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Wolf ticks the right boxes on chase debut

Friday 30th September 2016

Our conditional jockey Finian O’Toole produced six year old Tickenwolf (2/1) with a perfectly timed challenge to get up right on the line on his chase debut at Hexham this afternoon.

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Having previously won at the Northumberland track over hurdles, Tickenwolf looked perfectly at home over the larger obstacles but Fin still had to be at his strongest to get Randall Orchard’s six year old Tikkanen gelding home just in front of Nefyn Bay.

It was Tickenwolf’s second success since joining us earlier in the year, having scored over timber at Wetherby in May, and it was also Fin’s first chase winner since he partnered Rosquero to victory at that same Wetherby meeting. Our Galway born rider missed three months during the summer due to a serious back injury sustained at Cartmel and it’s brilliant to see him back among the winners!

Le Deluge puts Rat Pack among the winners again

Sunday 17th July 2016

13775622_10208129481928780_7290377609227511456_n (2)The Rat Pack Racing Club only costs £20 per month to join but they’re regular visitors to the winner’s enclosure and they were celebrating again as Le Deluge (8/1) romped home under P J McDonald in the first division of the nine furlong handicap at sunny Redcar this afternoon.

Normally a front runner, Le Deluge was drawn wide in the thirteen runner field so we had little option other than to drop him in, he travelled brilliantly and made good headway up the home straight before hitting the front a furlong out and storming clear to beat Exclusive Diamond by five lengths, hopefully the handicapper didn’t see quite how far clear he was at the finish!

Le Deluge was running off a mark of 60 today but he has been rated as high as 71 in the not too distant past so there should be plenty more to come from him if we can keep him in this kind of form, there’s a 0-60 1m2f apprentices’ race on the Tapeta at Newcastle next Saturday that might be on his agenda if he comes out of today’s race in good shape as he’d just have a 6lb penalty to carry, watch this space!

Well done to the Rat Pack who enjoyed an amazing jumps season with rapidly improving chaser Auldthunder, this was their first ever Flat winner and hopefully there are many more to come!

Frederic battles to Musselburgh success

Friday 8th July 2016

Paul and Clare Rooney’s Frederic (10/1) relished the step up in trip as he got the better of a stirring duel with Maoi Chinn Tire to win the extended two mile handicap at Musselburgh this afternoon.

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The five year old son of Zamindar, a winner over hurdles at Catterick back in December 2014, was having only his sixth start on the level and lost his maiden tag in determined style, holding on well under an excellent ride by Tom Eaves to beat the Jennie Candlish trained gelding by a short head after the pair had worn down the pacesetting Giant Redwood a furlong out. 

13603759_1128169347253828_718232019499460686_o (2)Despite Frederic’s heroic efforts he wasn’t the main star on show at Musselburgh today as the Queen was on hand to help the track celebrate its 200th anniversary, her Majesty had a couple of runners on the card but both finished third under Irish jockey Donnacha O’Brien.

Earlier in the day our apprentice jockey Robbie Fitzpatrick (pictured right) partnered his first UK winner of the year with a lovely ride aboard the Garry Moss trained Henry Smith, well done to Robbie, and both of our lady amateurs had a lovely spin around a packed Chester this evening as Catherine Walton gave Baltic Prince a great ride to finish just over a length second to Echo Of Lightning with Ellaal and Becky Smith a length further back in fifth.

And we’d also like to say a massive well done to our regular Flat jockey Mr Patrick McDonald, who rode his 500th Flat winner aboard Rainbow Mist for Ann Duffield at York this afternoon, a fantastic achievement for P J!

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Photos copyright Alan Raeburn/Musselburgh Racecourse 

Derby glory for veteran Pertuis

Thursday 16th June 2016

P1640690(1)Catherine Walton brought our ten year old grey Pertuis (12/1) with a perfectly timed late run to wear down the strong travelling Chauvelin and win the Ladies’ Derby Handicap at Ripon this afternoon.

Pertuis was held up as usual but began his move down the outside as the runners turned for home, Chauvelin looked to be cruising when he hit the front under Alyson Deniel but yesterday’s Hamilton winner didn’t find as much as had seemed likely and our loveable veteran came storming past inside the distance to score by half a length. 

Since winning his maiden on the all weather at Lingfield back in November 2010, Pertuis has won at least one race every year and this was his second victory in Ripon’s Ladies’ Derby, having won it three years ago in the hands of Serena Brotherton. He’s now won eight races for us, including three at Ripon, he still loves his racing and you wouldn’t bet against him popping up again before the end of the season!

Catherine, a hugely successful point to point rider, was partnering her 39th winner under Rules and said “He was flat out most of the way but he just loves coming through horses.

“There were some top riders in the race and I’m really pleased because it’s the first time I’ve won it.”

“Pertuis is a great horse to have in the yard,” added the boss, “we bought him quite cheaply from Harry Dunlop’s about five years ago and he’s done nothing but go downhill ever since.”

Our other runner, Merchant Of Medici, finished a creditable sixth under Becky Smith.

Angel Meadow makes dream start on the Knavesmire

Friday 10th June 2016

David Green’s two year old Mayson filly Angel Meadow (66/1) made a flying start to her career as she swooped fast and late to beat Dundunah by a head in the opening five furlong Mel Brittain EBF Novice Stakes under P J McDonald at York today.

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Angel Meadow, a £30,000 purchase at this year’s Doncaster Breeze Up sale, was our first juvenile runner of the season and even though she’s been showing plenty of speed at home it’s fair to say that we were more than a little bit surprised to see her come home in front on her first visit to the racecourse!

Angel Meadow blew the start but she made really good headway a couple of furlongs out and ran on strongly to get up close home, we’re over the moon with her because a couple of the horses she beat had already posted good runs and on paper it looked a pretty decent race, but also because she’s excited us today and you never know how far she might go.

“We’ve only got five two-year-olds and she’s our first to run,” the boss told Racing UK afterwards. “She seemed to go well at home, but we’ve been here before where they’ve showed speed at home and when you get them on the track they are slow compared to some of the others.

“I’m pleased with her. She was a bit slow away, ran a little bit green, but had the right winning attitude, so I’m delighted. “Mr Green had a good National Hunt season, he owns Verko, who won four for us this winter.

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“We’re not really renowned for two-year-old winners, more three-year-old novice hurdlers! I’m not sure what we’ll do with her. We’ll see how she comes out of the race first.”

Angel Meadow is our second debut juvenile winner in just under a year, following in the footsteps of Quoteline Direct who scored first time out at Pontefract last July, that’s not a bad effort considering we’ve only had eight two year old runners in that time, so well done to the team for working so hard to prove that we can train the babies as well as the eight year old chasers!

Kisumu takes the honours in Kelso charity race

Sunday 29th May 2016

Catherine Walton’s fine form in the saddle continued as she won today’s IJF Flying Fillies charity race up at sunny Kelso on our four year old High Chaparral gelding Kisumu, owned by 2 Esses, 2 Bees, 2 Ems and a Tee, who’s still a maiden after nine races under Rules.

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13335715_1100446093359487_4039292069484610020_n (2)The race, held at the end of the Borders track’s popular Ladies’ Day card, was the culmination of some brilliant fund raising efforts by all the lady riders involved including Catherine and our head girl Becky Smith, who won the race last year on Endless Credit and took part again today aboard Late Night Drinkers & Wishful Thinkers’ Sherry (right). 

Our girls have raised over £1,000 in the past week, thanks to lots of kind donations and a charity “Pasta & Prosecco” evening at the Richard III on Thursday, all the money will go to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and Borders MS and Becks and Cath are extremely grateful to everyone who’s supported them.

Catherine has been flying lately, winning the lady amateurs’ race at Haydock on Friday aboard Shalamzar for our Maybe The Last Time Racing Club and also being crowned top Northern lady point to point rider for the sixth year in a row, well done to both of our girls and to everyone else who took part!

Photos copyright Alan Raeburn/Kelso Racecourse

Abbey storms to Cartmel success

Saturday 28th May 2016

Paul and Clare Rooney’s lightly raced ten year old Abbey Storm (4/1jf) made most of the running to land the 2m5f handicap chase at Cartmel in the hands of Henry Brooke this afternoon.

Taking it up from early leader Dystonia’s Revenge as they went down the back straight for the second time, Abbey Storm (pictured) never saw another rival and had plenty left in the tank to repel the late challenge of Mr Syntax at the top of the long finishing straight. This was his third career win from just fourteen starts so there should be a lot more to come from him yet and he ought to be one to follow over the summer. 

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It was a really well judged ride from Henry, who arguably rides Cartmel better than anyone, he partnered eight winners there last year and kicked off the new season with a double today, having won the beginners’ chase on James Moffatt’s Altruism half an hour earlier. This was Henry’s second winner for us and it was also the first winner we’ve sent out in the Rooneys’ colours.

We had four winners from eleven runners at the Lakeland track last year so it was brilliant to hit the bullseye with our first dart this year, so to speak, we’ll have more horses heading over to Cartmel on Monday and Wednesday so hopefully the track will continue to bring out the best in our team!

Catherine is Northern champion again!

Friday 27th May 2016

The 2015/16 Northern point to point season came to an end with last Sunday’s Haydon Hunt meeting at Hexham racecourse and for the sixth year running, our brilliant lady amateur Catherine Walton was crowned Northern Area Ladies’ champion jockey.

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Catherine (above), 28, rode ten winners during the campaign, including a treble at Alnwick in January on a day when she brought up her career century of winners under all codes aboard Dun Faw Good, trained by her mum Claire.

Shalamzar shines at gloomy Haydock

Thursday 26th May 2016

Catherine Walton produced yet another high quality ride as Shalamzar (16/1) swooped late to win the lady amateur riders’ handicap at a rather damp Haydock this afternoon for our Maybe The Last Time Racing Club.

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P1710942The Aga Khan bred Shalamzar, who was chalking up the third win of his career, made relentless headway up the long straight and pounced close home to beat favourite Obboorr by three quarters of a length, with last year’s winner, Merchant Of Medici, running a big race in third under our head girl Becky Smith.

Catherine was riding her first Flat winner since she partnered Phil Kirby’s Call It On to victory at Carlisle’s ladies’ evening last August and this was her first ever Flat winner for us, but those figures don’t tell the full story as she’s a fantastic rider who regularly finishes towards the top of the point to point standings and she’s now ridden 38 winners under Rules.

Shalamzar was racing off a career low mark today and this was only his third Flat run for us, but it’s clear that this mile and a half trip and a bit of give in the ground suits him perfectly and there should be plenty more to come from him yet.

Merchant Of Medici was racing off a 8lbs higher mark than when he won this race twelve months ago but he loves Haydock and he went really close to a repeat success, keeping close tabs on early leader King Of Paradise before hitting the front two furlongs out. He doesn’t always find a lot but he kept on really well under a lovely ride from Becks and he certainly looks capable of winning more races.

Tenacious Tickenwolf bags us two Wetherby titles

Wednesday 4th May 2016

We might have left it rather late, but Tickenwolf‘s (11/2) determined success in the last race at Wetherby tonight won us the West Yorkshire track’s 2015/16 trainers’ championship and also confirmed Joe Colliver as leading conditional at the course for the second consecutive season.

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Randall Orchard’s six year old son of Tikkanen was having only his second run in a handicap and his first run for us, having previously been trained by George Moore across the road at Warwick Lodge. Joe won a maiden hurdle on him up at Hexham over this trip last May and really liked him, good ground is important for him so he had plenty in his favour here and we had him as fit as we could get him after four months off the track but it looked a pretty competitive race on paper and that’s exactly how it turned out, with the front six almost in a line jumping the last.

Having been driven along on the long turn for home, Tickenwolf responded well and made steady headway all the way up the straight, delivering his challenge at the final flight as the front running Mahler And Me dropped away and staying on really well to beat Angus Glens by three lengths. Tickenwolf should improve for this run and he’s one to keep on your side through the summer jumps season!

Well done to Joe, who was partnering the 70th winner of his career and now needs just five more to ride out his claim, and well done to the whole team for their fantastic efforts which have resulted in us being the leading yard at Wetherby this season with five winners and eight runners up.

Wetherby is one of the north’s leading jumps tracks so to win their top trainer and top conditional (for the second season running) is clearly a brilliant achievement and a credit to everyone!

Minions off the mark on Summer’s evening

Tuesday 3rd May 2016

A mere seven years after his first Flat success, Oakwood Minions’ loveable little Alhaarth gelding Summerlea (7/1) finally doubled his tally as he won the two mile handicap at Catterick this evening under a cracking ride from Jack Garritty.

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Billy Garritty leads elder brother Jack into the Catterick winner’s enclosure on Summerlea

Summerlea has had his fair share of problems and he was off the track for almost two years prior to his recent reappearance at Redcar, but he’s had so little racing for one his age and we always felt that the ability, determination and tenacity were still there, and he proved it in no uncertain terms as he went eyeball to eyeball with the favourite, Eurato, for most of the home straight.

Having bowled along up with the pace for most of the first mile and a half, Summerlea picked up willingly when Jack asked him for his effort turning for home and although the runner up was closing at the finish, the line came in time and “Leo” won by a short head with six lengths back to the third.

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Before his spell on the sidelines we felt there was plenty more mileage in Summerlea’s mark both on the Flat and over hurdles and so far we’ve not seen anything to change that opinion, there ought to be plenty more to come from him yet which isn’t bad considering that he only cost £800 at the sales!

P1710627Summerlea was the first ever winner in the colours of the Oakwood Minions and it was brilliant to see so many members of our newest racing club at Catterick, membership of Oakwood Minions costs just £80 per month all inclusive, they also have four year old filly Champagne Ransom in training with us here at Oakwood and you can find out more about how to join by clicking here!

We also ran Pertuis in the same race and our popular old grey ran a stormer on his second start of the season, he was right there three furlongs out and Graham Lee felt that if the race had been over 1m6f he could have asked him to go and win his race, but he probably just didn’t quite see out the trip on his first attempt at two miles on the Flat. We’re delighted with Pertuis’ run, he looks as good as ever and it’s up to us to find him a winnable race now because he’s on a really good mark.

Summerlea’s win is a massive credit to the team and their patience and commitment, he’s almost like a family pet to us and it’s nights like this that help to make our job so rewarding!

Joe excels in Hexham hunter chase

Saturday 30th April 2016

Our eighteen year old amateur jockey Joe Wright rode the biggest winner of his career so far as he partnered Justin Landy’s Ardea to a convincing success in this evening’s Heart Of All England Maiden Hunters’ Chase at a sunny Hexham.

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Joe has already ridden eight point to point winners this season, three of which have been on Ardea, he’s currently in third place in the novice point to point riders’ championship but this was only his second winner under Rules following his success aboard our own Minella Hero, also at Hexham, last June.

Joe has shown tremendous character to bounce back from being unseated from Ardea at the last in Kelso’s Buccleuch Cup earlier this month and he produced a polished performance in tonight’s three mile contest, tracking the pacesetting The Highlander for much of the race before nipping up the leader’s inside and soon going clear on the run down to the last. Ardea won by five lengths with Joe punching the air in delight at the winning line and our lad earned rave reviews from Attheraces presenter Matt Chapman, who said that if he owned a horse “that was exactly the way I’d want it to be ridden”, high praise indeed!

