Other Oakwood Stuff

Joe’s making all the Wright moves

19th January 2017

The following article appeared in this week’s edition of the Point-to-Point Racing Company Ltd’s newsletter Go Pointing.

Despite having made his Point-to-Point debut only just over a year ago, 18-year-old Joe Wright is fast becoming one of the go-to jockeys in Yorkshire and the North, writes Carolyn Tanner.

He gave notice of what was to follow when he opened his account on his first ride, Knocklong, in December 2015 at Alnwick, and his link-up with the winner’s owner-trainer Justin Landy, farrier to Mark Johnston, has since reaped rich dividends.

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Joe’s parents, Chris and Carolyn, had no hands-on experience with horses, although Chris enjoyed his racing and was involved as an owner with the John Quinn-trained Character Building when the son of Accordion triumphed in the 2009 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Both support their son when he is riding, although Carolyn has much in common with many mothers. “She comes to the meetings but doesn’t usually watch,” Joe smiled. So far her worries have been largely unfounded, as Joe has got off comparatively lightly – “A few broken ribs and a split lip,” he said matter-of-factly .

Joe had ponies as a child and rode one pony racing winner “from about 30 rides,” and from the age of 12 started riding out for Maurice Barnes. Having joined Kate Walton at Middleham, he moved with her when she relocated to Micky Hammond’s Oakwood Stables, where he is now in his third season.

15283930_1263747310330934_8925758101909911028_nIt was for his employer that he rode his first winner, Minella Hero in an Amateur Riders’ Hurdle at Hexham in June 2015, and he has since forged a good partnership with Justforjames, who is unbeaten in two runs since joining the Hammond operation. Joe is very proud, too, of Just Cameron, who is one of the four lots he rides out every day, and whose c.v. includes a recent good victory at Wetherby in addition to finishing runner-up to Un De Sceaux in the 2015 Ryanair Novices’ Chase at Punchestown.

Joe has leading lady rider Catherine Walton, a fellow employee at Oakwood, to thank for his association with Justin Landy. Aware that the latter was looking for someone to ride for him she suggested that the teenager make contact. The result of the liaison speaks for itself, with Justin providing five of Joe’s nine Pointing winners last season, plus the pair teamed up to take the sought-after Heart Of All England Hunters’ Chase at Hexham with Ardea.

“I’m so grateful to Justin for giving me the rides,” emphasised Joe, who also singled out Alison Christmas for her continued support. This year he has already ridden for the powerful Yorkshire yard of Cherry Coward, and is likely to pick up some mounts going begging in the Northern area following the defection to Ireland of Tom Hamilton, who has joined Joseph O’Brien.

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In addition to riding between the flags he is getting several opportunities under Rules with his Category ‘B’ licence, but has no thoughts of turning Conditional. “I do enjoy the Point-to-Pointing, but I try to watch my weight, and I can go as low as 10.5 if necessary,” he pointed out. His aim is to better last season’s tally and, with four already, it is a target which would appear easily attainable, given an injury-free campaign. He also admits that he would love to be leading rider in the North, even though he would be unable to claim the area title due to having a Hurworth certificate.

And he has his sights set on a bigger prize. Described by Joe as “a machine,” Ardea’s target is Haydock’s prestigious Walrus Hunters’ Chase next month. “If he won that he could go to Cheltenham,” mused Joe. “Well, you’ve got to dream, haven’t you?”

Jockeys set to make their mark in one of a kind race at Ripon

13th June 2016

As the jockeys take to their saddles to ride at Royal Ascot (or Ripon!) this week, most will be lucky enough to have ridden their fair share of winners in their careers. But as most jockeys and sportsmen/women alike will remember, nothing beats your first competitive win, whatever sport they compete in.

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It will certainly be a mixture of emotions for the apprentice jockeys due to ride at Ripon Races on Wednesday evening, as they are all in fact chasing their first ever winner in the only race in British racing open only to jockeys who have yet to ride a winner.

The race is the all down to the work of North Yorkshire racing welfare legend Raye Wilkinson, who has been working in racing for a remarkable 50 years this summer.

imgID56113443-300x232Wilkinson (right) was previously a social worker in Catterick Garrison, but a chance meeting with Middleham trainer Ernie Weymes in 1966 led to his involvement in racing. He instantly fell in love with horse racing and has never looked back. By October of that year Wilkinson was a full-time worker for the Stable Lads Welfare Trust, and the office in Middleham was opened.

Raye has since moved on but still works in Middleham for Mark Johnston Racing as their dedicated welfare officer. He continues to support up and coming jockeys by creating the very unique race for apprentice riders which takes place at Ripon on Wednesday evening, 15th June .

“If anything, I’ve left my mark by creating a welfare service, in 1978 I looked at racing from a stable lads’ point of view, and realised there was very little welfare cover for them.

“I am so passionate about helping those working in racing from the ground up and this race is what that is all about, recognising those wonderful moments in a young jockey’s career, however long that may be”, said Wilkinson.

The race, which is the first race on Wednesday evening’s card at Ripon, is this year named in recognition of Sam Brown. Sam was a great friend of Raye and was one of the driving forces behind Raye’s love affair with racing.

Raye’s hard work has also been well recognised within the industry, having won the Go Racing in Yorkshire Lifetime achievement award back in 2010 and most recently being one of three finalists for the Rory MacDonald Community award at the annual Godolphin Stable and Stud Awards in February.

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Loz Steade rides Pabusar in Ripon’s one off apprentice handicap on Wednesday

Wilkinson, who has organised the race for six years now, will never forget the day Oisin Murphy won the race back in 2013. Frustratingly Murphy, who has since gone onto become one of the nation’s top flat jockeys, had a winner just three days before the race at Salisbury but conditions of the race meant that as the declaration dates had passed he still qualified to ride in the race.

