Latest News – keeping up to date with our runners, events and horses for sale
|October – December 2016||
As we went through Q4 of 2016, our owners experienced both the highs and the deepest lows of being involved in horse racing. Regular readers of Latest News will know how much we all adored Lord Ben Stack, a horse we bought at Arqana, Deauville as a yearling and who has been brilliantly looked after by Karl Burke and his team ever since. Having trotted up at Haydock Park over 10f on 10th September, we took him back there at the end of the month over 1m 4f and again he won convincingly. His official rating went up to 102, and everyone was looking forward to his racing in top handicaps such as the John Smith’s Magnet Cup at York next summer, before hopefully stepping up to Listed or even Group races later on in his 5yo days. He was out at the Weymes’ yard near Sedgefield enjoying a well-earned winter holiday when disaster struck in the early hours of 12th November and he suffered a terrible attack of colic. The Weymeses and their vet rushed to be with him but, alas, couldn’t save him. A huge blow and this lovely person is going to be much missed.
His companion at the Weymes’, Timeless Art, who we bought the following year at the same sale, also had an enjoyable winter break after spreadeagling a good field of handicappers over 1m up the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on 28th October. He had won a nice handicap at Ayr on 18th June, but as an immature horse we gave him time to strengthen up and he rewarded us in no uncertain fashion at HQ. His sire, Medicean, often produces horses that improve considerably with age and we are hoping that will be the case with this one. Off an OR of 85, he could still be very well handicapped and we’ll try to bag a couple of nice races in the Spring / early Summer, possibly including races in France where he is eligible for the valuable premiums. A really nice 4yo prospect to look forward to in 2017.Throughout the Autumn a number of us in Owners for Owners have worked very closely with Martin Keighley at his excellent facilities at Condicote, near Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. We set up his Racing Club with two horses and 50 members, as well as Martin Keighley Racing Partnerships, which have City Never Sleeps and Sporty Yankee. The first of these has already taken his owners to Cheltenham a couple of times, which was a huge thrill, and the latter won a 3yo maiden juvenile hurdle at Ffos Las on the same day that poor Lord Ben Stack died. You can only imagine the emotions as we cheered on “Paddy” (from his sire, Paddy O’Prado) as we came off the stands, having had our hearts in our mouths as he clung on to win by a nose in a very tactical race. The emotions were also acute for the team up at Spigot Lodge and Karl Burke, as we bought Paddy out of his yard with the express target of the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at next March’s Cheltenham Festival Meeting. On the basis of this win on his debut, his superb jumping at home, general attitude and liking for soft ground, it looks as though we are on track and have skipped over the first milestone.
|August – September 2016||
It’s not very often in racing that the campaign plan for a horse, particularly one who has had some physical problems, comes together with everything going right. However, we had a terrific example of that with Lord Ben Stack at Haydock Park on 2nd September. “Big Ben”, as one of our owners calls him, has always been an absolutely gorgeous horse and indeed in 2yo days we ran him in the Gr.2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket as well as giving him a Derby entry. In the first half of 3yo days he picked up a minor muscle injury in his debut outing but was still able to run boldly behind Golden Horn in Dante at York. Unfortunately the injury returned and we had to abandon the middle part of that year. Then he looked certain to win on his comeback at Haydock but ended up trapped on the rails, and by the time he got out just couldn’t make up the necessary ground, beaten a head by a promising horse, Cymro. The rapid switching to get him off the rails aggravated the muscle tweak again, and he didn’t reappear that season. When we brought him out this year he ran at Pontefract on ground that was far too soft, at a time when the yard was out of form; then he went up to Ayr and for whatever reason put in a shocker; then ran at Ripon over too short a trip in a race that became very tactical. So without a win since 2yo days it is easy to see why all the owners were becoming frustrated. However if there is one maxim in racing that is definitely true, it is that “patience pays off”. Through the second half of August, Lord Ben Stack really came to hand and was galloping more freely than he had done since 2yo days, the handicapper had dropped him from 95 to 87 and there was an ideal race back at his favourite course, Haydock, which Karl Burke targeted. The horse broke well, pulled himself into the lead after a furlong, settled beautifully and then stormed home under a well-judged ride by Karl’s very promising claimer, Clifford Lee. Amazingly the horse opened at 33/1 in the betting and a number of the owners followed him all the way down to 7/1. The horse definitely showed what a beautiful galloper he is, and we’re hoping to build on that throughout the autumn. It made us chuckle that all our NH trainers clocked the performance and would doubtless love to have him in their yards as a big, bold hurdler.