Well done to Joe who is having a brilliant novice season and we’re very proud of his achievements, make a note of the name because you’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the future.

Versatile Russian Royale scores at Catterick

Wednesday 20th April 2016

P1710210 (2)Six year old Royal Applause mare Russian Royale (20/1), who won three times over hurdles last year, showed that she has still the speed to succeed on the Flat too as she won the second division of the mile and a half handicap at Catterick today under P J McDonald.

Despite being weak in the betting, Russian Royale confirmed the promise of her recent reappearance third at Pontefract as she tracked the leaders coming out of the back straight before hitting the front a furlong out and keeping on really well to beat the favourite I Am Not Here by a length and a quarter.

The form of the Pontefract race had received a significant boost just half an hour earlier as the winner, Astra Hall, hacked up in the first division.

This was the sixth win of Russian Royale’s 33 race career, her third on the Flat and her first in the colours of Ray Parry, who used to have popular dual purpose gelding Amir Pasha in training with us.

We think there should be plenty more to come from the mare under both codes on decent ground and hopefully she’s all set for another successful summer!

Another win for classy Auldthunder at Sedgefield

Tuesday 19th April 2016

P1610779The Rat Pack Racing Club’s Auldthunder (2/1f) has had an amazing season and he chalked up a well deserved fourth successive win over fences at a sunny Sedgefield this evening, easily accounting for his five rivals in the staying handicap chase in the hands of Joe Colliver.

The ground had dried out more than we’d have liked, but with Joe and Becks already having ridden in the earlier races they were happy it was soft enough for him to take his chance, and we were rewarded with another excellent round of jumping from probably the most improved horse in our yard.

Although his task was made easier by the early departure of second favourite Chanceofa Lifetime, Auldthunder travelled really well through his race and could be called the winner from some way out, cruising to the front up the back straight as his remaining rivals struggled to go with him and maintaining a clear advantage all the way to the line, eventually passing the post seven lengths clear of the runner up.

It was brilliant to see Auldthunder win tonight as he’s missed a couple of more valuable recent engagements because of the ground, and we’re made up to have found him a winnable race before he goes off for his summer break. Having started his winning spree in January off a mark of 90 he was winning off 113 tonight and his progress this winter has been remarkable and very rewarding for everyone involved with him.

Auldthunder’s win completed a quick double for Joe who was successful half an hour earlier on Kenneth Slack’s Generous Pet in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle. 

The sun shines for our Mini Open Day

26th March 2016

The annual Middleham Trainers’ Open Day was cancelled this year due to fears over bad weather because of the early Easter weekend, so it was a bit ironic that we had the nicest, sunniest Good Friday in living memory….luckily we’d already decided to have our own little Open Day and the gates here at Oakwood were open for three hours so that the public could come in and see our horses relaxing at home in the sunshine!

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P1700782It was great to see so many people making the most of the opportunity and it was lovely to have a chat with everyone who came to visit, we hope you all enjoyed yourselves and got lots of photos with your favourite horses, it was no surprise to see our stable star Just Cameron in great demand on that score!

There was plenty to see with the start of the Flat season just a couple of days away, we had three lots going up to the Low Moor so horses and jockeys were coming and going all the time and our visitors really got a chance to see a typical morning at our really busy, thriving yard.

Thanks to everyone for your kind donations to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and if anyone would like to get a little bit more involved with the yard by joining one of our great value racing clubs, you can find out more by clicking here

All being well normal service will be resumed for Good Friday 2017 when all the Middleham yards should be open to the public again, hopefully the weather will be just as kind and we hope to see you then! 

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Sixth placed Just Cameron does us proud at Cheltenham

16th March 2016

Just Cameron showed that he was no 66/1 shot as he gave Joe Colliver a fantastic ride around Cheltenham, coming home a highly respectable sixth to Sprinter Sacre in one of the best recent renewals of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Just+Cameron+Haydock+Races+wOq1GxEhEHVlOur stable star had the lowest official rating of the ten runners in today’s Grade 1 feature but he never once looked out of place in the star studded field and finished in front of two previous winners of the race in Dodging Bullets and Sire De Grugy.

Paul and Jean Chapman’s nine year old Kayf Tara gelding, who won his first three races over fences last season before chasing home today’s odds on favourite Un De Sceaux at Punchestown, jumped off prominently and was never out of the first six, sticking gamely to by far the biggest task he’s faced to date and running on up the famous hill to be beaten just over twenty lengths. 

Sprinter Sacre was absolutely awesome and was a massively popular winner, while Un De Sceaux and Special Tiara ran out of their skins in a magnificent advertisenent for the sport, but Just Cameron’s effort, which will be largely ignored by the southern based media, was a credit to everyone involved as he more than held his own in today’s elite company.

It goes without saying that we don’t often have runners in Grade 1s but Just Cameron’s performance, in a top class renewal of this great race, has absolutely thrilled us to bits, the form looks rock solid and we know now that we can campaign him at a high level next season.

Joe gave Just Cameron a fantastic ride today and absolutely excelled himself as he rode against the top jumps jockeys in an elite race for the first time.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone for their good wishes and lovely messages today, it means so much to the team and we’d like to think that Just Cameron and Joe did everyone proud, it’s been a brilliant experience and obviously we couldn’t have done it without this very, very special horse.

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Just Cameron (left) takes the fourth fence in the Champion Chase just behind eventual winner Sprinter Sacre (9) and upsides last year’s winner Dodging Bullets

Resurgent Rathlin scores at Ayr

12th March 2016

Masters Of The Hall’s Rathlin (11/2) relished the drop to the minimum trip as he beat Monbeg River by four lengths in the hands of the excellent Fin O’Toole at Ayr this afternoon.

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The classy eleven year old, a Grade 2 winner in Ireland as a novice chaser, was tackling two miles for only the fourth time since his hurdling days and he raced with bags of enthusiasm off his lowest ever handicap mark before going on just before the last and comfortably holding the favourite at bay by four lengths.

P1690684Rathlin stopped to nothing after travelling really strongly for the first circuit at Wetherby last time, we thought he was well worth a try over a shorter trip after that and the way he won today opens up loads more options for him, he’s not had that many races for a horse of his age and he ought to give his owners, including BHA chief executive Nick Rust, some good times over the coming months!

This was the ninth win of Rathlin’s career, seven of which have come over fences, but it was the first time he’s come home in front since July 2013 and we’re just really thrilled to have given him the chance to get back into the winner’s enclsoure, he’s such a lovely horse, a pleasure to train and it’s brilliant to have him in the yard. 

Young 7lb claimer Fin (right) is making a massive impression, particularly in chases, and this was his tenth winner over the larger obstacles from just 57 rides.

Prolific Roxyfet makes it five for the season

9th March 2016

French bred six year old Roxyfet (6/4) chalked up his fifth success of a fantastic season as he won the feature 2m3f handicap chase at Catterick this afternoon in the hands of his regular partner Fin O’Toole.

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Having already won four times at Sedgefield this winter, including on Sunday, Roxyfet finally showed that he can be just as effective away from the Durham course as he reeled in My Friend George and The Shepherd King coming down to the last and stayed on dourly in the testing ground to win by two and a half lengths.

Roxyfet may only be six years old but this was his seventh win over fences and the eighth win of his career, he’s been an absolute superstar for us this season having run 16 times and we’re really enjoying seeing him revelling in the soft ground and showing everyone what he’s capable of!

The only other horse who has ever won five races for us in a single jumps season was Choice Challenge way back in 1990/91 so Roxyfet has made a little bit of history today and although the handicapper is bound to catch up with him soon, we’ve given him an entry at his beloved Sedgefield next Tuesday and if he runs there, we certainly wouldn’t bet against him making it six….

Thanks to Clare Breadin for the photo!

Team Hammond in treble form at Sedgefield again!

6th March 2016

Beer Goggles (4/1), Auldthunder (3/1) and Roxyfet (3/1jf) all relished the testing conditions at a wintry Sedgefield today as we enjoyed our second successive treble at the Durham track.

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Our first two winners were ridden by a stylish Joe Colliver (above), who chalked up the 60th success of his career aboard Beer Goggles in the staying handicap hurdle and followed up half an hour later with an assured ride aboard the Rat Pack’s thriving chaser Auldthunder, who took the step up in class in his stride as he ran away with the Challenger series qualifier over an extended three and a quarter miles.

12804785_515103795364557_692005430336896427_n(1)Richard and Katherine Gilbert’s lightly raced five year old Beer Goggles still has his best days ahead of him, but he’d lost his way a little since his promising bumper form and it took a step up to the marathon 3m3f trip for him to get his head in front at the tenth attempt.

With a circuit to go it looked as if our Oscar gelding (right) would be playing for place money at best, but as the race began to take shape his stamina started to kick in12806203_10153540385153865_4292722354934141360_n(1) and from the second last he only had Moscow Presents to beat, he was always doing enough and he found a bit extra on the run to the line to win by a length and a half.

Another son of Oscar, Auldthunder might be nine years old but he’s in the form of his life and he made light of the rise in grade to land the feature £6,000 staying handicap chase, his third win in his last four races.

Last time, at Catterick, Auldthunder (right) was badly outpaced in the early stages before staying on strongly, but today he was always travelling really well and the writing was on the wall for his opponents half way up the back straight as he moved effortlessly into the lead with four to jump. He never looked in any danger from that point and produced a massive leap at the last to settle matters, coming home four lengths ahead of favourite Jac The Legend. In this sort of form there’s no telling how far Auldthunder could go, he’s scorching up the Low Moor gallops every morning and he’s giving his owners a fantastic season!

We decided against running Libby Mae on the testing ground but conditions held no fears for Richard Ball’s Sedgefield specialist Roxyfet, who12718072_515103445364592_6754628387793356089_n(1) was having his first run over hurdles since his three year old days in France.

Roxyfet (right) had already won three times at the track over fences this season and he took full advantage of his 7lbs lower hurdles mark as he reeled in Copt Hill approaching the second last and ran on nicely to win by five lengths. Fin O’Toole has ridden Roxyfet to all of his four wins this winter and our young 7lb conditional excelled on the French bred six year old once again, Roxyfet isn’t going to have much in hand of the handicapper after this win but given the right conditions there’s no reason why he can’t pull out a little bit more!

Pay The King went with plenty more zest in his race but couldn’t quicken at the finish, while we were over the moon with the debut effort of the Multi Taskers’ Westerner gelding Strike West, who finished second to Donald McCain’s Lastbutnotleast in the bumper despite jumping a couple of paths and taking the scenic route up the back straight, he can only improve for his first racecourse experience!

Well done to everyone on another fantastic day for the team, rumours that we are only going to be running our horses at Sedgefield in future are greatly exaggerated, however.

Massive thanks to Alex Royal and Meg Dent for the Sedgefield photos.

Fin’s 118/1 treble on memorable day at Sedgefield

25th February 2016

Our 23 year old conditional jockey Finian O’Toole chalked up the first treble of his fledgling career as he produced top class rides to win the three handicap chases at Sedgefield ths afternoon aboard Oscar O’Scar (100/30), Verko (7/4) and Roxyfet (9/1). 

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12743941_511504639057806_5293290534561033533_n(1)Prior to today, Galway born Fin was yet to ride a double but he put that right in spectacular fashion as he stole the show at the Durham track with a trio of perfectly judged hold up rides, starting with eight year old Oscar O’Scar off top weight in the extended 2m3f handicap chase.

Oscar O’Scar (right) had finished in the frame on all three of his runs for us prior to today, most recently on his chasing debut over two miles at Catterick three weeks ago, and today’s extra distance proved to be just what he needed to shed his maiden tag at the seventeenth attempt as he12743485_511504462391157_6168308890198879416_n(2) decisively reversed Catterick form with Discoverie, surging clear of the favourite after the second last and coasting home with sixteen lengths to spare. 

Verko (right) had rattled up a hat trick over fences towards the end of last year and had lost little in defeat the last twice, we’d hoped that David Green’s ex Irish pointer might be capable of pulling out a bit more off his current mark and he didn’t disappoint us but he left it late in the 2m5f contest as he reeled in his main market rival Finea coming down to the last and stayed on gamely up the hill to win by a length.

Richard Ball’s Roxyfet (below) took an alarming drift in the betting and was sent off at 9/1 for the concluding two mile handicap chase, but our six year old Califet gelding was always travelling eyecatchingly well and he won decisively to round off a fantastic afternoon for the yard. The writing was on the wall for the pacesetting Victor Thompson trained pair Duhallowcountry and Gin Cobbler as Roxyfet was running all over them at the top of the hill and he cruised to the front on the run down to the last, going on to win by nine lengths under his ecstatic young rider.

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“I had four good rides today and obviously I was delighted to get one winner on the board,” Fin said later. “The next thing, I’m riding my first double. And then a treble, unbelievable. I’m still buzzing!”

Fin showed maturity beyond his years as he gave all three of our chasers perfectly judged hold up rides, and the Yorkshire Post were quick to acknowledge the potential of our Galway born conditional, reporting that Fin is keen to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Irish champion jockey Davy Russell, who served his apprenticeship just up the road with Ferdy Murphy in West Witton.

P16408211(1)“I was an amateur rider in Ireland and just kept tipping away,” Fin told the Post. “I was coming to 21 and nothing was happening. 
I decided to pull my finger out, get my weight in check, give it a proper go and see I can make it. I’m quite tall. I’m 5ft 11ins so I do lots of running and go the gym. I have to keep telling myself that I am an athlete.

“It’s a positive yard and going well in every respect.”

Assistant trainer Gemma is also full of praise for the young Irishman, as well as the whole team here at Oakwood. “Finian is a super chase jockey,” says Gem. “Our team of staff and horses are super, and we couldn’t be prouder of them all.”

It goes without saying that plenty of jockeys go through their entire careers without riding a treble so we’re very proud of Fin for his achievement today, he’s a fantastic prospect and a really hard working lad who deserves his success and will ride many, many more winners.

Thanks to Alex Royal for the pics from Sedgefield.

Catherine reaches career landmark with Alnwick treble

25th January 2016

12642678_928139333907567_1300808047712988004_nSunday’s West Percy point to point meeting at Alnwick not only saw our brilliant lady amateur jockey Catherine Walton ride a superb treble, but the 28 year old also brought up a landmark 100 career wins when she partnered Dun Faw Good to victory in the Members’ race (right).

Catherine, who rode her first winner ten years ago on Be A Better Boy at Mosshouses, has had 36 winners under Rules, 25 of which have been over jumps and eleven on the Flat. Dun Faw Good, trained by her mum Claire for Alnwick Clerk of the Course Tom Oates, was her 64th winner between the flags, and the babes wasted little time in setting off towards another century as she won the Ladies’ Open race on the card aboard Knocklong for Justin Landy (below) and the Restricted on Catchamat, trained by her stepfather Jimmy.

