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Horse Race

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

November – December 2017

It didn’t take long for one of the new youngsters to put a first run on the board.  Acey Milan, with Anthony Honeyball, who had run really promisingly to come 2nd on his debut at Exeter, followed up and spreadeagled the field, winning by 9 lengths and 15 lengths in a bumper at Wincanton.  This was a very taking performance that went into lots of notebooks, and he is being stepped up to the £25,000 added Listed bumper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.  Similarly a horse that we help to manage in conjunction with Martin and Belinda Keighley, Buckle Street, won gamely at Catterick in a 3m 2f handicap hurdle under a fine ride from talented conditional Harry Stock.  He came out of the race really well and is also bound for Cheltenham on 1st January in a 3m handicap – what an exciting start to the year.  Indeed, the end of the year was busy with a number of runners including Dr Dunraven, having a pipe opener after 245 days off.

Going into the New Year, the busy time will continue for horses under the Owners for Owners banner, those with Martin Keighley and in the private partnerships that we organise.  The Owners for Owners horses are  Lord Condi (who could go to an A/W bumper at Lingfield on 5th January) and Melekhov (who should make his debut at Hereford or Ludlow in mid-January).  With Martin, Sporty Yankee is heading back to Ffos Las, where he won at the beginning of 2017 and seems in really good heart at the moment.

Finally, in the private partnerships, Mayfair Rock, by brilliant and late-lamented Society Rock, could debut for Karl Burke in a 5f novice at Southwell or Newcastle in mid-January.  She is an exciting prospect, having endured life-saving surgery for a stomach condition earlier in the year.  It will be very emotional if she can make a winning debut.  England Expects, who ran on the Flat for Karl Burke, comes out for the same stable in a mares’ novice hurdle at Catterick on New Year’s Day, ridden by Henry Brooke.

Good to finish the year on a winning note, and lots to look forward to in 2018!
July - October 2017 Farwell to Four Old Friends

As expected, summer and autumn this year turned out to be appreciably busier than the spring.  Partly that was due to a very interesting few months spent working closely with Martin Keighley and his yard sponsor, Leisure Ride Group, who are the country’s leading experts in building and maintaining gallops and equine exercise rings.  We created a Twenty Point Improvement Plan for the whole yard and managed to complete the vast majority of it in time for Martin’s owners’ day in September.  We worked on everything from putting new vents in the stables, installing new guttering, creating a wash-down box with the most modern heat lamps, building walkways so that horses don’t have to step on stony Cotswold tracks, and most excitingly, constructing a brand new, two furlong loop which has 1,000 tonnes of stone beneath it, superb drainage, and tonnes of waxed, shredded carpet fibre on top.  It’s not just the horses who love the surface;  all the jockeys and other riders who have been cantering on it, and indeed schooling off it, believe it is the best surface they’ve ever ridden on.  Despite a few gulps when the bills came in, all this work has made a huge difference to the yard.  Indeed, we’re currently drawing up the next improvement plan for 2018.  If you’d like to visit the yard to see some of these transformations, just contact me (Jon Hughes) on 01451-850780 and I’ll enjoy showing you around with Martin.

Encouragingly, we’ve also had some good results on the track, not least with Black Prince who is just about our biggest horse in training at 17hh and an absolute gentleman to boot.  He is a really enthusiastic, good-natured horse and everyone in Anthony Honeyball’s yard adores him.  He has taken a bit of time to come to hand, but after a couple of placed efforts, put in a very game run to win over 2m at Chelmsford and was then switched to juvenile hurdling, where he came 2nd on his debut.  He is making up into a nice dual-purpose horse and should give everyone a lot of fun in 2018.

Timeless Art had been frustrating in the first half of the season, but was given a ride by Martin Harley at Kempton that could only be described as masterful.  The pace in the first couple of furlongs was very slow, so Martin rushed our horse into a 5-length lead and was never headed.  It wasn’t just that he caught the other jockeys napping;  our lad really enjoyed not having any horses around him and was still galloping away from the field at the line.

