Thursday, January 2, 2020

2020 Vision

Got the year off to a good start with Roscommon coming a very close second on the 2nd January in Australia, and then a handy third on the 25th. We'll be trying a bit more distance with him in early February, which should suit him nicely, although, having been blocked, he came fourth in his first effort over a mile on the 4th. Unfortunately, it looks like the second attempt isn't going to happen, as Jo has decided to retire 'Rosco' - he did some tendon damage that isn't bad if it's left, but might cripple him if it went again in a race scenario. He should have many more years in him as a dressage horse by calling it a day now, and that sounds good to me...

Alleviator has joined the Aussie line-up to take the place of Rosco. The 12th April debut at Townsville was a bit disappointing, simply making up the numbers, but race-rust was hopefully a factor, and at least Jo Hassett will do things right. Indeed, although it didn't look good on paper, the next race on the 23rd was much better. Another run on the 7th May, but nothing to write home about as the gate draw wasn't kind, and in a 1000m sprint, it has to be. No good again on the 21st, as yet again the gate gods were taking the piss. These short races, that rely on a bit of luck as much as preparation, were actually one of the reasons I thought about throwing the towel in Down Under. We'll see how next month goes, and then make a decision, as this one doesn't seem to be doing much, which is a little hard to stomach at the moment.

I haven't written about Ireland for ages, simply because we've had nothing but empty promises, week after week, month after month, and indeed year after year. The race that would have finally got us somewhere was cancelled the day before it was due to take place thanks to COVID-19. I have never had such a poor experience with racehorses, and this bloody nag (Godiva's Bay) has probably sucked up more funds than all my others put together. Another go at Irish racing later on? No. Everything I've touched out there turned to crap, and I want for bang for my buck, not stress.

PS. Alleviator was disappointing again on the 18th June, which marks the end of his career. I will probably have a break now. It should be noted that it's not really the horse's fault for my downer - and certainly not that of the trainer, who always tries hard - it's more the Aussie racing scene in general, with a majority of races that are too short for nags to stand a chance of getting free of a wall of fast starters. Many thanks to Jo for giving me many years of fun. Just a shame that we've finished on a low note...

Friday, November 15, 2019

Back To Racing

My God, it's been so long since we've had a runner! And even that, on 16th November, was simply to get Roscommon back into the swing of things after a lengthy spell. The nag was seventh at Townsville, which was fine, as the main thing is to make sure we're on course for a full comeback. Anyway, it was a pleasing run according to his trainer, and he's come out of the race very well, which is good news. Nothing much happening in Ireland, except a stream of video updates and a dwindling bank account...

Roscommon just made up the numbers at Townsville on the 14th December. We had a bit of bad luck with 'Rosco' in reality, in that he was prepped to peak for the week before, but the race was scratched due to hard ground. Meanwhile, nothing but bad news from Ireland, as usual. Ummm. I don't think I'll be doing anything outside Australia after this NH episode comes to a conclusion (at least Oz is cheap and the trainer is dedicated), unless I can do something with a friend over here in Japan - the long-distance ownership thing isn't working now Mick Channon Jr is out of the picture, simply becoming more stress than pleasure.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Mad Work Era

For those who keep looking at the blog and thinking I've either died or lost interest, rest assured neither apply. It's simply that work has been absolutely crazy of late - two major projects that took a lot out of me, followed by an outside job that turned out to be a nightmare. That was followed by a ridiculously tight deadline, and then another tough outside job that saw me working around the clock. Only now have I started to look at the computer again without a look of dread in my eyes, so it's time to update stable movements and a few of the results at the very least.

Starting with the English horses, things have gone very quiet since Mick Jr left West Ilsley for a new life in Australia. It saw the end of the Lord Ilsley Racing enterprise, which was always a lot of fun, and a serious drop in the level of communication generally. The Box 41 nags have also seemed to fall off in numbers, and one wonders how much longer the Box 41 syndicate will continue if things go on the way they are. Dusty had a run at Newcastle in November, and came fourth before having a spell during the off-season. Both Macho Mover and Dusty were sold late last year apparently, leaving me with nothing left running in Box 41 colours.