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Catherine is one of the country’s leading point to point riders and she’s won the Northern area title five times, as well as finishing runner up in the Ladies’ National Hunt amateur championship in 2011/12. She currently leads the way in this year’s Ladies’ NH standings with five winners, three of which have been aboard Native Optimist, we’ll do all we can to help her try and win the title but for the time being we’d all like to congratulate Catherine on her outstanding achievement and we hope there are many more winners still to come!

Four in a row for gallant Caraline

16th January 2016

12606922_1023602274363329_1402692331_n(1)The dream team of Caraline (4/1) and Joe Colliver delivered once again on a freezing afternoon at Wetherby today as Give Every Man His Due’s gutsy mare fought back bravely to beat Azert De Coeur by a head in the extended 2m3f handicap chase, winning her fourth consecutive race in the process.

Caraline’s three previous chase wins had come at up to 2m1f but she’d won over slightly further in France and we didn’t have too many concerns about stepping her up to just short of two and a half miles here, we rode her the same as in her last three races and Joe brought her to challenge approaching the third last.

Having gone up a total of 33lbs for her last three runs Caraline was always going to have to knuckle down and fight it out sooner or later and Azert De Coeur, representing the Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman combination who’d struck earlier on the card with Gardefort, gave her plenty to think about in the closing stages but Caraline pulled out a little bit more towards the finish to maintain her impressive unbeaten record over fences and give us a welcome first winner of 2016.

We were pretty surprised to see Caraline sent off at 4/1 having been as short as 13/8 in the morning, we always had confidence in our mare but people obviously just didn’t pick up on the fact that it takes a lot to get Becks to agree to lead one up these days….

Kelso double rounds off a great 2015

29th December 2015

10603439_10153294553517997_5703112477648388044_n(1)We enjoyed a brilliant double up at Kelso today as Give Every Man His Due’s fantastic four year old filly Caraline (11/4f) extended her impressive winning streak to three with another comfortable success under Joe Colliver in the 2m1f handicap chase before our final runner of the year, Newroc & Co’s four year old Dalakhani gelding Maxie T (9/1), got off the mark over timber at the sixth attempt in the hands of Fin O’Toole in the concluding 2m2f handicap hurdle.

Caraline had gone up a whopping 17lbs for her two wins in the space of six days at Newcastle and Sedgefield but she really is thriving and we weren’t too worried about the step up in class for her here.

Joe held Caraline up in the early stages but they made good ground up the far side and were in front four out, the babes (Catherine) decided to make a race of it on her mount Rupert Bear but our filly jumped back into the lead at the second last and quickly settled proceedings, pulling fifteen lengths clear of eventual runner up Trust Thomas on the run in.

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This was Caraline’s third win on the bounce and also her third win from as many starts over fences, having scored in a three year old chase at Cagnes-sur-Mer late last year. Obviously she’s going to go up in the weights again but she’s a different horse this season and we hope she can stay ahead of the handicapper for the forseeable future because we love her and we love that she’s enjoying the chance to show everyone what she can do!

Well done to our senior conditional Joe who’s now on a career total of 56 winners, 20 of those have been in the past twelve months making 2015 his best year so far and that’s despite missing four months through injury.

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1919359_10153294703382997_385745442062852155_n(1)Maxie T (right), who won twice on the Flat for Mark Johnston last year, had a bit to find with a couple of today’s rivals on their running at Kelso earlier this month but he’d come on plenty for that reappearance and he relished today’s testing conditions and extra couple of furlongs to run out an easy winner of the final race on the card.

This was only Maxie T’s second run for us and he had plenty of weight to carry, but Fin, partnering his ninth winner of a brilliant year, always looked confident as the four year old cruised to the front approaching the second last and stayed on strongly to beat the favourite Alizee De Janeiro by eighteen lengths (below). He’ll stay further and he’s a pleasure to have in the yard.

Today’s double took our total number of winners for 2015 to 59, the most we’ve ever had in a calendar year, which is a credit to our fantastic, totally committed team and our brilliant, loyal bunch of owners, we’d like to thank everyone for their amazing support and we’ll be trying as hard as we can to do even better in 2016! 

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Thankyou to Alan Raeburn, Alastair Jack and Kelso racecourse for the above photos, all pictures are copyright of the aforementioned photographers.

Dancer’s little piece of history!

16th December 2015

We were out of luck with our five runners at Catterick yesterday but there was a heartwarming result in the opening amateur riders’ handicap hurdle as Danceintothelight, until recently a part of the furniture here at Oakwood, stormed to his fourth win at the track to give sixteen year old Abbie McCain her first ever winner under Rules.

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Abbie, of course, is the daughter of Cheshire based Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain, who bought Dancer for £3,000 at the Doncaster sales last month, and the granddaughter of the legendary Ginger McCain, who sent out Red Rum to win three Nationals in the 1970s.

A pony racing graduate, this was only Abbie’s second ride under Rules, having finished second on Dancer at Ludlow in November, but she put in a polished performance aboard the popular grey and the pair came home 27 lengths clear of second placed Running Wolf.

“He was amazing!”, said Abbie, “he knew exactly where he was, and what he was doing, and he jumped for fun!”

Dancer was winning for the sixth time in his career off a mark of 95, 9lbs higher than when he scored for his former owners Maybe The Last Time under Jamie Bargary at Sedgefield in April, and looks to have been rejuvenated by his move across the Pennines, although we’d still like to think that his resurgence is at least partly down to all the work Loz did with him up on the Low Moor!

Congratulations to Abbie on her first winner and well done to Dancer, he’s gone to a brilliant new home, it was lovely to see him back in the winner’s enclosure again and Gemma and his former rider Becks couldn’t wait to give him a big hug afterwards!

Veteran Tullamore Dew rolls back the years again!

13th December 2015

Tullamore Dew (9/1) belied his advancing years to beat his four younger rivals in the veterans’ chase at Carlisle under Joe Colliver this afternoon before Verko (9/4) gave us a fantastic double on the card with his third win on the bounce, running away with the two and a half mile handicap chase in the hands of Fin O’Toole.

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13 year old Tullamore Dew (above) faced a quartet of ten year olds in the three mile handicap chase, a qualifier for the £100,000 final of the brand new veterans’ series to be held on Sandown’s Tolworth Hurdle card on the first Saturday of the new year. Held up in the early stages, he took closer order as they went down the back straight and was challenging long time leader Renard with three to jump. Once he took it up he was never going to be headed and he eventually passed the post with twelve lengths to spare over recent Southern National winner Golden Chieftain, looking like he could go round again!

“We’ve got him in the twilight of his career and he’s a joy to have,” the boss said afterwards. “We’ve been exceptionally lucky with him. The Gifford family did tremendously well with him, I believe he ran at five consecutive Cheltenham Festivals which is great credit to them and the horse.

“He was pulled up Lingfield a year ago today with a fibriliating heart, he came up to us and our vet did really well with him and was confident he could get the heart right, so full credit to him. He was a different horse straight away.

“The final of this series at Sandown on January 2 is the objective, it has been for a while. Obviously the handicapper will have his say, but hopefully common sense will prevail as he’s nearly 14 and if we get a a decent enough mark we will be there.”

P1500872aVerko (right) is less than half Tullamore Dew’s age but he’s an improving young chaser who has really found his form of late and he made it three wins on the bounce with an impressive success off his highest ever handicap mark.

David Green’s six year old, who was put up 10lbs for his Sedgefield win last Friday, hit a bit of a flat spot early in the race but he loomed large behind the leading pair approaching two out, taking it up with a great jump and looking better and better the further he went, storming up the run in to beat Mansonien L’As by five lengths with a further head back to the well supported favourite Veroce.

He’s really enjoying himself at the minute and it’s lovely to watch him develop, he has lots of options open to him and hopefully he has plenty more improvement to come.

Only Orsenfoolsies put in an improved display under top weight in the novices’ handicap chase on his second run over fences, he was sent off the outsider of the four runners but he was right there at the second last before getting outpaced by the first two, who probably have a bit more scope for improvement than our boy. A clear round will help his confidence and he’s an absolute star whatever he does!

Well done to our pair of very impressive conditionals Joe and Finn, and also huge congratulations from all of us to our very own amateur, Joe Wright, who rode his first point to point winner aboard Knocklong for Justin Landy in the members’ race at this afternoon’s Ratcheugh meeting at Alnwick. Joe already has one Rules win to his name and he’s a really hard worker and a top lad who’ll hopefully enjoy lots more success around the northern pointing circuit this season.

Doubles all round as Caraline impresses again

4th December 2015

Give Every Man His Due’s four year old filly Caraline (4/9f) cruised to her second win of the week as she landed the three runner novices’ handicap hurdle at Sedgefield with the minimum of fuss under a confident Joe Colliver.

It’s only six days since Caraline won over fences at Newcastle, but today’s small field, coupled with the fact that she could race off a mark 23lbs lower than her revised chase rating, meant that we had little option other than to turn her out again and she proved far too strong for her two rivals back over the smaller obstacles. 

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With Caraline racing exuberantly, Joe was content to stalk the other pair for the first mile or so before taking closer order going up the back straight, it wasn’t long before the outsider of the trio, Bertielicious, dropped out of contention and Caraline eased to the front at the top of the hill before stretching away to beat Gunner Lindley by a comfortable fourteen lengths. She’s thriving at the minute and she holds two entries next week, things are going to get tougher for her but in this sort of form she’s going to be difficult to beat wherever she goes!

Later on the card David Green’s six year old Verko (5/2) also chalked up his second consecutive success as he charged down the extended run in to win the four runner 2m5f handicap chase in the hands of Craig Nichol, completing our third Sedgefield double of the year.

Having been put up 2lbs for winning at Hexham last month, Verko was a bit outpaced after the second last fence and looked booked for third place as Roxyfet and Total Assets kicked for home, but the picture changed on the long run for home as our Lavirco gelding ran on strongly and he had the measure of Total Assets by the time they bypassed the final fence.

Verko still isn’t quite the finished article over fences but he’s really starting to fulfil his potential and he relished the extra furlong today.

Craig rides out his claim on Verko

4th December 2015

11401544_825848067470028_3998153582800871456_nStraightline Construction’s conditional jockey Craig Nichol brought up a landmark success at Sedgefield today as he rode the 75th winner of his career aboard our very own Verko.

That means Hawick born Craig, who’s already close to having his best ever season with 20 winners on the board, has ridden out his claim, and he’s also up against Sean Bowen, Nico De Boinville and Trevor Whelan for conditional jockey of the year at the Lesters on 22nd December so things are going pretty well for him at the minute!

Craig partnered his first winner aboard Vallani for his former boss Lucinda Russell back in August 2012 and he’s been riding our horses for the last couple of years as part of his arrangement with Straightline, Verko was the fourth winner he’s ridden for us following two successes on Russian Royale and one on Rayadour.

Well done to Craig, we hope many more winners and a long and successful career will follow!

Sweet Newcastle success for Caraline

28th November 2015

Four year old Martaline filly Caraline (8/1) relished the testing conditions to run out a ready winner of the two mile handicap chase on Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth card in the hands of Joe Colliver.

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Caraline cut little ice in six hurdles runs earlier in the year but the ex French filly looked a different proposition over the larger obstacles as she sauntered into contention in the straight before taking it up before two out and coming well clear of the rest of the field, of whom joint favourite Mumgos Debut fared best, finishing twelve lengths adrift.

“She’d won over fences in France and jumped really well there,” said the boss. “Joe had an unlucky fall on Maximiser at Newbury in a big race on Friday so it’s nice to give him a winner so soon after.”

Half an hour earlier Joe Buzzeo’s The Ramblin Kid ran an absolute stormer under Daryl Jacob on his chase debut as he was beaten less than a length behind Smooth Stepper in the 2m7f novices’ handicap chase.

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The Ramblin Kid (black and white) battling away behind Smooth Stepper at the final fence

The Ramblin Kid missed the whole of last season with a condylar fracture in his leg but he shaped well enough on his return to action at Carlisle and stepped up plenty on that comeback run today, leading until the third last and battling on gamely when he was headed. The seven year old was still in with every chance after the last, but he tired close home and was agonisingly run out of the places as both Wizards Bridge and Lucematic collared him in the shadow of the post.

We’d expect The Ramblin Kid to improve again for this cracking effort, we gave him all the time he needed to recover from his injury and we won’t be rushing him but it looks like he’s got an exciting chase career ahead of him and he’s one to really look forward to over the coming months.  

Perfect hurdles start for Libby Mae….

24th November 2015

12250034_481394482068822_8943754009304073699_n(1)(1)Five year old mare Libby Mae (3/1) made an impressive start to her hurdling career as she stayed on strongly to beat 110 rated Raise A Spark by three lengths in the hands of Joe Colliver at Sedgefield this afternoon.

The field for the two and a half mile novices’ hurdle for conditional riders was reduced to seven by the withdrawal of likely favourite Girly Girl, leaving our daughter of High Chaparral as the only mare in the line up, but she willingly showed her male counterparts a clean pair of hooves as she reeled in the Donald McCain trained runner up on the extended run in with the first two well clear.

Libby Mae did everything we could have asked of her on her first run over timber, jumping nicely in her favoured conditions, and this proved to be the perfect race to kick off her novice season as she took her Sedgefield record to three wins from three starts having scored in two bumpers at the track earlier in the year.

Libby Mae is a really lovely and popular mare and she’s another very exciting prospect for her owners Paul and Jean Chapman, who also have their high class second season chaser Just Cameron in training with us. We’ll have a good think about where she goes next, she has to have ease in the ground but there are all sorts of options open to her and hopefully she’s set for an exciting campaign! 

….and a breakthrough win for Roxyfet gives us a Sedgefield double!

24th November 2015

Richard Ball’s five year old ex French gelding Roxyfet (10/1) finally took advantage of his tumbling handicap mark as he relished the underfoot conditions to run out a ready winner of the two mile handicap chase at Sedgefield under Fin O’Toole at Sedgefield today.

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It’s over two years since Roxyfet, already a veteran of 38 chase starts despite his tender years, recorded his first win over fences, which came in a three year old soft ground event at Enghien in October 2013, but it’s taken time for him to find his form for us having been given a punishing opening handicap mark of 120.

12295463_481396255401978_8307041177137767654_n(1)The Califet gelding, who also ran well at Sedgefield back in April, was lining up today off just 80 with Fin taking a further 7lbs off his back and he was always close to the pace set by Jokers And Rogues and Duhallowcountry, turning for home he looked to be going best and only had the 40/1 outsider of the nine runner field to beat, taking it up smoothly between the last two fences and coming home with three lengths to spare. 

This was Roxyfet’s first run in a 0-100 since July and his first start in testing conditions since March and the drop in class and soft ground, combined with a marked improvement in the jumping department, finally saw him visiting the winner’s enclosure on his lucky thirteenth run for us. Everything clicked for him today and we’d like to think that he can build on this, even though his overall record suggests that might not necessarily be the case!

Well done to Roxyfet, to Fin, who was partnering his sixth winner under Rules, and to the whole team on a cracking double, our last four runners have all won and things are starting to come together nicely!   

Massive thanks to Alex Royal for the photos of our horses at Sedgefield today.