Raye often refers to a fitting quote by Charles Trigg who rode an impressive 843 winners after his first ever winner in Newbury in 1905, and is best known for winning the Epsom Oaks aboard Rosedrop in 1910.

“Nobody but an apprentice who has done it will ever know what it means to ride his first winner. No words can explain it. You walk on air. You do not care what happens. You have done it. You have ridden a winner, and nothing can ever take that away from you” Charles Trigg, (1881 – 1945)

We look forward to seeing some more future stars start their careers with a first win in the saddle, what is sure is that it will be a day to remember for one happy jockey.

Taken from www.ripon-races.co.uk, no copyright infringement intended. 

2015/16 Jumps season: Facts and figures

25th April 2016

P1640829(1)Starting with Danceintothelight‘s popular win at Sedgefield on 30th April 2015 and ending with a well deserved success for the much improved Auldthunder (right) at the same track last Wednesday, we sent out a total of 43 winners during the 2015/16 season, our best total since 1997/98 and our fifth highest total ever.

The 43 wins were made up of one in a bumper, 18 over hurdles and 24 over fences, from a total of 347 runners at an overall strike rate of 12%.

Our win and place prize money total of £313,990 was our highest ever, beating our previous best of £279,175 in 1997/98 and putting us in 33rd position in the Jumps trainers’ championship with only four other northern based trainers ahead of us.

Our total of 43 wins was the 22nd highest in the country.

Sedgefield was our luckiest track, with 13 of our winners, including two trebles, coming at the Durham venue. Eight of those wins were over fences at a strike rate of 36%. Next best were Hexham and Wetherby with five wins each, followed by Cartmel (four) and Carlisle, Catterick and Kelso with three each.

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P1560685(1)Richard Ball’s six year old ex French gelding Roxyfet (above) was our most prolific horse, with five wins from his eighteen runs during the season. The Rat Pack Racing Club’s Auldthunder, Give Every Man His Due’s Caraline and Verko, owned by David Green, all won four times.

Our senior conditional jockey Joe Colliver (right) rode 26 winners during 2015/16, his highest ever total, a fantastic effort considering he missed four months with an arm injury. Joe had his first ever double aboard Alderbrook Lad and Tullamore Dew at Cartmel in May and he finished the season on a total of 69 career winners, needing just six more to ride out his claim.

Finian O’Toole (below) rode the first winner of his career aboard Alderbrook Lad at Cartmel in June and went on to partner seventeen winners, eleven of which were over fences, during a brilliant breakthrough season which included a Sedgefield treble in February on Oscar O’Scar, Verko and Roxyfet.

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Our amateur jockey Joe Wright, who has been in great form in point to points, rode his first winner under Rules aboard Minella Hero at Hexham in June.DSC_7096

Joe Colliver was our most successful jockey during the season with nineteen winners, followed by Finian O’Toole on fifteen. Jamie Bargary and champion conditional Craig Nichol both rode three winners for us, with Joe Wright (right), Sam Twiston-Davies and our head girl Becky Smith partnering one winner apiece.

Joe’s 26 winners, at a strike rate of 16%, saw him finish joint fourth in the conditional jockeys’ championship, with only Craig Nichol (36), Harry Cobden (29) and Sean Bowen (27) riding more. Joe also finished in joint 36th position in the 2015/16 Stobart Jump Jockeys’ Championship.

These fantastic results are a credit to every single one of our hard working, committed team, we’d like to thank all our owners for their continued and extremely valued support and we’ll be trying as hard as we can to do even better in 2016/17!

Meet our new team of two year olds!

Saturday 23rd April 2016

We’re not really noted for our two year old runners, but there’s plenty of time for that to change and we bought three exciting new juveniles at last week’s DBS Goffs Breeze Up Sale at Doncaster racecourse, all of whom have settled into their new surroundings very nicely.

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First up is David Green’s Angel Meadow, pictured above, a beautiful filly by Mayson out of unraced sixteen year old mare Memo. Bought for £30,000, Angel Meadow’s pedigree is full winners and she’s a half sister to New Row, who won as a two year old for William Jarvis, and Tripitaka, who was successful three times from just four middle distance races for Michael Jarvis.

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This chestnut colt (above) is by top sprinter Choisir out of eight year old unraced Tobougg mare Special Destiny, he cost £21,000 and he’s related to multiple Group 3 winner Millennium Force, prolific jumps winner Chrysander and Flyinflyout, an early two year old who was thought good enough to run at Royal Ascot on her fourth start. Mick Channon has done particularly well with this family so we could always give him a ring if all else fails!

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Finally we purchased this Delegator colt (above) for £9,000, he’s out of thirteen year old Alhaarth mare Chapel Corner and is a half brother to Welsh Sunrise, who won first time out as a three year old for Gerard Butler and went on to win a couple of all weather handicaps for Stuart Williams, achieving a rating of 75. Chapel Corner herself is a half sister to high class seven furlong Group 3 winner and successful broodmare Sheppard’s Watch.

There may be more additions to come and hopefully our new youngsters can prove just as good, if not better than our juvenile team from last year, when Quoteline Direct won first time out at Pontefract for John Wilson and Becky The Thatcher, Frankster and Allfredandnobell all went close to winning maidens.

Lauren shines on Pontefract debut

6th April 2016

Yesterday’s ten furlong apprentices’ handicap at Pontefract might not particularly have caught the public’s imagination, but it will certainly live long in the memory of one of the youngest members of our team here at Oakwood Stables.

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DSC_7468The seven runner contest, in desperate ground, marked the race riding debut of eighteen year old apprentice Lauren Steade, our Sheffield born Northern Racing College graduate who has made amazing progress in the saddle during her twelve months here in Middleham.

Determined, bubbly and very focused, Lauren took out her apprentice licence last month and will be race riding for us throughout the summer, hopefully in slightly less demanding conditions, alongside our other apprentice Robbie Fitzpatrick, who has already partnered 24 winners in his five year career and joined us last season.

