haydock’s Grand National Trial card on Saturday 18th February.
Seven year old mare Weston Flame was an equally impressive winner, cruising into the lead three out and quickly settling matters before being heavily eased on the run in to beat Indigo Island by twenty lengths.
Catherine Walton wasn’t so lucky, though, as her mount Knocklong, the odds on favourite, fell three out when in complete control of the Ladies’ Open, thankfully horse and rider are none the worse for their tumble.
Gemma lifts the lid on life at Oakwood!
Saturday 7th January 2017
The finalists in the 2017 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards were announced yesterday and earlier in the week we had a film crew from Attheraces in the yard to make a short feature about last year’s Employee of the Year, our very own Gemma Hogg.
We won’t be represented in London this year, but well done to Catherine Walton who was shortlisted for the rider and groom award but didn’t make the final three. Two members of Middleham’s racing community will be in Knightsbridge with their guests for the presentation evening on Monday 20th February, though – Mark Johnston’s yard manager Hayley Kelly is a finalist for the leadership award, which Gemma also won last year, and Ben Haslam’s June Palmer Kimpton, who will be riding as an amateur on the Flat this year, is through to the final three in the newcomer category, we wish them both the very best of luck!
Allfred the Great rules at Wetherby
Friday 6th January 2017
Oakwood Nobels’ juvenile hurdler Allfredandnobell (5/1) came with a nicely timed challenge to win today’s opening race at Wetherby and record the first success of his career in the hands of Fin O’Toole.
A close third to a couple of much better fancied rivals on his hurdling debut at Catterick in November, Allfredandnobell showed the benefit of that initial jumping experience as he reeled in the pacesetting pair Dusty Raven and Bob’s Boy, who were sent off joint favourites, coming down to the last before staying on well to score by the best part of three lengths.
Allfredandnobell is the second of our juvenile hurdlers to win this winter, following in the footsteps of McGoldrick Racing’s filly Becky The Thatcher, who made a successful start to her jumps career at Musselburgh. It’s very rewarding for the team and the owners as we bought both horses as two year olds on the same day at the Doncaster sales and they’re both still maidens on the Flat but they’ve really come into their own with a stamina test and a set of hurdles put in front of them, hopefully their best days are still very much ahead of them!
We don’t have any immediate plans for Allfredandnobell, but we’re very proud of him and now that he’s got his head in front, his Flat mark of 54 might look a bit lenient come the summer months.
We’re also very proud of our head girl Becky Smith (right) who thoroughly enjoyed her first ever ride in a chase under UK Rules, finishing fourth aboard Oakwood Minions’ lightly raced novice Major Ridge in the three mile amateur riders’ handicap chase.
They were never competitive as the front three came a distance clear up the straight but Major Ridge gave Becks a lovely spin round, jumping soundly, and it was great to see them coming back into the winner’s enclosure afterwards, well done Becks X
Landmark ride for Becky at Wetherby
Thursday 5th January 2017
Our head girl Becky Smith has already had a busy start to 2017 with rides at Southwell and Bangor-on-Dee, but our hard working lady amateur is set to chalk up a career milestone at Wetherby tomorrow when she has her first ride over fences under UK Rules.
Becks will partner Oakwood Minions’ eight year old Major Ridge (above) on his second start for us in the Follow @Racing_UK On Twitter Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase over an extended three miles (2.40) as the Indian Danehill gelding attempts to improve on his good third to Cabragh at Sedgefield last month.
Positively ridden by Henry Brooke, Major Ridge was eventually beaten twenty lengths that day but he shaped nicely on his first run for seven months, and his first run for us, and hopefully he’ll show the benefit under his new race rider tomorrow.
Four of Becks’ seven career winners have come over jumps and although this will be her first ride over the larger obstacles, she partnered two point to point winners during her time in Ireland a few years back and she knows her way around Wetherby, having ridden two hurdle winners at the track.
Becks rides Major Ridge at home and knows him inside out but it’s still a big step in her career and we wish her and George all the luck in the world!
Back to form Just Cameron goes close at Wetherby
Tuesday 27th December 2016
Our highest rated chaser Just Cameron bounced right back to his best as he was beaten just over two lengths into third place under a big weight in today’s 188Bet Castleford Handicap Chase at Wetherby.
Partnered for the first time in a race for us by Henry Brooke, Just Cameron was always in the firing line as he and top weight Arthur’s Oak set a strong pace in the 1m7f contest.