In the meantime, The Jazz Singer has been replaced with Second Symphony in Ireland, and 'Rosco' has given me some Aussie interest again. The Irish pair have been disappointing, as the unusually dry weather ruled out jumps racing for week after week, month after month. When they finally did get to run, Godiva's Bay was brought down by a faller hitting the ground in front of him, and the newcomer just made up the numbers. Now we are in the middle of another long break, and I'm far from happy to be honest - had I not been so busy, making time pass by at the speed of sound, I'd be even more fed up. At least, Roscommon has provided some value for money, running five times already this year, with a fourth, a third, two seconds and a handsome win. We'll do the profiles in a bit...

PS. Another win for 'Rosco' on 9th April - a glimmer of hope in a sadly gloomy era. The dream of running a series of Godiva-named horses in the UK is now behind me, as it only seemed important to me (and an old mate from Coventry who wanted in on the act) - business must be hellish good if you can ignore a solid request for a horse. Looking into the possibility of another Aussie runner, otherwise my horse racing days are looking numbered. At least Rosco had another good run, coming third at Townsville on the 18th.

PPS. No news on the Aussie expansion from someone I was sure wouldn't let me down, although Jo Hassett has come through with news that she may have something on the horizon. Bless her! She's a beaut, and always has been over the years we've been together as a trainer/owner partnership. No improvement on the Irish horses - the campaign continues to be 2% pleasure, 38% stress, and 60% burden, which is definitely not what you get into the game for. Supposed to be a runner on 4th May, but the way things are going, I'd be surprised if it makes the start line, let alone wins. If ever there was a cure for the horse ownership bug, this Irish lark is it! My England campaign is also as good as over, so having a stake in a few UK greyhounds is a more important factor than ever in me trying to keep my sanity. 

PPPS. Sure enough, Second Symphony did run, although simply made up the numbers - not the best of starts for the new Reiwa Era. It will be given one more chance, but personally, I don't think it deserves it after that performance! At least Roscommon had another good race, coming second in the 1830m Carlton Burdekin Cup at Home Hill on the 18th, and then fourth at the end of the month, thus earning himself a nice long rest. June saw the decision to give Godiva's Bay a rest in preparation for a proper Autumn campaign and the dropping of Second Symphony, so not much left to write about now...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Kochi Races

Late last year, in October 2018, we sponsored two races at Kochi rather than the usual one - a race to support Kochi track itself, which is something the Long family has been doing for a while now, and another to support the county in which it's situated, as it had been a tough year for them. As it happens, Shuji Akaoka won both of them, showing his outstanding riding skills that I have long admired, so the signed photos from the event looked like duplicates. But well done, that man! We will be sure to sponsor at least one race again in the Autumn...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hot Summer

Dusty was fifth at Yarmouth in early August - in touch, but out of the money. However, Macho Mover put us back in the winner's circle on the 12th August, with Scott McCullagh guiding the beast to an impressive four-length victory after almost a mile-and-a-half over Windsor turf. We may not have many horses left in training nowadays, but it's nice that we can still record the odd winner every now and again. This is Macho Mover's first win, and he looks strong enough over a decent distance to keep up momentum over the coming weeks...

PS. Dusty secured a handy second place at Salisbury - nowhere near the winner, but beating the others with ease. And then McCullagh rode a magnificent race, patiently waiting for a gap before pushing Macho Mover through for another win. Dusty was third at Brighton on the 21st, hampered by a mad thing for most of the race. 

PPS. Bad news from Ireland, with The Jazz Singer suffering a heart attack and passing away on the spot. The jockey who was training with him is okay, with just a few knocks and scrapes. As it happens, a friend lost her horse a few days earlier, about the same age, but never raced and not even in work for the last couple of years - just kept as a pet. I think the crazy heat this summer is taking its toll. With Sayesse having sold at auction, we've not got much left.