Loz conducted herself perfectly and didn’t look out ofDSC_7414 place in the slightest as she stepped out in the blue and yellow Maybe The Last Time silks to ride their seven year old Selkirk gelding Shalamzar, who had been struggling to find his form in five runs over hurdles this season, most recently finishing tailed off at Wetherby in February. 

Drawn towards the outside of the small field, Loz and Shalamzar missed the start and were soon trailing in last place but Lauren didn’t panic and they gradually made up the ground to latch onto the rest of the field after a couple of furlongs. Shalamzar again found himself outpaced when the leaders kicked for home three furlongs out but much to our delight and to theDSC_7416 excitement of Loz’s family and friends watching from the stands, they rallied in the home straight and made up three places, just failing to overhaul our other runner Russian Royale and passing the post eleven lengths in arrears of the winner Astra Hall.

We were really pleased with the efforts of both horses, as Russian Royale showed plenty of zest on her return from a little break on ground which wouldn’t have suited her and Shalamzar ran his best race so far for us in the hands of his young rider, who was fulfilling her lifelong ambition to follow in the footsteps of her grandad, Jack, who was a jumps jockey also based here in Middleham.

Loz joins our growing team of promising young jockeys here at Oakwood, as well as Robbie we’re also overseeing the fledgling careers of conditionals Hugo Thompson Brown and Billy Garritty and amateur jumps rider Joe Wright, while Fin O’Toole is enjoying a fantastic first full season over jumps with seventeen winners under his belt and the more experienced Joe Colliver continues to impress, needing just another ten winners to ride out his claim.

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We’re pleased to report that Lauren loved every minute of it and we hope that this was the start of a long and very successful career for our very likeable new apprentice, and having seen little Loz struggling to carry her saddle out of the weighing room after racing, we’re sure that her new job will provide a welcome boost for the local lead industry as well.

Well done Lauren, from all of us!

Thanks to a very proud dad, Paul Steade, for the brilliant photos!

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Our apprentice jockeys Lauren Steade (left) and Robbie Fitzpatrick (red and black) in action at Pontefract today

Meet our three Newmarket new boys!

7th November 2015

We’ve been busy at the sales over the last couple of weeks and as a result we’ve welcomed quite a few new arrivals to Oakwood Stables! We’ll introduce them all on the website in due course but for starters, here are the three we bought at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale down at Newmarket a fortnight ago.

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First up is five year old grey gelding Big Thunder, a 25,000gns purchase out of David O’Meara’s yard. By Dalakhani out of French Group 3 winning racemare Charlotte O Fraise, Big Thunder has had 23 races, all on the Flat, winning six of them, most recently over two miles at York in July off a mark of 87. He started off with Sir Mark Prescott and was rated as high as 97 in the summer of 2014, he’s run at Glorious Goodwood, Royal Ascot and in the Shergar Cup and he was only beaten just over six lengths behhind Grumeti in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last time out. The plan is to go novice hurdling with him and he’ll be a high class recruit to the winter game!

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Next we have three year old Galileo colt Gran Paradiso, who cost 30,000gns and was previously trained by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. He raced once as a juvenile and reappeared just before the sales last month, finishing half a length second to his stablemate Goodwill in a 1m5f maiden at Navan. His dam, Looking Lovely, is a half sister to multiple Group 1 winner and 2008 champion European older horse Duke Of Marmalade and also 2013 Investec Derby winner and champion European three year old Ruler Of The World, he’s beautifully bred and totally unexposed and we hope he’s going to be useful at the very least!

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Finally this is three year old German bred gelding Invictus who’s done all of his racing on the continent so we hope the Yorkshire climate hasn’t come as too much of a shock to him! By Exceed And Excel out of Group 1 placed mare Ivowen, he cost 24,000gns and he’s a half brother to several winners, he’s raced ten times in total, including in a Listed race at Baden-Baden, and he’s won twice at around a mile. 

The ups and downs of life with Dancer

6th November 2015

Danceintothelight might not have been the best horse we’ve ever had but he was certainly one of our most popular and recognisable inmates, and it’s been a little bit strange these last couple of days coming into the yard knowing that the tough and durable little eight year old grey, who was almost part of the furniture here, has moved to a new home on the other side of the Pennines after five and a half years in Middleham.

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Dancingtothelight(1)We bought the Dansili gelding, a 95,000gns foal, out of Kevin Ryan’s yard for £7,000 after he came third to a horse called Dane Cottage in a mile and a quarter seller at Leicester back in June 2010, and he finished third again on his debut for us in a mile handicap at Pontefract under Tom Eaves three weeks later. That was the last time that he raced over shorter than a mile and a half, he was always going to be a stayer and his future lay over jumps.

Owned at the time by the Ropers, Dancer won a 1m6f Flat handicap at Catterick in the hands of Kelly Harrison in October 2010 before making his juvenile hurdling debut at Wetherby the following month.

Making the running under Barry Keniry, he had the field of fourteen well strung out as he approached the second last flight with a commanding lead only to hit the deck, but he made amends by winning his next two hurdle races, at Hexham and then Catterick, where he gave weight and a beating to the subsequently high class chaser Shadows Lengthen.

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P1580788Having been given a lofty rating of 128 after those two wins we ran Dancer in the £12,000 Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh the folowing February, where he started favourite. With soft ground not ideal he ran a blinder under Jason Maguire to finish a close third to Vosges in a race where our other runner Meetings Man, who was sent off second favourite, unseated Graham Lee at the fifth flight.

An over ambitious crack at Kelso’s Grade 2 Premier Hurdle rounded off a highly productive first season over timber but in the cold light of day Dancer was never going to be competitive off marks in the 120s, he also struggled off his Flat rating and he often ran well under both codes without winning. After two years, during which he proved himself remarkably tough and resilient, the handicapper finally relented and Dancer won for the fourth time, beating Patavium by eight lengths at Catterick in the hands of Joe Colliver.

