Wednesday, 21 April 2021 20:39

April 21st

The everyday worries and challenges of running a yard seem to pale into insignificance this week with the dreadful news filtering through on Monday morning of the death of Lorna Brooke following a horrible fall at Taunton earlier in the month.

Racing is ultimately a very small and tight knit community and a tragedy like this hits everyone. Our thoughts & condolences to Lorna’s family & close friends.  Although we would not claim to know Lorna well, she was always friendly & smiley & clearly loved what she was doing – she will be much missed.

After a winter that would have sent Noah back to his building work, the ground has dried up horribly fast and is now becoming a worry as its becoming too firm! Like farmers, trainers are never happy, and we are once again doing rain dances!

It has been very cold at night with a white frost every morning for the last couple of weeks, so the grass is just not moving at all & we are still feeding the youngsters & oldies that are turned out.

Firstly I must start with the little star, Galactic Power, GP to his friends. GP did everything that was asked of him at Huntingdon only to be beaten by a length after leading jumping the last hurdle. despite a large number of people shouting at their TV screens. He then followed this up with a very good 3rd at Taunton a couple of weeks later beaten just under 3 lengths. Now 11 GP has won 5 times, been 2nd 6 times and 3rd 6 times in his career. Hopefully he will be able to get another 1st place in the not too distant future.

Speedy Choice ran a reasonable race behind two good horses at Warwick. She has run twice since being pulled up both times.

Glen Mooar and Black Kalarosa went to Ludlow. Glen was in the first two in a slowly run race and when they started to sprint coming into the straight he could not go with them. Glen then went to Newbury at the end of March where he travelled well for a long way before not seeing out his race. BK ran a reasonable race but was outpaced over a too short two miles. She then went to Huntingdon where she ran a really gallant race to finish a creditable 5th and went to as heads off to Taunton today where she was upped in trip to three miles. Again she finished a creditable 5th.

San Fermin ran a storming race to finish 2nd in a bumper at Market Rasen and although well held by the winner he finished clear of the rest of the field.

Cheers Delboy ran at Chepstow with blinkers on for the first time. The blinkers had too much effect and he was stupidly keen and did not jump well throughout the race, Jamie called it quits up the straight (can’t say we blamed him!!) and we will go again minus the blinkers and probably with a run back over hurdles to get his confidence back 

It was nice to see Three Bullet Gate (Trigger), back on the racecourse at Southwell. Trigger’s last run was in December 2019 when he picked up an injury. He was never really at the races, and Jack pulled him up – not sure that Southwell is the track for him! He then went to Huntingdon for his first chase, where he jumped like a stag and where he raced prominently, but was always just doing too much and got tired before 2 out after which Jack just nursed him home. A massive step forward from Southwell, & thrilling to see him jump so well.

Fitz Well and Williamdeconqueror went to Hereford on what turned out to be very soft and very holding ground. FW did not like the ground and Jack pulled him up. William ran in the last race of the day when the ground was dreadful. He jumped the 4th   well, went a stride and then went down like a stone, having a horrible fall from which he and Jack were lucky to walk away from. He then went to Chepstow to restore his confidence and finished running on well over a trip too short. Holiday time for him now & fences & three miles next season are something to very much look forward to.

Anti Cool ran well at Market Rasen for a long way, after a 3 month lay-off, before making a mistake and tiring 2 out. Over Thinking had his first run in a bumper at Warwick at the end of March where he ran well for half the race – but ultimately was very disappointing. He has come home with a stress fracture which totally explained the result – just happy to have him for another day. He will be fine after a short period of box rest.

A strange Cheltenham & Aintree with so few people, but at least some owners were at  Aintree to make some noise. Great to see Tabitha have a clear round and finish in the Grand National on Sub Lieutenant and the brilliant Rachael Blackmore is just to be enjoyed!

Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:34

February 24th

At last, it is starting to look like the rain and snow is behind us with dry weather forecast for the next few days, along with a very strong wind today will at last start to dry things up a bit!

The fields where we have had the brood mares out,  are starting to look as if they have had a bit of a battering now, but looking at the lawns things are starting to grow at last. Daffs are coming up, but as you can imagine are quite a bit behind those in the village that are starting to come out!

Due to the state of the ground everywhere we have had very few runners. 

Williamdeconqueror (Lorcan) and Speedy Choice (Ben Poste) ran at Warwick. Both needing a run towards their handicap mark. Both of them ran well, William staying on well to be 7th only beaten 20 lengths & SC just behind him in 8th, after being very lucky not to be brought down three out.

William got a mark of 101 yesterday so we will be able to be a bit more selective about where we go with him in the future. SC needs another run and heads back to Warwick on Friday with Jack back on board.

We have a few shares available in William, and with all of the ground work now done, he should be immediate fun. He will continue over hurdles for now but chasing will ultimately be his job. His mum was a real trier & won 5 races for us, and he has the same desire to please and also jumps extremely well. Do give us a call if you would like to discuss.