IFAHR: Our Becks second for GB in Abu Dhabi

8th November 2015

Our head girl Becky Smith and her mount Haizoom gave everything on their big night in Abu Dhabi but they just couldn’t reel in Najm Alemarat, who won the prestigious HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies’ World Championship final in the hands of Swiss amateur Astrid Wullschleger.

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12227627_10153637628250675_3260668737412944381_n(1)(1)Having broken well and raced prominently on the four year old filly, a maiden after six previous races, Becks brought her mount to challenge down the outside in the home straight and they briefly looked as though they might win a furlong out, but the winner wasn’t stopping and passed the post with a length and a quarter to spare.

Becks qualified for this evening’s race by virtue of winning an IFAHR (International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing) race on dirt at Sam Houston Park in Texas back in March aboard Sand On Fire, and she’s spent the past week in Abu Dhabi attending educational conferences and sunbathing, as well as going to a rather glamorous ball for all the jockeys, including fellow UK riders Page Fuller and Ann Stokell, at the Emirates Palace Hotel last night. Becks has made some great friends amongst the worldwide lady jockeys’ community and has loved the whole experience.

Well done to Becks, we’re all so proud of her for coming second in the world, her success is richly deserved and now we can’t wait to have her back here to celebrate her achievements!

Tuscan Gold wins Pontefract stayers’ championship

19th October 2015

MHOG’s eight year old Medicean gelding Tuscan Gold gained due reward for his long season today as he clinched first place in the 2015 Pontefract Stayers’ Championship, beating Michael Scudamore’s gallant Riptide on countback after the pair ended the series level on points.

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12115508_10206280134936261_9056324519779520818_nHaving won the third race of the series back in June, Tuscan Gold went into the last of the eight race series with a two point lead over Riptide and although he trailed home last of the six runners in today’s Phil Bull Trophy, our boy picked up a point just for running in the race and that was enough for him to secure the first prize of £1,500 each to the winning owner, trainer and stable.

Tuscan Gold ran in seven of the eight rounds of this year’s stayers’ championship, which mainly comprises handicaps from 2m1f to 2m5f for horses rated 85 and below, the one exception being today’s conditions race which was won in decisive style by the 105 rated Nearly Caught. In addition to his June success, Tuscan Gold also finished a close second to the enterprisingly ridden Suprise Vendor in the opening race of the series back in April and third to Point The Toes in the longest of the eight races, the Pontefract Marathon Handicap, over an extended 2m5f a couple of weeks later. 

We’ve had to keep him in training a bit lomger than we would have liked so that he could run in the last three races of the series, he’s not really been at his best of late but Tuscan Gold has earned his little place in the record books and we’re very proud of him! 

Joe picks up Wetherby conditionals’ prize

14th October 2015

12081491_981144771942413_714067484_n(1)We might not have had any joy with our Wetherby runners this afternoon but we did pick up one trophy, courtesy of our senior conditional jockey Joe Colliver, who was presented with his award for being top conditional at the track last season.

Joe rode three winners at Wetherby during 2014/15, starting with Alderbrook Lad, who won a novice hurdle at the track last May. He also partnered Pay The King to victory on his first run for us in a two and a half mile novice hurdle in October, before guiding Sherry to her debut bumper win in January.

In all we had five winners at Wetherby last season, with Rayadour and Stickleback also finishing in front, and we were only just pipped to the top trainer’s title by Sue Smith, who had six. We’re really pleased for Joe, who received a glass trophy and a bottle of champagne for his efforts, and we hope that plenty more awards will follow for the Colliver trophy cabinet!

Side by side with an Olympic legend

31st August 2015

The last race on Ripon’s Bank Holiday card attracted an unusually large amount of interest for a novice amateur riders’ handicap as Team GB Olympic cycling legend Victoria Pendleton had her first ride under Rules aboard Royal Etiquette for Lawney Hill.

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Victoria, a multiple world cycling champion and double Olympic gold medallist, is aiming to ride in next year’s Foxhunters Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and she almost made a dream start to her race riding career, only being denied in the final strides by Alan Berry’s 33/1 outsider Jordaura, who was giving jockey Tom Greenwood his first ever winner.

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Jordaura (blue cap) pips Royal Etiquette (cheekpieces) at Ripon

We’ve been keen to support the Betfair novice Flat riders’ series ever since its inception and we ran Chocolate Diamond, who set off to try and make all under Joe Wright but was soon reeled in by Royal Etiquette and eventually faded into last place as the leaders fought out a thrilling finish in front of the big crowd, most of whom had stayed to see what all the fuss was about!

Blue Hussar swoops late for Ripon success

26th September 2015

Blue Hussar (16/1) took advantage of a drop in class as he came with a storming late run to land the mile and a half handicap at Ripon in the hands of Steve Drowne this afternoon.

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The Howard family’s four year old Montjeu gelding has slipped down the ratings since joining us from Ballydoyle last autumn and he’s taken a bit of time to find his level, but this first run in a 0-85 and the addition of cheekpieces did the trick for him as he raced just off the generous pace before making good headway two out, surging to the front just inside the distance and staying on well to beat favourite Pamushana by two lengths.

This run clearly wasn’t anywhere close to his early three year old form, when amongst other good efforts he finished fourth in the Lingfield Derby Trial, but it’s a very encouraging step in the right direction and we’re really hopeful that he can go on and win again in this sort of form.

We’re absolutely delighted for the Howards, who lost the highly promising Head Of Steam last year, it’s great to see them in the winner’s enclosure and with two year old Zebedee colt Dougal Magic also carrying their colours at the moment, more success shouldn’t be far away!

As for Blue Hussar we’ll obviously be looking for another opportunity for him as soon as possible, he’ll go on soft ground, this trip is his optimum and with a rating in the mid to high 80s he might just sneak into the November Handicap at Doncaster, you never know!

Yard favourite Master Of The Hall retired

11th September 2015

Our extremely popular and classy hurdler/chaser Master Of The Hall has been given an honourable retirement at the age of eleven.

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Happy times at Market Rasen after Master Of The Hall’s hurdles win under Joe Colliver in August 2014

Master Of The Hall, or Humphrey as he has become known to everyone in Middleham, won eight of his first fourteen races for Nicky Henderson, achieving a rating of 151 over fences in the process. Having won a maiden point to point in Ireland he spent a season novice hurdling before proving himself to be one of the best novice chasers in the country during the 2010/11 season, winning three times including the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot,  and finishing a highly respectable fourteen lengths sixth to Bostons Angel in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

P1470179The following season Master Of The Hall produced probably his best two chasing performances, beating former Betfair Chase runner up Tamarinbleu and Grade 1 winner Nacarat in testing ground at Aintree before winning Kelso’s Premier Chase, where he gave weight and a beating to both According To Pete, who had just won the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, and 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs, who was rated 160.

Master Of The Hall cost £34,000 at the Doncaster sales in May 2013, at that time we only had around 25 horses in the yard and he was by far the highest rated of those, he would carry the colours of Nick Rust’s Masters Of The Hall and we gave him his first run in the Charlie Hall Chase.P1570678

Ridden by Dominic Elsworth, Humphrey was sent off the 66/1 outsider at Wetherby but we set out to make the running, he jumped superbly and was still in front but just starting to run out of steam when he took a crashing fall at the third last and stayed down for some time. His confidence was badly affected, and when he was tailed off and pulled up after only six fences in the Rowland Meyrick later that season, we decided that his future would have to lie back over hurdles.

Humphrey’s rating dropped quickly but he started to show much more enthusiasm in the hands of his new regular partner Joe Colliver. He finished a good second at Market Rasen in May 2014, after which we bought him back at the following week’s Doncaster sales, and as if to immediately repay our faith in him he finally conquered his demons two weeks later, winning in good style at the Lincolnshire track under an excellent hold up ride from Joe.

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In the winner’s enclosure again with Jamie Bargary and Sue at Hexham earlier this year

P1570703The team here at Oakwood worked incredibly hard with Master Of The Hall and Gemma in particular never lost faith in him, while Joe Colliver’s part in the gelding’s rejuvenation also cannot be overstated as he went on to win a further three handicap hurdles, including a £16,000 race at Market Rasen when he really rolled back the years.

Humphrey’s confidence over fences never really fully came back but it was very rewarding to see him run some nice races over the larger obstacles towards the end of his career, we would have loved to see him win another chase but it wasn’t to be although he wasn’t out of the first four in any of his six chase starts this year, just failing to find something extra at the business end.

A small leg injury has brought about a slightly premature end to his career but he doesn’t owe us anything and although we’ll miss having him in the yard, he’s only moving a couple of miles down the road to East Witton where he should enjoy a long and happy retirement with his number one fan Sue Foster.

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Master Of The Hall was only with us for just over two years but he brought a real touch of class to the yard at a difficult time and everyone here has a soft spot for him, it’s been a real rollercoaster of emotions, headaches and heartwarming moments, at the end of the day though he was lucky to survive his Wetherby fall and everything he’s done after that has been a bonus.

Master Of The Hall ran in 44 races under Rules, winning eleven times, six of which were over hurdles and five over fences, and he earned over £116,000 in win and place prize money.

Lacerta loses his maiden tag at Newcastle

4th September 2015

Bob Beattie’s Astronomer Royal gelding Lacerta (20/1) appreciated the drop in grade to run out a ready winner of the mile and a half handicap at Newcastle this afternoon under an excellent ride from our apprentice Robbie Fitzpatrick.

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Having his ninth race off a career low mark of 52, Lacerta settled nicely in behind the leaders and was perfectly positioned to launch his challenge down the outside when Robbie asked him to go and win his race three furlongs out. The response was impressive as the four year old soon put daylight between himself and his pursuers and he passed the post just over two lengths clear of Gabrial’s Hope.

Lacerta hasn’t been the easiest to train, we got him as a two year old but he didn’t see the racecourse until he was three and just when we thought we’d finally got him right he finished lame at Pontefract six weeks ago. Thankfully it didn’t hold him up too much and after a confidence boosting run at Thirsk last time, he’s been working well at home and it’s very rewarding for the team, who’ve been so patient and worked so hard with him, to see him deliver the goods on the track.

161(1)We’re also over the moon for Lacerta’s lovely owner Bob Beattie, this was Bob’s first winner, and it was also a landmark day for Robbie who was riding his first winner for the yard since officially becoming our apprentice a few weeks ago.

22 year old Kilkenny born Robbie has now ridden four winners from very limited opportunities this season, and 24 in total, he’s riding beautifully at the minute, he gave Lacerta a really good ride today and he almost won the next race on another 20/1 shot for good measure as well!

Bob Boldly goes where he’s never gone before!

31st August 2015

11988409_890219561055471_3316404060091886517_n(2)MHOG2’s Verglas gelding Boldbob (12/1) made every yard under Fin O’Toole to win the first race of his career in the juvenile hurdle at Cartmel this afternoon.

Boldbob, an £18,000 purchase at the 2014 Doncaster breeze up sales, didn’t make much impact in eight Flat races up to two miles but his family have always needed time and we were very hopeful that the switch to hurdling would bring about some improvement, although today’s win even took us a bit by surprise!

Our three year old grey was well beaten after making the running at Market Rasen on his hurdling debut four weeks ago and he again took quite a keen hold around the undulations of the Lakes track today, but despite his early exertions he stayed on really pleasingly up the long run in to beat Secrets Safe by a length and a half, suggesting that there’s plenty more to come when we can get him to settle better.

This wasn’t the strongest of races by any means but we’re absolutely over the moon for young Boldbob, who’s still a big baby, and all his owners, today will have taught him a lot and hopefully this was the start of an exciting jumps career for him!

Boldbob was Fin’s second winner under Rules and our 10lb conditional jockey looked all set to make it three just over an hour later on Alderbrook Lad, who was racing off a career high mark in the feature handicap chase but produced an impeccable round of jumping, taking lengths out of his rivals at every fence and swinging into the home straight with a four length advantage.

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Boldbob with Tab before setting off for Cartmel today

On this occasion however the old adage that jumping is the name of the game didn’t ring true, as Cartmel’s famous four furlong run in agonisingly took its toll and Alderbrook Lad was swamped in the last fifty yards, eventually being run out of the places in fourth, just two lengths behind the winner Dreamsoftheatre.

It was another fantastic performance by Alderbrook Lad who is simply too honest for his own good, he was bumped up 6lbs for finishing second at Southwell last time which effectively cost him the race today but he tries so hard that he almost managed to defy his new mark and we can only hope that the handicapper leaves him alone this time.

Correggio cruises to third Pontefract win

26th July 2015

Correggio (7/4) eased to his second success of 2015 as he came home six lengths clear of a depleted field under red hot apprentice Jack Garritty in the Pontefract rain this afternoon.

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Forty Forty Twenty’s five year old Bertolini gelding finished fifth in the same race twelve months ago on rattling quick ground which wouldn’t have been ideal for him, so we were glad to see the rain arrive even though most of the Pontefract racegoers probably weren’t!

Racing off a 2lb lower mark this time around with his in-form rider claiming 3lbs, Correggio looked nicely handicapped today and his chances were certainly helped by the field being reduced to five runners, with the overnight favourite Cornborough being among the three who didn’t take part.

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Correggio (Jack Garritty) and Chocolate Diamond (Callum Shepherd) at Pontefract today

Jack, who won yesterday’s prestigious and valuable International Stakes at Ascot on Heaven’s Guest and followed up with a treble on today’s card, always had Correggio handy and the race panned out perfectly as they tracked the leading pair of Save The Bees and San Cassiano before easing to the front a furlong out and staying on strongly to win by a commanding six lengths. Correggio loves it round Pontefract and has now won three times from nine starts there, we’ll obviously be looking to go back there again with him and there are a couple more races for him there before the end of the season so hopefully the handicapper won’t overreact to this and give him a chance to win again.

Quoteline Direct upsets the odds for Pontefract debut success

17th July 2015

DSC_3840(1)John Wilson’s Quoteline Direct (22/1) got the better of a thrilling duel with Lady Argentum to make a winning debut at Pontefract this evening in the hands of late replacement Andrew Mullen and give us our first two year old winner of the season.

Drawn right on the inside of the ten runner field, Quoteline Direct broke well and raced just off the pace behind the leading group, headed by Flying Pursuit, before picking up really nicely as they straightened up for home. He had joint favourites Lady Argentum and Bing Bang Bong to beat but the latter found all kinds of trouble in running as the front two battled away and Quoteline Direct got on top towards the finish to win by a neck.

Obviously we’re absolutely over the moon to have hit the bullseye with only our second two year old runner of the season and hopefully Quoteline Direct won’t be the only one of our youngsters to visit the winner’s enclosure this summer!

For the record Quoteline Direct, who’s ridden regularly at home by Catherine Walton, is our first juvenile winner since Hatti won a nursery at Redcar in September 2013, and we’ve spent the evening scratching our heads over this one, but we don’t think we’ve had a first time out two year old winner since El Rey Royale won this exact same race eleven years ago….unless anyone can remember any different…. 

Another Hamilton win for flying filly Cadmium!

17th July 2015

11156289_10205123582423171_7641223719531463835_n(1)Oakwood Rainbow’s four year old filly Cadmium (7/1) doesn’t know how to run a bad race and she got back to winning ways under Jack Garritty in tonight’s apprentice handicap at Hamilton.

