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Latest News – keeping up to date with our runners, events and horses for sale

December 2014
Lord Ben Stack gets a kiss
More Cheltenham Wins
for Martin Keighley

Probably the most enjoyable day of the whole month was Cheltenham on 12th December, when our trainer Martin Keighley bounced back from a lean period with back-to-back winners.  Benbane Head, who gave the yard their first Cheltenham winner in October 2009, won the 3m 2f handicap chase and was then promptly followed into the winner’s enclosure by Any Currency in the cross-country.  The warmth and goodwill of the crowd towards the Keighley yard when these winners came in was really endearing.  Cheltenham loves a local winner, and there were some fantastic scenes captured on TV of the Cotswold Lady High-Jump Champion (aka Belinda) as well as a crowd of owners and friends.  Well done, Martin and the yard.

In terms of our own runners, we had a busy but mixed and, on occasions, controversial month.  Bilbrook Blaze finished down the field in the debacle at Taunton when virtually all the hurdles were removed because of sunshine.  Future Gilded came back from a long lay-off to put in a super debut at Plumpton, finishing 3rd behind a couple of 140-rated horses;  we only went there because the handicapper wouldn’t let him run in a novice handicap chase.  He’s A Bully was made to run a 4th time to get a handicap mark, and will now be stepped up in distance.  Primo Capitano wasn’t right after his Doncaster run and is having a mid-winter break.  Quick Decisson went to Wincanton on Boxing Day and unfortunately came back a sick horse afterwards;  he is on the easy list for a few weeks.  Shantou Magic also ran on Boxing Day and for whatever reason didn’t fire;  he will be stepped up in distance in the New Year.  Wilde Oak made his debut at Taunton on 11th, and ran a blinder, only beaten a head and a neck.  The Fugitive is coming to hand well, but won’t make an appearance until better ground in the spring, in a bumper.  All three Flat horses, Jolievitesse, Lord Ben Stack and the Medicean colt, are cantering well on the High Moor.

November 2014

Karl Burke with LibertarianThe highlight of the month so far, without any doubt, was the win of Shantou Magic in a valuable novices’ limited handicap chase at Market Rasen on 20th November, ridden by Noel Fehily.  Unfortunately Shantou had a crashing fall at Carlisle on his debut at the beginning of the month, and also received quite a knocking about from other horses.  You never know how they are going to come back from such a bad experience, but our fellow took it all in his stride, schooled beautifully before his next race, and then stormed home from a useful field.  Really brave, and a huge relief to all the owners.  Alas, the handicapper was also impressed and he has lifted the OR from 135 to 144, which means we’ll now be looking for valuable novice chases throughout the rest of this season.

Over the last year of two, bloodstock prices have continued to rocket, both on the Flat and for NH.  So we decided to find an alternative source of supply, and developed a plan to buy three foals.  The first two were acquired at Tattersalls, Ireland, during the week of 10th-15th November at what is described as “the world’s most comprehensive NH sale”.  Aiden Murphy, who has an international reputation for buying young horses (and indeed was the chair of the judging panel at this sale) bought us a really bonny Sholokhov foal for a hammer price of €28,000, out of Yorkshire Girl.  For those of an intellectual bent, the original Sholokhov is the author of And Quiet Flows the Don, so we’ve provisionally named this horse Don Caster.

The second foal was bought by our retained NH agent in Ireland, Gerry Hogan.  His purchase was a beautifully confirmed Oscar colt for €23,000, who will stay in Tipperary before coming over to race for Martin Keighley in about three years’ time.  A friend of ours, on seeing the photograph, said we should call him Asparagus – because, apparently, that takes three years to grow ….  just like him.

Lord Ben Stack and Jolievitesse come to the end of their holidays this month, and start trotting out in early December.  The Medicean colt is now broken and enjoying trotting and cantering on Middleham Moor.

Bilbrook Blaze will be out soon in his first novice hurdle;  Future Gilded is showing lots of enthusiasm in his fast work and schooling, and will debut after Christmas;  He’s A Bully is learning the ropes in 2m novice hurdles;  Primo Capitano is being switched to novice chasing;  Quick Decisson should do well as soon as he encounters heavy ground;  The Fugitive is back with Charlie Longsdon after a short break;  and Wilde Oak will be out in bumpers in early December.