Some excellent racing last weekend, that was also tinged with sadness, with the loss of some lovely horses - condolences to all of the stables who went home with an empty lorry, it really is the worst time for everyone, especially the lads & girls who care for them every day, and its particularly hard to lose the old warriors that have given us all so much pleasure over the years.

On a brighter note we are pleased to welcome Bethanie Sparrowhawk to the team.

Also a big welcome back to Ian Brain & Mid Tech services who had a share of Thomas Crapper for all of his career, and are now back involved.

It looks as if the point to point season will be back by the end of March, which will be a relief for many – not least Harriet who has a few to run that have been ticking over waiting to see a way forward.

There does, at long last, appear to be some light at the end of a very long tunnel, and hopefully everything will start to open up, as long as the schools don’t kick it all off again!!

Robin & I have both been jabbed now – no reactions to speak of – they do seem to be flying through them in rural Warwickshire and hopefully the reports of their affect are accurate!

We hope you are all staying safe & well & that it won’t be long before we can get back to seeing you all at Open days, and also at the races. Cheltenham  will be a very strange affair this year, but not far off now & I’m sure will be as always 4 great days racing.

Friday, 05 February 2021 13:48

February 5th

As we move into a new month the lockdown continues and the rain still continues to fall. There have been floods everywhere around us and the meadows have been under as much water as I have ever seen. Great credit to the staff who continue to keep the show on the road despite getting soaked to the skin as well as coping with the icy wind.

Our fields up here are just a bog and we are only turning a few out at the moment. As much as the horses love to go out & have a roll, they are not keen on staying out for long at present. It’s a case of a wallow in the wettest muddiest patch, a buck & a kick and then back to the gate after half an hour waiting to be collected! Some are horrific mud lovers and somehow manage to get mud everywhere even under their rugs! Oneida Tribe is the worst & I do feel for poor Frankie when he has been out!

Although racing continues, with the exception of the all-weather, a large number of the meetings are being abandoned and where they do take place the ground is heavy and things do not look like they will be improving over the next week.

As a result we have had very few runners in the last couple of weeks.

The ever consistent Galactic Power ran at Taunton for the Racing Club. He really wants the three miles these days, but finding an opportunity for him has not proven easy after a large number of balloting out situations, so he had to take his chance over a shorter trip than we would have liked. Lorcan in the plate, GP was held up as normal and made steady headway and kept on to finish 4th beaten just over 5 lengths. Everyone just loves GP – he has been such a legend for us, a ‘BOGOF’ horse (was actually buy three, get one free!) he is rarely out of the frame, and hopefully he will get back into the winners enclosure in the very near future.

Scorched Earth ran at Southwell & at Kempton on Wednesday. He has been a massive frustration as he just does not try a yard! He did much better at Kempton but really has fallen out of love with the game and probably it’s time to have a career change.

Speedy Choice ran at Warwick and absolutely hated the very heavy going. She jumped really well though until just getting stuck in the bog down the back straight. She needs to get a handicap mark and I don’t think it will be long before she goes chasing.

No runners this w/e as Sandown has been changed to an all chase card. Should be some good viewing – just hope they don’t get too much more rain to make the slog up the hill too attritional.

A birthday in the yard today – Darren not getting any younger although he will kill me if I put his actual age on here! ‘Happy Birthday Darren’ I’m sure there will some cake appearing through the day!

At least the days are starting to draw out and we are pulling out in the daylight first lot & also finishing in daylight as well! The chickens are starting to lay again as well so Spring can’t be far away.

Stay safe everyone & we very much look forward to welcoming you back to Hill Farm very soon.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 13:16

January 20th

Following a couple of dry days we are now preparing for Storm Christoph and what it brings with it. Plenty of mud around in the fields which at least the horses enjoy for their roll but not the staff who have to clean them up afterwards.

The following horses have run over the last few days:

Some Finish went to Leicester following a wind operation.  He decided very early on that he was not keen and Lorcan pulled him up. The time has come to find Sam a new discipline as it appears that he has fallen out of love with racing. He has been with us for 6 years and won 5 races during that time.

Off to Warwick with three on Saturday for one of their biggest meetings of the year but very different with no spectators or owners.

Warwick doing a good job under the current restrictions, and stable & ground staff alike all being respectful of social distancing/mask wearing etc etc. I did seem someone whinging on social media about people not wearing masks but think they must have been outside the course as everyone we saw were doing it all correctly. Much, much nicer place to be than in a shop!

Black Kalarosa (Tabitha) (BTO for Reggie) ran in the first race on the card and ran nicely to finish sixth in ground not in her favour – down 5lbs for the run, she will be much happier on a sounder surface & probably ½ mile further

Fitz Well (Lorcan) and Glen Mooar (Jack) - both needing a third run for a handicap mark, ran against each other in the very competitive Grade 2 novices hurdle.

