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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!)
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.
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
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!!)
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!
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.
Its been a pretty quiet Festive period on the runners front at Hill Farm. The horses had not been running particularly well, and although all tests came back negative they were not seeing their races out over the last couple of furlongs. All scopes/trach washes/ etc etc clear and very frustrating for all concerned. Then just before Christmas we started to get a few anomalies in the white cell counts which suggested a 'post challenge'picture. the challenge most likely some sort of virus. annoyingly you mostly do not get a change in the cell counts at the time of the challenge so unless it causes sore throats or snot or temperatures you have no way - apart from bad results - to know what is going on!
After Taunton with Galactic Power, who always finishes off his races well and didn't - we decided that enough was enough and to not have any runners for a couple of weeks. Everything stayed in work, but no actual galloping just cantering away to keep everyone ticking over, and closely monitoring the bloods.
This weeks results much better, and time to kick on again, with hopefully some improved performances. All the horses look really well, and are of course fresh from an easy time - a few neck straps in regular use!!
As a consequence of no runners the team managed to have a relatively restful festive period, and everyone having either Christmas day or New Years Day off, and apart from John who hails from Co Tipperary, all got home or to where they wanted to be over the holiday period. (John is having a belated Christmas at home in a couple of weeks.) A big thank you to everyone for rocking up with a smile (it could have been a grimace!!)over the holiday.
Into a new decade - hard to think where the last ten years have gone so quickly - we saw the new year in at home, and I'm still cleaning vodka jelly off the kitchen ceiling!
A few very welcome days with no rain spoilt last night with a heavy storm, and some raindrops back on the forecast for next week - at least time to dry the waterproofs out! Its been a very testing few months one way and another so hoping for a positive start to 2020.
As always thank you for everyones unending support & encouragement and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR from us all at Hill Farm.
First Saturday of the month this week & I have it on good authority that the cakes are in the oven! See you at open Morning!
Its a case of all or nothing on the weather front, and having spent all of last season moaning about a lack of rain its now a case of' 'will someone please turn the taps off?''!
Last Thursday was unbelievable, and it just did not stop all night & all day! No chance of getting up Park Lane, and Jack & Badger had to wade through, and negotiate their way around three feet of 'puddle' to get to the waiting taxi to get up the drive! Darren & I on drain clearing duty but the ditches & drains just could not take the water away fast enough.
We got everyone living away off early, as Great Alne tends to be marooned quite quickly once the river bursts its banks, which it did just after lunch - tractor the only way out after that!
That was assuming that you could find away around all the dead cars that had for some reason been driven at high speed into the torrent!! Unbelievable really, as their were so many either in or around the floods, and a couple in the ditch!
Finally a better day today & some sunshine even spotted! Having had a few days in, all the horses wildly excited to go out - no doubt will be plastered by the time they come back in!
Cheltenham did really well to get the two days of racing in, having had to abandon Friday. Some great racing - no runners for us at HQ, but Tara Well (BTO for Harriet T) finishing third at Uttoxeter. A little disappointed with the run, but probably came up against a very well handicapped winner, and back safely.
Mr Palmtree (BTO for Frankie) ran another improved race at Hereford earlier in the week, to finish second. he jumped very well, and was just a bit green in the closing stages, which considering his experience is so limited yet, can be forgiven.
Twycross Warrior ran a blinder to finish fourth in his first race of the season, both horses ridden by Tabitha.
A busy day at Warwick saw Oneida Tribe, run a nice race, Vocaliser travel better early than he has done, & Black Kalarosa make a nice debut in a very hot bumper.
The team as ever doing sterling work in all the weather that is thrown at them! Clippers going non stop - as soon as you get to the end, its back to the beginning again!
We welcome John Ferguson & Michelle Burton, who have both joined us recently.
We should have been at Leicester today, sadly abandoned, and no entries until next weekend now.
Keep an eye on our facebook page for a cheeky preview or two!
A busy few weeks with all of the horses work building up ahead of their first runs, and fantastic to have the new gallop up & running. As always with a new wood-chip surface it takes a lot of working down as it settles in but it is a serious addition to our facilities, and we are delighted to have got it finished.
First few runners of the season as well - its so nice to get started again! Anti Cool ran well at Huntingdon to finish third, Bob Maxwell ran a nice race at Stratford yesterday & will come on for the run. Clondaw Sam ran a hugely encouraging race at Warwick, he actually ran all the way to the line,after a big wind op in the Summer. He will want further & probably fences, but at least now looks capable of transferring some of what he shows us at home onto the track.
A nice day at Warwick when we also sponsored the 'Charlie Poste Chase'. As you will know Charlie retired from race riding a couple of months ago, and we wanted to do something to mark the occasion. aside from another picture to hang on the wall, we couldn't really come up with anything, until Barney Simons suggested sponsoring a race!! Light bulb moment!!
A massive thank you to Charlie for all his efforts over the last 12 years, winners, shopping trips, riding out twice a week come rain or shine and a big input with race plans etc. We will miss him enormously, but as he & Francesca are only down the road will have plenty of opportunity to keep in touch.
We were delighted to attend Charlie & Frans' wedding last month as well, which was a fabulous occasion. Perfect day, stunning bride & the groom didn't brush up to badly either.
The team as always doing a fantastic job, especially as we are a man down. Its always disheartening when you give someone a chance and they then throw it back in your face. The work load huge this week as we had our Owners morning on Saturday.Lovely to see so many faces & a huge thanks to Nic Allen & Paul Mohan for all their help with pig cooking and catering, and as always Terry for yet more cakes!!
The horses all looking well, coats suddenly have started growing rapidly so clippers going constantly at present! Plenty of rain about but it did manage to stay away last Saturday, which was a relief!
Harriet & I had a very wet & muddy week in Ireland for her first competition since breaking her wrist. Huge fun, but bloody hard work on the mud, and possibly a rather large consumption of alcoholic beverages to compensate!!
Entries at Ludlow tomorrow, then nothing more until a busy looking time next week
The refurbishment of the woodchip gallop now on its final week (hopefully) an extension to complete the loop & a complete new top up all round, with a new layout incorporating the existing circle as a roundabout, will make a massive improvement to the facilities here. It also gives us a wide grass strip getting on for four furlongs long, which will also serve as a fantastic schooling ground.
Its always a long old job and 'Digger Mick' doing sterling work - can't wait to be able to start to use it.
Great to have Andrew & Jane Nicholls' Oneida Tribe back after his summer break, and hoping he will have a bit more luck this season.
The new filly from Ireland arrived last week, and it was nice to welcome a good turn out of the National Hunt Racing Enthusiasts to meet her on Saturday morning. Scorpion Sea went off to her new home on Monday, and we wish Bryony & Aero all the best for many happy years of fun together.
Future Boy has gone of to start a new life as well, & hopefully both homes will work out well for horses and their new riders.
The ROR charity is in the news today, and Harriet & I experienced the charity first hand when we took Thomas Crapper to the championships at Aintree last week. Crappy has always loved an occasion and took part in the 'Always a Star' parade on Saturday evening and then did some showing on Sunday.
He won two classes and was third & fourth in two others. He behaved impeccably and was much admired. A big step for a horse so recently out of training, and with a rider on board with a broken wrist!!
He is off to Moreton -in - Marsh show on Saturday for more of the same, having also done his first dressage test on the week which he duely won! TC is such an intelligent horse he can just turn his hooves to anything, and its great to see him setting out on the next phase of his career.
The rest of the string slogging away on the path back to full fitness - at least its a bit cooler now, which makes it a lot easier on horse & riders.
Angel of The North ran a couple of times last week. She is owned by the Mulrine family and Finn is gaining some experience as an amateur. She didn't really get home at Wolverhampton but ran much better at Brighton. She will go back over hurdles before long but its great to get Finn started as an amateur jockey.
Very hot here today and it has been baking all weekend.
The horses have had an easy few days as they all had their flu jabs last week ready for the new season. The rules have changed again again after the outbreak earlier in the year, and their once annual booster has to be done every eight months.
We didn't want to be doing them just as everything is ready to run, so have plumped for the six month option which won't then have to be topped up until April.
Just hacking for a week, which in the heat is something of a relief. the troops also managed to have a reasonably ordinary bank holiday Monday - the calm before the storm!
Its been a busy few weeks but has included a week away for us with a welcome break in Greece with the family, which now seems several lifetimes ago!
