What a diference a few weeks can make! After the worries of the last few months and a generally quieter time, the end of October saw a few more horses arriving in the yard, things were looking up and a bit busier. I’m pleased to report we are almost at full capacity at the moment, with extra stables, a full barn and heads over all the doors which pleases me greatly.
Not only does it take the business pressure off a bit when we are busy, but I’m able to offer more work to my patient and loyal staff who have stuck with us through the quiter times when working hours are reduced. We all love a busy yard full of horses and all hands on deck. It takes a lot of graft to keep things running smoothly when we have so many horses in and I’m always grateful to the team for their hard work. With more horses in work I’m also thankful for the extra talented people that come and ride out for me, including Will Thirlby and Kate Gowing who have been in to do schooling. I must also mention my landlord’s new wife Anthea Morshead who, as some of you will know, as a very experienced jockey with an illustrious career and ‘racing pedigree’, I am very lucky to have helping out.
We’ve had a lovely mixture of residents again over the last month, including rehabs, holidayers, schoolers, breakers, weanlings and yearlings. We’ve also had some non-thoroughbreds, for schooling, breaking and hunter livery. This always makes for a very varied work schedule and keeps things interesting and challenging with all the different jobs and requirements. The recent colder weather has meant some lovely frosty but sunny mornings on the gallops. The gloomy wet weather in early November made it hard work for the winter holidayers. We like to give them as much time out in the day as possible but with many of them having had recent runs, we also need to nurture them for their spring and summer campaigns and ensure they return to training in the best form and with plenty of fuel in the tank.
Things have been a bit quieter on the RoR front. Obviously the recent lockdown inhibits us having visitors to view horses and at the moment we do not really have space for any more rehomers. We said goodbye to the gorgeous Willyegolassiego aka Gabby who left for her new home in Lincolnshire. She will hopefully do some eventing and possibly then be put in foal, a path I thought would be perfect for her. She is a lovely horse to ride and myself and Dawn who rode her got quite attached to her! We also said goodbye to My Brother aka Jake who went to a friend of mine Lawrence, I know he will have a lovely home and they will have lots of fun with him. We are still getting updates on a lot of our rehomers and it is really rewarding to see how well they are getting on.
The month started with more uncertainty on the pointing front. With not knowing if we would be back racing again I’ve had to just play it by ear and balance things from a training point of view. Now in early December we have a better idea of what meetings will go ahead and it was brilliant to be out racing again last Sunday at Chaddesley. We took Earcomesbob aka Max, a huge gorgeous 5 year old owned by Peter and Alison Pritchard and Bob Stowe, to whom I’m very grateful for leaving him with me to run in a point to point. Little did I know as we left the yard on Sunday morning that I would be chalking up my first winner of the season! Max has taken time to strengthen but he jumps and works nicely and I was really praying we had something to look forward to. Coming to the last he was in third and I was happy enough that he had ran in a manner that he would improve on, then the horse ahead fell so we were second – a pleasing run. Next thing we are announced first, sadly the winner had taken the wrong course and had been disqualified therefore leaving us promoted. I was delighted to get a win – a win’s a win but we have lots more to prove now we will have to step up in grade. However, it was a first win in the colours for part owner and wonderful man Bob Stowe, he was thrilled and it was also brilliant to give Will Thirlby his first winner of the season (that’s them in the pic above). It’s a tough game at the moment and this was a lovely achievement for all.
This month we also welcomed Midnight Chill to our team of pointers. He has spent the past two summers here on his holidays, we have always loved him and when he came back to us to sell on behalf of the owners and Jamie Snowden, we were only too happy to snap him up when there was little interest. Sam Canning who worked for me a few seasons ago and rode a winner for me has been coming in to ride out and has been loving riding ‘Chilli’. The others are all going well, as Reality Bites and Western Diva had already had a run in Devon I have had to keep them ticking over, they shall hopefully run at Chaddesley and Charing this month. Jennifer Juniper and Cody Jones will both also run soon, JJ hopefully at Barbury next weekend.
As we had a pause in pointing again it was good to be featured in Horse and Hound at the beginning of the month and get some great coverage for what we do at the yard. Hannah Lemieux wrote a lovely article about our interview and on a personal level it was really helpful to think back to lots of happy raceday memories, take stock and look to the future.
We’ve had lots of babies in residence, including some who were already here who have now been weaned, plus some other weanlings and yearlings arriving straight from sales. We refurbished our barn this summer and it’s been lovely to see all the youngsters in the new barn bays. We have lots of breakers too, thoroughbreds and non-thoroughbreads. All different as always, all varying learning speeds and personalities. Vicky and I have worked hard with them this month and there have been some rewarding success stories. They have included Darcy, a yearling filly by Passing Glance. She has been with us a month and has been a star, doing the very early stages of long reining, work in the pen and riding around. It’s great to do this stage with them as it makes it so easy as they grow to then continue their education as 2 and 3 year olds. She started off very busy and nervous but has really come good and has now gone home to owner breeders Bob and Sandra Davenport. The other to mention is Bobby, a yearling colt by War Command. He had been started by Richard Bandey and has been so straightforward, he has progressed like a dream and is very easy to have around.
Lots of Fern Farm favourites out on the track this month, I was particularly delighted for Sandymount Rose, Golden Taipan, Luttrell Lad and Anythingforlove. Sandymount Rose continues to be Miss Consistent with another second at Market Rasen. I was pleased for owner Jonanthan Whymark, she will definitely fulfill her full potential and is so tough. Golden Taipan, owned by the Double Barrels of Courage syndicate who are great supporters of ours, ran a great race to be second at Wincanton. I was thrilled for Lutrell Lad winning the bumper at Market Rasen and for the Owners for Owners group. It was nearly two years to the day that baby Gino, a small darling 2 year old turned up here to be broken in – very rewarding to have played our part in his career so far. It was lovely to welcome him home a week later for his winter break, he will enjoy some hacking, turnout and relaxing time before returning to Phillip Hobbs in January. Anythingforlove spent her holidays here and won the Mares Novices Hurdle at Lingfield for Foxtrot Racing and Jamie Snowden. She is a gorgeous mare and it’s great to see her doing so well.
We look forward to more racing, more horses, Christmas and keeping busy!