Tuesday 5th January

Well what can I say! On Saturday Crosspark headed to Sandown for the third time this season. He ran in the final of the Veterans Chase Series. With 15 runners it was ultra competetive and yet again Crosspark ran his heart out to finish 2nd. Harry Skelton gave him a great ride and the 3lb rise he was given by the handicapper for his previous 2nd probably made the difference of win or lose! He has gone up another 2lbs today so I don't quite know how the handicapper thinks I am going to win another race with him! He is the most genuine honest horse I have had the pleasure to train and I was certainly very proud of his performance. Ironically I first met Sandy Thomson, trainer of the excellent winner Seeyouatmidnight, when we bought Crosspark at Doncaster Sales - he was underbidder to us! Crosspark continues to give us all some seriously exciting days and I am now going to give him a short break before making plans for a Spring campaign which will probably include one of the Nationals!

Sadly the Covid virus continues to cause serious problems for the country and a lockdown has been imposed yet again. Lets hope the vaccines will be able to make a difference. Thankfully NH racing continues at the moment, albeit without owners, but point to pointing has been put on hold until 20th February at the earliest.

Thursday 24th December

Another winner smiley Lord Sparky won at Huntingdon on Tuesday.  He was given a very good ride by Sean Bowen. He jumped and travelled really well throughout and he produced him to win his race going to the last. His jumping has improved beyond belief with the application of blinkers which seem to give him that extra bit of confidence. Thomas Shelby also ran a very good race for James Bowen, jumping brilliantly until a small mistake at the 2nd last which probably cost him a place. He is struggling to be competetive off the handicap mark he is on at the moment. We also ran the 4yr old Begin The Luck. I put a hood on him as I thought he would be very keen on his 2nd run but it seemed to have the opposite effect and he struggled to get into the race. He is stilll very green and hopefully will have learnt a bit more from the experience. 

What a dreadful year we have all been through - lets hope 2021 is better for everyone and we all keep Covid free.  Racing has done a great job keeping the show on the road and we are all grateful to be able to continue running ours horses.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and successful New Year.

Finally many thanks to all my staff for all their hard work during the season. Yesterday was a prime example of what they have to put up with - continuous rain all day!! 

Sunday 6th December

I have to begin by saying how incredibly proud we all are of Crosspark. He ran yet another cracking race yesterday, finishing 2nd again! He ran in the London National at Sandown and was given a great rice by Harry Skelton. He jumps brilliantly and tries so hard - lets hope a win is just around the corner! He is fine this morning. We had hoped to give Harry a treble on the day to follow his 2 Grade 1 wins! A great day for Harry - well done! Also well done to Sean and James Bowen, who ride a lot of our horses, for a great day at Chepstow where they rode 5 winners between them!

Lord Sparky ran a good race to finish 2nd at Leicester on Thursday. He was given a lovely ride by Richie McClernon and jumped really well. He was only headed going to the last fence and it was a much improved performance. Hopefully his confidence is high and he will keep going forwards.

We ran 2 young horses last week.  Just A Cracker ran in a 3 mile novice hurdle at Southwell and was given a lovely introductory ride by James Bowen.  She jumped and travelled for 2 1/2 miles and only faded in the home straight. She is a very big mare and will improve for the experience and is a chaser in the making.  Begin the Luck ran in a 21/2 mile hurdle race at Leicester and Robbie Dunne rode him for us. He was quite tricky in his early days at home but has thankfully grown up and although he was green at his hurdles he coped well in what was a very competetive race. He is only 4yrs old and Robbie was pleased with him.

The Triple Pillar ran at Doncaster in a Novice Handicap Chase. He jumped and travelled really well for a long was for Tom Cannon, but dropped out of contention after the 2nd last which was dissappointing. We are trying to find a reason for this and hope we can get him back on track. Dainty Doris ran at Doncaster in a competetive mares novice hurdle and Jumped well for Tom Chatfeild-Roberts. She is still learning the game and will be better in handicaps when she is running in her own grade.