October 2014

An incredibly busy month for trainers and owners alike, with the Flat season coming to an end and the Jumps season moving up a gear.  As well as going to a lot of race meetings, we’ve been immersed in sales catalogues, scrutinising potential prospects as well as saying goodbye to a couple of our initial horses.  Aran Sky ran a couple of times during the month, at Wolverhampton and Newbury, then went straight into Tattersalls’ Newmarket Horses in Training Sale on 27th.  There’s a time to buy a horse, and also a time to sell – the owners were really pleased to obtain more money back for the sale than the initial purchase price.  Lady Charisma, having shown us at Worcester that she is ready for the paddocks, now heads for the Tattersalls’ NH Sale in Ireland and goes through the ring on Paddy Power day.  We wish them both well in the next phase of their careers.

Lord Ben Stack has chilled out and is enjoying his Autumn holiday in Middleham.  We were all encouraged by the top-class performance of Elm Park in the Racing Post Trophy, having come up against him in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.  Dreams are very much alive for LBS, as they are for Jolievitesse whose victor in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, Commemorative, runs in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.  Some top form lines here.  We’ll be entering Jolievitesse for the French Derby.

Bilbrook Blaze showed that his form last season was all wrong, with a game 2nd at Southwell in a bumper;  He’s A Bully ran with the choke out at Worcester over 2½m and will be brought back to 2m and taught to settle;  Primo Capitano showed lots of resolution to come 3rd in deep ground at Chepstow and may now switch to novice chasing;  Quick Decisson came 3rd on his chase debut at Uttoxeter and should soon be winning over 2m;  while Shantou Magic makes his chase debut over 2½m at the end of this month.

And there is still plenty of NH talent waiting in the wings:  Future Gilded is cantering away at Jamie Snowden’s and hopefully will appear in novice chases around Christmas time;  the 4yo unraced bumper horse Wilde Oak is moving up into peak fitness now at Anthony Honeyball’s and could be out in late November / December;  and the baby, 3yo Flemensfirth The Fugitive, is being given all the time necessary to develop by Charlie Longsdon and looks a lovely prospect for the future.

Which brings us to our latest horse, a smashing yearling colt by Medicean out of Bellona from a high-quality French dam line, who has now settled well into Karl Burke’s yard at Middleham.  He was purchased at the same sale, Arqana, Deauville, as last year’s bargains Lord Ben Stack and Jolievitesse, and if he shows the same potential we’ll be absolutely delighted.  We had been looking for a top-class, well-bred filly with Tim Dykes, one of our key owners, but unfortunately the prices for those we were targeting spiralled beyond our budget.  We then made a strategic decision to postpone that purchase and switch to buying a quality colt.  Medicean was trained by Sir Michael Stoute and was a top-class horse over 8-10 furlongs.  He has already produced more than 10 Gr.1 winners.  The Bellona dam line reflects the huge investment of US owner George Strawbridge and, as can be seen on the page, is awash with Listed and Group winners.  Follow this link for full details and a video:

Dominant was a Highclere horse sold for over £1m to race in Hong Kong, where he won the immensely valuable Hong Kong Vase;  Es Que Love is now with Clive Cox and won the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood this year;  while We Are won the 1m 2f Prix de l’Opera (Gr.1).  We were thrilled buy this colt for the €40,000 hammer price and he looks another very reasonable purchase.  Full details will be available on the web site shortly and as usual there will be six co-owners in this exciting 2yo prospect for next year.  He is bound to need time, but could easily be a top miler in the making.  Few trainers have had a better season with their 2yos than Karl Burke this year so we’re really looking forward to more successes in 2015.
September 2014

While the whole country has been basking in an amazing Indian summer, it has been a real pleasure to have a number of horses running very well indeed, both on the Flat for Karl Burke and over hurdles for Martin Keighley.  Ever since we bought Lord Ben Stack and Jolievitesse at the Arqana Deauville sale last October, we have felt that they could be high potential horses capable of running at Group level.  Their initial outings were full of promise.