As we moved into the autumn, owners made collective decisions to say farewell to a number of the Owners for Owners horses.  As you can see from the photos, we’ve moved four horses on, namely Future Gilded, He’s A Bully, Thady Quil and Timeless Art.  All are winners and they have taken owners to some of the best tracks in the country over the last few years.  Future Gilded and He’s A Bully have been retired and are now with Claire Hart in her lovely yard at Adlestrop near Stow-on-the-Wold.  They are both guaranteed a magnificent future.  Thady Quil has retired from NH racing and gone to experts in eventing and showjumping near Reading.  He was always a superb jumper of fences, and is already showing plenty of aptitude for the next phase of his career.  Finally we put Timeless through the Tattersalls Newmarket Horses in Training Sale where he was sold, guaranteeing owners a nice return through prize-money and his sale price.  It’s always sad to say goodbye to horses who have become close friends, but it is much easier to accept when you know that they’ve gone to good homes.

Welcome to the New Gang of Four

So as the old warriors move on, there has been a strong sense of expectation and renewal as we welcomed in new horses, all aged 3 or 4.  I don’t think we need to explain who the sire is of Acey Milan, but his stable name was always “Ace” so the football fans in the partnership quickly determined his official name.  He was bought a couple of years ago as a yearling from Bryan Murphy of the renowned Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, Co. Limerick.  Ace may not the biggest horse you’ll see, but he is a tremendous athlete and has a pedigree to match.  He was probably unlucky not to win on his debut in an NH juvenile bumper for Anthony Honeyball, but thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and looks a smart prospect.  Lord Condi is with Martin Keighley and although 4, is in many ways quite immature, particularly mentally, and will need to be brought along steadily.  At home he has been superb on the gallops and there is a good buzz about him.  It may take a bit of time to come through on the track, but there’s lots to look forward to.  Melekhov is by Sholokhov (and indeed is the lead character in the novel, And Quiet Flows the Don, which is why his nickname was “Don”), and was bought for us by Aiden Murphy shortly before we got Ace.  He has developed superbly physically and is a really likeable horse, with all of his owners besotted with him.  He has now gone down to Philip Hobbs and should appear in an NH juvenile bumper around Christmas-time.  Special thanks to Aiden and Claire for looking after him so well.  Finally, Scented Lily, our well-bred filly from the Best Mate family, is learning the ropes with Charlie Longsdon.  She is a stayer in the making but still quite immature physically, so we’re not being too hard on her at the moment.  After a few autumn runs in mares’ maiden hurdles, she will have a winter break and then we’ll hopefully see substantial improvement on good ground in the spring as a 5yo.

February-June 2017

In many ways the first half of the year turned out to be exceptionally quiet on the race track. Not really by design, but more to do with the very late Winter and early Spring. Future Gilded had won really nicely up at Catterick on New Year’s Day and put in a couple of excellent 2nds at Wetherby and Warwick, probably unlucky not to have won at least one of them. We had a go switching him back to hurdling, which was a complete failure: an experiment that won’t be repeated. Unfortunately he didn’t race again because of the ground being too quick, and / or watered. We are already excited about the Autumn, when his main target will be the Becher Chase at Aintree. Similarly He’s A Bully, also returning from leg injury, only had two runs, both promising, finishing 2nd and 3rd. He was also turned away because of the prevailing quick ground. Thady Quil ran five times without success, and has now been taken over by a couple of his owners. Dr Dunraven, who had lost his way, was switched to Martin Keighley and put in a super debut, with a fast-finishing 2nd, at Uttoxeter. He’ll run over the Summer and into the Autumn.

On the Flat, Timeless Art ran a promising 3rd on his debut but has not quite found his stride in his subsequent runs, admittedly with genuine reasons on each occasion. We’re hoping he will get off the mark very soon. Black Prince has run three times, with two encouraging 3rds, and is about to be stepped up considerably in trip.