Fitz Well ran up with the pace, skipping along and jumping like stag, but stopped quickly half way down the back straight – possibly a wind issue with him as he stopped so quickly.

Glen Mooar was held up and although he made a couple of jumping errors he was still with the field as they entered the straight. He stayed on and was not beaten that far by a horse who is now fancied for the Cheltenham Festival. Both got their rating yesterday – 105 & 110 respectively. Pretty harsh for Fitz Well and Glen Mooar paying the price for only being beaten 20 lengths by a 137 horse!

It’s so hard to make plans at the moment as there is so much balloting – especially with the lower rated horses. There has been much talk of increasing opportunities for these horses, but sadly still not enough being done. They make up such a large part of the everyday racing, and are many trainers bread & butter, and many owners pride & joy. It’s not all about the super stars, and racing would be pretty dull if we relied only on seeing the festival horses out every day.

Of course we are all looking and hoping for the next Arkle, but there is much enjoyment to be had from the lesser lights too & the powers that be need to remember that when race planning.

A good example would be little Galactic Power who now runs for our Racing Club. Pulled up in two Irish points – he was given to us when I went to pick up some other youngsters that we had bought from the Monbeg team in Co Wexford. He is now the winner of 5 hurdle races (albeit at a low grade) and has given many of us a lot of fun. He was second at Ludlow before Christmas – running a stormer, but I have lost count of how many times we have been balloted since. He is entered later in the week but will likely get balloted yet again. Very frustrating for all connections and so hard making plans with his work to keep staying at home.

Scorched Earth off to Southwell later today – still trying to find the key to him!

Currently pouring with rain so hoping that the lorry will be able to get out by lunchtime!

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 13:15

January 20th

Following a couple of dry days we are now preparing for Storm Christoph and what it brings with it. Plenty of mud around in the fields which at least the horses enjoy for their roll but not the staff who have to clean them up afterwards.

The following horses have run over the last few days:

Some Finish went to Leicester following a wind operation.  He decided very early on that he was not keen and Lorcan pulled him up. The time has come to find Sam a new discipline as it appears that he has fallen out of love with racing. He has been with us for 6 years and won 5 races during that time.

Off to Warwick with three on Saturday for one of their biggest meetings of the year but very different with no spectators or owners.

Warwick doing a good job under the current restrictions, and stable & ground staff alike all being respectful of social distancing/mask wearing etc etc. I did seem someone whinging on social media about people not wearing masks but think they must have been outside the course as everyone we saw were doing it all correctly. Much, much nicer place to be than in a shop!

Black Kalarosa (Tabitha) (BTO for Reggie) ran in the first race on the card and ran nicely to finish sixth in ground not in her favour – down 5lbs for the run, she will be much happier on a sounder surface & probably ½ mile further

Fitz Well (Lorcan) and Glen Mooar (Jack) - both needing a third run for a handicap mark, ran against each other in the very competitive Grade 2 novices hurdle.

Fitz Well ran up with the pace, skipping along and jumping like stag, but stopped quickly half way down the back straight – possibly a wind issue with him as he stopped so quickly.

Glen Mooar was held up and although he made a couple of jumping errors he was still with the field as they entered the straight. He stayed on and was not beaten that far by a horse who is now fancied for the Cheltenham Festival. Both got their rating yesterday – 105 & 110 respectively. Pretty harsh for Fitz Well and Glen Mooar paying the price for only being beaten 20 lengths by a 137 horse!

It’s so hard to make plans at the moment as there is so much balloting – especially with the lower rated horses. There has been much talk of increasing opportunities for these horses, but sadly still not enough being done. They make up such a large part of the everyday racing, and are many trainers bread & butter, and many owners pride & joy. It’s not all about the super stars, and racing would be pretty dull if we relied only on seeing the festival horses out every day.

Of course we are all looking and hoping for the next Arkle, but there is much enjoyment to be had from the lesser lights too & the powers that be need to remember that when race planning.

A good example would be little Galactic Power who now runs for our Racing Club. Pulled up in two Irish points – he was given to us when I went to pick up some other youngsters that we had bought from the Monbeg team in Co Wexford. He is now the winner of 5 hurdle races (albeit at a low grade) and has given many of us a lot of fun. He was second at Ludlow before Christmas – running a stormer, but I have lost count of how many times we have been balloted since. He is entered later in the week but will likely get balloted yet again. Very frustrating for all connections and so hard making plans with his work to keep staying at home.

Scorched Earth off to Southwell later today – still trying to find the key to him!

Currently pouring with rain so hoping that the lorry will be able to get out by lunchtime!