It was no surprise at all when Lord Ben Stack pulverised the opposition into the ground in a maiden at Haydock over 1m.  He was very quickly away, took up the lead after a furlong and was never headed.  On the back of that, we ran him at Newmarket in the Group 2 Royal Lodge, but unfortunately the ground was far too quick, and although finishing 5th and most definitely not disgraced, he became unbalanced and lost his momentum.  We quickly decided to draw stumps and call it a day for this season because he is a huge, powerful horse and we want to give him the winter now to grow into his frame.  He could easily develop into a Derby or St.Leger horse next year and the plan is to start him off in the Dante at York on 14th May 2015.

Jolievitesse put in a similarly impressive performance in his maiden at Carlisle.  He ran a bit green in the first half of the race, but when the gap opened, he shot through on the rails and quickly went 10 lengths clear.  Danny Tudhope reined him back and we coasted home to win easily by 5 lengths.  On the back of that he is going to be entered for the English and French 2000 Guineas as well as the French Derby next year.  Hopefully he will have one more run this season, possibly at Newmarket in a Group 3 or in the Pontefract Silver Tankard.

Our other Flat horse with Karl, Aran Sky, went up to Ayr for the Western meeting, giving all the owners a really enjoyable day out.  He finished 4th, but was a bit ring-rusty and we’re hoping that next time out he will strip fitter and win for us.  One to keep on the right side.

Finally, Primo Capitano, who had been off the track for 450+ days due to a few immaturity niggles, ran at Chepstow at the end of the month and finished a highly credible 2nd in a 2m 4f maiden hurdle.  All the commentators were really impressed, and he looks a high-potential prospect both for this season and beyond.  Ian Popham, who had schooled him at home, couldn’t have been more complimentary and gave him a fine, considerate ride.  He is also one to note next time out.  A dream would be to see him storming up the hill at Cheltenham in a race such as the Alfred Bartlett.  But he really looks like a top-class 3m+ chaser for the future.

All in all, a sizzling September ….  in more ways than one.

August 2014
Lord Ben Stack gets a kiss
Lord Ben Stack earns a kiss on telling OfO
that his plan is to bag a Group race after
winning his maiden.

It may have been a relatively quiet month on the Flat racing front (with only Jolievitesse running up at Newcastle, although he put in a blinder to come 2nd to a smart Sir Michael Stoute horse, only beaten a neck, and will now be stepped up again to 1m), but there has been a lot going on behind the scenes.  Lord Ben Stack has been getting ready for his next outing, which should be a 1m maiden at Haydock on 4th September.  We’ve already entered him for the Gr.2 Royal Lodge at Newmarket on 27th September and, because everything has gone so well at home, we decided to enter him in the most prestigious 2yo race of the season, the Racing Post Trophy over 1m at Doncaster on 25th October.  Aiming high!  Finally on the Flat, Aran Sky is scheduled to go to the Ayr Western Meeting on Friday, 19th September.  Karl Burke has found an ideal race for him, and we’ll be doing our best to win it.  All the owners will be there for what should be a real festival day.  We’ve even booked into the best restaurant in Troon for a celebration – win, lose or draw.


Primo Capitano
Primo Capitano shows that he definitely
hasn’t forgotten how to jump, with an
electric display at Martin Keighley’s.
On the NH front, all the horses are now back in with their respective trainers or pre-training specialists, and the owners’ days are under way.  Philip Hobbs kicked off on 24th August;  Jamie Snowden’s is on 31st, Martin Keighley’s on 7th September, Charlie Longsdon’s on 13th and Anthony Honeyball’s on 21st.  It looks as though our first NH runner of the season will be Primo Capitano in a 2m 4f novice hurdle at Chepstow on 30th September.  Several of the owners went to see him school at the end of the month at Martin’s and he was simply electric.   He didn’t just jump hurdles either – Ian Popham put him over a couple of fences and he didn’t bat an eyelid.  At this stage he looks a really exciting prospect for the new season, and let’s hope he can emulate the good run by Creepy in the same Chepstow race last year.  The four horses at Philip’s will probably be out in October.  Those of us who were at the Owners’ Day were delighted to see them all in great heart, none more so than He’s A Bully, who is already impressing his trainer in early training and is likely to go straight into 2m 4f novice hurdling.  All the shares in him are now sold, and five have gone in The Fugitive at Charlie’s.  So with only one share left, do let me know as soon as possible if you want to get involved in the new jumper for the coming season.
July 2014
The Fugitive
Shares available in exciting 3yo bumper horse,
The Fugitive, with Charlie Longsdon.

