making friends with the new normal

Autumn is well and truly here. As the future remains uncertain for many of us from a business point of view, the various challenges with regards to maintaining ‘the norm’ around the yard have brought new friends, mixed blessings and lots of different arrivals and departures. 

We are quiet for the time of year in terms of the usual residents – pointers, pre-trainers breakers etc. – but other ventures have kept us busy and meant every day is very different in terms of jobs to do. I have continued to focus on the buying, retraining and rehoming of the former racehorses. I am thoroughly enjoying this work and find it very rewarding when you find the perfect home for the horse. We’ve had a few more good results and nice feedback with our RoR’s this month, more on this later!

We started the month with a visit from Go Racing Green, an inclusive initiative that provides support and activities for many people with mental health challenges, through the positivity and rewards that horse racing can bring. We welcomed a small group and were blessed with some decent weather, allowing for a training canter around Chastleton hill and some work in the school. Thanks to everyone involved for all the positive feedback, it was great to be able to show off some of our retired superstars and horses in training and to make some new friends along the way. It’s something we are very keen to expand on especially for owners and syndicate members who don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes with regards to the holidaying, pre-training and schooling of racehorses. As restrictions were at that time being relaxed we made plans for more yard visits which of course have now unfortunately had to be cancelled. Whilst everyone’s safety is of prime importance, we look forward to the time when we can get the tea urn fired up and welcome visitors once more.

From a business point of view I have had to look ahead to predict what work is needed and cater for more requirements. I can’t reiterate enough how we will happily take on any horse for whatever an owner needs. We are not just a racing yard! Over the summer we have successfully broken in and educated several non-thoroughbreds which has been a lot of fun. This month I particularly enjoyed having Skye, a 3 year old filly sent to us to break in by owners Susan and Paul Smith. They came to see her last week and their daughter Hayley rode her for the first time. It was very satisfying to see, Skye has been a dream to do and I am sure they will have endless fun with her in the future. This week we had another new arrival, Teddy, a gorgeous Irish sports horse who has been broken in and bought by a client of mine and is here for us to take him to the next level.

All that said I can’t wait for the looming point to point season to start and to get back to some racing. The workload has stepped up for the five pointers at their varying stages and I am really happy with how they are going. Reality Bites and Western Diva are both being targeted at the first weekend in four weeks time, with the ongoing restrictions the syndicates are very low in terms of numbers, so hopefully these two can reward those who are still involved. The other three pointers, Earcomesbob, Jennifer Juniper and the unnamed Delegator 4 year old Cody are all cantering now and it would be great to get them to the track before Christmas.

We’ve had some good results from the pre-training and racing points of view for some of our residents this month. Early in September the gorgeous ‘Rose Sisters’ went into training, Milanese Rose to Fergal O’Brien and Sandymount Rose to Neil Mulholland. I adore both these mares and was pleased with how they were on departure. Their owner Jonathan Whymark is a wonderful owner/supporter of the yard and we look forward to seeing how they get on. The last two pre-trainers Bold Red and Sir Bertie are in good form, both working well and will head into training very soon. We were delighted for team Snowden and all connections on the 16th September, as Chapmanshype and Oneofthesenights, who both spent their winter holiday here, finished first at Kelso and second at Auteuil. 

We also saw great debuts from three of our breakers/pre-trainers. The beautiful homebred mare Div Ine Tara made her start at Fontwell. We were very proud to have played a part in getting her to that point, having her at Fern Farm for her holidays and pre-training. Tara is a beautifully bred youngster by Kayf Tara, her dam won several point to points and finished second in a Cheltenham Foxhunters and she ran a very promising sixth for owners Karen Exall and Greg Molen. Lutrell Lad ran a fabulous race to come second under Richard Johnson at Stratford, another furlong and he could have won it. Gino was an absolute darling to be broken in and all through his preparation, we were very pleased for the Owners for Owners syndicate, who are also great supporters of ours. Glimpse of Gala also ran on well to come third at Southwell. She is a half sister to my broodmare Rosemary Russet and a full sister to Mr Scrumpy. We were all thrilled for Fran and Christopher Marriott who bred her and are running her as their syndicate horse.

Talking of broodmares I am pleased to report that we now have three in foal – Rosemary Russet to Passing Glance, Scented Lily to Getaway and En Passé to Frammasonne. We are gathering quite the little herd of mares and foals and it was lovely to see them enjoying the new grass in their own big field over the last couple of weeks.

Finally back to those retired racehorses. We’ve seen some more happy endings to our matchmaking and received some lovely feedback as to how some of our previous RoR’s are doing in their new careers. We were delighted to learn that one of our superstar pointers Creepy was part of the winning team at the Warwickshire team chase. His new owner Phil Nicholls called to say he had a great spin and Creepy had taken the lead after fence three. You only had to read the comments on our social media posts afterwards to see there’s still so much love for that horse in our community! Ali Sewell who took on Our Reward earlier in the summer also got in touch to say they finished third in their first dressage competition. It’s really lovely to see them doing so well.

We’ve had quite a few more ex-racers in the yard this month, probably more than ever. One or two have been through the RoR organisation, a couple of free rehomers and some that I have bought and sold. Ask Robin who came to us from Jamie Snowden was only with us for ten days before we found the perfect match for him in Joe Neal from near Hartpury. Joe hopes to hunt and team chase Robin with a view to potentially eventing him in the future. Two more were collected yesterday morning and now embark on a new life in Leicestershire. In the above pic that’s me on one of them, Passing Oceans, a gorgeous grey aka Nelson who is going to be re-educated as a hunter. Also we said farewell to Rodney, a bay who is yet to be given a posh name, that will hopefully become a lovely show horse. I’ve already received some great photos of them settling into their new homes and have no doubt they will both have very happy lives enjoying lots of fun activities. We have a few in the yard at the moment at various stages, including two arrivals from Neil Mulholland that I am quite excited about as they are very promising so far. All these horses have different stories, needs and characteristics that will make varied prospects for all requirements, so do get in touch if you are on the lookout. We will soon have a dedicated page on our website (that we shall endeavour to keep up to date!) for rehomers that we currently have in the yard, the idea being it will be easier for anyone interested to keep checking in.

The ongoing situation with COVID may unfortunately mean it is unfeasible for many owners to keep going and investing in horses with restricted access to yards and courses and therefore little reward. This could lead to many more horses retiring before their time, as the industry has already witnessed this year. While it is so important to me to keep the business at CHE going for my team, the horses, owners and trainers that depend on us, I also feel it’s important to contribute to solving this potential problem however we can. We must support each other to keep the job and sport that we love going on all levels. To end on a positive note, expanding this part of the business has already allowed me to make new connections and friends, as well as getting back in touch with many people I have worked with during my racing career. As the yard motto goes, happy horses, happy people and on we go!

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