Straight back to it on return, and off one plane onto another to Dublin & a day at Tattersalls Sales followed by a trip, to West Meath to look at a smart Kalanisi filly belonging to Martin Lynch. Martin has kindly offered to lease her to the NHRE to replace Scorpion Sea whose wind is not letting her be a racehorse. she is looking for an alternative career, and the new filly arrived at 4.30 on Sunday morning.
In between the travelling we had an important evening giving Charlie Poste, who has been our stable jockey for 12 years, and who retired a few weeks ago, a proper send off at the end of his racing career.
Fran & I had managed to hatch a plan, that Charlie didn't know about and a good gathering of jockeys, owners, trainers, and friends all turned up to The Bell in Alderminster to have a drink with Charlie & wish him well.
A fun evening and one which we hope Charlie enjoyed.
We had many happy days on the track with Charlie & some super winners, and we will miss him immensely. However he & Fran have built up a very successful pre-training/pointing business & we wish them all the very best for the future along with a massive thank you for all of the miles travelled on Dickin horses!
Another good bye was to Toby Collins who has been spending his Summer holidays with us working in the yard. We would have been quite happy to kidnap Toby on a permanent basis but GCSE results loomed & funnily enough his Mum insisted on him going home for them!! Well worth it as some great results - well done Toby & thanks for all your help this summer!
The extension to the woodchip gallop is well under way & will improve the facilities again here at Hill Farm. It will be a mile around the woodchip once finished, also giving us a super grass gallop along side it which will also accommodate our schooling ground. Should all be done by the end of next week and will compliment the stiff hill gallop well.
A couple of runners at the end of the week, but the main gang won't be ready until the end of next month and the season is kicking off properly, hopefully along with plenty of rain.
The days are drawing in massively & Darren is having to turn lights on when he feeds in the mornings, which have a very Autumnal feeling to them already!
Summer holidays seem to have flashed past for the horses, and most are now back into work. They have all summered really well with conditions good for plenty of grass (unlike last year when it looked like a desert up here!) and also minimal flies.
The team have all been having some well deserved down time too, and looking well rested and ready for action!
That said, we have have a man down after Harriet had a horrible fall eventing a couple of weeks ago and smashed her wrist into small pieces! Surgery required and plenty of metal work inserted, she is now on a quest to get fit again, and is currently at Oaksey House who are helping her in that quest!
Oaksey is an incredible facility, and anyone on the stable staff register has access to it as well as the jockeys. Frankie has been spending time their too after knee surgery and they have been an incredible help. The mindset the polar opposite to the NHS who are happy for you to take forever to mend - everyone who rides horses wants to be back yesterday!
The team here have been fantastic in helping keep Harriets' string on the road whilst she mends, and as soon as she is given the green light they will be ready to go.
Exciting to have some new equine faces in the yard after a few shopping trips. Some new babies, and a lovely winning pointer, Secret Cove added to the string last week at Ascot sales.
Not many runners through the summer this year, a couple getting handicap marks, and sadly Scorpion Sea retired from racing as her wind not up to being competitive. SS is looking for a new home, so if she would be of interest for some post racing activity do get in touch.
After a couple of months with no Open Mornings its back to it again next month - Terry has his cake tins lined up and we are looking forward to seeing you all on August 3rd!
Flaming June it has not been! A LOT of rain fell last week, and planned outside get togethers very much on hold for the moment.
Planned runners staying at home as racing mainly cancelled due to water-logging. If only we had had some of this in the Winter it would have made life so much easier.
The holiday makers not looking wildly impressed with the conditions, but balanced out by no flies yet & plenty of grass, its probably an OK option!
Fair to say there are several who have completely let themselves go, and whose figures are going to take a bit of getting back!
Nice to see them looking so relaxed and not too long before they are back in again.
The team having well earned breaks, and nice to welcome Finbar Mulrine who has been coming in to ride out whilst Ceris off in Ireland fora few weeks.
Plenty of visitors here to visit and see the horses having some down time.
Only a couple of boxes left to power wash, the strimming is a never ending job as well, as fast as you get to the end its time to start at the beginning again!
We said a sad au revoir to Alice at the end of May (although she has already been back to ride out!!) before she heads off for her Australian adventure. Hope to see her again before she goes.
Hopefully a couple of runners at Uttoxeter this week conditions allowing.
Great to have our second winner of the new season on Friday. Hopefully starting out as we mean to go on for this year, having dug a very large hole and thrown last season into it!!
Anti Cool has had more than his fair share of problems over the years, and is basically made of glass, but when he gets it right does so in an impressive sort of way!
Its been a difficult time for everyone concerned with EPDS Racing, and as mentioned in a previous blog, there is really no need for us to comment more on a well documented subject, but hats off to Anti Cools' long suffering and patient owners who have stood by him (including EPDS) through thick and thin.
He was unlucky to get beaten on the line at Wincanton after being in front for a long time as he was travelling so well, and then just getting caught.
After a disappointing run at Worcester he had a 'mini break' and headed off to Market Rasen looking a picture. BTO for Harriet T much deserved.
Always keen under Tabitha Worsley, the pair sat handy (didn't want to be in front too soon!!!) joining the leader going to the last, and then scampering away to win tidily, without any undue exertions.
Tabitha is riding out of her skin at present, so well done to her, although I do think the home team deserve a special mention for skill and patience in getting this lad back to the winners enclosure! Its taken a while in coming but even sweeter for it!
Nice to disturb the residents of Park Lane again.
Much excitement last Sunday as Harriets' event mare Suzie Bell finally produced her foal - only took 369 days, and is the smallest foal you have ever seen. Feisty as you like though, and coming home from Batsford Stud today, along with Timons Tara and her colt by Dartmouth. thanks to Alan & Anna Varey and their team for all the care & attention (and sleepless night!). Suzie was the last of 60 they have foaled so a good nights sleep will be very much deserved.
Looking at the forecast not many outside jobs going to to get done this week so the last of the power washing to finish, as it looks as if a monsoon is heading our way.
All of the holiday makers looking fat and well, although I don't think they are going to appreciate the rest of the week!
The unfortunate folding of EPDS Racing has been well documented in the press recently, and there is no need for us to comment further.
Shares are available in all three horses, so do get in touch if you would like to get involved.
Anti Cool & Dontminddboys will be running in new partnerships
Galactic Power will be running in the newly set up Robin Dickin Racing Club
Email as above or call 07979518594 for details
Considering that we only have a handful of horses in work life seems to be particularly hectic at present! A lot of time spent on the road, with sales and eventing, its been interesting fitting everything in!
As always everything also falling on the same day! A wedding, a pre-race talk & a runner testing the organisational skills! Harriet went to the wedding, (many congratulations to Chloe & Sam Joyce!), Robin did his pre Stratford talk, then went on to the wedding and I got to go to Uttoxeter for the 8.50 on a Saturday night!!
Actually, as beautiful as the wedding was - seeing Twycross Warrior storm 14 lengths clear up the run in at Uttoxeter was a thing of even more beauty!! Winners have been hard to come by lately but 'Boris', who has been fragile to train, has been improving all the time, and we were quietly hoping for a very decent run - we were not disappointed. Given a lovely ride by Charlie Price, we did think he had hit the front too soon, but Boris jumped and travelled so well the result was never in doubt.
Brilliant to train a winner for Graham & Lynne Knight, who also bred Twycross Warrior, so a particularly special day for them. Much shouting from two out & Poppy & I certainly had sore throats on the way home!!
Up 9lbs for the win we had to take a chance on a quick follow up at Southwell, under a 7lb penalty. Charlie Price booked to ride again, but then stuck on the M50 after a bad accident. having won with a 7lb claim we had to claim again, or in effect we were going up a stone, so Ceris called into action and making a very quick dash to Southwell to replace Charlie. She did a good job and finished a close third, certainly neither of the pair were disgraced and great to have Twycross Warrior confirming his promise. Holidays for him now!
Also holidays for Ceris who is off to Gordon Elliots' for a month to see what she can learn, a super opportunity for her, and we hope she has a great time and brings back plenty of tips!!
The end of a major chapter for us and Thomas Crappers' loyal owners last Friday when we hosted his retirement party. Crappy came along too - never one to miss an occasion! Lots of incredible memories, stories and refection on his career. He took all of us to places that we could only dream of, and will never ever forget.