Producing her trademark burst of speed, Cadmium (right) took it up just before the furlong pole and was never going to be overhauled from that point, running on really well to beat favourite Fantasy Gladiator by three quarters of a length. It’s  the fifth win of her career, her third win from just seven runs since she joined us back in April and her second over this course and distance, and with her running style making it difficult for the handicapper to get a grip on her, hopefully there will be a few more to come!

Cadmium’s success kicked off a quick 183/1 across the card double for us with Quoteline Direct winning the opener at Pontefract, we thought we had a great chance of making it a treble on the night but although he’s in really good form at the minute, Diddy Eric proved no match for a couple of completely unexposed three year olds in the concluding 1m1f handicap. 

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Just Paul and Katie “the Diva” Dowson (as christened by Catherine Walton), winners of the Abode Hotel best turned out award at a scorching hot Chester last night

First for Fin as Alderbrook Lad jumps for fun at Cartmel

28th June 2015

The amazing Alderbrook Lad (9/4jf) didn’t put a foot wrong as he jumped and galloped his four rivals into submission at Cartmel this afternoon, giving his young jockey Fin O’Toole the first Rules winner of his career in the process.

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Joe Colliver had partnered the nine year old to all six of his previous wins for us but with Joe currently sidelined by a wrist injury, our young conditional Fin well and truly stepped up to the plate, giving his mount a beautifully judged front running ride which totally belied his inexperience. Fin dictated matters from the off and Alderbrook Lad proved a more than willing partner, producing a hugely impressive error-free round of jumping which gained him a length or two at most of his obstacles.

11692573_941322229223587_1164062138119606817_n(1)Challenged four out by Witness In Court, our boy responded by meeting the next two fences on a perfect stride and immediately getting all his rivals hard at work. Definite Ruby was the only possible danger on the long run after the last but Alderbrook Lad (right) found more and more for his young rider and they passed the post five lengths clear.

We’re so pleased for Fin who has worked really hard since joining us earlier this year, he’d previously had 16 rides under Rules without success but a £12,500 handicap chase isn’t a bad race to ride your first winner and we’re sure this will be the first of many for the really likeable lad from County Galway, well done Fin Dawg!!

As for Alderbrook Lad, what can we say, he was racing off his highest ever chase mark of 130 today and he took it in his stride, he’s never stopped improving throughout his time with us and no matter what we throw at him he just keeps astounding us. He’s a joy to train, he gives his all every time and he’s been right at the heart of our upturn in fortunes over the last 18 months or so. He owes us nothing, we owe him a lot and we absolutely love him to bits.

Thanks to Phillip Hudson for the photo from Cartmel today.

Vodka hits the spot on chase debut

21st June 2015

Mike and Eileen Newbould’s five year old Vodka Wells (6/5f) made an eyecatching chase debut for us up at Hexham today as he comfortably beat two previous winners under an excellent ride from Jamie Bargary.

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Vodka Wells, just touched off at the same track over hurdles a couple of weeks ago on his first run for us, jumped fluently in the main and was always in touch with the leaders, he fiddled his way over the third last which cost him a couple of lengths but he was right upsides again as they turned for home and eased to the front approaching the final fence. A good jump there sealed matters as Jamie rode him out to beat Gold Futures by just over two lengths.

York win for Correggio gives us a Saturday treble!

13th June 2015

10999881_889231364484495_8129517060294764153_nCorreggio (8/1) held off the strong late challenge of First Sitting to win the nine furlong handicap at York in the hands of P J McDonald this afternoon to give us our third winner of a brilliant day.

A close sixth in the same race last year under Jason Hart, Correggio was racing off a 10lbs lower mark yesterday and he took full advantage as he quickened past Hernando Torres with just over a furlong to run before keeping on in determined style to beat the well supported favourite by a neck

This was the third, and certainly the most valuable, win of the five year old Bertolini gelding’s career, having previously scored twice at Pontefract over a mile and 1m2f. Prior to yesterday he hadn’t done too much racing on soft ground so we were a bit concerned about the overnight rain but he handled conditions well to give us our first York winner since Alsahil won an apprentices’ handicap on the Knavesmire in the hands of James Davies back in September 2011 at the rewarding odds of 33/1. Correggio was also giving Lauren Steade her first winning lead up for us, well done to Lauren!

Correggio’s win completed a fantastic 109/1 treble on the day for us after the earlier Hexham successes for Minella Hero and Master Of The Hall. We’ve also passed last year’s tally of twelve to give us our highest ever total of Flat winners in a season, at a strike rate of 16%, and we’ve already amassed our highest ever win prize money total on the Flat….and it’s only mid June! These are good times at Oakwood, the team’s hard work is really paying off and we hope you’ve been backing a few of these winners!

A day to remember for Joe as Minella Hero wins at Hexham

13th June 2015

Our young amateur Joe Wright won’t forget today in a hurry as he rode his first ever winner under Rules aboard Minella Hero (5/2) in the opening handicap hurdle at Hexham.

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Minella Hero got off the mark over hurdles when he dead heated with Lilly’s Legend at Wetherby last month, but there was never any question of such a close finish today as the seven year old travelled supremely well in the leading group of three or four before moving stylishly to the front after the second last and stretching right away to win by twenty lengths, getting a big pat on the neck from his ecstatic rider as they passed the winning post!

1461887_889235971150701_207710845030307305_n(1)Owned by Richard Ball and Darrel Lees, Minella Hero has now won four times in his 13 race career, the step up to around three miles has been the making of him over timber and today’s win suggests that there’s plenty more to come from him yet.

Seventeen year old Joe, from Carlisle, was having only his third ride under Rules and his second over hurdles but he did everything right and he’s understandably chuffed to bits tonight! “I’m over the moon to ride my first winner under Rules”, says Joe (pictured right), who learned his trade in the pony racing arena and worked for Phil Kirby before joining our team last year. “I’d just like to say a big thanks to everyone at Micky Hammond Racing and especially to Kate Walton.”

It’s not every day you ride your first winner and we’d like to say a big well done to Joe, we’re sure this will be the first of many for a really likeable and hard working lad who’s a pleasure to have around the yard. 

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Becks (third from right) and Catherine (fourth from right) before the Queen Mother’s Cup at York, 13th June 2015

Medici and Becks storm to Haydock win

28th May 2015

Our in-form lady amateur Becky Smith chalked up another win for the team as she guided John Wilson’s Merchant Of Medici (11/4f) to his second Haydock success in the space of seven days.

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Becks, who won on Minella Hero at Wetherby last week, got a great start on Medici and tracked her good friend Catherine Walton, who was aboard Eric Alston’s Tenhoo, through the early stages. With none of the other runners mounting a challenge, the pair came clear in the home straight but Medici, racing off just a 1lb higher mark than last week, always looked to be going best and when Becks sent him into the lead a furlong and a half out he quickly settled the issue, coming home four lengths clear.

After four years without a win Medici has now won twice in a week, he’ll obviously face a big hike in the weights but he’s still so well handicapped on his old form and he’s in such great heart at present that he might just defy whatever the handicapper does to him.

Well done to Medici, and also to our Becks who was riding her seventh Rules winner today and is already making up for all that lost time last year!

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Merchant Of Medici and Becks beat Tenhoo in the lady amateur riders’ race at Haydock this afternoon

Joe shines in the Lake District sun with sparkling Cartmel double

25th May 2015

Joe Colliver was the star of the show as Cartmel’s first meeting of the year was blessed with glorious sunshine and a huge crowd today, our conditional jockey winning the feature veterans’ chase aboard Tullamore Dew (6/1) and also the extended 2m5f handicap chase with a power-packed ride on Alderbrook Lad (15/2) to complete his first ever double.

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166(1)Alderbrook Lad, owned by Masters Of The Hall, is an absolute legend, he won five times last year but despite plenty of near misses he hadn’t won over fences since January 2014 so he certainly wasn’t winning out of turn today! He likes to be up with the pace and Joe soon had him bowling along in front, they weren’t done any favours by the riderless Sharp Rise who was a constant hinderance but otherwise everything went to plan until twelve year old Cruchain came cruising past four out, seemingly going well.

Joe didn’t panic, Alderbrook Lad continued to jump beautifully and they were back upsides jumping the last, from that point Cruchain began to weaken and we had another rival, Presenting Junior, to worry about on the long run for home. Martin Todhunter’s runner was on a five timer having won a Listed handicap chase at Ayr’s Scottish National meeting last time out and he threw down a strong challenge to Alderbrook Lad on the run in, but our boy was never going to let him get past, digging deep and answering all Joe’s urgings for a one length win with a further 14 lengths back to the third. Alderbrook Lad was Joe’s first winner of the season, just as he was in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

BHA chairman Nick Rust was on hand to see his horse land his biggest win to date and then give an interview to Racing UK, while the boss spoke eloquently and passionately to the racecourse presenter about the widening gulf between northern and southern racing.

240(1)Half an hour later we were back in the winners’ enclosure as 13 year old Tullamore Dew relished every yard of the 3m6f trip on his yard debut in the veterans’ chase.

Having his first start for us, Tullamore Dew (right), placed three times at Cheltenham Festivals, was held up in the early stages by Joe but he jumped really well and a fluent leap at the fifth last took him right into the race. Having made further headway down the back he was left with the race at his mercy when Mostly Bob got rid of James Best three out, Hinton Indiana briefly threatened but Joe drove Tullamore Dew right out and they passed the post eight lengths clear.

We’d like to thank everyone for their good wishes at Cartmel today, it’s such a friendly place and we were overwhelmed with all the congratulations from racegoers as we completed a 59/1 double at the track’s first meeting of the year. It was an unforgettable afternoon for the team and for Joe who rode the first double of his career in two highly competitive handicap chases!

We’d also like to extend our sympathy to connections of Gunna Be A Devil who collapsed and died shortly after finishing fifth in Tullamore Dew’s race.  

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The country’s most in-form trainer airs his views to the Cartmel crowd

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Alderbrook Lad with Hannah at Cartmel today

Becky rounds off IJF fundraising campaign with Kelso win

24th May 2015

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Our head girl and amateur jockey Becky Smith has been working tirelessly to raise money for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund since a serious knee injury forced her to miss the whole of 2014, and the charity race at Kelso today was the final piece in the jigsaw as Becks rode Mike and Eileen Newbould’s highly promising novice hurdler Endless Credit in the 1m6f Flat contest.

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Needless to say they won, we’d like to thank Mike and Eileen for allowing their horse to take part and also Littlethorpe Park Racing for letting four year old Rock Of Gibraltar gelding Strait Run compete in the hands of leading amateur and point to point rider Catherine Walton.

Well done to everyone who rode in the race for their fundraising efforts, these girls have raised so much for the IJF and it’s down to events like this that projects like Jack Berry House in Malton have been able to go ahead, thanks to everyone who sponsored Becks and thanks to Kelso for putting the race on.

End of a long road back for our Becks

23rd May 2015

P1460263It was nearly Christmas 2013, she’d just finished a close second on Summerlea at Catterick and things were looking good for our head girl Becky Smith, and then she had a riding accident, and in that one instant a whole year of her riding career was taken away from her.

The fact that Becks remained outwardly positive while she couldn’t ride for the majority of 2014 speaks volumes for her character and general outlook on life, she remained an invaluable and integral part of Team MH throughout her recuperation and there were a few tears in more than a few eyes when she partnered her beloved Danceintothelight into third place over hurdles on her comeback ride, her first race ride for 14 months, at Catterick back in February.

Typical of Becks, she already had more irons in the fire and she hit the Racing Post headlines with her winning ride aboard Sand On Fire in a valuable Arabian-bred IFAHR race at Sam Houston Park,  Texas in March. Determined to pursue her riding career, Becks is really grateful to the local trainers and owners who are putting her up on their horses in amateur riders’ races and she partnered her first Rules winner since her injury when our Minella Hero dead-heated in a staying handicap hurdle at Wetherby this week.

Tomorrow at Kelso, Becky will ride Mike and Eileen Newbould’s Endless Credit in a 1m6f charity race in aid of the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. It goes without saying that Becks is keen to give something back to the charity that helped her get through 2014 and in keeping with her all action personality she’s kept herself busy this year raising all the money she can for the IJF alongside her work for our yard.

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Becky wins aboard Sand On Fire at Sam Houston Park, Texas earlier this year

Becks’ charity night and auction at the Saddle Room restaurant at our old yard in Tupgill Park was a massive success, raising aroind £5,500, and thanks to her amazingly generous friends she’s also raised over £1.250 via her JustGiving page. Tomorrow is the culmination of Becks’ fund raising efforts and she’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s donated, every single penny is so much appreciated and will go towards making sure that other jockeys who suffer serious injuries are properly looked after and supported.

The result of the charity race at the Borders track will be almost academic but something tells us that Becks might just want to win…. 

Medici finally ends his long wait for a win

22nd May 2015

After just over four years, 43 races and 25 different jockeys, eight year old Merchant Of Medici finally came home in front again at Haydock today to give his owner John Wilson his first ever winner.

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Merchant Of Medici (right) and Paul Hanagan pass the post with a length and quarter to spare over Minstrel Lad at Haydock today

013(1)Medici has been one of our best handicapped horses for some time but he’s found it extremely difficult to take advantage of his slipping handicap mark and he’s finished runner up six times since his last win. He seemed to go well around Haydock last year, though, so we took him back across the Pennines today and despite racing from 5llbs out of the handicap he travelled beautifully in the hands of the forner champion jockey and turned for home in fourth place just a couple of lengths off the pace set by Save The Bees.

Daisy Boy hit the front a couple of furlongs out but Medici was right on his tail and strong driving from Paul saw our boy take it up a furlong and a half out, it was a long run in but they were always doing enough and stayed on to beat Minstrel Lad by just over a length.

Medici will probably go up around 8lbs for this win but we have him entered in a 1m4f lady amateurs’ handicap back at Haydock next Thursday and we could run him there under a penalty and claim off him which would effectively mean he’d run off almost the same mark, we’ll see how he’s come out of today’s race first of course but first impressions, as always with Medici, are that he’s hardly had a race and that he’s taken it all in hs stride!

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We’re absolutely delighted for John Wilson as his horses went so close last season without winning, it’s something of an understatement to say that Medici wasn’t winning out of turn today and he certainly made a big impression on his rider. “Can I take him home?” asked Paul Hanagan, who was seen to really good effect on Medici. “He was a real pleasure.”

Minella’s our Hero and Becky’s our heroine!

21st May 2015

11215773_10206896823803199_3754970205301683169_nOur fantastic run of recent form continued as our head girl Becky Smith guided Minella Hero (13/2) to a thrilling dead heat with Lilly’s Legend in the lady riders’ handicap hurdle at Wetherby on Thursday afternoon.

Jointly owned by Darrel Lees, who also has Sedgefield winner Typhon in training with us, and Richard Ball, Minella Hero had had a nice little break since disappointing slightly at the same track back in March and he came back nice and fresh to try a new trip of three miles and a furlong. Becks always had him up with the pace, didn’t panic when Lilly’s Legend went for home off the final bend and gave the Old Vic gelding a good strong ride to make up three lengths on the run-in and dead heat on the line.