The highlight of July was most definitely the long weekend in the North West. A number of owners stayed together in a hotel south of Chester, and enjoyed not only a couple of super meals out but two days’ racing at Haydock Park. Jolievitesse ran in the 6f maiden on 18th July and put in a promising run over what turned out to be a totally inadequate trip. On his breeding, by Elusive City, and his home work we had assumed that he would be a sprinting type but it is now very clear that the stamina of his dam, Volvoreta, who was a Gr.1 winner in France over 1m 4f and came 3rd in the Arc, predominates. He will be stepped up immediately, to a 1m maiden next time out. Then the following day, 19th July, Lord Ben Stack ran in a 7f maiden and while he only finished 4th, the style of the run was extremely eye-catching. The Racing UK commentator Graham Cunningham couldn’t have been more complimentary, as were Timeform who have now awarded him their accolade of a large P as a potentially big improver. He has impressed from Day 1 at Karl Burke’s and his Derby entry for 2015 certainly doesn’t look out of place. He will also go for a 1m maiden next, and then a potential target is the Gr.2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on Cambridgeshire Day, Saturday, 27th September. Very exciting.

The Flemensfirth 3yo gelding that we bought at the Derby Sale in Ireland at the end of June is now safely ensconced and has been broken at Kingwood Stud in Lambourn. Tim Dykes came up with the inspired name of “The Fugitive” for him, because apparently “flemens-firth” is the ancient offence of harbouring an offender. Younger readers may remember the film with Harrison Ford, while those of older vintage may recall the 1960s TV series with David Janson. Anyway, we’re all hoping that while many horses may chase him, none will catch him. He is from the dam line that has produced Albertas Run, Mister Morose and Captain Cutter. As you can see, he is physically a lovely-looking horse with lots of scope, and will start off in bumpers with Charlie Longsdon this season. There are shares available in him, so please contact us if you’re interested.
June 2014
Jon with Future Purchasing at 10 Downing Street
Arguing for more prize-money …. or, more
seriously, NHS procurement transformation

With the majority of our horses being geared towards National Hunt, the middle of the summer is a relatively quiet period for us.  That gave some time for me finally to become a member of the establishment!  Although retired recently from management consulting, I was brought back by former colleagues in Future Purchasing to examine the £108bn of expenditure across the NHS.  That certainly puts the racing industry in perspective!  The report has been well received, and led to a presentation in 10 Downing Street.  The meeting was held in the “G8 Room”, which used to be Margaret Thatcher’s private study.  I’m also supporting one of the BHA’s strategy pillars, looking at the challenges and opportunities in acquiring and retaining more owners in racing.  All very interesting.  Finally, Jack and I were invited to the Royal Enclosure for the first day of Royal Ascot – superb.

On the Flat, Aran Sky bounced back from a disappointing run at Nottingham when he wasn’t well, with a much more encouraging run at Hamilton.  We’re giving him a short mid-summer break and then the intention is to prepare him for late summer / early autumn 1m 1f handicaps on good ground.  He is a winner waiting to happen.  Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack continue to show plenty at Middleham, and should be coming out in 6f / 7f maidens respectively in mid-July.  If they do well, they could be Deauville-bound to take advantage of French prize-money and premiums.