A few sore heads the next day, and looking at the bottle count I'm not surprised!! Great to get so many together, but also missing a few which was a shame. plans to be made going forward though & the next 'Crapper' also at the party! Watch this space for news on that front!
Doncaster was the next sales venue, and a busy & productive day spent assessing, and trying to afford some future stars!
Also news from the maternity ward with Timons Tara producing a cracking colt foal by Dartmouth. Dreams for the future already starting, and TT going to Scorpion this time. Her field mate Suzie Bell (Harriets eventer) still hanging on to her large bump at Batsford stud, now a month overdue I confess to be feeling somewhat impatient!!
Our other two brood mares are in Ireland to be covered by Axxos, a very smart stallion by Monsun. Thats' not going swimmingly well at present and neither in foal yet! Fingers crossed!
The team all getting some well deserved holiday in, and we are very sad to be losing Alice at the end of the week. She is off to do some track riding in Australia, which will be an amazing adventure for her! we have loved having Alice as part of the team & will miss her immensely, but wish her all the very best for the future & hope that she has a fantastic time down under!
Poppy is also off to pastures new this summer, so the 'dream team' getting split up rather. Poppys' family live in Somerset & her boyfriend has got a bit fed up with the commute up the M5 every weekend!! Poppy is going to re train as a vet nurse, and we think she will do a very good job. Both girls have been fantastic to have here, and we wish them all the very best.
Some new faces lined up to start in July, as June will be pretty quiet for us, however already looking forward to the new season with some exciting new horses as well as the old favourites!
Another day , another sale! Ireland this time for the stores at Tattersalls. Darren & I flew over on Monday and spent a long and somewhat frustrating day looking at some lovely & some not so lovely three year olds.
We were under bidders on four which was maddening, but always interesting to be there, lots of familiar faces to catch up with.
Back at it again at Doncaster next week!
The colts that came from the breeze ups are now no longer colts! The deed was done yesterday which will make life a lot easier for them - especially the one who thought he knew what it was all for!!
Four runners at Southwell on Tuesday all running well below par. Immediate after race scopes not good, but all clear yesterday & bloods fine too. Its been a season of mystery with horses appearing well at home - all tests clear but running disappointingly. Virtually everything is now going to have a holiday to try and put to bed whatever is ailing them. Plenty of grass this year, although very chilly this morning, and six weeks in the field should see everyone back on track.
The team busy power washing & disinfecting everything, washing rugs and getting all the usual summer jobs out of the way, then some down time for them too.
Some exciting new arrivals over the last few days after two visits to the sales.
Cheltenham firs, and a very buoyant market - as ever - for the pointers. we were delighted to secure the last lot of the day 'Achy Breaky Heart', a winner of two points - by Milan. A strong filly she will be running in a bumper before progressing back over hurdles.
Newmarket last Friday for the two year old breeze up sales. Very pleased with two purchases - the first for owner John Peacock - a big bay colt by Wootton Bassett who is stunning.
John is looking at him as a very long term project, and would be delighted to hear from anyone who might be interested in taking up a share in him. He really is stunning & we have high hopes for him.
The second purchase was a grey colt by Havana Gold - he is for sale. He has a decent page - breezed well and again should be a fun long term project.
Great to have some new faces over doors & lots of future plans to be made.
No runners in the new season so far, but two at Worcester today.
Anti Cool, runs in the first, he has a lot of ability, but has to have things just right on the day and if he repeats his Wincanton run should go close. Twycross Warrior runs in the last, we have always thought a lot of this horse, but he has never really had a clear run of things, but ran commendably last time so fingers crossed for more improvement.
we had our last Open Morning for a couple of months last Saturday & the next will be in August. Not much to see during June & July as most of the team having a summer break. If you would like to come & see us though we are always pleased to see you so just pick up the phone or email to arrange a visit.
Our regular Open Mornings have proved very popular (something to do with Terrys' cakes??) and we have raising getting on for £1000 for the Air Ambulance through donations made, which is very pleasing. A charity that should not have to be a charity & one we all may need at some point in our lives!
New season, new resolution to keep the blog up to date!
Its been a busy time and I'm afraid that the blog has suffered as a result - one of the things that kept making it back to the bottom of the list!
Safe to say that last season was not one of our finest, and I think we are all glad to have got to the end of it - now on the same score as our esteemed neighbour & the champion trainer - think its going to be one of our best.
Lots of plans for the season ahead, and already feeling excited about it. Lots of sales catalogues sitting in the kitchen/by the bed/in the loo! Flights already booked & journeys planned, so watch this space!
Looking back at last season, our winners tally was certainly down, and a string of very frustrating seconds did't help either.
Obviously we have been looking closely at reasons, but I think first and foremost was the lack of rain, with several of our old faithfuls that love a slog being scuppered by a total lack of suitable ground.
New gallops & facilities always take a bit of getting used to, but we have combined the changes with regular visits to gallops that we have always used & know well.
The vaccination hiccup was followed closely for us, by some dirty trach washes - coincidence?, At the same time as we were held up - it also rained - sods law!
On the plus side we now have a string of what are probably well handicapped horses for the new season! Bring it on.
Several niggly injuries also did not help our cause, with horses getting hurt at the races, & losing a lovely young horse was also a massive blow.
On the plus side, wins for Some Finish, Lara Trot, Thomas Crapper, The Lion Man & Celestial Chimes & La Fille Francaise were all days to be celebrated.
A lot of seconds caused a lot of hair pulling, but Thomas Crappers Sandown second was a joy to watch( until the last furlong!)! Our stable star has now retired from racing after serving us so well for 9 seasons, he is staying here with us, and will be seen out and about doing ROR & low level competition.
The messages from literally hundreds of people on his retirement just went to show what a great sport we are involved in, and how much the racing public actually think of our amazing athletes.
The reaction of owners here when horses have picked up an injury has also been commendable, with one particular group who have had a less than good run this year to put it mildly - all only concerned about their horses' welfare when told a two month box rest sentence had been passed! It just does remind you why you do the job.
The team here have been a joy to work with & we thank them for all their hard work. Its easy to smile when its going well - harder during a season like this, but they have kept their (& our) spirits up & thoroughly deserve a 'Thank God its over party'!!
Darren, Harriet T, Ceris, Alice, Poppy, Frankie & Kay - THANK YOU. They have been ably assisted by Charlie, Jack, James & Tabitha so thank you to them too.
Thank you too, to all of our owners & friends who keep encouraging, celebrating, commiserating & most of all being positive about the future - and to out yard sponsor Clay St, without all of whom we would have emigrated long ago!
Many of the horses are now having a holiday, with no rain on the horizon, and plenty of grass, a break will do them good and we will come back fighting for the coming season.
The pressure washer already making an entrance, and paint brushes at the ready! Joy!!!
Its our last Open Day Saturday this week for a couple of months, Terry has his cake tins out , so do come and see the horses still in work & also the holiday makers - some of whom have already let themselves go rather badly!! Its actually lovely to see them out & 'chilling'.
We will also be able to give you details of our new (& we think very exciting) 'Robin Dickin Racing Club', gates open at 9 & look forward to seeing you on Saturday
Its been an interesting couple of weeks with all the goings on regarding the flu outbreak.
Happily we were balloted out of Ludlow the week it all kicked off, which at the time we were not very happy about, but actually turned out to be a blessing!
It meant that we were not on a mandatory lock down, but we did implement a self imposed one, and had no horses in or out for the duration of the suspension of racing.
We did not have to be swabbed, but have been taking temperatures twice a day, on top of our normal bio security measures.
Absolutely support the BHA's stand in acting so quickly at the beginning of the scare, but do think that a heads up on the 6 month jabs might have been in order at the beginning of the week off, rather than just as we were getting going again. Frustrating, but the same for everyone, so we just had to get on with it.
Some new protocols now in place for race days, and more forms to fill in. They have now upgraded the ones that there was actually nowhere to write a horses name on!!
All except one of ours breezed through the jabs, without a reaction. The one just under the weather for a bit and a few days off in order.
The danger now probably lies outside racing, with horses that are not vaccinated and who's owners choose to keep going out and about regardless. Madness that a multi million pound industry shuts up shop, but the uninformed choose to stick their heads in the sand, and insist on still going out and about when its really not necessary.
No runners at least meant some time to catch up on some jobs around the place that always seem to get to the bottom of the 'to do' list.