This was only the twelfth race of Minella Hero’s career and we think there ought to be more to come from him, he has now won three times and this was his first win since joining us from Sarah Humphrey at last year’s Doncaster autumn sales.

Becky was riding her first winner under Rules since partnering Richard Guest’s Pobs Trophy to victory at Market Rasen in July 2013, this was her sixth winner in total and it’s fantastic to see her back among the winners after she had such a tough time with her knee injury last year. Well done to Becks from all of us, let’s hope it’s the first of many! 

Photo copyright Phill Andrews.

Impressive Politbureau romps home at Ayr

20th May 2015

Politbureau (3/1) stormed to his third win of the year, posting a career best Flat effort in the process, in the staying handicap at Ayr this afternoon.

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11255153_575477912555906_855490271_n(1)Held up as usual by P J, Politbureau was the only one still on the bridle two furlongs out and he only had to be briefly shaken up to come right away from his rivals, beating Hatton Springs by seven lengths with the very well backed Salford Dream a further three lengths back in third. Politbureau was so impressive today, he has absolutely blossomed over the last couple of months and he just seems to keep getting better and better, he’s proving a real trailblazer for our racing club Maybe The Last Time and he really is amazing us with his performances on the track.

Membership of Maybe The Last Time costs just £80 per month, all inclusive, and the club also have dual purpose horses Kathlatino, Summerlea and recent Sedgefield winner Danceintothelight in training with us, so you’ll have runners all year round and you’ll also have loads of fun and some fantastic experiences along the way….see our club page for more details!

How ace is Politbureau?

Our very own Braveheart storms to big Hamilton win

15th May 2015

P1560729Only Orsenfoolsies (14/1) defied his highest ever Flat handicap mark to make all and notch a valuable success in tonight’s £16,000 Braveheart Handicap at Hamilton in the hands of P J McDonald.

It was a real landmark day for racing in Middleham as our town was responsible for winners all over the UK, headed up by Mark Johnston’s spectacular four timer on the Yorkshire Cup card on the Knavesmire. Mark also had a winner down at Newmarket, as did Simon West with Amood, while at Hamilton, Dressed In Fur had already scored for Karl Burke before Only Orsenfoolsies lined up against nine rivals for the mile and a half feature.

Foolsie (pictured right) has come back in earlier this year and his comeback run at Catterick put him spot on for a crack at a good prize, this was the best race we’ve ever run him in on the Flat but we think he’s still improving with age and we diverted him here from York so that he got his soft ground which is pretty much essential for him.

Having made all for both of his wins last year we set out to do the same here, P J had him in front straight from the stalls and they had Newmarket raider Min Alemarat for company for much of the first mile. Shaken up two furlongs out Foolsie set sail for home and soon had the rest in trouble, Dark Ruler stayed on best to press us hard towards the finish but our boy was always doing enough and held well to win by a neck with Pearl Castle five lengths back in third.

It’s the sixth win of Only Orsenfoolsies’ 27 race career, four of which have been on the Flat and two over timber, including the 2012 Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock which was worth almost £10,000 to his owners. He’s been a real dual purpose money spinner for his connections and has been an absolute star for us with those two high profile successes and a string of other excellent performances under his belt.

The boss was relieved to see that the Hamilton ground had stayed on the soft side long enough for Only Orsenfoolsies to take his chance. “The ground is a key factor in this horse’s success”, he says. “He’s improved yet again and we’ll have to wait and see what the handicapper does before we decide where to take him next, but soft ground is so important.” 

Head girl Becky often has the last word and we’ll give it to her again here: “What a servant he has been to the team, the definition of a consistent racehorse. He’s so genuine and game. He loves his job which makes us love ours even more.”

Just Cameron thrills us to bits with massive Punchestown run

30th April 2015

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Just Cameron was having his first run outside handicap company, and Joe Colliver was having his first ride in a Grade 1, but the pair produced a truly magnificent effort as our stable star got closer to Un De Sceaux than any other horse has done this season at Punchestown this evening.

11204688_901132049943686_1533430182_oThe highly progressive Just Cameron has been a revelation since we sent him novice chasing in February, with two verdicts over recent Ayr Listed winner Duke Of Navan and a hugely impressive win under top weight at Haydock on his handicap debut under his belt, so we took the bold decision to step him right up to the top level and run him in the Ryanair Chase at Ireland’s premier jumps festival where he lined up against probably the most exciting novice chaser in training.

Having taken a dramatic fall when way out in front on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse, Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux has lit up the novice division this season with a string of scintillating, bold jumping, front running victories, including a pillar to post success in the Arkle at Cheltenham when the gallant God’s Own, winner of Exeter’s Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup earlier in the season and rated 160, chased him home but crossed the line six lengths in arrears.

Un De Sceaux’s scalps since his Fairyhouse tumble include Clarcam, subsequent winner of the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree, who finished 15 lengths adrift of Ruby Walsh’s mount in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown in January, with Gilgamboa, who went on to win a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting, just behind in third. At Cheltenham the horses trailing in Un De Sceaux’s wake included not just God’s Own but also Vibrato Valtat, England’s top novice of the season, who won the Grade 1 Henry VII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December, the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton and Warwick’s Kingmaker Novices’ Chase to earn a rating of 162, but could only get to within 13 lengths of Un De Sceaux in the Arkle.

Just Cameron was rated 148, 20lbs inferior to Un De Sceaux, after his Haydock win so his task was pretty daunting, but we’ve never been afraid to have a go and apart from a half decent handicap mark, we didn’t have anything to lose. Paul and Jean Chapman’s eight year old was sent off the 16/1 third favourite after the late withdrawal of Smashing, with Un De Sceaux the 1/10 favourite and our fellow UK raider Melodic Rendezvous on 12/1. Cameron was full of himself in the preliminaries; Joe, sporting a large piece of black tape across the backside of his breeches due to sponsorship issues, jumped on board and they were off to the start.

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Any thoughts that the four outsiders were going to let Un De Sceaux have it all his own way and fight a private battle for second place were soon dispelled as our pair of JC’s set off in hot pursuit of the favourite, jumping the first few fences a couple of lengths in arrears. Un De Sceaux has an unbelievable cruising speed and Just Cameron may have lost ground slightly between his fences but he made up for it with some fantastic leaps which kept him bang there through the middle part of the race, constantly throwing down a terrier-like challenge to the favourite and jumping a couple of fences right upsides. After the fifth last Un De Sceaux began to open up and extended his advantage, with the three other runners starting to close up on our boy, but Joe still had plenty of horse underneath him and Cameron went on again, leaving the others behind and turning for home with about four lengths to find.

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Un De Sceaux leads Just Cameron in the early stages

He was never going to win but he got close enough to Un De Sceaux for Ruby to have to get serious with hs mount after the last and Just Cameron stayed on all the way to the line to be beaten just three lengths, which given everything we’ve said above, was a pretty impressive effort and puts him right up there with the best of the UK and Ireland’s two mile novices.

OK so Un De Sceaux probably wasn’t at the peak of his powers, and our lad hadn’t run at Cheltenham or Aintree, but we’ve thought for some time that we’ve got some horse on our hands with Just Cameron, it was nice to be proved right and we now have a Grade 1 runner up in the yard!

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Kate Walton and Joe Wright have been over in Ireland with Just Cameron and Kate told the Racing Post: “That was fab! We were looking for a good performance because since he went over fences he has progressed every time he has run.

“It will be tough now but you don’t tend to get too many runners in the big two-mile chases, which helps.”

11204605_901132476610310_218827792_oJust Cameron will now get a well deserved rest but obviously we’ve got to look at all the top two mile races for him next season, hopefully he’s going to go on a very exciting journey, taking in all the big meetings next winter and to say we’re looking forward to it would be a bit of an understatement! 

We have to give a huge mention to our conditional jockey Joe, who was riding in the biggest race of his career so far and took it in his stride. Joe has struck up a great partnership with Just Cameron, guiding him to four wins this season, Joe’s confidence and ability is now there for all to see, he gave the horse a fantastic ride again here and it’s brilliant to see him getting so much credit for his riding, no-one deserves it more.

Well done to our team in Ireland and thank you to everyone for all your kind words and messages about Just Cameron’s performance, it’s lovely to have such a fantastic horse at Oakwood and we’re already dreaming about the Champion Chase next March….

Thanks so much to Sue & Shaun for the photos x

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Just Cameron and a very smart Joe Wright (left) pose with Arkle winner Un De Sceaux after their race at Punchestown

Patience is rewarded at Sedgefield as Dancer wins at last

30th April 2015

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Maybe The Last Time Racing Club members were celebrating again as popular grey Danceintothelight (9/2f), who has taken us on an emotional rollercoaster since he last won a race in March 2013, finally took advantage of his slipping handicap mark in some style under a lovely ride from 7lb conditional Jamie Bargary at Sedgefield this afternoon.

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Dancer and Jamie Bargary have the field well strung out on the run-in

P1640881(1)Dancer had run 30 times since his last win at Catterick under Joe Colliver back in March 2013, 20 times over jumps, including a first fence fall in his sole novice chase, and ten times on the Flat. Ten jockeys had tried and failed to win on him in that time, although he finished runner up five times and was placed in a further four races, he was frequently unlucky with ground conditions and until recently the handicapper was very slow to relent and give him a chance. We’ve known for some time that he could win again off his current rating if everything fell into place and that’s exactly what happened at Sedgefield as the combination of quick ground, a race full of largely out of form horses and a mark of 86, 11lbs lower than his last win, finally saw our popular little grey come home in front.

Jamie had him settled in a lovely position right from the off, just in behind the leading group of five or six with plenty of cover, and that’s where they stayed for pretty much the first circuit and a half, with Dancer’s trademark economical hurdling a feature of his performance. That leading group of five began to leave the rest of the field behind as they approached the top of the hill with three furlongs to run, with Quest Magic and Whatsupjack making the best of their way home and Jamie asking Dancer to pick up and go with them.

P1640917(1)So many times in the past Dancer has put all his energy into the first part of the race but today he’d saved it for the finish, he was almost upsides jumping the second last and surged ahead coming down the hill, much to the delight of the Maybe The Last Time members who were watching from the parade ring! Quest Magic took a tumble at the last but by that time Dancer was away and gone and he had the luxury of being eased down on the short climb to the finish, winning by eleven lengths.

The scenes in the winner’s enclosure were more reminiscent of a Group 1 winner than a Class 5 0-100 at Sedgefield but we’ve been through a lot trying to get this horse to win again so we think we deserved a bit of a celebration! It was a lovely ride by Jamie, his third winner for us this year, and we’d like to thank all the racing club members for sticking with Dancer, he’s a really popular horse who tries his heart out every time he runs and we hope this win has helped to repay the faith that you’ve shown in him.

Fun in the sun as Pertuis scores at Catterick

22nd April 2015

Graham Lee and Pertuis (8/1) came with storming late run to win the mile and a half handicap at Catterick today as racegoers basked in the spring sunshine and we finally ended an unwelcome losing run on the Flat at our local course which stretched back almost three years!

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Ironically, Pertuis was our last Flat winner at Catterick back in August 2012 when he won off a mark of 60 under our head girl Becks, and the popular nine year old, carrying the MHOG colours, was racing off his lowest handicap rating since that day this afternoon. Held up well off the early pace, Pertuis made good ground towards the leaders as the field swung into the home straight and he flew home once Graham switched him to the outside, getting the better of Bright Applause by half a length.

Our gorgeous grey has been in cracking form at home and we’re over the moon that he’s started his season in such good shape, he really enjoyed himself this afternoon and if the handicapper doesn’t overreact then he should be winning again soon as he’s clearly as good as he’s ever been. He also deservedly won Loz a best turned out prize, Sue had plenty to do with that but it all goes into the pot towards our staff party fund as usual!

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Pertuis beats Bright Applause (right) and Smart Ruler (left) at Catterick this afternoon

Today belonged to Pertuis, though, and to his number one fan Lauren, they are a match made in heaven and it’s always a real pleasure to see them in the winner’s enclosure!

Maybes come of age as Polit gets our Flat season off to a flier!

6th April 2015

Our racing club Maybe The Last Time had a day to remember as their two runners finished first and second on a busy Easter Monday.

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Joe Colliver and Danceintothelight at Market Rasen today

Politbureau (8/1), a winner over hurdles at Newcastle earlier this year, was our first runner of the 2015 Flat season up at Redcar and duly kicked things off with a flourish as P J McDonald produced him with a perfectly timed challenge to get up and beat Salford Dream by half a length in the two mile handicap.

After his recent improvement over hurdles we knew Politbureau was well treated back on the level and much depended on whether he would let himself down on the quick ground, but he did us proud and made relentless headway up the long straight before hitting the front a furlong out and staying on well. He is such a likeable horse who always gives us everything and hopefully he hasn’t stopped winning yet!

Much later in the day we had high hopes that Danceintothelight might be able to make it a double for the Maybes down at Market Rasen but although Dancer ran his best race for a long time, he was no match for the lightly raced and clearly very well handicapped favourite Ruaraidh Hugh who had never previously finished in the places.

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Dancer tracked through by eventual winner Ruaraidh Hugh at Market Rasen

We ran Dancer in a tongue tie for the first time and it certainly helped as Joe, who had to pass the doctor after a fall in the previous race, was able to ride a confident race on the eight year old, tracking leader Whatsupjack into the straight before taking it up two out. The winner was always cantering in behind us though and coasted past to win by five lengths, but we’re so pleased with Dancer, he settled nicely, ran a lovely race and hopefully the handicapper leaves him alone and gives him another chance!

We hope all the Maybes who were at Redcar and Market Rasen today had a fantastic time and if you’d like to be a part of our brilliant racing club, which costs just £80 a month, there are still a couple of places remaining, just email us at mhracing1@hotmail.co.uk for more information. As well as Politbureau and Dancer the Maybes have Kathlatino and Summerlea in training and all four horses will be running regularly all year round, you really will have a fantastic time!

Just Cameron completes quickfire chasing hat-trick

4th April 2015

Our exciting novice Just Cameron (11/2), owned by Paul and Jean Chapman, made most of the running and jumped superbly in his first handicap chase to land the opener at Haydock today under our conditional Joe Colliver.

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Just Cameron was carrying top weight after two impressive wins in novice events at Ayr and Carlisle, today’s race was more competitive but the result was the same as he jumped and galloped his rivals, including well backed favourite Village Vic, into submission and ran out a very impressive six length winner.

The sky remains the limit for our eight year old Kayf Tara gelding, who achieved a rating of 135 over hurdles but is already proving to be significantly better than that over the larger obstacles. In total this was Just Cameron’s fourth win since the turn of the year, it was our 22nd winner of the season and in terms of quality this was probably the best performance by one of our horses for over fifteen years so to say we’ve had a good day would be a bit of an understatement!

Retiring champion jockey AP McCoy was riding at Haydock for the final time today but having finished second to Just Cameron aboard Ifandbutwhynot, AP didn’t manage to mark the occasion with a winner and instead Joe’s success kicked off a fantastic afternoon for the young riders as all seven races on the card were won by conditional jockeys including a treble for Sean Bowen.