In terms of the other Flat horses with Karl, Timeless Art will run as soon as we can get him into a suitable race, over 1m or possibly a bit further. He has been gelded since his brave run at Ayr earlier in the summer and has also had a minor wind cauterisation. No matter what he does this autumn, he should be a lovely 4yo. Sunday Prospect won’t run again this year, as he has had a minor injury, but is recovering extremely well and looks a super prospect for next year.
All the NH trainers are having their owners’ days or stable visits at the moment. Charlie Longsdon coped manfully with the heavy rain on Saturday, 10th September and the weather didn’t affect anyone’s enjoyment one jot. Our filly, Scented Lily, has settled well in the yard and is growing bigger and taller by the week. Future Gilded is back with Jamie Snowden, and enjoyed being paraded on 11th September. He has been beautifully looked after by Claire Hart over the last 12 months and also spent a month with Jamie Magee on the equine water treadmill. Hearty congratulations to Claire on her marriage to Matt Hardwick, and to Jamie and Judy Magee on the birth of their son.We’re now looking forward to visits to other trainers: Philip Hobbs on 13th September to see Dr Dunraven, followed by He’s A Bully at Polly Curling’s; Anthony Honeyball on 18th September to see Black Prince; and Martin Keighley on 25th to see Thady Quil.
|May – July 2016||
Timeless Art had always looked a classy horse, and at the beginning of this season we were hoping we might have a Group horse on our hands. Beautifully bred, he was purchased at the Arqana sale in Deauville in October 2014, but being by Medicean took time to come to hand, so to win a valuable Class 3 as a maiden in the middle of this Flat season wasn’t initially the plan, but all his owners were delighted to see his potential starting to be realised. Ayr is one of our favourite racecourses with excellent owner facilities, so none of us minded the long journey to Scotland to watch our horse put in a really brave performance in a race that became quite tactical. One of the owners had family connections with the Irvine area just to the north, so that made it even more special. We enjoyed the pleasant banter with the former First Minister for Scotland and keen racegoer, Alex Salmond. Alas, the prize for Timeless Art was to come back from Ayr for a gelding operation. He has always been on the weak and leggy side, and we’re hoping that this will be the making of him. We will find out in an autumn campaign. Hopefully he will make up into a cracking 4yo. Of the other horses with Karl Burke, we said goodbye to Jolievitesse who was sold for a much higher figure than we expected at the Tattersalls’ Horses in Training Sale in July; Sunday Prospect made an encouraging debut under a tender ride from Joe Fanning, who immediately said, “This horse will win you races”; and Lord Ben Stack had a comeback run, also at Ayr, but was badly in need of the run after some time off with a muscle injury. We’re hoping that he will finally get going properly in the second half of the season.
On the National Hunt front, we also said farewell to our old warrior, Shantou Magic, from Charlie Longsdon’s yard. With his sale price and prize-money he brought in almost £60k for the owners, a number of whom have reinvested in the Presenting filly, now called Scented Lily, who is being well educated by Claire Hart at her yard in Adlestrop, near Stow-on-the-Wold. Thady Quil is also there, and now back in pre-training, while Future Gilded (Frankie) is interspersing being looked after by Claire with the five-star luxury of Jamie Magee’s state-of-the-art iced saline water treadmill at his yard in Lambourn. Frankie is an absolutely gorgeous horse but, alas, rather fragile so we are doing everything we possibly can to bring him back to the track later in the autumn. He will be going back to Jamie Snowden in early September, and is still potentially a really smart 2½m chaser. Black Prince appears to be enjoying his training regime with Anthony Honeyball, and as our first dual-purpose horse, could run in a 1m+ maiden from September onwards. Finally we added another new National Hunt horse to our team, acquiring the 5yo Dr Dunraven in May and he came into full training with Philip Hobbs in early July. Over the last couple of years we’ve developed a relationship with Bryan Murphy, the owner of the Dunraven Arms in Adare, Co. Limerick; he has found many top-quality horses for Philip over the years, and we’re hoping this will be another. He might have a pipe-opener in a bumper from October, but will be seen in novice hurdles over the winter. Our other horse with Philip, He’s A Bully, is recovering well from a minor leg injury and will be trotting out again under the tutelage of Polly Curling from 1st September. Finally the frustrating Bilbrook Blaze has moved on from Philip to the yard of point-to-point lady champion Gina Andrews, and we’re hoping that she will be able to regalvanise this horse who, on occasions, showed real potential in both hurdles and chases.We have also been busy working to facilitate improvements in the syndicate industry. Ever since we started OfO we have been arguing for much greater transparency and demonstrably fair practice for all owners involved in partnerships, co-ownership and syndicates. We were on a working party of the BHA / ROA to develop a code of practice for syndicates and have also done some work pilot-testing the new ownership web site that will be launched next year. Partly as a result of our efforts there have been some major changes in the trade body for syndicates which has now been re-launched as the Racehorse Syndicate Association (RSA), of which we have become a member: see www.racehorsesyndicates.org.