We bought Dancer in the summer of 2013 to lease him to our racing club Maybe The Last Time, a move which saw him attract a devoted group of owners who followed the loveable little grey and his new regular jockey Becky Smith through thick and thin around the northern tracks. Becks would have loved to win a race on Dancer but despite a couple of placed efforts it wasn’t to be, and Dancer’s sole win for the Maybes came under Jamie Bargary at Sedgefield in April 2015, an unforgettable and pretty emotional occasion for all concerned.

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946476_10152813887245654_1494332_n(1)In addition to his four hurdle wins and one Flat success, Dancer can also boast a surely unequalled 36 career starts at Catterick, two attempts over fences which both ended with him on the floor, a night at Carlisle which Catherine Walton will want to forget and a highly respectable total of just over £30,000 in win and place prize money.

A real gentleman of a horse, Dancer absolutely lives for his racing and although he’s as quiet as a mouse behind his stable door, put a saddle on his back and it’s a different story. Lauren Lucas, who’ll probably miss him more than anyone, has worked wonders getting him to settle on the gallops, as a result he’s arguably in better form now than at any time in the last four years, with his run at Sedgefield last week strongly suggesting that he’s ready to win again.  

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P1680821(1)(1)Dancer was bought on Wednesday for £3,000 by Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain and has already moved into his new surroundings at Donald’s peaceful and friendly Bankhouse yard in Cholmondeley, deep in the Cheshire countryside. As far as we know he’s all set to have a new female rider in the shape of Donald’s eldest daughter Abbie, a pony racing graduate who’s about to make the step up to riding under Rules.

“He’s settled in fine,” Abbie tells us, “I got him out of the box when he arrived and he just went straight into his stable and started eating his hay! He seems lovely.”

Our little Dancer has deservedly gone to a brilliant new home and hopefully there’s another chapter or two still to be written in his long and distinguished career, possibly starting at Ludlow next Thursday where he’s pencilled in to give Abbie her first ride in the 2m5f amateurs’ handicap hurdle, best of luck to them both and thank you to Dancer for five and a half fantastic years!

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Coloured racehorses….painting the full picture

24th August 2015

Angrove Fatrascal’s imminent appearance at Catterick Bridge on Wednesday will no doubt raise a few eyebrows in the racing world, mainly because it’s so unusual for coloured thoroughbreds to make it to the racetrack.

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Is it a gimmick? Well, sort of, because Angrove Fatrascal (pictured above on the Low Moor gallops) was deliberately bred to be coloured, it hasn’t just happened by accident. But it’s also the result of years of hard work and dedication by Angrove Stud’s creators Lev and Heather Kitching, whose dream is for coloured thoroughbreds to be able to compete successfully on the Flat and over jumps.  

In recent years only Join The Dots and Modern Society, both by US sire I Was Framed, and our very own Angrove Rumbaba have shown off their unusual markings on the racecourse and none of those three have troubled the judge, although “Rummy” ran with enormous credit when he finished fifth in a bumper at Sedgefield on his second start.

Rummy was all set to go novice hurdling when injury brought a premature end to his career but the promise of his three bumper efforts only served to strengthen Lev and Heather’s resolve to produce a coloured thoroughbred that could be capable of winning a race.

Fast forward three years and we now have Angrove Fatrascal, an enthusiastic and competitive three year old who has done everything we’ve asked of him on the gallops and is now ready to embark on what will hopefully be a successful career. “Fatty” is by Angrove Stud’s homebred stallion Angrove Spottedick out of sprinting racemare Marshal Plat Club, you may well hear him referred to in some quarters as a “skewbald pony” but he was already over 15 hands as a two year old and he is 91.25% thoroughbred by breeding.

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So how did Angrove Fatrascal come to be in training with us? We thought we’d give you a little bit more of an insight into the passionate work of Angrove Stud and their coloured thoroughbred breeding programme…. 

Situated in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, the stud was founded by Lev and Heather in 2005 with the purchase of their coloured foundation sire, Ricco (75% thoroughbred), by thoroughbred stallion Captain Maverick, and coloured mare Angrove Dance Girl (90% thoroughbred). The intention was to breed a future stallion who would guarantee colour in all of his progeny and that aim was achieved with their very first foal in 2007, when Angrove Spottedick was born.

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Angrove Spottedick (above) is registered and fully licensed with Weatherbys to breed and he is also eligible to race, but more importantly he is homozygous Tobiano. In plain English this means that he carries two copies of the Tobiano gene (the gene which produces the horse’s coloured spotting pattern) and that all of his foals are guaranteed to be coloured, no matter what colour the mare is.

11659258_10153364573581544_168791025587215936_n(1)Angrove Rumbaba, who was in training with us in 2012, was by Ricco out of Dr Fong racemare Bond Angel Eyes. Rummy was ridden in all three of his races by Becks and he fulfilled another of his breeders’ ambitions when he came home a long last of three at Hexham on his final start (right), thus becoming the first coloured horse to visit the winner’s enclosure.

Basically there’s nothing different about Angrove Fatrascal to any other racehorse apart from his colour. He’s a strong, long striding horse who’s going to go jumping one day, he gets treated like any other horse here at the yard, we love him to bits and we can’t wait to see how he gets on. Hopefully he can improve on Angrove Rumbaba’s valiant efforts and take his owners and breeders one step closer to that ultimate success.

You can find out more about the work of Angrove Stud on their website by clicking here

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Angrove Fatrascal upsides Boldbob on the gallops

End of the road for a true MH legend!

20th June 2015

It was with mixed emotions that we brought Amir Pasha home after his run at Redcar today as our popular ten year old, a winner of ten races, will now be retired.

Pash is our longest serving inmate, having been with us here at Oakwood since November 2008. Previously with Walter Swinburn we sent him straight into juvenile hurdles, it took him over a year to get his head in front but he went on to win five times in the following twelve months, two on the Flat and three over timber including a £6,000 race off a mark of 100 at Carlisle.