The boss, fresh from feeding all the horses in the yard yesterday afternoon as all the staff let their hair down after Middleham Open Day, was over the moon with Just Cameron’s effort. “He loves the game, he’s a good jumper and he was given a positive ride. It was a good weight-carrying performance,” he said. “We’ll have a think about what we do now, you can go to the well once too often with these horses, especially at this time of the season.”

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Just Cameron with his groom Joe Wright after winning at Haydock this afternoon

Open Day snippets

4th April 2015

As usual, yesterday’s Middleham Trainers’ Open Day attracted plenty of press coverage and we’re really pleased that we featured quite prominently on today’s news pages!

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These fantastic pictures of MHOG’s exciting three year old colt Boldbob and Loz were taken by the Northern Echo‘s photographer, while the Racing Post also carried a couple of photos from around our yard, featuring Rosairlie and Pertuis. The Post reported:

“Micky Hammond, whose Oakwood yard lies in the shadow of the [Middleham] castle, said: “We’ve had a good flow of visitors. It’s quite hard work and we could only get one lot out this morning, but it’s something that is good for racing and also good for the town.”

“One visitor who particularly enjoyed Oakwood was Sunderland-based Tony Higham, who said: “I go racing a lot in the north so it was nice to meet old horses like Everaard, Pertuis and Danceintothelight, whom I have followed so closely over the years.”

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Thanks for coming!

3rd April 2015

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who visited our yard this morning on the 22nd annual Middleham Trainers’ Open Day!

The weather wasn’t the best we’ve ever had but the rain stayed away for much of the morning and it didn’t seem to have put too many racing enthusiasts off, as large crowds came to the village to take a close-up look at our equine stars. The Open Day was officially opened at 9.15 in the market square by Racing Post columnist and former Channel 4 Racing presenter Alastair Down, accompanied by the imposing Trooper Middleham, the military working horse based with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment who shares his name with our racing town.

We hope everyone who visited our yard enjoyed a warm welcome and we hope we were able to answer your queries as best as we could, as always it was great to see so many people and we’re sure all the horses enjoyed it too!

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Hannah with last week’s Sedgefield winner Typhon earlier today

Typhon eclipses Sedgefield rivals

20th March 2015

Typhon (9/1), beautifully ridden by Joe Colliver, left his novice hurdling form well behind as he appreciated the drying ground to run out an impressive winner of the 2m1f handicap hurdle in the colours of Darrel Lees at Sedgefield this afternoon.

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Joe, Darrel and Gemma after Typhon’s win at Sedgefield today (thanks to Danny Trainer)

The five year old Proud Citizen gelding, who’s rated 69 on the Flat, was making his handicap debut over timber off a mark of 89 and he was never far off the pace set by Skaghardgannon Lad before readily going to the front at the second last. With the running rail to help, Typhon soon put daylight between himself and Light The City, who was chasing a three-timer, and he stayed on well under hands and heels riding up the run-in as Joe, riding his 20th winner of a fantastic season, checked over his shoulder for non-existent dangers.

It’s been a lifelong ambition of Darrel’s to have a racehorse in training and we’re absolutely over the moon for him and his family, he’s been a much valued and popular addition to our team of owners and we’re so pleased to have been able to train a winner for him. Darrel, who runs a butcher’s shop in Oldham and also part-owns Minella Hero, was absolutely shell shocked after Typhon’s win but managed to compose himself for long enough to give an interview to Attheraces reporter Robert Cooper before collecting his winner’s trophy. Hannah also picked up the best turned out prize for Typhon so it was smiles all round!

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We hope Typhon was the first of many winners for Darrel, we’re sure he’ll be celebrating in the customary fashion this evening.

Alderbrook Lad at Cheltenham

14th March 2015

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Lauren and Alderbrook Lad in the Cheltenham parade ring

It’s not every day that we have a runner at the Cheltenham Festival so we make no apology for putting up some more photos of Alderbrook Lad on his big race day yesterday!

Alderbrook Lad finished nineteenth and last behind Killultagh Vic in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle but he had a lovely run round for the majority of the race, he’s been an absolute legend since he joined us late in 2013 winning five times and being unlucky on a couple of other occsaions and he thoroughly deserved his chance to line up at jump racing’s showpiece meeting.

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Alderbrook Lad and Joe after the race

11064421_877031932353698_522197795_o(1)This was Joe’s second ride at the Cheltenham Festival having finished sixth to future top class chaser Sir Des Champs in the same race aboard Hollins four seasons ago, while Lauren was leading up at the track for the first time, hopefully the first of many! Our team at the Festival was completed by Gemma, the boss and a large contingent of Alderbrook Lad’s connections, including BHA chairman Nick Rust, and we hope everyone had a really good day out.

The racing on view was certainly top class as Coneygree became the first novice to win the Gold Cup for over 40 years, Peace And Co and Martello Tower bagged Grade 1 wins over timber and Nina Carberry struck a blow for the girls as she won the Foxhunter Chase aboard On The Fringe.

We quite enjoyed it, so we’ll be doing all we can to make sure we’ve got at least one or two horses to take to the Festival again in twelve months’ time! Meanwhile we have to leave the final word on Alderbrook Lad’s big day out to Lauren, who sums up the way we all feel about our stable star.

“I don’t care where he finished. He’s an absolute superstar and an absolute pleasure to look after.”

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Massive thanks to Sue & Shaun for the Cheltenham pics x

Brilliant Becks wins in Texas

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Our head girl Becky Smith produced a superb last-to-first ride to win the $38,500 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies’ IFAHR Cup on Sand On Fire for trainer Scott Powell at Sam Houston Park, Texas in the early hours of Sunday morning.

While the majority of the US racing public were reflecting on Shared Belief’s success in the Santa Anita Handicap and various Kentucky Derby trials, the really big action was taking place at Sam Houston, although it was delayed by half an hour by a camel race in which all four runners appeared to pull themselves up short of the finish line!

There were nine runners in the seven furlong dirt race for Arabian bred fillies and mares, which was the fourth race of this year’s Ladies’ World Championship, part of the Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival. Amateur riders from various countries are selected to take part in the series by their respective governing bodies, in Becky’s case the Amateur Jockeys’ Association of Great Britain, horses are then randomly allocated to each rider and Becks was drawn to partner six year old mare Sand On Fire, who was sent off eighth favourite of the nine runners at just over 17/1.

The majority of the field set off at a helter skelter pace11026040_10152754939033437_6209612864177011884_n but Becks didn’t panic after her mount was slowly away and the pair made good headway on the turn into the short home straight. Sand On Fire got a lovely split between runners at the perfect moment and Becks didn’t need a second invitation, surging through to challenge as the early leaders fell in a heap and wearing down eventual runner-up All N All, who had won both her previous starts, well inside the distance to go away and win by a comfortable couple of lengths.

“Sand On Fire did great”, said her trainer. “We knew she would be tough. It was the luck of the draw with the riders, but Rebecca did exactly what she needed to do.”

A modest Becks, clutching the impressive trophy, no doubt had one eye on the after-race party but hung around long enough to say: “She (Sand On Fire) was a little slow out of the gate. The trainer told me to keep hustling and she would run on for me. We had a lovely line and she was fantastic!”

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Becks and Sand On Fire storm to victory at Sam Houston Park

Amazingly this was only Becky’s second ride back from a serious knee injury which kept her out of action for over a year, she has worked incredibly hard on her fitness ahead of her return to race riding and it’s great to see that it’s all paid off.

Becks has been in the US since Thursday, she’s made plenty of new amateur jockey friends and had an amazing experience. From all of us back home at Oakwood, well done Becks, we’re unbelievably proud of you!

Endless Credit our 600th jumps winner!

12th February 2015

Promising young novice hurdler Endless Credit (7/2) stepped up on his encouraging debut run to win the opener at Kelso this afternoon under a well-judged front running ride from Joe Colliver, chalking up our 600th National Hunt success in the process.

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It wasn’t quite all plain sailing as Endless Credit ran quite freely through the first half mile or so, he made a mistake at the first flight, causing Joe to briefly lose an iron, and he wasn’t too fluent at the third, but thankfully his hurdling improved as the race went on!

Mike and Eileen Newbould’s five year old pulled his way to the front passing the stands with a circuit to run, but he then settled better and maintained a good gallop which had most of his rivals in trouble as they left the back straight. Thorpe and Im Too Generous looked big dangers with two to jump but Endless Credit picked up nicely when Joe asked him and came home with three and a half lengths to spare over the 128-rated favourite, who won a Listed hurdle at Haydock earlier in the year and was only beaten nine lengths in a Grade 2 there last time out.

Endless Credit, a half brother to the high class Celestial Halo, will improve again for this run and there will be some nice races to be won with him, especially when he learns to settle better, we like him a lot and we’re over the moon with his effort today, he did it really well.

Well done to everyone and especially to the boss, this was Micky’s 600th jumps winner in a training career stretching back to 1988, a fantastic achievement and hopefully there are many more winners still to come!

Photo copyright Caledonia Sween.

Brave Politbureau gets Maybes off the mark

6th February 2015

Politbureau (4/1) coped best with the testing conditions to win the concluding two mile handicap hurdle at Newcastle this afternoon, giving our Maybe The Last Time Racing Club their first ever winner in the process!

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Politbureau and Joe on their way to victory at Newcastle

Racing close to the pace set by Beyondtemptation, Politbureau travelled really well for Joe in the testing, churned up ground down the back before coming wide in the straight going best of the leading trio. They took it up at the second last and never looked like getting headed after that as Joe kept him up to his work and Polit, for his part, avoided the late mistakes which cost him at Wetherby last time and stayed on willingly to beat Sparkling Hand by two lengths with the rest well strung out.

Politbureau has amazed us with his toughness and determination since we sent him hurdling, he gives 100% every time and loves his racing. We’re well aware that he’s one of our most popular horses and he thoroughly deserves this win which is his first success over timber and only the second win of his 44-race career, the other also coming at Gosforth Park over a mile and a half back in 2012.

We thought he was handicapped up to the hilt off his opening mark of 99 a couple of months ago, he’s now likely to go back up to that sort of rating but he seems to be getting better with each run over hurdles and we’d certainly be hopeful that there’s more to come, especially as he’s pretty versatile with regards to ground and trip.

Politbureau is the first winner for our fantastic racing club Maybe The Last Time, who have plenty to look forward to with Danceintothelight, Summerlea and Kathlatino all set to carry the club’s distinctive blue and yellow colours over the coming months as well! More winners are sure to follow and if you’d like to be a part of what looks set to be a really exciting year, check out our Maybe The Last Time page for more details, the cost is an all-inclusive £80 per month and you won’t regret it!

Landmark winner for our Joe

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Politbureau’s win up at Newcastle today wasn’t just a landmark win for Maybe The Last Time, it was also our conditional jockey Joe Colliver’s 40th career winner which means his claim is down to 3lbs!

Over a third of those 40 wins have come during the current season, which is already the most successful of Joe’s career so far and hopefully he can build on his impressive tally of 15 over the next few months. 29 of Joe’s first 40 winners have been for us, his first winner was San Deng at Catterick just over four years ago and his most successful partnership has been with the brilliant Alderbrook Lad, who he’s ridden to victory on five occasions.

We’d all like to congratulate Joe on his achievement and wish him all the best as he sets off in pursuit of his next 35 winners to lose his claim altogether!

Another double….no trouble!

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Stickleback, owned by incoming BHA chief executive Nick Rust, and Rayadour (right), in the colours of Jimmy Mac, gave us our second double of the year as they both won under excellent hold-up rides from Wilson Renwick at Wetherby this afternoon.

Six year old mare Stickleback (10/1) was winning for the first time in her 22-race career as she reeled in favourite Minella Bliss on the run-in, having had three lengths to find coming over the final flight. She has run her best races over this course and distance so it was fitting that she finally got off the mark here, that doesn’t tell the whole story though because less than twelve months ago we really didn’t know what to do with her!

After her Pontefract run last April she had us in total despair, we’d had her pencilled in for a Flat campaign but she just didn’t want to do it so we gave her the summer off instead and it’s a real testament to the patience and commitment of the whole team that she’s come back a fresh horse and it was quite an emotional moment when Lauren led her back into the winner’s enclosure today, she is a maiden no more and there were plenty of tears shed in certain quarters and we don’t mean the punters who’d backed the favourite!

Rayadour (7/1) won four on the bounce last year and clearly still has improvement in him, we fancied him last time as he’d been showing a lot more at home after a summer break but he fluffed his lines, thankfully everything went to plan today! The soft conditions suited him down to the ground as he made his move towards the end of the back straight and took it up two out, going on to score by four lengths from Mighty Cliché, Rayadour’s last hurdle win in April came off a mark of 88 and he was off 100 today so this was his best effort over timber by some way and who knows how far he can go!

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Stickleback and Lauren in the winner’s enclosure at Wetherby (thanks to Alastair Jack and our own Lauren Jack for the photos!)

Shortlisted Lauren flying the Team MH flag in Godolphin awards!

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We were more than just a little bit excited to find out this morning that our own Lauren Lucas has made the shortlist of ten candidates for the David Nicholson Newcomer category in this year’s Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards!

NRC graduate Lauren, 21, has been with us here at Oakwood since September 2013 and as anyone who has met her, or reads these pages regularly will know already, she is one of the nicest, most committed, popular and hard working people you could wish to meet and she’s been the most fantastic addition to our team. We’ve got everything crossed for Loz (pictured with her beloved Pertuis) as the shortlisted ten will now be whittled down to three finalists by the panel of judges, who include Brough Scott, Peter Scudamore, Dale Gibson, NRC Chief Executive Dawn Goodfellow and Dinah Nicholson, widow of legendary trainer David, in whose honour the newcomer award is named.

It’s the second year running that one of our team has made the final ten, as Assistant Trainer Gemma reached the same stage in the Dedication to Racing category twelve months ago.

The finalists in each category will get to attend the awards ceremony, hosted by Clare Balding and guest presenter Ryan Moore, at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London on Monday 23rd February, where the winners and overall Employee of the Year will be announced, so good luck Loz but whatever the outcome you’re already a star in our eyes!!

The full shortlist for the David Nicholson Newcomer Award is: Michael Brannigan (Nicky Henderson), Lucy Challoner (Scott Dixon), Tegan Clark (Olly Stevens), Charlotte Clayton (Rae Guest), Kevin Eggleton (Seamus Mullins), Sean Houlihan (Philip Hobbs), Lauren Lucas (Micky Hammond), Claudia McDougall (Sara Cumani), Tyler Saunders (Barry Hills) and Ryan Timby (Rod Millman).

End of an era as Wayne leaves for Dubai!

5th December 2014

Today we said an emotional farewell to our popular work rider, amateur Flat jockey and top colleague Wayne Hogg, who is leaving these shores to take up a new job with Godolphin in Dubai. It’s a fantastic and well deserved opportunity for Wayne, one of the nicest, most genuine blokes in racing, but obviously we’ll be really sad to see him go!