|February – April 2016||
I think the weather historians believe that we’ve just endured the wettest winter ever, and the coldest April. It has certainly been one of the most miserable that any of us can remember, and an extremely frustrating one for owners of racehorses. Incredibly, in four months from January to April we’ve only had four runs from our National Hunt horses. Bilbrook Blaze came 2nd at Taunton on 21st March and was desperately unlucky. He was hampered by a falling horse four out, lost ten lengths and was only beaten half a length. Richard Johnson was riding that day and was as exasperated as we were. Everyone was delighted though to see him become Champion Jockey – you won’t find a better rider anywhere, and he is absolutely marvellous with feedback to owners. The going has been completely unsuitable for Bilbrook Blaze since then, but there is a nice race for him at Newton Abbot on 5th May. With Shantou Magic we made a deliberate decision to have a long mid-winter holiday and he kicked off his spring campaign at Newbury on 2nd April over what we now know was an inadequate trip, but stayed on strongly to come 4th. After this pipe-opener we were looking forward to a good run at Kempton on 19th April. He was stepped up to three miles, and travelling really well he looked the winner until he unseated a mile out. He will go to a similar race at Uttoxeter on 14th May. Thady Quil, who has had more than his fair share of problems, ran after 150 days off the track at Warwick on 21st April with lots of zest and looked the winner with two to go. He came 2nd to a highly rated Paul Nicholls horse and we’ll probably step him up in trip to 3m – there is a suitable race back at Warwick on 18th May.
Unfortunately we have had a slow start to the Flat, with all three horses, Jolievitesse, Lord Ben Stack and Timeless Art running disappointingly, but it is true to say that Karl Burke’s yard wasn’t really firing at the time, primarily because the conditions up on Middleham Moors have been bitter, with fierce winds, snow and unseasonably cold weather. We then experienced a double whammy with a sudden going change at Chelmsford (it may be All-Weather but heavy rain made the surface like concrete) that spooked Timeless Art, while Lord Ben Stack just couldn’t act on the heavy ground at Pontefract even though his sire, Dylan Thomas, won the Arc de Triomphe on it. Hopefully all three will reappear on Day 1 of the York Dante meeting on 11th May.
With all the “stop-starts” over jumps and on the Flat, we’ve had a lot of time to map out a new buying policy for National Hunt horses where we are actively restocking with the help of our trainers and agents, particularly Aiden Murphy. After a lot of thinking about the horses and our different types of owners, we decided to buy three new horses, at different price points. Two have now been purchased and we are still actively looking for the third.
Black Prince: this is the first time we have bought into a 2yo colt as a dual purpose Flat / NH horse. We are delighted to have linked up with well-known owner Ron Huggins (who many of you will remember from his fabulous Ascot Gold Cup winner, Double Trigger) at Anthony Honeyball’s. Ron’s approach is only to buy horses with strong pedigrees and with the conformation and scope to be stayers. This horse is by Falco, from a strong Hamdan al Maktoum black-type family. We know Falco well through Group 1-winning mare Odeliz at Karl Burke’s, and he is also the sire of Peace And Co at Nicky Henderson’s. The dam-sire, Street Cry, has done notably well and while he is particularly well-known for siring Zenyatta, has also produced some good NH horses, several of which were trained by John Ferguson. Black Prince cost £21,000; there will be five owners at £4,200 + VAT per share + £390 per month. He will run on the Flat as a 2/3yo before probably switching to hurdling.
A 3yo Presenting Filly: there has never been a better time to own a filly / mare in National Hunt racing. There are far more races now available for them and prize-money has increased significantly, not least through the two mares-only races at the Festival. We wanted a really well-bred filly so that hopefully, after a successful racing career, the owners can sell her back into the breeding industry. Our search began at the beginning of the year, using Aiden Murphy’s contacts and also employing Andrew Tinkler (who rides for Martin Keighley and is one of the key schooling riders for Nicky Henderson) to “ride before we buy”. We have also had the leading vet Ben Brain scoping and checking every potential purchase. Eventually we selected a gorgeous filly by Presenting, from the dam line of Best Mate, Cornish Rebel, Inexorable and Inca Trail. She was bought by Aiden in Ireland in 2014, broken at Charlie Poste’s yard and is now being ridden by Claire Hart before having a summer break and then going to Charlie Longsdon in the autumn. She won’t be rushed, and hopefully will be targeted at the mares’ bumper races in 2017, particularly the one at the Aintree Grand National meeting, then the mares’ novice hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. The Presenting filly cost £37,500; there will be six owners at £6,250 + VAT per share + £315 per month.