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 12:30

January 12th

Well we have had all types of weather in the last couple of weeks. Torrential rain, cold winds, snow and ice, which has not made things easy for the team but well done to all of them in keeping the horses exercised safely, warm & fed.

Huge relief that we can continue to race during the latest lockdown, which is a testament to all of the hard work put in by the BHA and everyone involved in our sport. It’s very strange racing with no-one there, but everyone that is there is so respectful and careful that, touch wood, you do feel very happy to be there. The closest you get to anyone is in the stable yard, but it is a lot better than going to the garden centre or supermarket, so fingers crossed that we will be able to continue as we head into further weeks of lockdown.

We are also missing seeing everyone at the yard – and I think it fair to say that this lockdown is a lot tougher than the last  with the dark evenings, happily the weather is not encouraging people to go out, so a few less walkers and loose dogs on the farm, but still a marked increase on normal times. However hopefully in a couple of months when the vaccine has been rolled out and the weather improves things will start to get back to normal and we will be able to have visitors back at the yard before Terry forgets how to bake a cake!

The following horses have run over the last couple of weeks:

Mr Palmtree ran at Wincanton on Saturday, Given a good ride by Tabitha he made progress from the back and was in with every chance turning into the straight. He started to tire two out but kept on gamely to finish 3rd, only beaten 6 lengths behind a winner that is probably pretty decent. The ground rode much softer than the good to soft going report, and as always post frost, was dead & sticky which would not really be to his liking. Mr P always gives his all and hopefully on better ground he will be moving up the placings in the near future.

Fitz Well did not appreciate two miles at Newbury and now just needs one more run for a handicap mark. He will be much more effective over further, as he showed us at Hereford.

Scorched Earth is coming down in the weights slowly and he ran much better last time, at Wolverhampton, although he still needs kidding into putting his best foot forward!

Wrynner has been for a wind op! Enough said!

The rest of the string are in good heart many waiting for a bit of an ease in the underfoot conditions – looking at the forecast that may not be this week!

Romance in the air over the holidays & Huge Congratulations from all connected with Hill Farm to Jack Quinlan and Molly Mae who got engaged on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020 17:05

December 23rd

We complain when we have no rain but it has not stopped raining recently and it makes the going everywhere hard work for the horses.

A few runners since the last blog with mixed fortunes.

Glen Mooar and Oneida Tribe made the short trip to Warwick. Glen Mooar was having his first run for The Goodies & The Tricksters and his first run over hurdles. He ran well making ground down the back and was in the leading group coming into the straight before tiring. He will come on from the whole experience and is a horse who, I am sure will give his owners much enjoyment over the next few years. Glen followed up with another very pleasing run at Huntingdon, and was our last runner before the Christmas festivities.

Oneida Tribe ran well but could not go with the field when they increased the pace 4 out.

Onto Hereford with Mr Palmtree, who showed much more enthusiasm with blinkers on for the first time. He jumped his way to the front 5 fences from home but unfortunately made an uncharacteristic error three out, and horse v fence caused a very rapid change of speed propelling Tabitha up his neck, and virtually out of the front door! Tabs did extremely well to stay on board but the mistake stopped him dead, and cost him any chance he had in the race, and he finished 4th.

Southwell in the rain for Cheer’s Delboy. Back over fences for the first time since his injury, he hated the ground which went very soft and Jack did the correct thing in pulling him up at half way. He will wait for some better ground.

Williamdeconqueror ran at Ludlow and showed much improvement on his previous runs staying on to finish 7th. Will need to go further in time.

Wrynner, a new horse to the yard, ran in a bumper at Hereford. Last race on the card and the ground was very deep by the time she ran which she did not like. She enjoyed the racecourse experience and hopefully will have some better ground when she runs next time.

Harriet & her team made the long trek north to Alnwick with For Fitz Sake & Fitz In, both having their first runs pointing. The five & a half hour drive each way totally worth it, when the FFS dotted in by 8 lengths, and FI finished a very close second.

Congratulations to Harriet for training her first point to point winner! The horses both went to Goffs Yorton sale last week and we will follow their progress with great interest.

We would like to wish you all

‘A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year’

2020 has certainly been a challenging year for each & every one of us, and we can but hope for a more normal 2021.

Thank you to The Team for their loyalty & hard work and Thank you to all of our lovely owners for trusting us with their equine athletes & without whose support we wouldn’t be here.

Monday, 07 December 2020 11:36

December 7th

Apologies for there not being a blog update over the last couple of months but there has not been enough hours in the day.

Happily we have all continued to remain virus free so it was disappointing to hear that we have been put into Tier 3 from the 2nd December although with a number of racecourses going to be allowed to have spectators hopefully more of our owners will be able to watch their horse in real life rather than via the television. I know so many are desperate to get back for their racing fix.

Unfortunately it is unlikely that we will be restarting our monthly Open Mornings until the Spring. We are missing seeing everyone, and our Air Ambulance box is feeling very light, but we will start up again as soon it is safe & practical to do so.