A fairly quiet week ahead, although we hope to get a few of the horses out hnting now it has started again, We plan to run Boldmere at Doncaster on Saturday.

 

Friday 20th November

Boldmere ran in the Duchess of Westminster Chase at Bangor on Wednesday 11th. He was reunited with Kielan Woods who had ridden him over hurdles before he came to us. He was impressed how Boldmere has grown and developed. He jumped well and made good headway into the race after the 3rd last. Unforatunately the weight he was givng away and the heavy ground took its toll and he faded to finish 4th. He has come out f the race well.

We had hoped for a better performance from Gibbes Bay at Southwell as he had been getting plenty of hunting and was very fresh and well. He took a soft fall and has come back fine. Has puzzled us all as to why he doesn't perform better on the racecourse! More hunting beckons when it starts again!

We are busy doing plenty of schooling with the youngsters and they will hopefully be on the racecourse in the next couple of weeks. 

Two new arrivals this week. I bought a lovely 4yr old at the Goffs Sales at Yorton Stud called Another NIghtcap. He has been really well produced by Charlie and Fran Poste and was 2nd in a Maiden point to point at Maisemore 3 weeks ago. He will be given time to settle in with a view to running over hurdles in the New Year.  Cobra De Mai has joined us from the Skeltons to try and freshen him up with a change of scenery. The handicapper was very hard on him after he won a race at Cheltenham and he has therefore had hard races since. He has settled in well and is enjoying riding round the farm at the moment!

Monday 9th November

Crosspark ran yet another cracking race in the Veterans Chase at Sandown yesterday. Reunited with his old sparring partner Harry Skelton he finished a gallant 2nd, giving 6lbs to the winner Step Back, a former winner of the Bet 365 Chase. Harry gave him a great ride and he jumped superbly. He continues to give us all so much fun. 

Lord Sparky and Dainty Doris ran at Huntingdon the previous week. Lord Sparky was travellling and jumping well until he pecked badly on landing over the 4th last and lost his position. He stayed on to finish 4th but the first three had got away from him.  Dainty Doris completed the course for the first time in her short career. She jumped and travelled much better than on her previous run and she is now getting the hang of racing.

The Triple Pillar and Just A Deal went to Market Rasen. Both were ridden by Tom Cannon. Just A Deal still pulls a bit too much early in his races but he did settle better as the race progressed and finished staying on at the end. His jumping is improving with experience. The Triple Pillar ran in a very competetive Novice Handicap Chase for his first run over Regulation fences. Other than a mistake at the first, he jumped very well and finished a good 4th. He is progressing well.

Thomas Shelby ran at Warwick on Friday. The ground had dried up a bit and the race was run at a strong early gallop. He didn't let himself down of the ground and Dickie Johnson sensibly pulled him up when he clearly wasn't going well. He has come back fine and we will look for softer ground next time.

Boldmere runs at Bangor on Wednesday and Gibbes Bay goes to Southwell on Friday.

Sadly hunting and point to pointing have been stopped at the moment but will hopefully get going again in December. 

Friday 23rd October

Three weeks have flown by and a few runners.

On Sunday 4th October The Triple Pillar and Lord Sparky ran at Uttoxeter. The Triple Pillar ran another good race to finish 4th in a competetive novice hurdle. He has been given a mark of 117 and will be out in November in a Novice Handicap Chase. Lord Sparky parted company with his jockey at the 1st fence. It was felt he somewhat lacks concentration so he wnet back to Uttoxeter last Friday with a pair of blinkers on! Charlie Hammond gave him a very positive ride in a field of 17 and he jumped and travelled so much better. He finish a creditable 4th.

On Friday 9th October Crosspark ran in a Veterans Chase over 3 miles at Chepstow. Sean Bowen gave him a brilliant ride and he finished like a train, squeezing between the front 2 on the run in to be beaten by a nose!  We are thrilled to have him back to his best - last season he just wasn't quite right and the ground was against him. He had been giving us all the right vibes at home and Tom was certain he was in good form. It was just so pleasing to see him jump well on the better ground. He has come out of the race well and may go for another veterans race either at Sandown or Warwick in November.