Just Cameron held a narrow lead as they turned for home but he was soon strongly challenged by both Apterix and Yorkist, he kept responding to Henry’s urgings all the way up the straight though and was still upsides at the final fence. Eventually the 17lbs we were conceding to the well treated Yorkist proved just too much and Doctor Phoenix came fast and late to run us out of second place, but basically we’re over the moon with Cameron’s effort as he did everything right and was just beaten by a pair of better handicapped horses.
Just Cameron was always going to be difficult to place after doing so well in his novice season, the handicapper is still making life tricky for him and we have no real option other than to go for these high quality two mile handicap chases in the hope that he can maybe win one or two when everything drops right for him. We don’t know where we’ll go next with him but we’d have to think seriously about going back to Doncaster for the race where he finished second to Dandridge last year, before looking at the likes of the Grand Annual, the Red Rum Chase and the Listed two mile chase on Scottish National day at Ayr.
The nine year old has only had eleven runs over fences and he’s only been out of the money three times, two of which have been at Cheltenham, but we know that he’s as good as he’s ever been, he’s as honest as they come and he finds plenty for pressure, so hopefully his best days are yet to come!
Another Sedgefield stroll for Joe and Justforjames
Monday 26th December 2016
Seven year old Justforjames (10/11f) was our Christmas star this afternoon as he sauntered to another impressive novice hurdle win at Sedgefield, beating Thumb Stone Blues by a comfortable eleven lengths in the hands of our amateur jockey Joe Wright.
Endless Credit and Fin O’Toole after finishing second at Wetherby today
Justforjames, an Irish point to point winner a couple of seasons ago, was a wide margin winner on his debut for us over this course and distance earlier this month and it was a similar story today as young Joe gave him a confident ride, making all the running and jumping nicely before coming clear after three out and staying on strongly down the hill. There should be plenty more to come from the J4J Partnership’s Dr Massini gelding, he’s going to make a lovely staying chaser and whatever he does this season is almost a bonus.
We had a big team in action at Wetherby and although we didn’t make it into the winner’s enclosure, both Inchcolm and Endless Credit ran huge races to finish second.
Maybe The Last Time’s Inchcolm (above) is still searching for compensation after being disqualified from first place at Market Rasen back in April, but on today’s evidence he ought to find a race in the not too distant future. Inchcolm is by no means the finished article yet and he wasn’t helped by being knocked sideways in mid air down the back straight, but Jamie Bargary got him jumping nicely and he was doing all his best work at the finish as he stormed up the run in to get to within three lengths of idling winner Bankhall. Cheekpieces seemed to have a positive effect and he looks set for an exciting season.
Endless Credit is without a win since his novice days, but he was unlucky not to get his head in front on the Flat in the summer and he ran his best race over timber for a long time as he went down all guns blazing to Lift The Lid under Fin O’Toole in the two mile handicap hurdle.
The front two had it between them for the whole of the finishing straight and even though Neil Mulholland’s 3/1 favourite always just held the upper hand, Endless Credit showed a cracking attitude and stuck to his task all the way to the line to be beaten just a length. He’s quite well handicapped and should be winning soon if he can build on this excellent effort.
Alchimix is going to make a nice chaser and he showed a glimpse of what he might be capable of as he went close in the two and a half mile handicap chase at Sedgefield in the hands of Catherine Walton.
Running from 7lbs out of the handicap, Alchimix made a bold bid from the front but he was collared in the closing stages by Attimo, who sealed matters with an impressive jump at the final fence and went on to win by four lengths. He should pick up a race off his correct mark and hopefully he’ll be capable of better in due course.
It was great to have a runner in the Grade 3 188Bet Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase but Silver Tassie found the company a little bit too hot as he trailed in last of the six finishers behind impressive winner Definitly Red.
Finally we’re happy to report that our head girl Becky Smith is none the worse after a nasty looking tumble from an outside ride in the novices’ handicap hurdle and she was soon back in the saddle, partnering Newroc’s Maxie T into sixth place in the 2m5f handicap hurdle an hour later (above).
Impressive Justforjames eases to Sedgefield success
Monday 5th December 2016
Our new recruit Justforjames (13/2) wasted no time in getting off the mark over timber as he ran away with the 2m4f conditionals and amateurs handicap hurdle at Sedgefield on Friday in the hands of our excellent amateur Joe Wright.
The seven year old, carrying the colours of the J4J Partnership, was a point to point and bumper winner in Ireland but he’d struggled to get his head in front over hurdles, finishing third in his first five races over timber before being beaten at odds-on at Tramore back in April.