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A fantastic servant with a lovely temperament, Pash has provided precious race experience for plenty of our own younger and less experienced jockeys with Joe Colliver, Becky Smith, Katie Dowson, Dylan McDonagh and Fin O’Toole all having ridden him early in their careers.

Pash, who likes nothing better than covering himself in muck, recorded his final two wins at Sedgefield under Jason Maguire in the space of a fortnight back in the autumn of 2013. Although he’s run the occasional big race since then, notably back at Sedgefield on a couple of occasions, he’s recently been a shadow of his former self on the track and we decided that today would be his final race

Pash ran in 128 races – 63 on the Flat, 58 over hurdles and even six chases towards the end of his distinguished career – and he also ran in a charity race at Cheltenham a few years back under Gemma.

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We’ll all miss The Pash like mad, the position of his stable means that he’s been the first horse you see when you come into the yard for the last few years, he’s been the most amazing servant and we hope he has a lovely, peaceful and enjoyable retirement with his number one fan Katie in his beloved Yorkshire Dales.

Popular Pertuis powers to sixth MH win

27th April 2015

The most instantly recognisable horse in our yard by some way, and a stand out whenever he goes to the races, Pertuis was winning for Team Hammond for the sixth time in 29 Flat races on turf when he came with his customary late surge under Graham Lee at Catterick last Wednesday.

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He also won best turned out and was led up as ever by his partner in crime and number one fan Lauren Lucas, who fell in love with the Verglas gelding the first day she came to work for us, Loz has now led him into the winner’s enclosure three times and we hope there’s plenty more success to come!

Lauren leading up Pertuis and Graham Lee at Catterick before walking away with the best turned out award

As Pertuis is our most photogenic horse we make no apology for sharing a few more pictures of his latest win, it’s the second season running that he’s got his head in front on his first Flat start after a little break following a hurdling campaign. Graham Lee has now partnered him to victory twice, his other wins have come under Joey Haynes, Serena Brotherton and our own Becky Smith (twice).

Our super six newcomers from Newmarket!

16th November 2014

It’s that time of the year where we see major comings and goings at the yard after the Horses In Training sales, the first of which was the Tattersalls sale at Newmarket during the last week of October. Almost 1,000 horses were sold, the most expensive of which at 425,000gns was four year old Hurricane Run colt Havana Cooler who was bought by Anthony Stroud Bloodstock out of Luca Cumani’s yard.

Clearly our purchases were a little less extravagant, but we went down to Newmarket with our sights set on six horses, we managed to buy them all for a total of 92,500gns and we’d like to tell you a little bit more about them!

Heading up our new arrivals is the ex-Aidan O’Brien trained Blue Hussar, a three year old colt who cost 35,000gns at the sales and is a half brother to plenty of winners in France including one at Listed level. Blue Hussar (pictured below) won his maiden at Leopardstown at the first time of asking just over a year ago and wasn’t beaten far in this year’s Lingfield Derby Trial for which he started second favourite, the first two in that race went on to win at Group 3 level and Blue Hussar himself comes to us with a Flat rating of 104 after another excellent effort in a Listed race at the Curragh last month.

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10635747_762865170454449_3150062355510858903_n(1)Blue Hussar (shown on the right making friends with Kierra!) is a classy sort and it’s brilliant to have him in the yard, he’ll be carrying the colours of Richard Howard who deserves a change of luck after his Head Of Steam tragically died on the gallops earlier this year and we can’t wait to run him in some big staying handicaps and hopefully Pattern races on the Flat next year.

We’ve always liked Verglas as a stallion and we’ve bought his very lightly-raced son Cape Wrath out of Richard Hannon’s for 16,000gns. Three year old colt Cape Wrath joins Pertuis and Boldbob in our ever-expanding team of Verglas greys, he was well fancied when he won a six furlong maiden at Newbury on his debut last September and has only run three times since, earning himself a mark of 79. He’s a half brother to a Group 2 winner in France and he’ll be starting off in some decent mile or mile and a quarter handicaps in the spring.

10,000gns purchase Applaus will carry the colours of Joe Buzzeo. He’s a two year old colt by Tiger Hill out of All About Love and he’s yet to see a racecourse, his half sister All For You was campaigned almost exclusively in Pattern company in Germany as a three and four year old without adding to her juvenile win at Hanover. We’ll look at middle distance three year old maidens for Applaus next year with a view to giving him some experience before sending him juvenile hurdling in the autumn.

Newmarket maiden winner Endless Credit (pictured below) joins us from Luca Cumani for 20,000gns and this four year old High Chaparral gelding has a lovely staying pedigree, suggesting not only that he’ll be up to winning on the Flat off his current mark of 78 but also that he’ll be able to do a good job for us over hurdles at some stage. He’s related to loads of winners, most notably being a half brother to the top-class Champion Hurdle runner-up Celestial Halo, and his full brother Asker won a bumper and two Flat races for Marcus Tregoning a couple of years ago.

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Strait Run is another from Richard Hannon’s, he cost 10,000gns and is a three year old chestnut gelding who will be a welcome addition to our team of ginger ninjas! He won a Newbury maiden last October in the hands of Richard Hughes on only his second start, he’s had a quiet time this year but he’ll start out for us off a mark of just 68 as a result and his latest run at Bath was much more encouraging. He’ll stay at least a mile and a half and his older half sister Killourney Empress was a three-time Flat winner on soft ground in Ireland.

Finally three year old Lawman gelding Vecheka ran twice in sprint maidens earlier this year for Andrew Balding, but he’ll probably be best at around a mile like his full brother Mustaheel who was a Listed winner in France as a three year old and has been racing in Dubai in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum. He’s also a half brother to Wizz Kid, that speedy filly who won the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2012, if he turns out to be anywhere near as good as either of those two then 1,500gns will look like a bit of a bargain!