On Saturday 10th October we returned to Chepstow with Boldmere.  Due to being rated 145 he has to run in good class handicaps and he was very much the novice against experience. Richard Johnson rode him and he finished good 4th.  He was very fresh early in the race, putting in some very extravagant jumping. He got a little tired after making a mistake at the 4th last but will have learnt a huge amount from the experience. He has come out of the race very well. 

On Saturday 17th October we ran Don't Tell The Wife at Market Rasen in his first Chase.  Having schooled well at home he did not cope on the racecourse. He seemed to frighten himself at the 1st Open ditch and then became far too careful. A review on his career is ongoing!!

Other news.  Elkstone has had surgery to take some chips out of his knee. The operation went well and we are praying he can make a complete recovery and be back on the racecourse next year. 

This week we celebrated three birthdays.  MIchael and Robert were 22 on Sunday and my mother was 90 on Wednesday.  Due to all the current restrictions parties were sadly out of the question so fairly quiet celebrations!  Mum is amazing and still keeps a close eye on what is going on in the yard and looks after the racing kit, making sure it is all clean and in really good condition. Long may she keep good health and enjoy life in the 90's!! 

Thursday 1st October

WINNER WINNER!smiley  An across the card double yesterday with Elkstone (Sean Bowen) winning at Huntingdon and Thomas Shelby (Richard Johnson) winning at Bangor.  

Elkstone had finally dropped back to his last winning mark 12 months ago and repeated his win from last year. He is generally very consistent but needs the race to be run to suit with a fast early pace to help him settle. With a strong early pace he soon settled in behind and gradually picked off the runners down the back straight. Going very well turning in he was very nearly brought down at the 2nd last and did well to see the race out. A very good ride from Sean and thrilled for his team of owners. Sadly he had injured a knee (probably at the 2nd last) and having come home via Oakham Vets Hospital he will need some time off to recover.

Thomas Shelby ran a great race to win in style, given a lovely ride by Richard Johnson. I asked him to go wide as the ground was much better as it had got opened up and quite soft on the inside. He jumped really well and delighted for Alice Vaughan-Jones his owner. Well done to our small team for having the horses in such good form. Long may it continue!!

Dainty Doris also went to Bangor. She ran a nice race for quite a long way before getting tired and pulling up. A first ride over hurdles  for Tom Chatfeild-Roberts. Doris will improve for the experience.

Don't Tell the Wife ran at Uttoxeter last friday and finished mid division. He jumped much better than last year and hopefully is at last getting the hang of being a racehorse as he shows us much more at home than he does on the racecourse.

Lord Sparky and The Triple Pillar may run at Uttoxeter on Sunday. 

Tuesday 22nd September

We were back on the racecourse yesterday. 

  The Triple Pillar looking fit and ready to run at Warwick. He ran in a 2m 6f novice hurdle and we were delighted with him. He jumped exceptionally well and travelled into the race turning in with 2 to jump. He flew the last 2 hurdles and finished a very creditable 3rd, beaten a neck and a head. Sean was pleased with him and his owner Charles Dixey went home very happy! He is fine this morning.

This morning we took 4 horses to have a change of scenery on Stuart Morris's all weather gallop. All went well!

  Boldmere (Joe) and Crosspark (Tom)

  Don.t Tell The Wife (Lily) and Dainty Doris (Chloe)

We have had some lovely Autumn mornings out on the gallops these last couple of weeks - about to change tomorrow I think but we do need some rain now.

                 

All being well we should have a few runners coming up. Don't Tell The Wife will run at Uttoxeter on Friday.

Next week Dainty Doris, Thomas Shelby, Coole Lion and Elkstone will get entries. Boldmere, Crosspark and Matchmaking are coming on well and hope to be out in 2-3 weeks.

Thursday 3rd September

Lord Sparky (Sean) ran in his first Chase at Uttoxeter yesterday. He was very careful over the first few fences even though he has done lots of schooling. His jumping improved as the race progressed so I am hoping he will be much more confident nest time.