Third purchase, for Philip Hobbs: finally we are looking for a “ready to go” 4/5yo gelding to race in bumpers / novice hurdles from the early autumn. Again we have been in close contact with Aiden Murphy throughout the sales season so far at the “boutique” sales at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals. It is true to say that the demand for well-bred, high-quality, winning point-to-pointers has never been stronger, and so far we have not been able to buy a horse that we really like, with solid form, at the right price. The search is actively continuing and we will be looking closely at the horses going through the next Cheltenham sale on Thursday, 26th May. Our budget for this horse is in the band £60,000 - £80,000 and there will be 8 owners.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of our new NH buying campaign or the pricing policy, or visit the new prospects at Anthony Honeyball’s, Charlie Longsdon’s or Philip Hobbs’ yards, please make contact with Jon Hughes at Owners for Owners on 01451-850780.
As we went through the autumn of 2015, we had expected to be very busy with the National Hunt horses before turning our attention to the new Flat season ahead. As so often with racing, however, our plans went out of the window in December and we’re still regrouping in Owners for Owners as a result.
On the Flat, everything continues to go very smoothly with our four horses with Karl Burke, and long may that continue. Our youngest horse and therefore latest dream with Karl, Sunday Prospect, has made excellent physical strides, and as you can see from the photo, is a fine stamp of a horse. He is certainly one of Karl’s more forward youngsters and even at this early stage looks more like a 3yo than a 2yo. Whether or not he will be an early horse remains to be seen, as there is a bit of stamina in the pedigree. Lord Ben Stack is back in full training, and as expected is now a most imposing 4yo. Karl was interviewed on At The Races earlier this month and could not have been more positive about this horse, still hoping that he can be capable of winning a Group 3 or even better. We’re just hoping that this could be his season. Timeless Art had a very relaxing late autumn and is now back in regular cantering on Middleham Low Moor. We still have the entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas for 21st May, but will have to see firstly how quickly he comes to hand and secondly whether he is likely to be a miler as a 3yo or whether he may need further; a really classy-looking horse from a magnificent dam line with Group winners aplenty. Jolievitesse has kept the flag flying over the middle of the winter. We had to teach him to settle in his races, and when he was stepped back up to 1m 3f at Kempton on 9th December he was only beaten a length and two noses into 4th. He improved again in his next run, also at Kempton, on 6th January, just beaten a neck over 1m 4f. After a short break he will be running at Kempton again in March ahead of a spring campaign.
Unfortunately it was over jumps that we have had to rethink the plan. Over a couple of weeks either side of Christmas we were really unlucky when He’s A Bully, who was being entered up to run, incurred a relatively minor tendon injury and is now on the sidelines through this year. He is being looked after by the well-known ex-point-to-pointer Polly Curling at her yard in the Quantocks. Then on the morning of New Year’s Day we suffered the saddest moment ever as an owner when our beautiful 5yo Flemensfirth, The Fugitive, suffered a fatal accident at home on the gallops. We just couldn’t have had a worse start to the season and all the owners were knocked sideways. He had just started to show his undoubted potential, coming 3rd in a race at Fontwell which has already produced a number of winners. All our friends and owners rallied round, and I’d like to thank everyone for the considerable number of kind messages that were sent in.
With it being the wettest winter on record, we made a strategic decision to draw stumps and not run any of the NH horses again until the ground has dried up appreciably. Bilbrook Blaze at Philip Hobbs’ is ticking over and could be the next one out; Thady Quil’s next outing depends on how he gets over his wind operation; and Shantou Magic went back to Charlie Longsdon at the end of the month, having been lovingly looked after by another top-class point-to-point rider, Claire Hart. She is currently the leading lady in the P2P championships and we wish her the very best in that. She also looks after Future Gilded, who came through his recent scan with flying colours and will hopefully start early pre-training after Easter – a lovely, exuberant jumper who we can’t wait to see back on the track in the autumn.So with a couple of NH horses on the sidelines and, alas, one fatally injured, we have decided to rethink the plan and have now begun the search for another horse. Aiden Murphy, who has been helping us with the store horses – the photo alongside is the Sholokhov who is based at his yard near Stratford-upon-Avon – has been briefed and we are now actively looking for the right type of horse. In the current over-priced market that is not necessarily straightforward, so as we go through the winter and into the spring we are going to refine the criteria carefully with Aiden and also look at other options such as leasing a well-bred, sturdy mare. Full details will be posted on this web site as the position becomes clearer.
The Next Generation 2: Growing up rapidly, the Oscar, Milan and Sholokhov 2yo NH store horses, March 2016
The Next Generation: Buying NH yearlings for the first time over the winter, 2014/15