We have just taken delivery of a new lorry , which is very exciting. As we have our smart new 'CLAY STREET' sponsorship logos, it seemed an appropriate moment to upgrade to one with a lot less miles on, although our old faithful, Flo, has done a brilliant job over the last eight years & nearly 200,000 miles!
All is Good has been a proper sick note this winter, after running disappointingly, he had a soft palate operation, from which they come back very quickly from. Unfortunately he also chose to have a foot abscess just as he was due to run, which was not a usual straight forward affair, but niggled away for what seemed forever! Plenty of swimming at Arden Equine kept him going, but of course then no racing! We didn't mention the flu to him as it might have been yet another excuse, so it was a relief to get him to Huntingdon last Sunday. Ideally he wants the ground a lot softer, but jumped like a stag & travelled well throughout the race to just be a bit one-paced from the last to finish third only beaten 31/2 lengths. He will come on for the race.
Mr Palmtree had his first run over fences at Ludlow, he needed a third run for a handicap mark, and a chasing run counts. He jumps really well & as his future lies over fences we thought he might as well take that route with him. Funny old race with the favourite a 1/10 shot! rated 137 & we only got 6lbs off him! we finished second only beaten 8 lengths & were delighted with Mr P who jumped like a proper professional, and stayed on well. We will await Tuesday with interest!
There are a couple of shares left in Mr Palmtree, so do get in touch to get involved with a lovely young horse at the start of his career. A fun partnership & very affordable package.
Back to Huntingdon today with Vocaliser & Galactic Power, both of whom probably want softer ground, but with not even one raindrop on the forecast, its a case of taking advantage of Good to soft, before it gets even faster.
Neither of our two declared for Warwick who are having to water - nuts in February & really don't envy Simon Claisse having to decide what to do with Cheltenham, where he'll'' be in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation!
Finally a 'big 'Get Well Soon' to Anna Lisa Kinnersley (a friend & owner with us and also used to run our partnerships) who has had a little stay in Warwick hospital recently. Home now but hope she is soon back on her feet.
The weather just not knowing what to do with itself at present. Warm one minute, cold the next, but very little in the way of rain. Can't remember when we have had so little & apart from a couple of places there has been no real winter ground yet.
Several of ours really needing the testing conditions & the likes of Dontminddboys really missing Towcester in a bog! Even Chepstow the other day was relatively fast & although the ground was turning over it only really rode on the good side of good to soft. No doubt once it starts it wont stop - probably in June when they are all in the field!
a busy couple of weeks & some nice results - Nomination Game really getting his act together now, and finished second at Leicester - Jamie slightly frustrated at himself as thought he hit the front too soon, and NG was a bit green in front. Hes not an easy ride as he pulls so hard in the early stages & is also very inexperienced, but massive steps forward with him from where he was.
Three Bullet Gate is a lovely young horse, and ran well at Warwick to finish a running on 6th, only beaten 8 lengths - trip a bit short & 21/2 miles for him next time. Still learning about him, and he will be a serious chaser for next season.
Oneida Tribe is a massive horse, who also needs testing conditions so its been a frustrating winter with him, however with the benefit of a first run under his belt he ran a blinder to finish second at Warwick - only collared up the run in by one of next doors progressive types. Given a top class ride by Jack Quinlan, he jumped like a bunny and finished well ahead of the rest of the field.
Lara Trot has given us a bit of a hair pulling time as well, and picked up a nasty injury in her first run over fences, when losing a hind plate, which ripped into her foot and left her very lame for several weeks. She was very badly handicapped as well, being given an opening mark of 104 - ludicrous - and of course it takes several runs for the handicapper to get her down to where she should be. Race planning not helping either and no three mile novice chases anywhere in the calendar, so back to hurdles for her in what we thought would be too short a trip at Leicester. Desperate to get a run into her it was the best option. Tara Well, who won the race last year also entered and again she is crying out for some [proper soft ground - so not really that hopeful for either mare.
We need not have worried though as the two of them set off to make it into a staying race with Charlie Hammond on board Lara & Ceris having only her fourth ride over hurdles on Tara. Coming to the last it was a battle between the two of them - who to shout for?? 'Come on Girls' had to cover it and a better jump at the last sealed it for Lara Trot, who finished half a length up.
Much celebrating all round, and delighted for The Trotters who have kept the faith with Lara. She is big mare, and we have always said that staying chasing will be her job, so to win a hurdle race on the way is a bonus!
Tara Well's journey has been well documented here, and there is much love for my gallant little mare here, and afar. The National Hunt Enthusiasts Racing Club considered her before last season, but understandably as she was coming back from a serious pelvis injury decided to go elsewhere for a leased horse. However Ruth Lancaster was smitten with Tara & we have kept in touch, The NHRE then leased Scorpion Sea this season. She had a couple of promising outings, but then sadly picked up an injury just after Christmas in the form of a hairline fracture to a cannon bone. She will make a full recovery but obviously this left the group with nothing to run from here, so Harriet Turner (co owner of Tara) & I decided to let the group have her as a courtesy car until the end of the season!
This was a first run in their colours and the tough little mare certainly gave them something to shout about! Not sure that the winners enclosure knew what had hit it at Leicester with much support for both horses! Great end to a cold and gloomy day.
Mr Palmtree ran a better race earlier in the day, he is still learning his job, on the track, he is showing us plenty at home, just taking a bit of time to learn his trade. Still a couple of shares available in him with a really nice group of friendly folk. Nomination Games'run just too badly to be true - probably too soon after his last run, and a furious gallop also didn't help him to see the race out. Jack sensibly pulled him up to save him for another day.
A day at Doncaster sales proved very unproductive on Wednesday - a lot of expensive looking pointers, some very uninspiring horses off the flat, and only two that we would like to have brought home that made too much money. Very hard to buy a nice horse these days without a fairly big budget, and many that look hugely overpriced. It would be nice to have the time to follow the ones that we like the look of through to see how they end up. One in particular we have done that with, that Charlie & I bypassed in Ireland as we didn't like it, only to see it win its point, and then make massive money at the sales (& I do mean massive!!) only to have had two absolutely dire runs over here. Nice that we got that one right!
A day across the water coming up, and a hunt for some new inmates, so if you are interested in forming a new partnership or getting involved in a horse do please let us know. The beginning of a journey with a new horse always exciting.
Well Christmas all over and done with for another year, and we are now well into 2019! Scary how fast last year seemed to whizz by - sign of getting older I guess!
Firstly thank you for all the goodies, and donations to the team party (which we haven't actually managed yet!) everyone did come to us for a pre Christmas dinner, but for a variety of reasons we haven't managed to actually go out yet! For a small team it all seemed to be very complicated before the holiday to get everyone out together but we will manage it now its all over! Actually quite nice to go out now when it all goes rather quiet for a bit!
A million thanks to the troops who kept the show on the road over the Christmas period - we did manage to get everyone home to where they wanted to be and they either had Christmas Day or New Years day off plus an afternoon, plus a few shorter days so at least it was a a bit of a break for everyone. No runners Boxing day which was actually lovely so we were glued to the TV watching instead!
The weather has been unseasonably mild & unfortunately also very dry now with no raindrops on the forecast for the next ten days, which is not ideal!
Horses are running much better now, a lovely winner at Hereford last week - Some Finish has been a bit of an enigma since he arrived, and had actually been rechristened Can't Finish! He was running well at Exeter before Christmas until he was badly hampered and made a mistake, but in all honesty we were not going to Hereford with a massive amount of hope! However he looked like a different horse from flag fall and made all and actually pulled (he never pulls!) for the whole three miles, jumped well and fought bravely when challenged from the last. No voices left and a first class ride from Tabitha. BTO for Lauren (cider!)
Bally Lagan ran much better for a long way under Ceris, but made a mistake two out and was pulled up but travelled and jumped well up to that point.
Vocaliser has had us scratching our heads after a couple of lack lustre runs. He travelled with no enthusiasm at Newbury & too much at Haydock! However reunited with his partner in crime from last season (Charlie) he looked much more his old self at Sandown on Saturday, and jumped and travelled really well to finish 4th, & not beaten far. Much more like it!
La Fille Francais & Oneida Tribe both ran well at Warwick - effectively first run of the season for them both. Tara Well had a couple of good runs - ground needs to be a lot softer for her.