He brought that run of placed efforts to an emphatic end here, though, tracking second favourite Derintoher Yank through the early stages before taking it up after the sixth flight and readily coming clear on the turn for home, eventually winning by over thirty lengths. Justforjames was much better off with the runner up than he would have been in a handicap, but an extra stone probably wouldn’t have stopped him and he looks a really nice prospect.
We’ll wait and see how the handicapper reacts before making any more plans for him but there’s always the option of sticking to the novice route.
Well done to eighteen year old Joe, who was riding the third Rules winner of his career following successes aboard Minella Hero and Ardea at Hexham last season, Joe has plenty of experience for his age and was one of the leading novice point to point riders in the country last winter with eight winners between the flags.
Our other runner in the Sedgefield race, Eager To Know, in the hands of Hugo Thompson Brown (thanks to Steven Jones for the photos)
Perfect jumps start for Becky The Thatcher
Monday 14th November 2016
McGoldrick Racing’s three year old Mastercraftsman filly Becky The Thatcher (4/6f) is a 13 race maiden on the Flat but she wasted no time in getting off the mark over timber this afternoon, sprinting clear after the last to win the juvenile hurdle at Musselburgh on her jumping debut in the hands of Fin O’Toole.
None of her three rivals had previously shown much over hurdles so it’s hard to say what the form is worth, but Becky The Thatcher relished her new challenge, jumping really tidily if a little deliberately on a couple of occasions, she showed that she sees the trip out well and she really couldn’t have pleased us any more.
Making most of the running, she was briefly headed on the turn for home, but was well on top at the finish and kept finding extra whenever Fin asked her for a bit more, putting her Flat speed to excellent use to see off Royal Pearl by two lengths.
The runner up was a rare loser on the day for inspired jockey Brian Hughes, who rode an 899/1 five timer.
World champion Catherine storms to Abu Dhabi glory
Sunday 13th November 2016
Our amateur jockey and yard manager Catherine Walton had a dream ride under the Abu Dhabi floodlights this evening as she won the IFAHR Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship aboard six year old US bred mare Rb Dixie Burning for trainer Eric Lemartinel and owner Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Always well placed, Catherine sent the mare to the front on the turn for home and they never looked in any danger, holding the strong finishing Babel D’Aillas and Cindy Klinkenberg by a comfortable length and a quarter.
29 year old Catherine, from Northumberland, has ridden 26 jumps and 14 Flat winners under Rules, in addition to over 100 winners in point to points, but this was only the second time that she’d ridden in an Arab bred race, the first occasion being in Ostend back in August when her win aboard grey gelding Messi qualified her to ride in tonight’s final.
Dixie Burning was led up prior to the race by Tadhg O’Shea, who had partnered her to victory at the same track last Sunday, and if he was passing on a few little hints to Catherine they certainly worked, although the babes, as always, was keen to play down her part in the success, saying “That was a steering job!”
“The runner up was closing us down but to be honest I hadn’t even asked my horse a question,” she added. “It was an absolutely fantastic experience.”
Last year’s winner Astrid Wullschleger, from Switzerland, finished third aboard Rb Burning Ash, while Nora Looby, representing Ireland, was fifth aboard early pacesetter Rb Goliath. Half an hour later the €1.2m Jewel Crown, the world’s richest Arab bred race, was won by Rb Burn, completing a sensational evening for US breeders Rosebrook Farm Stud.
A massive well done to Catherine from all of us here at Oakwood, we’re sure she can’t wait to come back and ride out in the snow later this week!
Our Gemma on Godolphin judging panel
Monday 7th November 2016
Our assistant trainer Gemma Hogg has been unveiled as one of four new judges for the prestigious 2017 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards in association with the BHA and the Racing Post.
Gemma won both the Leadership and Employee of the Year awards at a glittering, star studded ceremony in London back in February but this time she’ll be on the other side of the fence as she helps to run the rule over this year’s entries.
Gemma joins fellow new judges Julian Dollar of Newsells Park Stud, former jockey Ollie McPhail of Racing For School and Hazel Peplinski, Chief Executive of Perth racecourse, on a twelve strong panel which also includes Racing Welfare Chief Executive Dawn Goodfellow, Mark Bradburne, Ian Balding and Dinah Nicholson, whose late husband David has the Newcomer category named in his honour. Brough Scott continues in his role as chairman of the panel.
Gemma and little sis Becks
“I’m absolutely delighted to be asked to help judge the 2017 awards,” says Gems. “Racing is a fantastic sport and all the stud and stable staff put so much work into the job. These awards are such an important opportunity to acknowledge this hard work.”