PPPS. Macho Mover keeps making macho-level progress with a nice second at Beverley on 1st September, just half-a-length down on the winner. The next day, Scott McCullagh rode another fantastic race to thread Dusty through to victory. He's a name to watch out for in the future, as he already rides with a level of maturity that would have you thinking he'd been racing for decades. The next outing at Brighton went according to the betting, with Dusty third under Nicola Currie, and then we had a handy third for Macho Mover at Ffos Las. A dull outing for Dusty at Redcar, with the 5F race being a bit too sharp probably. Macho Mover was fifth a couple of weeks later at Kempton, with Dusty a disappointing sixth the following day at Brighton. Sadly, Macho Mover made no impression at Kempton on the 23rd...

Monday, June 18, 2018

Knockabout Queen

The latest addition to the Box 41 Racing syndicate is Knockabout Queen - a filly by Sixties Icon...

Sixties Icon has been a real hero in his role as a sire. An eight-time winner, with the St Leger in under his belt, he has some super bloodlines, being sired by Epsom Derby winner Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), and having Love Divine (with an Oaks victory to her credit) as his mother. Knockabout Queen has Rough Courte as her dam, with Danehill and Pivotal being her grandparents.

She was well-fancied in her debut at Wolverhampton in mid-April, but failed to impress on the AW surface. It was early days yet, of course, and one could only hope that results would start coming as her experience built up, for she'd done everything right at home. She then picked up a handy third at Brighton on the 24th, and was fourth at Beverley on the 7th May. But next time out, at Windsor on the 18th June, she was a convincing winner under David Egan. Let's hope it's the start of something good!

PS. Despite being the pre-race favourite by miles at Redcar on the 22nd, a bad start blew things good and proper for Joe Fanning, and we trailed home a distant fourth in the end...

PPS. Knockabout Queen was claimed after the Redcar seller, so she has now left the Box 41 stable. With Sayesse due to go soon as well (a fourth on 3rd August will almost certainly be his last race for us, as he's entered for auction a few days later), our list of horses in training is now the shortest it's been in many, many years. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Quick Review

Macho Mover didn't do much at Kempton, and a fast pace and a bad gate draw (again!) should have destroyed Sayesse's chances, so second by a very short head has to be considered a superb result at Wolverhampton on the 7th April. A week or so later, there was disappointment at Kempton in a race that didn't seem to suit him, and Macho Mover ran well enough at Windsor but could only manage seventh. There will be other days!

PS. Sayesse was back in the game well and truly at Brighton on the 24th, coming a close second despite yet another rough gate draw, being forced wide, and a weight handicap that was verging on unfair. Couldn't do much at Lingfield in mid-May, though, with the pace and ground adding up to push him back into fourth.

PPS. Sayesse had a disaster at Yarmouth, while the fast pace hurt his chances at Brighton, where he finished fourth. There was a distant fifth at Goodwood in mid-June, adding to the agony of knowing we have a good pony, but the results just aren't coming. Meanwhile, Macho Mover was sixth at Chepstow, but only a length down on the winner, and a reasonable third at Wetherby in early June. There's a couple of more entries lined up, although one has to say my Irish campaign has been extremely disappointing this season - no races, only hefty bills. Not a happy bunny...

PPPS. Macho Mover was well-fancied at Lingfield, but faded badly at the end after a very fast pace seemed to ruin our chances. Another disaster for Sayesse at Newbury, unfortunately, and Macho Mover fell short of expectations at Bath on the following day after hitting the inside fence; looks like Sayesse will be sold in a few weeks now, especially after another very bad day at Chester. At least Dusty had a nice comeback run at Windsor with a very strong third place, but was penned-in at the next race at Ripon, restricting progress until it was too late.