Dontminddboys ran awfully at Hereford, but was impeded by a faller early in the race - we had done wind checks etc with him & found nothing so went to Uttoxeter with heart in mouth slightly! Heart stayed there over the first three fences when he jumped left and ballooned his fences. Jamie Moore would have been entitled to pull him up but kept on at the back of the field, and eventually Caspar started to get his act together. By the time they got back to the stands he had passed one and then seemed to start to enjoy himself, and then fought his way home to finish third only beaten 4 lengths - another furlong and he'd have won! Much more like the Caspar we know & love & a top riding performance by Jamie.
Little Galactic Power ran another solid race to be 4th at Ludlow - he really is a favourite, such a little trier, everyone loves him!
Harriets first runner pointing finished fifth - Coyaba just got a bit tired going to the last, which he was entitled to do, having had two years off the track. Jumped really well under Tabitha and should go close next time for Liz Prowting. Liz isn't too well at present so we wish her a speedy recovery.
Lots of visitors over the holiday period and an excellent turnout for our first Open Morning of the year last Saturday. Great to see so many faces, familiar & new. Lots of lovely pictures sent in - have a look at facebook!
A rather quieter couple of days now no runners till Thursday, but from all of us at Dickin HQ we would like to wish everyone a
'Happy ,Healthy & Prosperous New Year, with plenty of Winners!'
A busy couple of weeks and the horses at last starting to find some form.
A slight out break of seconditis, but after a bout of nowhereitis its been welcome!
Three Bullet Gate ran very well at Fakenham to be second in only his second hurdle race, he looks to be a very exciting prospect indeed. Anti Cool had his second run back after two years off and ran very well for a long way - possibly just running out of puff going to the last, but also not suited by the track, and a soft palate op also on the cards for him.
Fakenham is a bloody long way to go, and mostly a good experience, but very disappointing for the staff. A tiny breakfast for £5?? Come on Fakenham that's just not good enough. Also not good has been no follow up from a friendly query about it on the day! Not good customer relations!
The lovely little Galactic Power who has given us so much fun, appreciated the softer ground at Exeter, and also finished second, putting a couple of disappointing runs behind him.
A revitalised Thomas Crapper followed up his win with a super second at Sandown, with Tabitha Worsley in the saddle. Crappy had a ball and jumped for fun only getting collared at the last. Great to see Tabitha riding so well after breaking her back only 12 months ago.
Vocaliser ran very well in very deep ground at Haydock and would have made the first four at least but for a blunder two out which stopped him in his tracks.
Nomination Game is starting to put his problems behind him, and had his first run over fences at Ludlow. Very keen early, but not manic, he jumped very well under Jamie Moore, and finished a pleasing fifth. A massive improvement on what he has been achieving and more to look forward to with him.
A less good day at Fontwell yesterday.
A few away days galloping and plenty else going on in the lead up to Christmas. Great to see Charlie win the ATR Ride of the Month for his efforts on Thomas Crapper at Southwell.
The gallop refurb finished for now, the circle at the end all mended and the school also finished its face lift, which is a great relief.
All of the changes have been tough to cope with, and although its great to have everyone in the same place, in the yard, new gallops etc do take time to get used to and getting the finishing touches in place does seem to have taken forever! Still fencing to do, and some groundwork in progress, but we're getting there!
We weaned the two foals a couple of weeks ago, and they didn't seem to be bothered at all! The mares back out but the babies are loving being in at night and benefit from plenty of handling. They soon get used to the routine and love a fuss!
An exciting day for Harriet this weekend as she sends out her first runner! She has a pointer to train for Mrs Liz Prouting - the first one she has done herself, so nervous times for her! Tabitha takes the ride. A bit different to the eventers who are mostly on holiday at the moment.
Christmas looms and as usual not much done towards it yet in the Dickin house! Must get to it before the New Year!!
After a long lean spell it was great to have a visit to the winners enclosure last week Thomas Crapper. Crappy has been an absolute legend for us, but has had a difficult 18 months after fracturing a bone at the back of his knee at the Cheltenham April meeting, we thought that it could well be a career ending injury for him, but thanks to the skill of Mark Georgetti at Three Counties, who took out bone chips, the absolute patience of the home team - especially Harriet Turner who looks after him, miles of rehab walking, the patience of his lovely owners who have stood by him through it all and a few days of hunting with Harriet Dickin - Crappy got it back together under a great ride from Charlie to win a vetrans chase at Southwell!
Lots of screaming and a good bit of emotion from everyone involved and plenty of folk who are part of the Crappy Fan Club! He seems to have a great following which became evident after he was injured. Hundreds of messages and a good few packets of polos arriving here for him, and so many people delighted to see him back in the winners enclosure.
Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to wish him well - its so great to have the support.
That support is equally important when things don't go to plan, as was the case at Bangor the week before when we tragically lost Park Philosopher. a lovely big horse by Milan, for whom we had high hopes. His owners Angela & Bert Thompson had given him all the time he needed to strengthen up before his first tun over hurdles. Sadly all the dreams were shattered, when he broke a hind leg going to the third last. Thank you for all the lovely messages, and our hearts go out to The Thompsons. RIP lovely Neville.
The Team, ever professional, were back at it the next morning with gallopers leaving the yard at 6.30! Hard as it is, the only thing to do is take a mighty deep breath, square up the shoulders and go forward.
Plenty running well. Thee Bullet Gate making his debut over hurdles at Chepstow ran a blinder to be 6th, Mr Palmtree ran very well in the hottest bumper of the year so far, and looks an exciting prospect.
Nomination Game getting his act together better at each run and finished a decent third on his last run.
The weather as ever trying everyone's patience and plenty of ours still waiting on some proper winter ground. Its raining now (at last) and is also very cold! Storm Diana apparently approaching!
First Saturday of the month this week so don't forget its our monthly Open Morning! Terry is warming up his baking tins, and it'll be the last one of the year so every chance of a festive theme to his ever popular cakes!!
If you are stuck for Christmas present ideas, a share in one of our partnerships never disappoints!!
Its been a bit of a roller coaster few weeks here, and still a massive rain deficit!
It seems that it either pours or there is nothing, and we are still waiting on some proper winter ground.
Much chillier here this morning, and apparently we are going to have a colder weekend.
Lots going on at home, with a refurb for the arena and the old woodchip gallop also getting a facelift.
The horses all looking fantastic but results from the few we have run have been a bit in and out to say the least!
On paper it looks a bit gloomy but actually once you go into the runs there are plenty of reasons to explain some disappointing performances.
Cheers Delboy finished a good fifth on his debut over fences - only to pull up lame having picked up a significant injury during the race. Gutting for the team that own him, but we bought them a 'super sub' at Doncaster yesterday - Bob Maxwell who has been running on the flat and will hopefully give the group some fun whilst Del recovers.
A busy day at Warwick, Scorpion Sea ran a good race on her debut for the yard and the NHRE Club. Brilliant to see so many there to support her and enjoying their day at the races.
All Is Good ran well as did Bally Lagan and Under The Phone - both the latter possibly needing their first run of the season.
All fine after.
River Argentee ran a solid race at Southwell to be third, but then ran disappointingly at Catterick (it was a long way home for Brian & Ceris!)
Nomination Game is a bit of an enigma - straightforward enough at home, and going down at the races, but once the flag falls turned into a raging bull at Warwick! Pulled too hard and always going right - better next time at Market Rasen but has to learn to settle better.
The Lion Man not enjoying fences at Southwell & will go back over hurdles next time. Lara Trot missed the break rather and then always behind - fences for her next time. She does want further but options rather limited at present.
Three Bullet Gate was bought to replace the ill fated Get Involved, but arrived with chronic ulcers, and the Point of Attack partnership have had a long wait whilst we sorted out his problems. they were well rewarded for their patience when we finally got him to the track at Southwell in what looked a hot bumper. He ran on really well having been given a lovely patient ride by James Nixon, to finish a very pleasing third. One to keep an eye on!
Galactic Power ran well at Huntingdon, just finding the pace a bit hot and possibly just needing his first run of the season. Some Finish did not like Huntingdon at all!
Great to have Twycross Warrior & Anti Cool back on the track after very long layoffs. Both ran pleasingly for their first runs for two years.
All Is Good emptied very quickly yesterday at Southwell & is off for a wind op, La Fille Francaise ran well to be fourth & Galactic Power had a rare off day & also is better right-handed!
New gallops always take a bit of getting used to, so we have been taking runners up to Robert Waley-Cohens to have an away day before their runs, and also as its too firm to school on the grass have taken several to Warwick to use their watered schooling ground, which has been immensely helpful for many local trainers during this very dry spell.