Wayne has been involved in racing since the age of 16, he was apprentice and amateur for Mark Johnston, riding twelve winners before coming to work for us and he has been the most reliable and committed lad you could possibly wish to work with.

Wayne

Wayne made no secret of the fact that his favourite horse in the yard was our 2013 Victor Ludorum Hurdle winner Only Orsenfoolsies (above), who returned from a break to enjoy a highly successful 2014 Flat season with two wins and Wayne even got to ride him at York on his comeback run.

Wayne has been a massive help to new members of staff in the past year, really taking Charlotte under his wing, and for the last couple of months he’s enjoyed having fellow Scot Tammy around the place, although no-one can ever tell what they’re talking to each other about!

Seriously Wayne’s departure will leave a gap in our team but we’d like to wish him the very best of luck and we hope he has a fantastic time in Dubai with the Meydan racing season just starting to get into gear and the winter carnival just around the corner.

We’ll leave the final word to head girl Becks: “Wayne has been the best right hand man I could ask for and a pleasure to work with. He will be sorely missed by all the team and owners, and especially Only Orsenfoolsies, but he really deserves such an amazing opportunity.” We’ll all second that…good luck Wayne!

Leading MH Racing owner Nick Rust to be new BHA chief executive

5th November 2014

Everyone here at Oakwood Stables would like to pass on our congratulations and best wishes to Nick Rust, who has been appointed Paul Bittar’s successor as chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, a role he will take up next year.

Nick has extensive experience in the betting and gaming industry having spent the best part of 30 years in senior roles at BSkyB, Coral and Ladbrokes, and he’s been an extremely valued and successful owner with us for nearly ten years. 2014 has seen his colours carried to victory seven times, twice by the former Nicky Henderson-trained Grade 2 novice chase winner Master Of The Hall and five times by prolific eight-year-old Alderbrook Lad, who is our highest-rated horse and has won more than £32,000 in prize money this year.

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Nick (right) with Micky, Lauren and Alderbrook Lad at Wetherby 

Aidan’s one to watch out for!

19th August 2014

We were delighted to welcome a new face to our work riding team recently, albeit only for four days. Aidan MacDonald is a cousin of our very own amateur jockey Wayne Hogg and he comes from that well-known breeding ground for jockeys, Hawick, in the Scottish Borders. Aidan has ridden horses for most of his young life and he competes in pony races, which is an increasingly popular route for young jockeys keen to break through into race riding.

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We loved having Aidan riding out with us and we’re sure he enjoyed his time on the Low Moor gallops, he did really well and he’s definitely one to look out for in the future. Thanks Aidan, we hope to see you again soon and good luck!

Joe excels again on resurgent Master Of The Hall

3rd August 2014

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P1570703Joe Colliver produced a ride right out of the top drawer to guide Master Of The Hall (8/1) to an impressive win at a sun-soaked Market Rasen this afternoon.

Champion jockey AP McCoy was in all-conquering form at the Lincolnshire track, riding four winners, but this was one race he wasn’t going to win as his mount Listen And Learn, despite appearing to have everything in control turning for home, proved to be no match for our classy ten year old.

Switched off out the back in the early stages, Master Of The Hall was encouraged to pick up into second place by Joe towards the end of the back straight on the final circuit and they set off in pursuit of the long time leader, drawing alongside two out and stretching clear after the last, eventually winning by an exaggerated 25 lengths as the runner-up was heavily eased.

Joe has really worked Master Of The Hall out and this was a ride of pure quality and brilliant horsemanship, for a 5lb conditional he shows an amazing maturity in the saddle and this has to rank alongside his very best rides. This was his seventh winner of the year and all have been gained in Nick Rust’s colours.

Earlier in the day Sure Thing ran a race full of promise for Craig Nichol in the two and a half mile handicap chase, leading until three out and jumping beautifully before weakening when he was headed. We still haven’t got him quite where we want him but this was a big step forward, his jumping was foot perfect and he’s going to win races around three miles in the near future.

Well done to everyone today, it’s been a long road back for Master Of The Hall but it’s been worth it!

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Master Of The Hall and Joe Colliver winning at Market Rasen this afternoon

Amazing scenes as Yorkshire turns out in force for Tour de France

5th July 2014

As Mark Cavendish crashed out in dramatic style, Germany’s Marcel Kittel won Stage 1 of the Tour de France in the glorious sunshine of the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday, but it was a special day for Yorkshire and British sport in general with an estimated two million spectators lining the route from Leeds to Harrogate.

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The Tour de France passes our yard on its way to Harrogate on Saturday

The beautiful weather played a big part, but it was the amazing enthusiasm of the Yorkshire crowds that marked down the first day of the 101st Tour de France as one of the UK’s most memorable sporting occasions of recent times. Every town and village along the route was packed with flags, bunting and hordes of spectators, arguably the most amazing scenes though were up in the remotest parts of the Dales where tens of thousands of people had managed to line the route despite having no access to get there in their cars!

With our yard occupying a prime position along the route, right by the roadside just on the way out of Middleham towards East Witton, we laid on a lovely relaxed little party for our staff, owners and friends which started in the morning and carried on until well after evening stables, and we had a brilliant time! It was bacon rolls all round for breakfast and hog roast with stuffing and crackling for lunch, with plenty of pasta and salad on the side and homemade cake for dessert. The girls sipped Pimm’s and wine while the blokes demolished the best part of an entire barrel of draught Carling and another one of locally-brewed Theakston’s ale, all served with a smile by Lauren, who put in a marathon shift as barmaid for the day!

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Bottom left: Team Hammond off duty and preparing to celebrate the Tour de France in Middleham! (left to right: Dylan McDonagh, Adam Ferguson, Charlotte Tong, Amanda Donkin, Lauren Lucas and Tom Alderson)

The highlight came just after 3.30pm when the low-flying helicopter providing the aerial TV pictures came soaring into the valley and over Middleham bridge, closely followed by the arrival of the almost 200-strong field of world class cyclists whizzing down East Witton Road on their way towards the climax of the stage in Harrogate. Unfortunately of course the favourite for the stage and one of the favourites to win the whole Tour, Mark Cavendish, crashed out in spectacular fashion just yards short of the finishing line to add extra drama to an already unforgettable day.

The TV coverage of the rugged and rolling Dales scenery combined with beautiful picturesque villages, massive crowds and perfect weather gave the entire world a once in a lifetime opportunity to see our amazing county at its most magnificent best. We are unbelievably proud to have been a small part of one of Yorkshire’s greatest sporting days, we’d like to thank everyone who came to visit us and as the Yorkshire Post so rightly put it, “now for day two of the Tour de Yorkshire, a race formerly known as the Tour de France”.

Master Of The Hall back to winning ways!

6th June 2014

Master Of The Hall (7/2) took advantage of a another drop in class as he ran away with the 2m5f handicap hurdle at a sunny Market Rasen this afternoon under another perfect ride from Joe Colliver, the ten year old’s first win since March 2012.

Since Master Of The Hall came to us late last year just about everything has gone wrong, starting with his stomach-churning fall in the Charlie Hall Chase, which led to him totally losing his confidence over fences. He’s always given us the impression on the gallops that the class and quality is still there but he just hasn’t been able to show it on the racecourse until Joe nursed him round into second at this track last month, and a repeat of that run was enough to get the job done today and hopefully now he can go on from that.

It’s been a long and sometimes emotional road with “Humphrey” and we’re just so pleased to see him finally get the win he deserves!

Earlier on the card Auldthunder finished sixth behind Gabrial The Great in the novices’ hurdle. he’ll need further than this in time but we’re happy enough with his first effort behind a very smart winner.

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Lauren and Joe with Master Of The Hall in the winner’s enclosure at last!

Rosairlie romps home in Ripon finale

9th May 2014

Those who stayed at Ripon for the final race tonight were treated to scenes of celebration rarely witnessed on a British racecourse as Rosairlie (10/1), cheered on by her many jubilant owners, enhanced her fine course record with a decisive win!

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Rosairlie, for whom Dylan and Wayne also won best turned out, was narrowly denied over this course and distance last summer but she put the record straight in no uncertain terms here. Held up in the early stages she was angled out by PJ to go after Choisan and the favourite Perfect Summer, who had set sail for home three furlongs out, and she swept past those rivals and stayed on strongly to win by the best part of four lengths. This was our six year old mare’s third Flat win and her fifth win in just 21 races since she came to us in 2012, she didn’t get her head in front last year so we are really pleased that she has come to hand early this time around and shown everyone what she can do!

We’re sure the party will go on long into the night in Middleham’s Richard III Hotel as Rosairlie’s owners the Late Night Drinkers and Wishful Thinkers toast her success and we hope there will be a few more days like this for them this season!

Popular Pontefract win for Pertuis as MH Owners Groups double up!

8th April 2014

Pertuis (8/1) gained a well-deserved first win since June last year as he landed the lucky last under Graham Lee at a sunny Pontefract this afternoon, completing a memorable day for Team Hammond and our Owners Groups after Frank The Slink’s earlier success at Carlisle.

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Supported by a large team of owners, our beautiful eight year old grey always travelled eye-catchingly well round the inside and quickened up impressively when the gap came two furlongs out, running on strongly to beat second favourite Cathedral by a comfortable length and a half. Pertuis was fittingly led up by Lauren who rides him at home and has idolised him ever since she came to work here last September!

P1510925Earlier on today’s Pontefract card, Merchant Of Medici was a highly encouraging sixth for PJ McDonald in the opener on his first start for eight months, but Stickleback was never really going in the staying handicap and was well beaten. We had to take Mornin’ Gorgeous out of Pertuis’ race as she has a slight foot problem.

Up at Carlisle, Wilson Renwick guided Frank The Slink (100/30) to a narrow win in a slow motion finish to the 3m2f handicap chase, the pair just proving too strong for Lively Baron after making much of the running. Frank was following up his recent Newcastle success and is in the best form of his career.

Well done to everyone involved today for a fantastic achievement, rumours that Pontefract racecourse has now run out of champagne after Pertuis’ win are highly likely to be true!

Marylegs springs a cute surprise!

3rd April 2014

OK we know the racing world is gripped with Aintree fever for the next three days, but our big news today concerns our popular little resident Shetland pony, Marylegs, who sprung a massive surprise on us by giving birth to a colt in the early hours of this morning…and we didn’t even know she was pregnant!

Marylegs played an important part in Maxwil’s point to point success at Whitcliffe Grange last Sunday by coming along as his travelling companion, causing plenty of amusement for anyone who saw her tethered up behind our horsebox during racing!

We did have our suspicions that Marylegs might be pregnant last year but it was never confirmed and was put down to a phantom pregnancy…for the record mother and baby are both doing very well, although we don’t hold out much hope of our new arrival ever adding to our tally of winners!

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Marylegs looking after our horsebox at Whitcliffe Grange

Special day for Becky and Catherine as Maxwil brings the House down at Whitcliffe Grange

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It might not be the most obvious place to be looking for a Micky Hammond trained winner, but we had a very popular success in the shape of nine year old Maxwil in the AGA Ladies’ Open race at today’s Badsworth & Bramham Moor Point to Point meeting at Whitcliffe Grange.

Despite her knee injury our head girl Becky Smith has been keeping herself busy getting Maxwil, a two-time winner in Europe under Rules for Christian von der Recke back in 2010, ready for his return to the racecourse and today was the big day at the Ripon track as Maxwil faced five rivals in the three mile contest. Current AGA Ladies’ leading rider Catherine Walton, who has worked tirelessly with Becks up on the moor to get the horse fit, was in the saddle and the pair were sent off at 16/1 but those who backed him were handsomely rewarded thanks to a seriously brilliant ride from Catherine.

Held up in the early stages behind clear leader Nosecond Chance, Maxwil looked booked for third at best as the early pacesetter was chased down by odds-on favourite Elusive Swallow with two to jump, but Catherine had judged things to perfection and Maxwil made up an amazing amount of ground coming down to the last, taking it up approaching the final fence and running out a five-length winner.

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All smiles in the winners’ enclosure for Micky, Gemma, Becks, Catherine and Ryan Clark who led up Maxwil today

Congratulations to Becky and Catherine on an amazing achievement and a very memorable day, we are so proud of you both and we’re sure you’ll enjoy a drink or two with some very happy friends and colleagues in Middleham tonight!

Our Gemma is a stable staff star!

21st January 2014

1782165_10203232306872566_557428929_n(1)We are unbelievably proud that our very own assistant trainer Gemma Hogg has made the final ten in the Dedication to Racing category in the 2014 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. Gemma has worked for us since 1998 and is Micky’s invaluable right hand girl, the yard simply would not function without her and it is absolutely fantastic to see her recognised like this.

The judging panel for the awards includes leading racing journalist Brough Scott, legendary trainers Ian Balding and Jack Berry and Dinah Nicholson, wife of the late David Nicholson, and they will now whittle the last ten down to a final three, with the winners being announced at an awards ceremony in London on February 25th.

Well done to Gemma for getting this far as nearly all the other finalists are from big southern yards, we are so proud of you Gem and you are already a winner in our eyes!!

Pash a smash hit at sunny Sedgefield

12th November 2013

Amir Pasha (14/1) took full advantage of a slipping handicap mark to record his first hurdles win for almost two years at a bright and breezy Sedgefield this afternoon. Our evergreen eight year old, having his 98th race, was always travelling well and responded willingly to a strong ride from Jason Maguire to beat Broctune Papa Gio by a length and a quarter with the first two nicely clear. We are absolutely delighted with Pasha and his win will give the yard a perfectly timed boost as the new jumps season gets underway. Our other runner Kathlatino popped round nicely to finish eighth under Joe Colliver which should do her confidence good. Well done everyone a successful day at the office!

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Becks and Rummy on TV!424604_516267108440152_1057860477_n

21st November 2012

We had some lovely TV coverage this week on BBC’s Inside Out North East & Cumbria on 19th November which featured our very own Rebecca Smith & her beloved Angrove Rumbaba & owner Heather Kitching.

Such a lovely feature taking us through the life of ‘Rummy’ which shows how hard the owners have worked and what they have sacrificed to get this far. What an amazing achievement and we are so proud to have Rummy as part of our team.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01nytn1/?t=19m33s – Watch the BBC feature

http://www.angrovestud.com visit the Angrove Stud website for details

Now that’s the way to start a week!bks1

2nd July 2012

Our week started at Pontefract with 4 runners, the first race saw in form amateur jockey Rebecca Smith take on temperamental Pertuis. In a competitive race, Pertuis saw a gap in the field and took it with both hands to finish first accross the line at a staggering 40/1. Mr Perceptive took to the field in the second lady amateur race due to a divide and ran a solid race to finish 7th. Margo Channing ran another solid race with a pleasing 5th place in another competitive race. The final race saw Merchant of Medici take to very soft ground, placing 5th. He has been making some great progress and we expect to be in the winners enclosure soon!

Becks pipped in Queen Mother’s Cup!

16th June 2012

Our head girl Becky Smith produced one of her best rides in the Queen Mother Stakes at York today. After finishing 3rd in the race on Meetings Man last year Becks went one better to finish 2nd on Hong Kong Island, again being pipped by Jaqueline Coward on the Tim Easterby trained Crackentorp.

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