As always we’ll keep you totally up to date about the progress of all our new arrivals here on the website, including news of any syndicate or share opportunities when we’ve finalised our plans for them all.

P1560805A whole year of the best stable girl ever!

18th September 2014

One year ago we welcomed a new recruit, fresh from the Northern Racing College, to our team. We couldn’t help but take to Lauren Lucas as soon as we met her and the 20 year old from Great Barr in Birmingham settled into her new life at Oakwood pretty much straight away. Within a week she was riding two lots up the Low Moor gallops on a perfect early Saturday morning and loving every minute of it!

Favourite horse….

Lauren fell in love with the gorgeous Pertuis as soon as she arrived at the yard and he’s still her favourite now, she’s led him up for both his wins this season and there was definitely a tear in her eye when he won at Pontefract back in April. Pertuis rarely goes to the races without his number one fan.

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A match made in heaven!

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The racing highlight of Lauren’s first year in Middleham came when old Amir Pasha battled his way to victory up the Sedgefield hill under Jason Maguire last November. Loz had actually led up Kathlatino in the same race that day but thanks to a lovely touch from Becks she was allowed to lead Pasha back in (right). Just for good measure they repeated the trick a couple of weeks later at the same track.

Early days….

P1390863Loz learned really quickly, we threw her in at the deep end a bit and she had her first lead up with Pasha at Catterick in October just a couple of weeks into her new job. She went on to lead up nearly everything we ran towards the end of 2013, keeping the paddock watchers entertained with her unique style of chatting to the horses and becoming a very familiar face around the Yorkshire tracks. It wasn’t always easy – a nightmare lead up with a very difficult Samtheman at Hexham last November springs to mind – but in the main Lauren took it all in her stride and got stronger and stronger!

Big days….

With a number of winning lead ups and six months hands on experience under her belt Lauren was an absolute legend on Middleham Stables Open Day in April, answering all kinds of questions from the public and promoting the yard like a true pro! A couple of months later there was another big occasion as the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France passed right outside our front gate, Oakwood Stables wasn’t open to the general public that day but we threw a party for our owners and Loz used her previous job experience to famously take charge of the bar for the entire day (below), and believe us that bar was busy!

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And one year on….

Lauren is now a totally indispensable member of Team MH and also a very accomplished rider, she can take any horse up to the gallops whether it’s an old favourite like Pasha, a tricky ride like Danceintothelight or a relatively inexperienced two year old like Boldbob. And on a personal level Loz is already one of the best known and best loved faces in Middleham and around the Yorkshire racing scene in general, with a sense of humour and quick wit second to none!

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Loz leading up Correggio at York (left) and Shahdaroba at Ripon

The future….

Lauren is currently being assessed for her NVQ and has plenty of ambitions to fulfil in racing, and we hope she goes on to achieve everything she wants to achieve in the sport.    

Well done Loz we love you loads, we’re lucky to have you in our lives and here’s to the next year!

The Tour de France comes to Middleham!

6th July 2014

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P1560931The Tour de France came to Yorkshire and Yorkshire did the Tour de France proud. Rarely can such amazing scenes have been witnessed in any sport, let alone a sporting event which normally belongs to another country and was merely visiting our amazing county.

We’re honoured to have been a small part of it and everyone at Micky Hammond Racing had a brilliant day in the glorious Yorkshire sunshine which played such a massive role in the success of stage one of the 2014 Tour de France, which will quite rightly take its place in sporting legend.

None of us here at Micky Hammond Racing would claim to know too much about cycling but that wasn’t the point, P1560687like most of the estimated two million people who lined the Leeds to Harrogate route across the stunning Dales we will just be proud to say that we were there!

For the record the stage was won by Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who outsprinted Peter Sagan and Ramunas Navardauskas in that unbelievably dramatic high-speed finale on Harrogate’s Parliament Street which also saw Britain’s Chris Froome finish sixth and Mark Cavendish sadly crash out of the whole Tour.

There won’t be another weekend like it in Yorkshire for a very long time and as a showcase for our wonderful county, with its stunning landscape, beautiful market towns, pretty villages and good old-fashioned community spirit, it will be hard to beat.  

If you came to watch, we hope you had a great time and we hope you took home some happy memories of your Tour de France experience with Team MH!

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A team on the up…a review of our 2013/14 National Hunt season

4th May 2014

Master Of The Hall and Dominic Elsworth before the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, 2/11/13 (copyright and with thanks to Phill Andrews)

Master Of The Hall and Dominic Elsworth before the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, 2/11/13 (copyright and with thanks to Phill Andrews)

Twelve months is a long time in the life of a racing yard. Looking back to last May, we didn’t have many horses in, we’d lost a few for various reasons, and our jumps string was basically pretty threadbare. A year on, thanks to unbelievably hard work from a totally committed team, we have a full yard, a handful of new owners on board, a number of thriving racing clubs and we’ve ended the 2013/14 season with a very respectable total of 12 winners from just 94 runners, representing our best win percentage and highest prize money for three seasons. Yes, we’re quite pleased with ourselves, but this is a yard going places again and we’re not going to stop there!

Firstly, we’ll get the bad bits out of the way. We were over the moon to get Master Of The Hall at the Spring sales at Doncaster and we started him out in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He was sent off at 66/1 but he jumped beautifully in front and gave Dominic Elsworth a fantastic ride round until the third last where he took a sickening fall having just been slightly headed, it took him a long time to get up and we’ve never really had him spot on ever since. He was pulled up early in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day and we’ve been running him over hurdles to try and get his confidence back; his most recent efforts however have given us cause for some optimism and we really hope he can get back to form soon because he still oozes class on the gallops and he is potentially really well handicapped now.