We are running some tests just to be sure that nothing unseen is lurking, but think its unlikely at this stage!
The team in great form and winning lots of turn outs (except at Southwell where they are too mean to give any BTOs at all) Four runners and four BTOs at Warwick for Ceris & Lauren - that takes a bit of beating!!
They are all an absolute pleasure to work with.
We are actually a man down at present as poor Frankie stepped off one that whipped round the other day and twisted her knee badly. Always better to land on your bum apparently! MRI yesterday so just waiting to see what the damage is, (minimal we hope)
Myroundorurs & Dans Quest have both gone off to start new careers. We saw Myround at a team chase the other day looking fantastic & pleasing his new owners. Great reports re Dan too who has settled in to his new life too.
Timons Tara is safely in foal to Dartmouth, and out with Susiebell who is in foal to Olympic Lux. This years foals about to be weaned, so lots to look forward to with them.
The eventing season drawing to a close and our last International last week in sunny Devon. Its been a mostly good season for Harriet who has some lovely young horses coming through, with the inevitable downs along with the ups! Great to see some of the racehorses who have come to the end of their racing careers taking to another discipline. It does underline how important it is to start them correctly so that they have options once their racing career is over. Custer of the West who belongs to Liz Prowting, particularly pleasing last w/e finishing his season with a double clear.
No runners over the w/e, next entries at Bangor on Tuesday.
Its starting to feel quite Autumnal now, a thick fog greeted us on Saturday morning, although it was still very mild.
Happily the sun had got through by the time our visitors arrived for our monthly 'Open Morning'
A great turn out of familiar faces & new ones too.
As always a big Thank you to Terry & Mandy Poulson for amazing cakes & making teas & coffees!
Several of the National Hunt Racing Enthusiasts Club here to see Scorpion Sea, who they have leased from Jo Rose for the season. A full sister to All is Good she is shaping up well, and isn't far off a run now.
All the horses are looking incredibly well and we are starting to contemplate some rain dancing as the forecast does not promise much.
Nice to see Jane Nicholls here last week to see her and Andrew's horses. Nomination Game is coming on well, and Oneida tribe is back from his summer holidays with Chris Henn, and looks a picture.
Also good to see members of Just 4 Fun & The Trotters here on Friday to see Cheers Delboy & Lara Trot over a few drinks & a BBQ.
The farm is looking green again now, its incredible how the grass has recovered after being burnt to a crisp back in June! Mushrooms a plenty too.
The new partnership in Mr Palmtree (see in Horses for Sale) is coming together well now - still a few shares left so do get in touch if you would like to get involved in this lovely young horse. He won't be too long before he runs so don't hesitate for too long!
Very sad news on Saturday with the passing of Cliff Beech, an owner with us for 20 years, yard sponsor for 12 and a great friend.
Cliff was passionate about his horses, had an excellent racing knowledge and followed the yard diligently. He never missed a runner and was always on hand to offer an opinion or advice.
He was an astute business man, and his 93 years had not dulled a sharp & enquiring mind right until the end.
A kinder man would be hard to find, and his horses and stock all were well looked after on his farm until the end of their days.
Our sincerest condolences to sons Colin & Mick and to the rest of Cliff's very close knit family.
The world has been a better place for us, having known Cliff & he will be much missed.
Back into the swing again now, with everyone in from their summer hols. Staff & horses alike!
The horses look very well and are probably a little ahead of schedule as the new hill gallop is proving to be a brilliant asset, a great surface and the incline great for getting fit without a lot of galloping work.
The new yard is also proving to be a massive hit, and SO much easier than running up and down the drive.
The team also looking tip top after their summer breaks, great to have the same crew as last year, with the exception of Megan who, after passing her law OU final exam has gone over to the 'dark side' and is now working for the BHA in Disiplinary!! Hoping not to see her anytime soon!!
We have even manged to get a holiday in this year and have just had a lovely family week in Spain with Chris & Lou & their children. Nice to be away, but nice to be back & thanks to Darren & the team for holding the fort whist we were away.
As always hitting the ground running and plenty to catch up on after being away. A week in the office awaits!
Lovely to see a good turnout of Crappers, Park Laners, Some Finishers & Goodies on Friday for a little get together, and the Point Of Attack crew a couple of weeks before, again for a little pre season drink. Not long now until we see some action.
Lovely to have got three winners on the board already, and hoping to beat last years score this season.
Charlie & Jack & James all in riding out again along with Tabitha when she can.
We were particularly saddened to hear of the passing of Gary Allbutt, who built the new barn & installed the original gallop here. Gary was an all round top man, and many could learn a lot from him. He was always there in times of 'Oh S**t'' we need help, either mending broken things or putting out muck heap fires! Our sympathies to his partner Natalie & sons Lewis, Dan & Chris. He will be much missed.
After generously sponsoring the yard for the last twelve years Cliff Beech has decided that as he is now unable to get to the races in person, it is time for him to take a step back in terms of sponsorship.
We are so grateful to Cliff and his family for their generosity over such a long period and have been very proud to carry the 'Beech' name at the races and beyond.
The familiar burgundy will still be carried by Cliffs' own horses, but a change is afoot for the rest of the team.
We are delighted to announce that as from this week Clay Street Property Consultants will be taking over as yard sponsors.
A change of colours at the races, to grey & blue, with the Clay Street logo which will soon become familiar on the Dickin horses.
We thank Clay Street very much for taking the sponsorship on and will be proud to be associated with such a successful company, and hope it will be a mutually beneficial relationship!
Not many in at the moment as the dry weather has prompted us to get everyone out for their well deserved holidays. It was a long winter for everyone - human & equine alike, and even though some of the equinnes did not get to the track too many times when the ground was so deep its still a long time for them to be in.
One of my favourite times of year is seeing them all out with full tummies and snoozing in the sunshine.
The flies have been late appearing this year (we were hoping they had all drowned!) but they have just started make their presence felt, so very early morning exercise is beckoning, and we will then have the rest in in the day and out at night.
Everyone's favourite jobs currently under way & actually nearly finished. Pressure washing stables and mats is a rotten job, but important to get everywhere cleaned and disinfected before we start again. Strimmers going, rugs getting washed all part of our summer fun!
The team getting some well earned holiday in too, and several tanned faces looking well rested which is great to see.
Great to have got off the mark for the new season with La Fille Francaise, and a fun day at Southwell a couple of weeks ago with The Lion Man & Celestial Chimes both finally getting their act together!
Rarely would Robin not go to the races with a runner, but thinking that both would get balloted out, we had arranged to have supper with Andrew & Jane Nicholls. and Harriet was despatched to the races to saddle the runners! Her first time going solo in such a role!
Watching from home we were relieved to see both runners still travelling well two out, and gobsmacked to see them still at the head of affairs at the last! A great race with our two fighting out the finish with another runner, and much encouragement from the kitchen! The Lion Man came out on top - by a nose - from Celestial Chimes! What a result - suffice to say we were all pretty surprised, but it made for a celebratory evening!
The girls not back till after midnight after a shocking run back - but still up for a glass of fizz! Harriet now keen to saddle more regularly!
Well done to the team for being so professional & to John & Margaret Cooper who have been SO patient with The Lion Man, and to Lilian Barry who was nearly audible from Fermoy shouting Celestial Chimes home!
Ceris had her second ride over hurdles on Under The Phone at Warwick - thank you to The Trixters for giving her the chance to ride him. A bit free early we were worried he wouldn't get home - especially as we were upping his trip a lot! But having been headed turning in, he rallied well and finished a running on fourth. Good effort from horse & rider.
A couple of disappointing runners around Stratford, but races run at breakneck speed, and horses will be fine on a slower track.
The new look Hill Farm is now pretty much done - at last! Both gallops all done & just fencing to do now. Its been a trying 12 months with all the redevelopment, but actually well worth it now that its all done!
Several new faces of the four legged variety - firstly a bay filly by Frozen Fire ex Dancing Daffodil, then a chestnut filly by Native Ruler ex Kaddys Girl, giving a cutness overload. terrible time wasters, but lovely correct winners of the future!
Four youngsters to break in, which are well under way & a new five year old by Robin de Pres from Ascot sales last week.
Mr Palmtree is a lovely athletic five year old who has been placed second & third pointing in Ireland, and we just could not resist him at the sales!