We have had some changes to our staff since the last blog so a big welcome to Kathryn and Regan, and also our ‘Saturday boy’ Olly who is now here full time.

Congratulations to Jack Quinlan, our stable jockey, who rode his 200th winner at Fakenham recently. Hope you ride many more Jack.

Summarised below, in no particular order, is what the horses have been doing at the races.

Cheer’s Delboy returned to the course at Southwell after an absence of over 800 days following a serious tendon injury. Praise must be given to his syndicate owners who have supported him over this long period out of action. He passed the vet at the racecourse with flying colours, which is a requirement now after a long period off the course and enjoyed his day running well until getting tired coming into the straight. Most importantly he came back sound and was fine the next day therefore hopefully his owners can look forward to an exciting future.

Mr Palmtree ran a pleasing race first time out this season at Uttoxeter over hurdles. Reverting to fences he then went on to win his next two races at Huntingdon and Hereford very well, resulting in the handicapper putting him up a total of 19lb! He then ran another good race off top weight at Ludlow finishing 4th. It is hoped he will be back in the winner’s enclosure again in the near future.

Black Kalarosa ran well for a long time in her first run of the season at Warwick cheered on by some of her owners from the car park by the side of the course. She had her next run in the heavy ground at Leicester where she was hampered by the horse which ran out, got tired in the ground so pulled up by Tabitha.

Oneida Tribe has had an operation to remove a tumour in a sinus since his last run nearly a year ago so it was pleasing to see him back on the course, at Exeter, running for the Racing Club. He travelled and jumped really well, but as we thought, he just needed the run and went for his girths after two out. The run will have brought him on.

Phoebus Lescribaa has had a few nice runs over the last couple of months which included a good 3rd at Stratford, and has gone home for a mid season break.

Dontminddboys had his first run after 250 days at Ludlow and tired from 3 out. He will come on for the run.

Anti Cool stayed on very well to finish 2nd at Warwick finishing well clear of the 3rd and probably would have won if the race had been over an extra 100 yards, and also if he had not had to negotiate a jockey between his hind legs!. He had a disappointing run at Ludlow last time when he was pulled up. He then went to Leicester where the ground went against him following the continuous rain. He is another for a mid season break until it dries up a bit.

Fitz Well ran his first race on a course at Hereford. He showed a lot of promise in finishing 4th staying on well. A nice horse to look forward to.

Some Finish ran in the race at Hereford which was won by Mr Palmtree. He ran well for 2/3rds of the race before making a mistake 5 fences from home resulting in him being pulled up. Ran next at Leicester and was in with a good chance 3 out but did not finish his race off. Lorcan reported that he heard a noise and let him come home in his own time. He has had a breathing operation following the run.

Williamtheconqueror is a home bred out of Dancing Daffodil. Taking him to the races for his first run at Stratford was nerve racking as we have had him since the day he was born. He ran in a bumper and finished mid field. He then had his first experience of running over hurdles at Leicester. The ground went heavy on the day and as he is still a youngster he struggled in the tiring ground. Better days will hopefully come for him in the future.

The little legend that is Galactic Power, ran a blinder to finish second at Ludlow this week, after over 200 days off. Coming with his usual late run he could have done with another half a furlong and was only beaten 1 ½ lengths.

Tara Well ran at Chepstow but unfortunately burst a blood vessel. We have decided to retire her to have children, and she is off to Ireland to join Lillian & Mary Barry’s herd of brood mares. Tara has given us a lot of fun and we are happy that we know where she is going to be in retirement.

Bally Lagan, Bob Maxwell, The Lion Man and All is Good have all been retired from racing. All four have found amazing new homes.

Bally Lagan was a good servant to the yard winning 4 times and being placed 11 more times in chases. Age has caught up with him and he has a new home in Wales.

Bob Maxwell did not quite have the opportunity to show his true ability during his period with us and has a new home in Somerset.

The Lion Man was the worst named horse in racing, and although he did win, and was placed on several occasions, he did not really have the heart for racing, and has a lovely new home with a young girl not too far away from here.

All is Good won once and was placed on 7 more occasions. He has developed a foot condition which means he needs an easier life, and he also has a new home in Somerset.

Thanks to Retraining of Racehorses for helping to find these horses new homes after their racing careers have ended and we wish them all well, and look forward to watching their progress away from racing.

Monday, 06 July 2020 10:20

July 6th

For some reason my last two blogs have not published on here which is annoying - especially as I have only just noticed!! Consequently it  has been a long time since an update appeared!

 

Its been a weird time for everyone over the last few months & hard to believe its already July! Happily we have all been virus free up here at Hill Farm, although I do think that there is a strong chance that some of us had the virus earlier in the year. If it was now we would certainly be isolating having had all of the symptoms that are fired at us as indicators of Covid 19!