  Lord Sparky in the rain yesterday. His owners in the background!

Sean called in to sit on a couple yesterday morning - his first visit to the yard - on his way to Uttoxeter.

 Just A Deal             Matchmaking

 Just A Deal upsides with Don't Tell The wife (Joe) 

  Matchmaking upsides with Crosspark (Tom)

 

Tuesday 25th August

WINNER smiley     Delighted to have another win with Coole Lion yesterday. It was an emotional day for us all and Bill was certainly in our thoughts. Coole Lion is a big, backward type and still runs very green.  Sean gave him a very strong positive ride  and his jumping keeps improving. He made all giving weight all round and just hung on by 1/2 length!  Thrilled to have a win on the boards for his new owner Wendy Wesley (and Colin!). 

 Jumping really well      Winning connections

Elkstone was really full of himself yesterday. With the small field he pulled too hard over the first 1/2 mile and Sean sensibly let him go to the front. He jumped brilliantly but still got done for toe after the second last. He finshed a good 3rd and hopefully we wil get him back to winning again very soon!

The weather is dreadful this morning so they have been unable to go in the field but both have come out of their races well. 

We have had over 30ml of rain since last night  (11am) and it is still raining although not as hard! Should be good for more schooling on the grass later in the week as we hope to have a few more ready to run in September.

 Friday 21st August

We have been pleased to be able to school on grass these last couple of days which the horses have really enjoyed and I am happy to say they all jumped very well.

   Elkstone (Joe) upsides with Coole Lion (Tom)               

            Crosspark (Joe)   Just A Deal (Tom)

 The Triple Pillar (Tom)    Lord Sparky (Joe)    Dainty Doris (Chloe)

We run Coole Lion and Elkstone at Southwell on Monday. Hopefully the strong winds we have today will have subsided. We would also like to send Jamie Moore (who won the Eider for us on Crosspark) a speedy recovery from the serious back injuries he sustained from a fall at Fontwell on Tuesday

                          

Tuesday 11th August

Elkstone ran at Uttoxeter On Saturday.  He finished 6th but ran much better than his last run. After a slow early pace the field were all together at the 2nd last and he just hadn't got the speed to go with them. He is in good form and we just need to get him in the right race now!

Thomas Shelby ran at Southwell yesterday and finished 3rd. Having nearly been brought down at the 3rd fence he lost his confidence a bit. He needs a more galloping track. Both horses have come out of their races well. 

Yesterday Gerald and I attended the funeral of Bill Booth. A thanksgiving for his long and interesting life. I am happy to say Crosspark and Coole Lion will be staying in trainng with us for this season, for which I am truly grateful. 

We are jumping a few each day in the school as it is too firm to do much on the grass.    Matchmaking (Tom) learning to fold his knees up and use his shoulders

  Dainty Doris (Chloe) showing plenty of scope.

Chloe joined us on Monday. She is 16 and has left school. She is doing a Haddon Training Apprenticeship with us.  She came and rode out with us on Saturday mornings last winter and had one ride in a point to point on her own horse. We are delighted to have her join our small team and hope we can give her plenty of experience to persue her ambitions of race riding.

Coole Lion has an entry at Uttoxeter on Monday. 

Tuesday 21st July

Firstly some very sad news. Tragically Bill Booth, who owned Crosspark and Coole Lion with us, died on Saturday. He has had horses with me from when I first took out a professional licence and was a great supporter to the yard. He enjoyed many winners, the best of which was Crosspark winning the Eider Chase in 2019. He was an absolute gentleman and he will be much missed. Our condolences are with his wife, Yvonne and his family and friends.

We ran Elkstone at Southwell on Sunday.The race was run at a furious gallop and he could never get competitive. There will be another day for him.

 

We won't be having a runner for a couple of weeks now. We will be increasing the work on the horses coming in, with some exercise in the school and some pole work as they get fit.