He just needs an owner/owners now - so do call and see him or just ask if you would like more details!
A couple of runners at Stratford this afternoon, and Uttoxeter tomorrow.
I am afraid that I seem to have been very lax on the blog front over the last couple of weeks - started several time s but not got round to finishing it, so apologies for a news blackout!
The weather has probably blighted us having our best season ever with several abandonments when we had horses in with good chances - frustrating, but its the same for everyone. Happily the forecast much better for this week, although I expect that in a minute we will all be complaining that its too firm/hot!
The horses have been running really well, and we added another two winners to our tally since the last blog.
Young Lou has not had a smooth run of things this winter & nor has Tabitha Worsley, so it was brilliant to see them form a great partnership to win convincingly at Warwick, for our long time supporter and yard sponsor Cliff Beech & Brian Wilkinson. Sadly Cliff not able to come racing these days, but was I am sure cheering Lou & Tabs on from home! Tabitha's first winner after breaking her back at Ludlow only three months ago. Tough stuff from her and a delighted team here.
Galactic Power & Oneida Tribe (Andrew & Jane Nicholls) also ran at Warwick. OT tribe making an uncharacteristic error and parting company with Adrian Heskin (both fine after) and little GP (EPDS Twitterati) characteristically running his usual solid race to finish third.
Quickly on to Towcester the next day with Dontminddboys who has been a model of consistency this year, even though the ground has been against him all winter. Th is was his ninth run of the season, and he had not been out of the first three in all of them. He was not about to change that on the day & under a super ride from Jack Quinlan, stayed on dourly up the hill for his third win! Well done to EPDS Racing who were well supported, and cheered their lovely grey home.
Unbelievably there are still shares left in this stunning grey boy - get in touch with us or John Powell at EPDS for information on joining his partnership. Not sure what you could want more in a racehorse than one as consistent as DMDB, and he's beautiful too!
A blank week after Towcester as the world seemed to be waterlogged, with the weather certainly not helping the new gallop construction - its been a bit of a slog at home too!
The team as ever just getting on with it - brilliant stuff from all of them.
Finally got out and about again to Kempton with Under The Phone, who has been twiddling his thumbs for most of the winter waiting for some better ground! As the word good appeared on the going report he had to take his chance - only to be greeted with more rain and no G word by the time his race came around! He ran a blinder though to finish third for The Trixters who have been patiently waiting for him to be out again! Great run under Charlie and very pleased with him.
Two at Ludlow the same day. and Lara Trot & Belles Spirit both running well under Jack. Both fillies for the future - remember the names!
In amongst everything going on at home we managed to fit in a quick Irish trip -and the result of that trip arrived on Saturday. A serious grey Milan five year old who has been placed pointing and who is now looking for an owner or owners. Come & see him - he is likely to be our next partnership horse unless he is snapped up first!
Big news is that the new gallop is now finished. lots of clearing up to do around it, but that will have to wait for some drier ground, but the surface is on and we are riding on it! Feels brilliant and a good hard pull up the hill is certainly a bonus to our existing facilities. Big thanks to our landlord Nic Allen who is always striving to improve our facilities here. A little way to go yet with all the improvements since the 'big move', but nearly there and we love it!
Aintree over for another year and some great racing, but the biggest cheer from this corner of Warwickshire was reserved for the last race - a very hungry James Nixon (9st 11lbs!) rode a super race to win for trainer Tony Carroll. Brilliant result for James - well done!
The days are getting longer & the grass is at last starting to come through - no rain forecast this week and temperatures due to rise, so it appears that Spring is at last putting in a very belated appearance!
Cheltenham over for another year - hard to believe its come and gone again.
A great week, marred by events on the last day. A sad end to what had been some amazing racing, and personally I think that the new layout of the track works well & does make it feel less crowded outside (looked pretty standard crush inside!) Great to catch up with lots of friends and some that we hadn't seen since last year!
No runners for us sadly. Thomas Crapper was entered but balloted out - which actually was a good thing as the ground was far too soft for him.
Kaddys Dream (Shaw Racing) and Belles Spirit (The Happy Horse partners) both headed off to Huntingdon on Wednesday, Bellles Spirit for another quiet run, and ran OK. Kaddys Dream came there looking all over the winner turning in, but then didn't really see it out. Jack thought he may have just got there too soon, but she may just want better ground. Chasing is the long term aim for her but no point in risking her novice status at this time of year.
One whose novice status has happily long gone this season is Vocaliser, who has been a model of consistency this year. He headed to Kempton on Saturday for a big step up in class, but answered every question asked of him to win tidily for The Songsters. He travelled and jumped really well and quickened up well turning in to win by a couple of lengths going away. Great ride from Charlie, and very good performance from Vocaliser for a very enthusiastic group of owners.
Ten minutes before Vocalisers race, Tara Well gave it her best shot to give us an across the card double on ITV, when running a brave race to be second under James at Uttoxeter. Ridden patiently she came there travelling well into the straight but just came up against one on the day! She beat the third horse by 16 lengths so hard not to be anything but pleased with her on a really filthy freezing cold day. They went to post in a blizzard and she had to have snow drifts brushed out of her cheek pieces at the start! Nice to see her number one fan (after her owners!) Ruth Lancaster there to cheer her on, and interesting to see some of the outfits on show on Paddys day! All I can say is that they must have been very cold!
Thomas Crapper was next up and travelled Ok for a good way, but he has always loathed the snow (won't go out of the yard in it at home) and was not at all happy in it during the race - he didn't really get home and we will be having another look at his wind, as well as waiting for some better ground before hes out again. (as well as a non blizzard day!)
All the runners home safely and sound - always the best relief however they have run.
More of the white stuff over the weekend - and we woke up to drifts and a hurricane blowing on Sunday. Happily everyone back safely from racing as it would have been a bit of a mission coming up the drive had they been 12 hours later!
Yesterday not much better, the wind was literally roaring around the yard. Better today though a the sun out and drifts thawing - please go away winter!
Just a couple of entries at Ludlow on Wednesday,this week, hopefully everything drying up a bit for a while.
The most important news was winner #12 last week - with little Galactic Power winning his sixth race at Ludlow.
Under a masterful ride by Jack Quinlan Little GP came from last to first, although we looked beat at the last hurdle, and indeed most of the way up the run in, but the pairs never say never attitude saw them wear down the long time leader and get in front where it mattered on the line! They nearly gave us all heart failure in the process, and Ludlow certainly knew Team Dickin were in town!
Galactic Power came as part of a BOGOF deal - although actually it was a 'Buy Three' GOF deal! He is such a popular chap both with the home team & of course the EPDS Titteratti, who own him! A more honest a likeable little horse you could not find, and he thoroughly deserved the win! (Up 4lbs for his trouble!)
He was our last runner of a busy day - Belles Spirit(The Happy Horse Partnership) Lara Trot(The Trotters) both putting in much better performances when not stopped by the mud , as they were at Towcester. Both really nice fillies.
Wildmoor Boy - back from a long layoff, unfortunately burst a blood vessel and pulled up. There will be other days for him.
Vocaliser, ran another solid race but was possible not really suited by the racecourse, and finished third but only beaten 2 1/2 lengths. He has hiked up the weights this term, he will be better suited by a bigger more galloping track. Form figures of 12113 this season not too shabby!
Strong effort from the team, both at the races & those holding the fort at home. Another BTO for Harriet T.
The other unsurprising news of the week is that we are all thoroughly 'over' winter.
The beast from the east hit us yesterday - so windy that you could hardly either breath or stand up! Not be daunted the team girded their loins and got everything ridden. It was truly vile! We face east and it was so cold it hurt!
We woke up to massive snow drifts this morning, and the wind still doing its thing! we had to dig our way into the new barn, and some indoor drifts to contend with in the old one! Horses all snug though and I think every rug we own is now in use!
Just not safe to ride them today and too windy for the walker, so everything was hand walked to get them moving.
The drive impassable, and five foot drifts just no fun, but the team here and still smiling (could just be gritted teeth!!) large amounts of cooked breakfast consumed inbetween the battle with the elements.
A massive thank you to Darren, Megan, Harriet T, Ceris, Alice, Poppy Lauren & Frankie, also Charlie, Jack & James who have also been in riding out.
Hoping for a rapid rise in temperature, although watching heavy snow falling again now, so not feeling hopeful.