Finally, off to the top store horse Tattersalls Derby Sale with Charlie Longsdon and Gerry Hogan at the end of the month.  We’re looking for a really nice three-year-old store.  If we don’t find one in Ireland, we’ll go on to the Arqana Deauville sale in July.
May 2014

Karl Burke five-timerOver the last couple of seasons, Karl Burke has really built his yard at Middleham back up again.  Lots of investment in new barns and lunge pits, as well as general refurbishment.  It is already paying off, and he has hit the ground running this season with over 20 winners already, including the yard’s first-ever five-timer (see photo).  Our 3yo, Aran Sky, ran a cracker at Nottingham, finishing 6l clear of the field and only just being beaten on the line.  He will be winning shortly.  The 2yos, Lord Ben Stack and Jolievitesse, continue to make great progress.  Lots to look forward to.


He's A BullyAfter Philip Hobbs’ fantastic recent season, we didn’t take much persuading to go to the sales with him and his main agent, Aiden Murphy.  The select sale at Brightwells, Cheltenham on 24th April saw many horses sold for well in excess of £100,000.  We were delighted to acquire He’s A Bully, a 5yo gelding by Westerner, who has already won a point-to-point very impressively going away and then came 2nd at Fontwell in a bumper.  He was just within budget at a hammer price of £50,000.  Four shares have already been taken – only two left.  Do please contact us if you would like to be involved for the new season.  He’ll be going straight into staying novice hurdles.

April 2014
Karl Burke with Libertarian

More champagne moments with Owners for Owners

The end of April marks the close of the National Hunt season, and also the second year of Owners for Owners.  We’ve had a fantastic couple of years, and are now looking forward to a really exciting Flat season with Karl Burke.  Most of the jumpers are now turned out for the Summer, the exceptions being Houndscourt who starts his staying novice chasing campaign in early May, Lady Charisma who will hopefully run in a 2m 4f mares’ race at Aintree in a couple of weeks, and Bilbrook Blaze who was found to be all wrong on his debut and will probably run again towards the end of May.

Most of our NH trainers have also had excellent seasons:  Philip Hobbs came 3rd in the trainers’ championship behind Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson with 106 UK winners, a 20% strike rate and over £1.5m in prize-money;  Charlie Longsdon had his best-ever season with 79 winners, also a 20% strike rate and £0.5m of prize-money;  likewise Jamie Snowden also had his best-ever season and famously his first Cheltenham Festival winner with Present View; and Martin Keighley bagged his first Grade 1 with Annacotty.  Anthony Honeyball, alas, had a really difficult season with many of the horses seriously off-colour with a virus, and a bit of ringworm.  He and Rachael Green have shown great spirit throughout it all, and they have now started to fire out winners again.  We’re really looking forward to our Wilde Oak coming out for them in the Autumn.

To celebrate the end of the year, we had our final “Meet the Trainer” morning at Charlie Longsdon’s yard near Chipping Norton on Thursday, 17th April so that it coincided with the Cheltenham meeting.  After ample supplies of bacon butties cooked by Charlie’s mum, and plentiful buck’s fizz, we saw Shantou Magic before heading off to Prestbury Park to top up the alcohol levels with a gourmet picnic, put together by my wife Jack and two of our owners, Jim Burley and Caroline Godsall.  My role (which I have to say, quite immodestly, I’m good at) was to be bar steward throughout the proceedings.  Photo alongside shows me, ably assisted by Charlie’s PA Emma Batten.  Photos of the picnic can be seen at the bottom of the page.  A really enjoyable day – I didn’t get to see too many races!

March 2014

Jamie Snowden Cheltenhan Festival winning trainerMany of our owners went to the Cheltenham Festival and experienced the amazing highs and lows of National Hunt racing at its finest.  A few of them even left in profit!  Two of our trainers made significant contributions to the Owners for Owners profit pool – Philiip Hobbs maintaining the momentum of his tremendous season with two heart-stopping wins, with Fingal Bay and Balthazar King.  He and Sarah had hosted a really enjoyable “Meet the Trainer” morning for us all at their yard at the end of February, and had flagged up both horses as having excellent chances.  We also had a really enjoyable Owners for Owners box at Taunton races after that visit.  All of us though were even more delighted for Jamie Snowden to have a win on the first day of the Festival with his progressive chaser, Present View.  To have a win at the Festival so early in a trainer’s career is a huge achievement and a major milestone passed.  We have been a supporter of Jamie right from the start of his training career and this win shows what he can do with the right quality of horse.  While our Shantou Magic was not able to scale these heights, he ran creditably in the Martin Pipe and looks a smashing novice chasing prospect for the Autumn.  He is now on his holidays with Timmy and Verity Murphy and Cilldara stud, with his field buddies Red Sherlock and Doctor Harper.