We called it a day with Chernik after he was pulled up at Cartnel in July, and despite all his enthusiasm little Danceintothelight just wasn’t going anywhere in the soft ground, even at his beloved Catterick, so we decided to give him the second half of the season off and keep him for a Flat campaign. At around the same time as Dancer was struggling in the mud, his jockey and our head girl Becky Smith injured her knee and hasn’t been able to ride since; we can’t wait to see Becks and Dancer back in action, we’ve certainly missed our P1410652Becks leading the string up on the moor but we know both horse and rider will be keen to make up for lost time this year!

By the turn of the year only one of our jumps horses had visited the winner’s enclosure, but it was really heart-warming to see eight year old Amir Pasha win back-to-back handicap hurdles at Sedgefield under Jason Maguire before competing in his 100th race at Catterick in December. He bounced back to form with a hard-fought 14/1 success at the Durham track in November and followed that up with an assured win off an 8lb higher mark two weeks later; he has slipped to a workable mark now and should win again in his turn.

If Pash had been our flagbearer in the early part of the season, it didn’t take long for Alderbrook Lad to take over that mantle in the new year. Having got no further than the first fence on his yard debut at Catterick a week before Christmas, he got everything right back at the same track on New Year’s Day, producing an impressive front-running performance to give our conditional jockey Joe Colliver his first ever success over fences. Joe didn’t have to wait long for his second chase winner as he partnered Alderbrook Lad to an equally impressive follow-up win a week later (below); Alderbrook Lad hasn’t done a lot wrong since, running a blinder at Haydock and looking the likely winner when crashing out at the second last at Wetherby. He’ll have to step out of novice company now but he remains a very exciting prospect.

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And so things began to improve. One of our success stories of the winter was Summerlea who we bought for just £800 but who went on to show tremendous enthusiasm for hurdling, finishing runner-up on his first three starts before making no mistake under the excellent Catherine Walton in a lady amateurs’ race at Catterick. Summerlea earned over £6,000 in prize money for his owners Straightline Construction, who had a great first season with us, more of which later!

The Ramblin Kid, a half brother to Nicky Henderson’s high-class chaser Riverside Theatre, came to us from Charlie Swan’s and made his yard debut in the colours of Joe Buzzeo in a novices’ hurdle at Wetherby in January. We knew the form of his six-length third to Red Sherlock was pretty decent when the winner went on to win a Grade 2 at Cheltenham two weeks later and we weren’t overly surprised when he won a nice race at Newcastle next time out under a positive ride from Jason Maguire. We were always going to bring him along slowly because chasing will be his game and the injury he picked up at Hexham shouldn’t hold him back too much, he is already well on the road to recovery and he is now our top-rated horse.

Becky on Summerlea at Catterick

Becky on Summerlea at Catterick

As the season went on, more of our horses began to find their form and it was brilliant to see Frank The Slink pick up a couple of well deserved chase wins, the second of which came in a slow-motion finish at Carlisle in April. We do now have shares available in Frank The Slink, if you’re interested please check out our Horses For Sale page. Another chaser who came along gradually was Samtheman, who did most of his racing at Sedgefield and gave his owners the Rat Pack Racing Club a great day out when he won there under Wilson Renwick in March, he is lightly-raced and there should be plenty more to come from him.

A big feature of our successful finish to the 2013/14 season was the rapid improvement of Rayadour, another Straightline horse, who benefited massively from a little mid-season break and relished the better ground to rattle up a quick three-timer in April. Our first horse to win three on the bounce since La Pantera Rosa a couple of years ago, Rayadour stays 2m6f well but he also has the speed to win over two miles. He was quite impressive on his last run under Wilson Renwick and we hope he can go on improving. Straightline also introduced Verko, a former Irish pointer who showed definite promise on his second run at Sedgefield, we like him a lot and he is another one to really look forward to.We also had our first ever point-to-point runner in March and it was a winner as Maxwil was given a superb ride by Catherine to score in thrilling style at Whitcliffe Grange.  P1470270

Of our other jumps horses, Pertuis (left) was unlucky not to win over hurdles, particularly at the Charlie Hall meeting where a mistake at the last probably cost him the race, while Stickleback nearly won at Wetherby at Christmas for Jason Maguire before starting to show a bit of temperament, we have work to do with her! Kathlatino never got her ground and Flat-bred Khelac hasn’t really got the hang of hurdling yet but he’s only four and this lovely big gelding has time on his side.

On the staffing front we welcomed conditional jockey Dylan McDonagh to the team, Dylan has settled in really quickly and will be race riding for us soon, while Tom Alderson joined us a couple of weeks ago and has been riding out regularly. 

All but five of the horses we ran during the season picked up prize money and almost a third of our runners finished in the first three, we ended the campaign with seven hurdle winners and five chase victories and a yard full of improving and exciting horses to look forward to. Our focus for the next few months will switch to the Flat but we’ll keep looking for suitable races for the jumps horses who aren’t having the summer off and we’d like to thank all our owners and everyone who has helped and supported us through the jumps season, we couldn’t do it without you!

All smiles as the sun shines for Open Day 2014

20th April 2014

It was the 21st annual Middleham Open Day on Good Friday and, along with 14 of the other local trainers, we opened our gates and put all our horses on display to the public. Unlike some yards we didn’t have any runners at Lingfield or Musselburgh as racing took place on Good Friday for the first time, but we were still really busy behind the scenes to ensure all our visitors had a lovely time at Oakwood Stables…and we hope that we succeeded!

Straight after Dark Castle‘s run at Ripon on Thursday afternoon it was all hands to the pump to get things ready for Open Day. To say it was a surreal experience to be sat on the office floor watching two of the North’s top lady amateur riders Catherine Walton and Becks cutting up and laminating pictures of our horses to stick on their stable doors would be an understatement but they got the job done! Gemma and Loni meanwhile spent the entire evening baking cupcakes to be sold in the yard, while Lauren, Dylan and Wayne got on with evening stables.

