Entries & Recent Form

 Last week was another good one for the stable with the horses remaining in fine form. We enjoyed a rare and dramatic success on the flat (which brought back some advertising memories from the 80’s!), whilst all of our runners over the sticks performed with credit. It is looking a little quieter this week with just a handful of entries through the early part of the week although we are well represented at Worcester on Saturday.

Hamlet Moment Courtesy Of Ballard Down

I ventured up to Windsor on Monday evening to see Ballard Down (pictured above) make his debut for the stable and he continued our fine run when a dramatic winner of the mile handicap. When the starting stalls opened our son of Canford Cliffs stood there for a few moments before consenting to set off some seven or eight lengths behind his rivals. The Hamlet cigar advert from the 80’s immediately came to mind! I couldn’t believe it; I was stood in the stands looking at long-standing owner William Frewen, both of us thinking that our chance had gone before we had even started. Fortunately, apprentice jockey Finley Marsh is a lot cooler than us and never panicking, he let him make his ground up steadily before delivering a winning burst down the outside to get up on the line to score by a nose.

This was some performance to make up that amount of ground over only a mile against some decent rivals. He already looks like a bargain – we had bought him from a Wolverhampton claimer last month for £15,000 with a view to running him on the flat and over hurdles and he reclaimed almost half of his purchase price with this one run. He could run again on the flat; although I am sure Tom Scudamore will be looking forward to unleashing his turn of foot over hurdles.

In The Frame

Meanwhile, our other runners from last week also performed with credit. Story Of Friends bumped into a very useful rival when second at Newton Abbot on Wednesday. He lost nothing in defeat here – he will benefit from a stiffer test of stamina in time and will certainly face easier tasks than this.

Van Gogh du Granit ran another fantastic race when just touched off by a short head in the Sam Morshead Perth Gold Cup on Sunday. Our ten year old has proven to be another bargain buy since we acquired him from a French claimer for just €11,006 in January, already earning almost £27,000 in prize money. He could be in line for a spot of globetrotting later in the year as his owner is keen to run in the Grand Prix des Flandres in Belgium in August and the Velka Pardubicka in the Czech Republic in October.

Our other runners; Delface, Great Tempo, Percy Street all finished fourth meaning that every one of our representatives last week reached the frame.

The Week Ahead

We have certainly had a mixed bag of weather over the past few days with sunshine, heavy rain and even a tornado thrown in…all we are missing is a bit of snow! There was an absolute deluge of rain with 40mm falling on Friday night/Saturday morning alone and it seems that we were not alone with the likes of Haydock now riding heavy. That clearly isn’t the case with all tracks however as Windsor are good (good/firm in places) ahead of their fixture this evening. The changeable conditions do make it tricky when trying to plan where to run the horses though so we will be monitoring ground conditions very closely.

We have two runners today with Buster Edwards contesting the staying hurdle at Stratford this afternoon and Ekayburg running on the flat at Windsor this evening. Buster Edwards has been in good form over these marathon trips and he should go well once again in the hands of David Noonan.

There are no jumps fixtures taking place tomorrow whilst we are unlikely to have any runners on Wednesday. Hot Ryan is engaged at Uttoxeter on Thursday but holds alternative engagements including at Newton Abbot on Friday (along with Mrs Miggins and Noel’s Boy), whilst all three are entered at Worcester on Saturday along with intended runner Skinflint (who has been in good form in point-to-points), recent winner Max do Brazil and Malangen. Keep up to date with Chester’s Daily Chat for all the latest information on running plans.

Remembering Richard Barber

I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of one of racing’s greatest stalwarts at the weekend. Former trainer and owner Richard Barber passed away on Saturday at the age of 78. He was a true gentleman and I will always treasure the memories I have of him.

Indeed, I used to ride out for him at his yard in Seaborough twice a week and he gave me my first ride in a point-to-point aboard his horse Archie’s Nephew (pictured below) at Great Trethew. I still vividly remember wanting my introduction to race riding to be a low-key affair but that was not to be as my father flew in in his helicopter to watch!

Richard was a marvellous trainer and we had a couple of horses in training with him and he duly reciprocated that with the likes of Woodurather and Blush in training at Pond House. Richard also sourced some amazing horses and I was lucky to ride work aboard Rushing Wild for him before he came to Pond House where he finished runner-up in the 1993 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

I will always be indebted to him for the opportunities that he gave me and the knowledge that I gained from my time with him. Racing will be much the poorer for his passing.

My first point-to-point ride aboard Mr Barber's Archie's Nephew


Short Siesta

Finally, I will be taking advantage of the quiet start to the week by spending a couple of days in Spain with my partner Leanne and a group of friends as we celebrate Ken Rixon’s 40th birthday. Ken used to work for my father many years ago and living near the yard he has stayed in touch ever since, still coming in to ride out on the odd occasion. I won’t divulge the remainder of the guest list, although if you knew, you would understand that things could get quite messy quite quickly! If you see me next week, please talk quietly…

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