We’ll be hard pushed to repeat our amazing success from last February, when our head girl Becky Smith and stable girl Lauren Lucas (pictured below) were also finalists in the rider/groom and newcomer categories respectively, but we’ll give it a go, as we always do, and see what happens!
Team Hammond hit double top at Wetherby
Saturday 28th October 2016
We didn’t have a winner during this year’s ultra competitive bet365 Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby but we did pick up a couple of prizes, namely the top trainer and top conditional awards for the track’s 2015/16 season.
Joe, the boss and Danny Cook receive their trophies at Wetherby
We had five winners and eight runners up at Wetherby last winter, while Joe Colliver partnered four winners to take the conditionals’ title for the second season running. Just to add a touch of drama to the proceedings we left it as late as possible to wrap up both awards as Randall Orchard’s Tickenwolf won the track’s final race of the season back in May.
Danny Cook was crowned Wetherby’s champion jockey of the season with eight wins.
Needless to say we’ll be doing all we can to retain our titles in 2016/17 and Canford Thompson‘s recent juvenile hurdle success will help plenty on that score!
Good luck to Wilson
Tuesday 18th October 2016
We’d like to send our best wishes to jumps jockey Wilson Renwick, who has been forced to retire from race riding because of nerve damage in his left arm.
Wilson, 36, rode regularly for us throughout his seventeen year career in the saddle but he suffered multiple injuries in a fall at Market Rasen in May 2015. He’d just enjoyed his best ever season with 60 winners in 2014/15 and in total he partnered 379 winners over jumps in the UK, including 25 for us. He was one of the North’s leading jump jockeys and the most successful of a string of National Hunt riders to have hailed from Hawick in the Scottish Borders.
“I broke a vertebra in my neck, my collarbone, my jawbone and a couple of ribs, and they’ve all healed,” Wilson told BBC Sport.
“But nerve damage in my left arm means some of the muscle has wasted away and I’ve lost power in it, which won’t come back, so that’s it.”
Wilson isn’t exactly going to be taking it easy from now on, however – he’s hoping to take up professional cycling. He’s attached to the Italy-based Parentini cycling team and has risen to elite level – one category below professional.
Wilson rode a double for us on Rayadour and Stickleback (above) at Wetherby in January last year
He continued: “The experts say endurance athletes are at their best at my age, but probably need to have started developing from 20. I’m maybe too old, but it’d be great to give it a go – 90% of my body is fine, and there’s nothing wrong with my legs.
“I have no solid plans, but doing a “Pendleton in reverse” and becoming a professional cyclist is the dream. Victoria did brilliantly getting to Cheltenham (she finished a close fifth in the Foxhunters’ Chase), and going some way to trying to emulate what she did would be quite something.”
Good luck to Wilson in his new career, we’re sure he’ll do really well.
All’s Well at Redcar
Friday 14th October 2016
Four year old Bahri filly Wishing Well (10/1) gained due reward for her consistency as she ran out a convincing winner of the 1m6f Sam Hall Memorial Handicap at Redcar today in the hands of Callum Shepherd.
Having finished second on no less than six occasions this season, Wishing Well (above) certainly wasn’t winning out of turn and she quickened up nicely when Callum asked her for her effort, taking it up over a furlong out and running on strongly to beat the in form Sporty Yankee by two and a half lengths, finally losing her maiden tag in the process.
The race is run annually to remember legendary Middleham trainer Sam Hall, father of our very own Kate Walton and one of the most successful handlers our town has ever known.
Sam (right) started training at Brecongill in 1949 and went on to send out winners at Royal Ascot as well as two Ebors, the Ayr Gold Cup, the St Simon Stakes, the Dewhurst, the Cesarewitch, five November Handicaps, two Lincolns, four Zetland Gold Cups at Redcar and countless other big races. He moved to Spigot Lodge in 1967 but the Brecongill stable remained in the family when Sally, daughter of Sam’s eldest brother Tom, took over the reins to become the first licensed woman trainer in the North. Kate, of course, went on to follow in Sally’s footsteps out of Sharp Hill Farm while Sam’s other brother, Charlie, was a hugely successful jumps trainer whose life and career is commemorated annually with the running of the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
We’re both delighted and honoured to have won the race run in Sam’s memory.
Canford comes of age in Wetherby curtain raiser
Wednesday 12th October 2016
Wetherby’s 2016/17 jumps season kicked off this afternoon and it didn’t take long for us to get into the winner’s enclosure, as Canford Thompson (20/1) made all to land the opening juvenile maiden hurdle in fine style under Finian O’Toole.
It didn’t look the strongest of races on paper and Fin decided on a positive approach from the off aboard the likeable Canford Cliffs gelding, who’d run well without troubling the principals on both of his previous hurdles outings at Cartmel and Perth.