 

 Friday 17th July

We were delighted with Thomas Shelby yesterday.  Given a very good ride by James Bowen he jumped and travelled well throughout the race. He just could not get to the winner which had won only a couple of weeks before and was race fit. He finished an honourable 2nd. 

     In the paddock      A huge crowd watching!!

  In the field this morning.

Well done to our small team for making such a good start to the season. 

Elkstone runs at Southwell on Sunday. He appears to have come out of his Stratford run very well and there is nothing else suitable for him in the next few weeks.

 

Wednesday 15th July

smiley WINNER!  Yesterday we had our first winner of the 2020/2021 season, with our 2nd runner. Coole Lion (Sean Bowen) won at Southwell. Tom and Joe have spent a lot of time jumping Lion in the school to improve his mindset and confidence. It certainly paid off as he made virtually all the running and his jumping was much more fluent than last season. Thrilled to have another winner for his owner Bill Booth, especially as he is not in the best of health. 

 coming in after his win!    in the field this morning

Coole Lion has come out of his race well and had a couple of hours out in the field this morning.

Thomas Shelby runs at Uttoxeter tomorrow and Elkstone may run again at Southwell on Sunday. 

Great news this morning as Robert received a Two One for his degree at Liverpool.  He worked very hard for it and we are very proud of him.  Not sure where his brains have come from!!!

Thursday 9th July

Elkstone (Sean Bowen) ran at Warwick yesterday and finished a respectable 3rd, carrying top weight and running on ground softer than ideal. He is also still running off a mark 8lbs higher than he has won off! He jumped and travelled really well and Sean was very happy with him. A bit of help from the handicapper would be appreciated!

    Elkstone looking fit and well in the paddock before his race. Tom quite rightly won the best turned out award.

     Elkstone enjoying his time out in the field this morning. 

Coole Lion has an entry at Southwell next Tuesday and Thomas Shelby will be entered for Uttoxeter next Thursday. They both worked well this morning.

Tuesday 7th July 2020  

What a strange and difficult year we have all endured so far. Thankfully we have all kept good health here at Holdenby and we are all looking forward to the country coming back to normal and getting rid of the dreadful Covid 19.

Last season was full of ups and downs and we had a difficult time with the horses all suffering from some sort of a virus in the Autumn/Winter. We tried various treatments and gave the horses time. We then had to contend with an extremely wet winter which didn't suit several of the horses. It was just starting to dry up when it all came to a grinding halt. We have completely emptied and power washed all the stables and disinfected everywhere which we would do every year. The yard was completely empty for 6 weeks which was very strange and sadly I had to let some of the staff go as I had no work. Tom stayed on to help me with all the Spring Cleaning - I don't think he ever wants to see a paint brush again!! Joe and David were furloughed until we got the horses back in.  Lets hope the horses have benefited from their early holidays and come back in in full health. They certainly all look very well.

We have our first runner of the new season 2020/2021 tomorrow at Stratford. Elkstone sets the ball rolling in a 2m6f Handicap Chase. He is still very high in the handicap (8lbs higher than he has won off!) but is in good form and ready to run.

We took our 4 'Summer' jumpers to school at Warwick last week. Elkstone, Thomas Shelby, Lord Sparky and Coole Lion all jumped well over both hurdles and fences and Tom and Joe enjoyed schooling them. Warwick water a strip of ground which used to be the shute on their flat course and have 4 hurdles and 3 fences set out to school over. A great facility as our grass is still too firm to school on.

                                     

Elkstone - Joe                                                                          Lord Sparky - Tom

A few more horses are being ridden from the field - Boldmere, Crosspark, Matchmaking, Don't Tell The Wife, The Triple Pillar and Just a Deal. They will be in next week although we will continue to turn them out everyday. 

A brief note on the home front. Gerald has continued with the milk business throughout the lockdown and the boys have been covering for any absentees. Quite a few very early morning deliveries! Michael had only just returned from his year in Australia when we shut down and Robert had to finish his degree from home. Strange times but appreciate how lucky we are to live in the countryside.

Lets hope for a fun and successful season.