The team have all been furloughed for a couple of months, but we are at last starting to get back to some sort of normality, with the horses gradually coming in again and getting back to action. the farriers have been busy getting shoes back on and the team bedding up and sorting out the lovely clean stables with new beds, rugs out of storage etc etc! Everyone (horses and people) have summered very well, (and most have a good amount of lockdown pounds to lose!)

The protocol for a resumption to racing appeared at 50 pages long, which initially looked very daunting, but was actually very easy once you got to the guts of it, and all reports were that it was easy to adhere to at the races.

There has been much talk of the limitations put on owners attending which is understandable, but only a temporary measure, and a jump through some hoops to get things going. Admittedly baffling when you can go to the pub/tescos etc etc (including a nice riot if you are that way inclined!) Changes will need to move forward pretty quickly.

They might also need to get moving at BHA HQ, where there is no one in at all apparently! Phone calls are straight to answerphone and an email sent last week remains unacknowledged. With Weatherbys providing their usual efficient service all through lockdown, and racing now going ahead, its hard to accept that British Horseracing are un-contactable!

Royal Bassett has been our only runner so far since racing resumed. He ran a blinder at Newmarket to finish third at odds of 300/1, Softer ground and a completely different track suited him well, and made all the difference, with him staying on very well. He is such a laid back character and is now schooling very well over hurdles as well. He and Phoebus Lescribaa went to Warwick last week to jump hurdles on their very well watered schooling ground. Tabitha & Ceris rode them and both jumped very well.

Its a great initiative for Warwick to provide this facility especially this year, when everywhere at home is like concrete, and schooling on grass is definitely not a thing!

Our newly resurfaced round gallop is looking and feeling fantastic - a lovely even surface that is bloody hard work to walk on but provides plenty of spring as well, it will be a massive improvement to our facilities this year, and should make preparation a whole lot easier. It is also good to jump on, and we have had the schooling hurdles out on it as well.

Its been great to see so many faces up here at Hill Farm, as the lockdown restrictions eased. easy to social distance up here, and the weather lending itself to outdoor coffees and chats.

Its so nice to see the pleasure that people get from seeing their beloved horses again, and humbling to see quite how much the horses have been missed by everyone when visits could not be part of people's week. We just need Terrys'  cakes & life will be back to 'normal'.

We won't be starting our monthly Open Mornings quite yet, but they will hopefully return as normal in the Autumn. In the meantime if you would like to visit just get in touch & you will be most welcome (cake or no cake!!)

  

Thursday, 23 April 2020 08:32

April 23rd

Another week of lock-down, and another week of summer jobs ticked off. Just  one barn left to pressure wash - sterling work from the girls, made easier by Nic lending us his super powered, diesel pressure washer, which although very noisy, did help get the job done a lot quicker!

A good pile of the wood-chip mole hills now gone, but plenty still to go, cant wait to finish that job now and get it all tidied up.

Just a couple of horses in light work, the rest looking relaxed and happy out in the front fields, although the grass still not very forthcoming & badly in need of some rain. A field change due next week which always causes a stupid amount of excitement! 

We did have an interesting interlude on Monday night to break up the boredom! As we went to bed there was a power cut, didn't think too much of it, and it came back on after a short while, nodded off to be woken at midnight by Western Power ringing the gate, accompanied by a fire engine! To cut a very long story short, a power line had come down over the hill gallop, and into the field where the mares are! Cue live line then shorting out & setting the carpet on fire! Cue Darren & Claire running around in our pj's locating all of the horses & making sure they were safe, rehanging gates & mending fences also broken by said power line, accompanied by the men in uniform! Fire was luckily near to the water trough so put out relatively easily, and happily all horses present & correct - if a little un-nerved.

We made it back to bed by about 1.30, but the boys still up the pole till about 4 am, which was all fine except that the alarm in the house then proceeded to go off every time they did something to the electricity supply! By 4 am was feeling just a little jaded!

Tuesday morning then spent replacing the burnt out electric fencing and mending all the gaps! It could have been so much worse & thank goodness no- one was injured. A hefty bill heading Western Powers' way I feel to replace the burnt surface etc etc!

Even in lock-down there is never a dull moment!!

Sadly going to have to furlough another two of the troops from next week, which we ave tried to avoid doing with the team that live here, hopefully only for a short period though if the hoped for return to jumping starts on July 1st. Lots of mowing to do, and I'm sure that they will be able to find ways to amuse themselves up here. Harriet & Dominic have created a whole new veggie patch which is now planted and has a flower border around it! At this rate we will be digging up some fields to plant more veg & also getting the odd cow to milk. Chickens are doing sterling work at present, and if nothing else we have plenty of eggs! Three chicks hatched in the incubator yesterday which very cute, two broody bantams too so shouldn't have to buy any more hens for a while as long as no visits from Charlie!