As we near the end of the month, the Flat is beckoning.  Aran Sky will run in a maiden at Doncaster, and once handicapped should soon be winning.  All the shares are now sold in Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack.  They are both pleasing the Burke family and the dreams are still very much alive.
February 2014

Karl Burke with LibertarianWith all the dreadful weather around, the vast majority of our horses are safely tucked up in their stables, doing regular work but with no plans to appear on the race track.  We ran Quick Decisson at Cheltenham on a day that was almost monsoonal, and with hindsight we probably ran him a bit too soon after his Wincanton victory.  He will probably be out again fairly soon, and indeed there may be a suitable race at Wincanton for him later this month.  It would be great to be four from four there.  Shantou Magic ran very creditably to finish 4th, lumping top weight, at Wincanton in a handicap for the first time.  He will now have six weeks off before a possible crack at either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe Conditionals’ race at the Festival.  It is great to have a high-quality potential chaser who is good enough to run well in competitive hurdle races.  Lady Charisma also ran at Wincanton on the same day as Shantou Magic, over 2m, for her handicap mark.  She excelled herself and was hunting down the eventual winner, Vieux Lion Rouge, when falling at the second-last.  Unfortunately she banged one of her legs and is taking a bit of time to get over it.  Hopefully though she will be out soon, as we would like to get one more run into her before the Newbury race.  All the other NH horses are waiting in the wings for better ground.

As February has been a quiet month, it seemed timely to set up a visit to the Burke family at Spigot Lodge in Middleham.  Aran Sky is back in full training now, and may well be the first Flat horse to come out for us this season.  He needs one more race for a handicap mark.  We couldn’t have been more excited by the development of our two 2yos, Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack (photos alongside).  They are completely different horses, but there was a real buzz about both of them in the yard.  Jolievitesse has grown at least a size in the last couple of months, and looked very athletic out on the gallops.  A couple of years ago, Karl ran Lord Shanakill in a maiden race at York on Dante day in May (before going to Royal Ascot with him in the Coventry), and is already looking at the possibility of the same starting point for this beautifully-bred son of Elusive City.  Lord Ben Stack is our Derby entry for 2015, and we always thought that he would be a late-maturing sort.  However, he really surprised us with his physical maturity.  Indeed he already looks like a 3yo – a big horse with a big, long gallop on him, and he is finding everything very easy.  Karl’s horses are really forward for this time of year, and they have appetites to prove it.  Here is a nice picture of Lizzie serving their lunch.

These are two very nice prospects and there is still one share available in each of them.  Full details can be found here on the racehorse ownership costs page
January 2014
Karl Burke with Libertarian

Quick Decisson & His Delighted Owners

We went into the New Year with an excellent run from Shantou Magic in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury.  This is a top-quality race that is often seen as a stepping stone for the Neptune or Alfred Bartlett staying novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.  Although we only came 4th, it was a huge step up in class and, turning into the straight, we looked as though we were going to win.  Indeed, all the way down the back straight, no-one was travelling better than our horse.  The intermediate target now will be the National Spirit at Fontwell in mid-February and then, who knows, the Festival.
Quick Decisson had had two runs this season and we were struggling a bit to find the right distance for him.  On 16th January at Wincanton, however, everything came right and he beat a high-quality field in a competitive 2m handicap hurdle, under an excellent ride from Tom O’Brien.  He obviously loves Wincanton because it’s his third win in three visits to the track.  We’re hoping to pick up a similar race on the soft or heavy ground he loves.
Our beautifully bred mare, Lady Charisma, will be having a run this month to get a handicap mark and then hopefully will be aimed at the valuable mares’ 2m 4f hurdle at Newbury in March.  She is in great heart.  Also at Philip Hobbs’, another horse with a lovely pedigree, Bilbrook Blaze, stepped up a few gears recently and will be making a debut bumper appearance towards the end of February or in early March.  He holds an engagement in the valuable DBS bumper, also at Newbury.