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On Friday morning we were up and about bright and early to take one lot up to the Low Moor (above), we worked seven including Frank The Slink, Skinny Latte, One Kool Dude and Alderbrook Lad, who is fine after his Wetherby tumble. Back in the yard there was plenty more printing to be done by Emma as Amanda and Loni set up the cake stall and the whole yard was washed down and swept, we were just about ready by 9.30 and the place looked immaculate and a real credit to everyone involved.

P1520825For many of our horses it was their first experience of Open Day, they all took it in their stride though and thankfully there were no biting incidents! Our youngest inmate, unraced two year old filly Luvlylynnthomas, had a ball posing for pictures, while popular grey Danceintothelight (right), the subject of our free-to-enter competition, has really been freshened up by his recent break and he was at his friendliest as he weighed up all the people trying to win a share in his racing club! One lucky visitor will win a six-month membership in Maybe The Last Time, worth £50 per month, with the chance of an owners badge when he runs and yard visits included, we will do the draw tomorrow (Monday 21st).

We all enjoyed chatting to people about what we do and about our horses, we hope it was a bit of a novelty too for racing fans to be able to get hold of jockeys such as Joe Colliver and Becky Smith and ask them about their experiences in the sport. And our little Shetland pony Marylegs proudly showed off her foal Baby Jesus, well actually she guarded him so well that hardly anyone could see him, but as a new mum who can blame her??

Gemma and Loni raised £82 with their cupcakes for local charity New Beginnings, who were in town with one of their ex-racehorses Mister McGoldrick, they do a fantastic job caring for, rehabilitating and re-homing retired racehorses, a cause which Gemma is particularly passionate about. Thank you to everyone who attended Open Day and to everyone who helped out behind the scenes to make it a great success. The Racing Post reported that there were around 4,000 visitors to Middleham on Friday and we surely must have seen most of them at our yard, and if anyone took any photos or has any feedback that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you via Facebook or Twitter!

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 Alderbrook Lad (Joe Colliver), Frank The Slink (Amanda Donkin) and Head Of Steam (Wayne Hogg) working on the Low Moor early on Good Friday

Becky’s big day as Maxwil wins for Team Hammond at the Point-to-Point!

30th March 2014

Since injuring her knee in December our head girl and amateur jock Becky Smith hasn’t been able to ride, but not one for sitting around and feeling sorry for herself, Becks decided to have a go at training a horse with the intention of running in point-to-points. The horse in question was nine year old three-time rules winner Maxwil, who hadn’t raced since September 2012 and hadn’t shown any worthwhile form since 2010.

Day after day Becks and top lady amateur rider Catherine Walton had disappeared up to the Low Moor gallops with Maxwil to get him fit to the point where he was ready to run, and the chosen race was the three mile AGA Ladies Open at Whitcliffe Grange near Ripon at the Badsworth & Bramham Moor point-to-point last Sunday.  The weather was dull and slightly misty, the sun threatened to burn through the clouds all afternoon but never quite managed it.

A healthy-sized crowd gathered amongst the various tents, refreshment kiosks, bouncy castles and trade stands as the runners in the first race passed through the parade ring; those in the know, unfortunately not including me, all seemed to be on the well-backed Nalim, who duly obliged as he liked. It soon became evident that Maxwil was going to have his share of support for his debut between the flags – Becky’s dad Norman was the first familiar face to arrive followed by a large delegation from Middleham headed by Maxwil’s official trainer Micky and his daughter Kierra, Becks’ sister Gemma, travelling head lad for the day Ryan Clark and Maxwil’s travelling companion, our Shetland pony Marylegs. Our jockey Catherine briefly stopped for a chat on her way to declare the horse for the fifth race of the afternoon, due off at 3.20.

At this point I neglected my duties as roving reporter and photographer due to the temptations of a lovely little picnic being served from Gemma and Tim’s car boot in the car park. I don’t know who won the second, third or fourth races but I do know that the sandwiches and quiche were delicious; the Rioja was also going down well and more importantly Maxwil was now being saddled up in Micky’s horsebox over on the other side of the field.

I have to say that Becks and the rest of her little team – Ryan, JJ, Loni and Gemma – were absolutely brilliant and between them, under the impressively calm supervision of our head girl, they got Maxwil tacked up and ready to roll. He looked a picture but the on-course bookies were unimpressed with Becky’s efforts, pricing him up as the 16/1 outsider in the six-runner field with Elusive Swallow heading the market at around 4/7. A couple of us had a fiver on out of loyalty, the vibes weren’t strong for Maxwil but that made what was about to follow all the more enjoyable.

Catherine had Maxwil settled nicely in fourth or fifth place for the first mile or so and he was jumping nicely, but Nosecond Chance opened up a sizeable lead going out on the final circuit and Maxwil looked booked for third place at best as the favourite made smooth headway to chase the leader down with half a mile to go. The front two turned for home with a clear advantage but as they took each other on down the hill Maxwil, suddenly hitting top gear, began to rapidly close on them and under the most brilliantly-judged hold-up ride from Miss Walton, he took it up just before flying the final fence and stayed on strongly to beat Elusive Swallow by five lengths. 

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Maxwil (right) charges towards the last on his way to victory

Despite his big price I think it’s fair to say that Maxwil was a very popular winner; Becky and Catherine were deservedly inundated with congratulations, and I don’t think Becks could quite take it all in. The reporters present seemed highly amused that Micky had trained a point-to-point winner, and Micky gratefully accepted the various trophies and other prizes that Maxwil had won, ably assisted by an extremely cute Kierra and her friend Amalie.

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Ready for home…Catherine, Becks and Kierra

Back at the horsebox the celebrations continued, the picnic food was polished off, Maxwil had a good drink of water, Marylegs wondered what it had all been about and eventually an amazing afternoon’s work was done and everyone was ready for home. I know Becky will be eternally grateful to everyone who helped get Maxwil to Ripon and back on Sunday, and in turn we’d all like to say a massive well done to Becks and Catherine for all their hard work with the horse!

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