No Open Morning tomorrow for obvious reasons!!
Winner #11 for the team yesterday!
Oneida Tribe was technically winning his second race of the season although on paper it shows up as the first.
The debacle that was Bangor a few weeks ago is something the Bangor stewards should be ashamed of.
Photo called a dead heat - (later revised to a winner for OT), only to be then disqualified for some imaginary interference.
An inquiry into the inquiry, then conducted at a flat meeting with none of the trainers or jockeys involved present!
Class! But there are times when you just know the establishment is going to stick together and however much time, effort & money is spent on an appeal they were not going to back down twice!
A morale victory only, and back to the fray yesterday for 'Big Ian'. Blinkers on for the first time saw him a bit keen early on, but given a great ride by Adrian Heskin, and jumping very well. Andrew & Jane Nicholls' giant bay powered clear up the infamous Towcester hill.
Sadly Andrew & Jane not able to be at Towcester, but enjoying the win from afar.
Some Finish (BTO for Lauren) not enjoying the awful conditions yesterday, and his jumping rather falling apart in the desperate ground. Oneida Tribe had gone very wide to fine the best of the ground, but as SF has a tendency to jump right the same tactics could not be applied and Jack reported that his mistakes were purely from landing knee deep in a bog. Jack quite rightly pulled him up after three out - there will be another day on better ground.
Both horses fine this morning, and the team heading off to Leicester with Timons Tara & Bally Lagan. A grey day out, but a strange yellow ball has just appeared in the sky so hopefully no more rain for a while.
I think it fair to say that we are all completely over winter now!
Enough rain, wind and mud this year to last a good while & really longing for a few dry & sunny days.
Not to be this morning though as the wind is howling and rain battering onto the window as I type this!
Typing in our new office which is finally complete! Its great to on the yard with a view to the gallop one way & into the yard the other - concentration may be tricky!
Just got to sort out the organised chaos after two office moves in as many months! Getting there now, and only a few tescos' crates to sort out!
We have a a great run with the horses lately, but the nature of the beast always makes you think it can't last! I must be more optimistic!
Timons Tara made the long journey up to Catterick with a great chance in a tight little race - she finished third in a cat & mouse sort of race. Perhaps the race coming a bit soon for her. She was due to head off to Goffs sales but happily a change of plan sees her staying till the end of the season.
Taunton beckoned again for the in form Vocaliser, hard to believe he would manage to pull it off again even though the race looked his for the taking. Top effort from Matt & Jenny FitzGerald who flew back from Ireland especially for the race, and great to have Chris Dickin and daughter Nina on hand as well. Despite nearly fluffing his lines as the second down the back Vocaliser took it up two out and cruised into the lead. The long time leader fell at the last but Charlie sure he had him beaten anyway. Once in front Vocaliser rather sauntered up to the line - just doing enough to see off a late challenge, and won by 1/2 length! Very pleased to see the faller get up having been down for a good while.
Big celebrations from all Vocalisers' supporters and a BTO for Harriet T.
Winner number 10 for the season so far.
Southwell on Monday. Myroundorurs is a good ground horse, who had been keeping the vets in luxury for a good while last year. All dressed up and nowhere to go with a bog everywhere, so it was decided that he would have to take his chance in the mud. He has not been an easy horse - two gears - zero & flat out! However he has been a reformed character lately, and despite setting off in his customary lead, he was settled in front, jumped well and dug deep when joined two out. He finished third, which after 580 days off the track was a solid effort. Delighted for Andrew & Jane Nicholls who have been so patient with him.
Tara Well, back quite quickly after her lovely victory at Leicester did not quite see the trip out on the very soft going, but finished fourth, hard to be disappointed with her!
However apparently others - or another was very disappointed at losing his money & thought it OK to send James a horrible text. I was pretty mad about this & you may have seen a comment on our facebook page. Seems that plenty of others were disgusted with the lesser form of life who saw fit to send the text. Over 600 reactions and countless messages of support for James did rather restore our faith in human nature!
Kaddys Dream ran another super race back at Huntingdon to finish third - delighted with her and she is definatly one to keep an eye on - especially when fences come her way. Shaw racing have unexpectedly had a couple of spaces in her partnership - contact us or Shaw Racing if you are interested.
The bubble rather burst then with a couple of babies puling up at Towcester. Ground disgusting and in hindsight wished we had stayed at home with them. Both lovely fillies but both finding the combination of the Towcester hill and glue pot ground a bit too much. Both Belles Spirit (BTO for Frankie) & Lara Trot both jumped & travelled well till three out & there will be other days for them.
Mr Consistent - Dontminddboys (BTO for Poppy) also hated the ground but had his brave pants on and fought his way through it to finish a gallant second. 14 runs without being out of the first four. What a boy! He has it all - charm, good looks & consistency. Can't believe it but EPDS still have a few shares left in him - if you haven't already got one - get one! He is a solid fun horse owned by a lovely bunch of enthusiastic owners.
Getting groups together to celebrate a win is always a logistical nightmare, and as most of Vocalisers' owners are London based it made sense to get together there - that was before we were at two meetings and Harriet was away competing as well! However the impossible was achieved and after racing, we, along with Charlie, Fran and the two Harriets all managed to get onto the same train and arrive in London in time to meet up with The Songsters for a very enjoyable celebratory supper. we even managed not to miss the train home! Thank you Songsters it was a fun evening!
Big day on Saturday with Thomas Crapper back after a bad injury to his knee last April. Surgery, box rest, rehab, walking, more walking, plenty of clinging on when he was VERY fresh, saw him ready to run, but like Myroundorurs - no ground. We are hoping to go back to Newbury with him, and really wanted to get him to the track. As predicted he hated the ground, was a bit rusty over the first couple then jumped well, Charlie pulled up two out as he felt the job was done and no point in risking a fall to finish fifth or sixth. Another BTO for Harriet T, and happily Crappy fine after.
All runners fine after their runs - always a relief!
Also a big well done to Jack Quinlan for his super victory at Newbury on Saturday - well deserved.
After three winners from three runners the pressure was on for a girls trip to Huntingdon on Friday!
La Fille Francaise (Mrs Juie Venvell & Mrs Louise Merry)& Kaddys Dream, (Shaw Racing Partnership) two very different characters, but both ran blinders! LFF old head on young shoulders, KD very buzzy and back after a bad injury last year. We thought a one two was on the cards turning in , but it turned out to be a three, four!
LFF finished third under James Nixon, and KD & Jack Quinlan fourth. The first four finished a good way in front of the rest, and this was a very good performance from both of our fillies - exciting for the future.
Timons Tara (Jack up) (Mr Mark James) off to Uttoxeter on Saturday - more rain - and the ground pretty wet, which suits TT. She seems to love the track and ran a stormer, only to very frustratingly, get collared close home to go down by half a length! A good run though & the horses all in good heart.
All is Good (The Tricksters & The Goodies) next up at Hereford on Monday (BTO for Ceris). We had not had a trouble free run with AIG between his last two runs & he blew up a bit going to the last at Warwick in his previous race, however he had not missed a day since, so we were pretty confident he would run well, and he did not disappoint. Making pretty much all, Charlie kicked for home after two out and put the race to bed. AIG scampered clear and won with a bit in hand. Good performance. We think a lot of this son of Scorpion - can't wait for fences next season, but he will stay over hurdles for now.
Plenty of Goodies on hand to greet the winning pair, Mr & Mrs Ludlow representing The Tricksters, but a good presence in several bookies around the country & plenty of celebrating afterwards!
The return journey not without incident as black smoke & no power in the little lorry caused a enforced stop at Newtown crossroads garage! A million thanks to John Gallagher, who (having gone the wrong way home) stopped and picked up AIG & Ceris and delivered them home safely. The RAC man turned up to rescue Robin - we were quaking at the thought of the bill looming over the horizon!
Having dismantled the air filter (which looked rather ropey inside) he then pulled on what he thought was a bit of string(??) hanging out of the air intake pipe! Out popped a dead mouse! Poor mousey had taken up residence in the filter (chewed!) and then tried to exit down the pipe, only to get stuck & block the air intake!! Back on the road minus a filter, a home safely! Lorry gone for a new filter and some mouse traps this morning!
Winner number 9 for the season, and just great to have the team in such good heart.
Thank for all the well done messages, texts etc and as always thanks to our great team for all their hard work.
Just got to keep those winners rolling in now!