We hope you are all still well & staying safe, and that we will be able to welcome you up to Hill Farm very soon.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 14 April 2020 08:21

April 15th

Another week into lockdown, and I can't realistically see that changing anytime soon. Tough for many but apart from only two to ride not much change in the routine up here.

The gallop is finally finished - all we need now are some horses to ride on it! The mole hills of old surface still piled up & waiting to be cleared, which we can hopefully do before it starts to rain again.

Unbelievably dry now, thank goodness we got all of the rolling done before it went rock hard, and the only comfort at having no runners is that it would have been too firm to run them anyway!

Not really a lot to report from Hill Farm this week, Robin a bit under the weather but the Docs think not the dreaded lurgy thank goodness. The rest of us all OK so far, although when we get out of here there is a fair chance we will emerge as a bunch of fat alcoholics! 

Having said that we are pretty busy, Harriet T & Frankie are pressure washing (horrible job!), the rest of us are fencing, clearing up after the installation of the new gallop surface & generally catching up on a lot of jobs. The housework pledge went out of the window last week once the temperature got up - far too nice to be inside. the weekend was then freezing cold, so a spot of hoovering suddenly looked a bit more attractive!

We now have a veggie patch & raised beds with veg in too, so hopefully not too many night frosts to kill off future dinners!!

The horses are all out with the exception of a couple nursing injuries, and a couple in work. They all look very well and relaxed out, even though there is not an abundance of grass. some rain forecast at the w/e, which would be welcome to get the green going!

We do feel very lucky to be up here and away from it all as much as we possibly can. I cant quite understand these folks flouting the rules about going out - I wouldn't go anywhere unless I had to! We have had an out break of walkers & joggers - some fine, some definitely not fine. Loose dogs, and people walking off the footpath does not fill us with joy - especially when you get sworn at for asking them to put the dog on the lead!!  They will be sorry when Mr Palmtree chases them!

Graham here for a visit today, first time for a few weeks and quite a long list of bits and pieces to do - very weird just having to leave him to it and work from a list!One of the mares has been cavorting around, and looking very not in foal, so a check needed there - happily a live foal present and correct, so something to look forward to! Timons Tara due anytime but no bag to speak of yet so still here for the moment. 

As always we hope you are all well, covid free & keeping occupied. 

Sadly we hear that John O'Neill (Point of Attack & Just 4 Fun partnerships) is in hospital & we send him our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Stay safe & hope to see you soon

Tuesday, 31 March 2020 08:25

31st March

Another week in these strange times we are living in. Happily so far the Hill Farm family are all well, although in danger of getting hypothermia before Covid 19! After a glorious week last week when the horses had a few days with rugs off and were basking in warm sunshine, its been frankly baltic up here and the heavyweight rugs back out again. 

The grass which was greening up nicely has ground to a halt, and its unbelievably dry now. After a long winter of incessant rain its hard to believe that we could now do with some! The who;e farm has been rolled and all the mess created by tractors and hooves in hock deep mud put back. The resurfacing of the round gallop is very nearly completed - that in itself has been a mission, and a big shout out to Dan Allbutt who has been doing the work under very difficult conditions. He has made a minimum of mess and we are well and truly into the final stretch now.

An equally big shout out to the team, who have had the onerous job of picking stones out of a couple of the bales of carpet that arrived contaminated (not a thing to be proud of from the supplier) with some stones, that were not visible until spread out. The hassle of taking it all off was just too much, so the team have been on their hands and knees picking the stones out before the top layer goes on. They frankly deserve a medal, as the bales of carpet stink when opened and I think cleaning the drains has risen above the least popular job to do! 

Frustrating really as once down the surface looks and feels amazing, but at least onto the final couple of yards today, so the end is nigh!

We have roughed off the pointers and some of the youngsters,as no where for them to go, but its too cold to just chuck them out, so in at nights for feeds and rugs very much still on. The rest of the string just ticking over currently and hope that we might start back on May 1st - although personally I have my doubts about that. I guess time will tell as the next couple of weeks statistics unfold.

All the store sales have been put back till late summer,and will be interesting to see what the lack of sales of the four year olds, will do to the store market.

All of ours string look really well, and are plenty fresh enough - neck straps in full use! 

Trying to wade through what help we can get in these difficult times is a tough chore too - lots of reading to do, but no real end goal at present. A massive task for the powers that be to sort out, but at least some decisions made which will hopefully enable us all to get through this unprecedented crisis.Its going to be very tough on many - including us - but we at least feel grateful to be living in such an amazing place and that largely our lives go on, at least in part, as normal.

 

We hope that you are all well, and managing to stay safe from this hideous disease, and that we will be opening the gates at Hill Farm before too long. Please do keep in touch & keep an eye on our facebook & Twitter pages for updates & pictures (I'm still rather struggling to get the pics on here!!)