Jon Hughes of Owners for Owners has been working very closely with Martin and Belinda Keighley over the last six months. He is Chairman of Keighley Racing Ltd., doing a lot to bring in new horses and owners and substantially improve the yard. This is an exciting venture that is really hitting its stride with a vengeance. Over 17 new horses have come into the yard, including a number of new ones for us: a Lawman 2yo (hopefully to be called Enforcement) as well as an Elzaam of the same age who has gone into a Martin Keighley Racing Partnership co-organised by Jon’s wife Jack and Paul Davis. They are also running the Martin Keighley Racing Club which, from a standing start, now has 50 members and has already had four wins, most recently with Viking Mistress who stormed home in two mares’ handicap hurdles during a purple patch over 10 days at the end of May / early June, well backed, and ridden by Champion Jockey Richard Johnson. Sporty Yankee will be running throughout the Summer and Autumn, and he still remains with considerable potential as a dual-purpose horse. This is a feature of the work we are doing with Martin, and we are keen to build up the Flat side of the operation as well as kicking on with jumpers.

Belinda Keighley wins at York

A number of OfO owners are involved in another dual-purpose horse at the Keighleys’, Buckle Street, an absolutely gorgeous son of Cacique. As well as winning over hurdles last season for the Club, he was also the conveyance for a superb win by Belinda Keighley in the Macmillan Charity Race at York in June. We’ve never enjoyed a day at the races more than this one, and it was a most heart-warming occasion. The 1st July blog contains far more details about the race and the whole uplifting experience.

There are a number of horses waiting in the wings: a 2yo filly, Chantresse, will debut over the Summer for Karl Burke, while a 3yo with him, Sunday Prospect, should also reappear fairly soon following his recovery from injury last season; a gorgeous, unraced 4yo by Getaway called Sojourn will be out in bumpers for Anthony Honeyball in the Autumn, as will Scented Lily, our 4yo by Presenting with Charlie Longsdon.

And the excitement doesn’t stop there. A couple of years ago we bought three NH foals / yearlings, by Sholokhov, Milan and Oscar. The first two will go through pre-training and then into juvenile bumpers with Philip Hobbs and Anthony Honeyball respectively. The Oscar is a really big, scopey, strong horse who needs time so is remaining in Ireland for another year with PJ Colville in Tipperary. We had a rush of blood at the Doncaster store horse sale in the Spring and acquired a similarly large 3yo by Presenting, who has also gone over to Ireland for a year of TLC and pre-training, so as you can see there are a lot of young horses in the pipeline. This was a conscious policy to avoid buying “ready to go” NH horses who have become so expensive over the last few years at the big sales.

Definitely lots to look forward to. The second half of 2017 won’t be anywhere near as quiet as the first half.

January 2017

Future Gilded back on track at CatterickAlthough we’d had a really enjoyable and successful Flat season, with notable wins at top tracks from Lord Ben Stack and Timeless Art, we had suffered more than our fair share of injuries and even fatalities, particularly over the jumps. Fortunately we have patient and very realistic owners, although the highs and lows can be hard to take on occasion. One of our favourite horses has been Future Gilded at Jamie Snowden’s in Lambourn, as he has bags of ability, a bold, exuberant temperament and a very appealing personality. Unfortunately “Frankie”, as he is known, has been fragile from the first day we acquired him, and has spent more time off the track than on it. We have persevered because he appears to have considerable potential, although his latest time off the course stretched to 638 days, which definitely tested everyone’s patience. It was great to see it rewarded on the very first day of the year up at Catterick, with both Timeform and Racing Post suitably impressed: “Made favourite, the clear feeling that he was well handicapped fully justified, needed to be to get the better of an improver as they forged clear from 2 out, responding well, including overcoming an earlier blunder, edging ahead late on; he’s stood little racing, a curse that could easily become a blessing if he gets into a groove this term”, and “He showed real guts to out-battle the runner-up from the final fence. This was some training performance, and he remains unexposed over fences.” Hit the groove, Frankie!