the winds of change

It’s been a mixture of calms and little storms at Fern Farm over the last few weeks. Like everyone at the moment we have had to adapt fast and try everything we can to future-proof the business so we can continue to do the job that we love. Regretfully this has meant some belt-tightening but also some exciting new ventures that have both brought changes around the yard.

The month started off with some lovely news as Kazuri Kate gave birth to a colt by Cockney Rebel. Everyone knows this mare is one of my favourites to ride and have around the yard and she has given us many brilliant days out racing. Baby Bertie is gorgeous, full of cheek and with his mum’s toughness and hopefully his dad’s speed we look forward to following his progress. I have to admit this was quite an emotional one for me and it was lovely to have them both home again, Batsford Stud having done a great job as usual looking after her through foaling. You may have noticed from our social posts of late that broodmares are one of the areas that we have been diversifying into. We are very fortunate here at Fern Farm to have the perfect facilities for mares and youngstock, we’ve been having some real fun with the new mums and babies and it’s been very rewarding.

Lockdown has also allowed us to do a bit of filming around the Farm, with some update vlogs and a video telling the story of breaking a two year old that we particularly enjoyed putting together. We’ve had some lovely feedback from our followers, owners and trainers, our aim being to give some insights behind the scenes that people don’t normally get to see and hopefully we’ve achieved that. I’ve also been trying to keep owners and trainers as updated as I can on the holidayers and how well they’ve all been doing. It’s been good to get in the habit as everyone really appreciates it, one big benefit from having a bit more time on our hands! If you’d like to check out more of our videos have a look at our Vimeo page here.

It was great to get back to a bit of normality and have some of the gang back in to do some work with the pre-trainers. We have a few in work at the moment but lots will be changing around the yard this month. We will be saying goodbye to more holidayers over the next couple of weeks as they go back into training, it’s always satisfying to see them go off full of fuel even though things have all been a bit different this year.

I was particularly proud to send off Leith Hill Lad, a horse I’m very fond of that we have had here doing intensive re-education and schooling, hoping he can get it all in his head for back on the track. He went to Richard Bandey after we spent a day at Lambourn where all our hard work came together and he schooled really well. His wonderful owners Jane and Neil Maltby deserve all the luck in the world as they have been so patient and trusting in his return to this point and I was pleased to hear from Richard that he has settled in well to the routine at Plantation Farm.

It has been a relief and a pleasure to see racing resuming in the UK and we were proud as always to see some Fern Farm holidayers at Royal Ascot, including Carntop and Adrrastos. Carntop (aka William) ran a blinder to come 10th in the Ascot Stakes, we were so pleased for Foxtrot Racing and all credit to the team at Jamie Snowden’s.

On the breaking side of things we could not have had more diversity in the yard this month! Vicky and I have had a little challenge with Spring, a lovely two year old filly by Silver Pond who has been sent to us by owner/ breeders Tony and Diane Wadley. Her attitude has certainly made me have to think outside the box and Vicky has bravely trusted me as instinctively we have had to do things differently with her. With this and lots of patience she has come good and it’s been very rewarding. We’ve also had two gorgeous non-thoroughbred coloureds, Holly and Bali, who were both previously backed and came to us to get them going onto the next stage. They’ve been very straightforward and we’ve had lots of fun with them. I’m keen for people to realise we love these varied challenges and despite them not being the usual type of residents we are happy to take on non-thoroughbreds too.

The storm of the virus and lockdown has certainly brought it’s difficulties, but I’m very grateful to have the facilities and team here to be able to diversify; to think of ways to keep business coming in, but also hopefully to help others, learn new things and have fun along the way.

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