Finally, all the Flat horses are doing their early cantering up on Middleham Moors for Karl Burke, and some really promising reports about them have come out of the yard.  Aran Sky will be one to watch out for at the start of the Flat season, then Jolievitesse, while the horse Karl refers to as “the Big Fellow”, Lord Ben Stack, is a longer-term project – now with a Derby entry for 2015.
December 2013

Karl Burke with LibertarianOver the Autumn of 2012, we invested in our first four National Hunt horses – Quick Decisson and Lady Charisma with Philip Hobbs, Houndscourt with Jamie Snowden and Shantou Magic with Charlie Longsdon.  We were absolutely thrilled when, at Towcester on 30th November, Lady Charisma won her novice hurdle with a typically brave and resolute performance.  This means that all the first year’s jumpers have now won.  To have a 100% strike rate with a crop of horses who are not only winners but still on an upward trajectory, is no mean achievement.  Many thanks indeed to everyone involved in their buying and training.  Quick Decisson will probably come out again at the end of this month at Uttoxeter;  Lady Charisma won’t run again until the New Year, and will then be aimed at the valuable mares’ 2m 4f novice hurdle at Newbury in March;  Houndscourt is going to be stepped up to 3m novice chasing, with a particular eye on a Spring campaign on good ground, at tracks such as Ayr, Aintree and Cheltenham;  and last but not least, Shantou Magic will be making the transition to Graded company at either the Challow Hurdle at Newbury after Christmas or the Leamington Spa at Warwick in January, prior, hopefully to a crack at one of the staying novice hurdle races such as the Neptune or the Alfred Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in March.  They really are a Fab Four.  We have another set of four lovely NH horses waiting in the wings – Bilbrook Blaze (Philip Hobbs), Future Gilded (Jamie Snowden), Primo Capitano (Martin Keighley) and Wilde Oak (Anthony Honeyball) – so there is a lot to look forward to as we move into 2014.

Jamie and Lucy Snowden hosted our 7th “Meet the Trainer” day at their yard in Lambourn on 30th November, prior to many of the owners going on to watch the Hennessy at Newbury.  There will be two more of these visits lined up – to Charlie Longsdon and Philip Hobbs – at the end of the winter, and then one on the Flat with Karl and Elaine Burke around the York Dante meeting.

In terms of the Flat horses, Aran Sky is now enjoying his winter holiday up at Middleham, and the two yearlings, Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack, have been broken and ridden away and are taking their first steps into the wider world with outings on to High and Low Moor as they begin to learn the ropes of being racehorses.  There is only one share available now in each of these yearlings, so if you fancy buying yourself a Christmas present, do please let us know.  Just drop an email to  Jolievitesse’s sire, Elusive City, has produced many speedy 2yos for trainers such as Richard Hannon, so he may be out relatively early in 2014.  Lord Ben Stack is by Dylan Thomas, and he will need a lot more time.  Karl Burke and his daughter, Kelly, really like this scopy and athletic horse (always referring to him as “the big fellow”);  so much so that we made a decision to enter him for the 2015 Derby.  You can but dream in this sport.

Finally, with best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.  Have lots of winners and be lucky.

More champagne moments – “Meet the Trainer” morning at Charlie Longsdon’s and a picnic at Cheltenham, 17th April 2014

Owners at Charlie Longsdon's and Cheltenham Owners at Charlie Longsdon's and Cheltenham Owners at Charlie Longsdon's and Cheltenham

Quick Decisson Scores Again at Wincanton in a Class 3 handicap Hurdle, 16th January 2014

Quick Decisson at Wincanton Quick Decisson winning race at Wincanton Quick Decisson with his happy owners