 

Thursday, 19 March 2020 08:15

Thursday19th March

These are extraordinary times that we are currently living in, and also very worrying.

Currently we are all well at Hill Farm, and although not self isolating, we are very much keeping ourselves to ourselves. Just for the moment we have asked that we don't have any visitors, except the essentials of vet, farrier feedman etc! Very important to try & keep the team safe.

The horses are all well & our current plan is to keep them ticking along for a couple of weeks until we at least get a clearer idea where the virus is heading. All of our flu jabs were due in April so we have decided to bring them forward a couple of weeks to get them out of the way, whilst the horses can have an easy week post jab. At least we won't have to stop again once racing resumes.

Interesting that Ireland have decided to keep racing, even though its one meeting a day & behind closed doors. We can but hope that it works well, and that we will be able to consider the same measures before too long. I believe that the pointing continues too. No overseas runners though so thoughts of nipping over with a few scuppered!

The premature end of this season does not fill us with any sadness, as its been testing few months for us up here at Hill Farm. a bug through the string at the key part of the season dashed many hopes for the year, and although all well again, an outbreak of seconds has been very frustrating. 

We have said good bye to some key owners, with the death of Mrs Merry & of course Cliff Beach last year. Losing people like this who have been part of the team for so long has a big impact on the business. 

We have nearly finished resurfacing the resurfaced new gallop! Having spent weeks & plenty of ££ working on it last summer, the exceptional weather proved too much for it and we have struggled with wet patches, which have kept changing places. Having put in new drains/new surface etc etc, Nic took the massive decision to rip the whole lot up & go again with carpet, and also to do it in February! we now can be seen from space & look as if we have the biggest outbreak of giant moles ever seen! BUT its nearly done! Having not been able to haul away the old stuff its all piled on the side to be dealt with if it ever dries up! (hence the giant mole hills!) hoping to be finished by next week at the latest, weather allowing, and once we are racing again will have a fantastic gallop.

Dan Allbutt doing sterling work in doing a great job under very difficult circumstances. 

Now to get all the jobs done outside that we have not had time to do all winter. Its a bit early in the season for some of it, but the team being amazing and keeping a cheerful face on during an extremely stressful & worrying time.

The implications for the business are very serious, but so many are in the same boat, and we all just have to try & keep the boats from sinking.

Apart from the virus its horrific to see the mindset of the idiots who are panic buying, it makes you ashamed to be part of the same species - none of that at Hill Farm & the team just getting on with things at the moment.

Here is hoping that everyone stays well, and that we will all be able to resume normal service as soon as possible.

Stay safe & keep in touch - it'll help stave off any cabin fever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 03 February 2020 10:41

Monday 3rd Feb

Nice to be getting back to some sort of normality after our enforced layoff over the festive period. The bloods at last looking a lot more sensible & the horses running better as a result.

Twycross Warrior so nearly got us off on a winner at Warwick - going down by just a head, and then following that run up with a very gallant fourth at Huntingdon - only beaten 2 1/2 lengths. He picked up a nasty cut after the last race so is now temporarily confined to his stable with stitches in the wound.

Mr Palmtree has been very consistent this time following up his two seconds with a good third on the same card at Huntingdon. He missed quite a bit with a wonky blood, so will undoubtedly come on for that run. He & Tabitha have struck up a good partnership & boy does he operate over a fence - especially for a relative baby!

Secret Court now running for the Point of Attack Partnership, ran a decent race at Ludlow - just getting a bit tired in the closing stages. She finds it all very easy at home, and makes her hurdling debut back at Ludlow this week.

Bob Maxwell ran nicely on the flat at Kempton, and Tara Well ran her usual solid race at Lingfield.

All Is Good, is enough to try the patience of a saint, with different niggles, but with some bespoke dancing shoes made by our farrier Charlie Sands, and the skill of the team we managed to get him to Taunton yesterday! He ran well to finish 5th - the lack of a proper run for nearly a year just catching him out on some pretty dead ground. Home fine today as well, so hopefully we can push on towards a reasonably quick (less than three months!!) follow up run!

Open morning last Saturday & great to see so many new & old faces here in a very bracing breeze! At least no rain, and as always plenty of cake thanks to Terry & Mandy Poulson. We sent off nearly £300 from our Air Ambulance collection box this time, so are now well over the £1k for what is such a worthwhile charity.

The other charity that we have been supporting  - the IJF, - (which helped Harriet so much last year after various broken bones) are nearly £700 better off after the Quiz that we had in November raised almost £500 & the calendars, so beautifully produced by Jill Hurst raised £200. Thank you to all who support both very deserving causes.

 

Sedgefield & Market Rasen tomorrow, so a bit of trucking for the team! Fingers crossed for good runs for Vocaliser & Dontminddboys respectively. 

 

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