Canford Thompson was quickly away, taking a few lengths out of the field as the tapes went up, extended his advantage turning into the back straight and never saw a rival, eventually passing the post four lengths ahead of Silver Streak with another length and half back to the third and the rest coming home at long intervals.
Canford Thompson is owned by our assistant trainer Gemma and Rita Butler, whose colours were carried to victory a couple of times by Diddy Eric on the Flat back in 2014. Previously with Marco Botti, he was bought by Tom Malone for 6,500gns at the Tattersalls sales in February after four runs in Flat maidens at around a mile, we couldn’t wait to get him over timber and he did it really well today, giving us plenty to look forward to. He’s still learning, he still gets a bit buzzed up before his races and he still takes a keen hold, so there should be a lot more to come from him as he learns to settle.
Since Canford’s success we’ve been joined at the top of the Wetherby trainers’ table by six other yards, but we really couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the new season and hopefully there will be a lot more to celebrate at our favourite jumps track over the coming months!
Photos copyright Phill Andrews.
Listed second for speedy Angel
Friday 16th September 2016
David Green’s two year old Mayson filly Angel Meadow continued on her exciting upward curve as she finished an excellent second to easy winner Clem Fandango in the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr this afternoon.
Angel Meadow finished an honourable sixth to subsequent Group 3 winner Nations Alexander at Newmarket back in June on only her second start, we’ve taken it slowly with her since then and let her develop, she had quite a bit to find on paper with most of today’s rivals but we were still a bit surprised and maybe a little bit insulted to see her sent off at 40/1!
P J rode her just like at York, when she came with a wet sail to get up close home, she was never going to catch the runaway winner today (right) but she beat the rest comfortably enough and proved that she’s well worth her place at this level. Clem Fandango has run in the Queen Mary and the Lowther and been placed in the Weatherbys Super Sprint, so to get within three and a half lengths of Keith Dalgleish’s filly is something of an achievement.
“She’s a star!” says our head girl Becky, who rides the filly on the gallops. “She has a heart of gold and never gives up. She really is an angel.”
Angel Meadow is so fast we haven’t got anything to work with her but we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and look for something else before the ground goes against her, the main thing is that she’s got some black type now and no-one can take that away from her!
Big night for Catherine at Point-to-Point awards
Monday 12th September 2016
The 2016 Northern Point-to-Point awards were held at the Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells, Melrose on Saturday evening and our own Catherine Walton was very much in the limelight as she was crowned top lady rider for the sixth successive year.
Eight of 29 year old Catherine’s ten point-to-point winners last season came in the Northern region, which covers all the tracks in Scotland, Northumberland and Cumbria, and with six runner-up finishes and a third place to boot, she finished well clear of her nearest challengers, Rachael McDonald and Kelly Bryson, in the ladies’ standings.
The highlight of Catherine’s season was a treble at the West Percy meeting at Alnwick in January, when she partnered the 100th winner of her career on Dun Faw Good in the Members’ race before also taking the Ladies’ Open on Knocklong and the Restricted aboard Catchamat.
She went on to ride a double aboard Knocklomg and Strategic Island at the College Valley & North Northumberland, also at Alnwick, in March, and she also won on Play Practice and Catchamat at separate meetings at Friars Haugh before partnering Dun Faw Good to victory in the Club Members’ at the penultimate fixture of the season at Hexham in May.
Catherine’s overall total of ten winners put her in joint fourth place in the ladies’ national standings, with only Gina Andrews, Claire Hart and Jacqueline Coward ahead of her.
Seven year old mare Catchamat is trained by Catherine’s stepfather Jimmy and the Waltons were back in the spotlight when Catchamat was crowned champion novice horse of the season.
Catchamat won three times, twice for Catherine and once for Richard Smith, from just six runs, and rounded off a highly productive novice campaign with a third place in an intermediate race at Corbridge before being pulled up in a hunter chase at Hexham. She also finished runner up to Sharivarry for the George F White Champion Horse award and true to form Catherine also had a hand in Sharivarry’s success, as she guided Victor Thompson’s ten year old to three second placed finishes during the season.
For the record Catchamat also finished third in the national Jockey Club/PPORA Best Performing Mare Award.
With a career total of 71 point-to-point wins in addition to 23 jumps winners and 13 Flat winners under Rules, plus a recent Arab race success in Belgium, Catherine is very much one of the country’s leading amateur riders and we’re very proud of her success, we’re lucky to have her on our team and we hope there are many more winners to come!