Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Sunny Day Out In Wiltshire

I popped over to Simon Earle's today to see how new girl Money Maid was settling in and also to check on Shilpa's leg injury.  Racing Club member Emma also came along to have a look at Maisey and ride Benny.  While we were there Simon very kindly invited us to watch a couple of sessions up the all weather gallop at Horses First and we got some great photos.

Simon and Homer Run

We drove alongside the all weather and Emma bravely leant out of the window to get a few shots.  Needless to say the horses got to the top quicker than we did, my car is not really designed for fast off road although it gave it a good go.

Hannah on Benozzo Gozzoli and Simon on Homer Run


We also got a bit of video as well:

The horses all looked great, Shilpa is coping well with her box rest and new girl Rosie has settled in well and will be joining the rest of the gang soon.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Home Run Goes To Towcester Tomorrow

Homer Run runs at Towcester tomorrow, a race for amateur riders it's actually quite a tough race with 18 horses declared to run over what is quite a stiff track.

When discussing options for jockeys I jokingly volunteered the suggestion that we should go for the best looking jockey we could find and we have Gina Andrews on board, this wasn't quite what I meant although Simon and John are both very happy.  Simon says Towcester is a track that needs the most experienced jockey you can find as the hill to the finish can catch you out if you go too soon.

It will be interesting to see how Homer does, I think he responds well to a female rider as he can take a little settling so can't wait to see how he goes for Gina.  He has been working well at home so fingers crossed!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

And AP Is Worried In 2nd, Here Comes Benozzo Gozzoli!!

Well what a whirlwind week or so it has been, following on from Shilpa's success earlier in the month, Benozzo Gozzoli's (Benny) return to racing was today at Folkestone, the last day of racing ever at Folkestone, in the last ever hurdle race before it shuts.

Benny has previously been considered a good ground horse, although he has run many times, on the flat, all weather, over hurdles and chase fences, it has usually been on good ground and safe to say the going today at Folkestone was not good, it wasn't even soft being marked as heavy on the hurdle course.  John and Simon decided to go ahead and run him anyway mainly because Simon has done a lot of work with him and as far as we were concerned he is a bit of a blank canvas, not sure we would have gone ahead if we knew exactly how bad it would cut up but sometimes hindsight is a thing best to be completely ignored.

Andrew Thornton was booked for the ride, Andrew is familiar with Benny having ridden him at Seamus Mullins yard where he was in training until we bought him in June, Andrew is also an expert at picking the best ground which is a skill we thought would be very useful with the weather we have been having.  Andrew got him settled in a good position and I was really pleased to see how well he was jumping and steadily making his way up the field.  By the end of the first circuit all the horses were looking tired but by this point Andrew had got him positioned in third and he still looked to be going well.  Derek Thompson was commentating and it was great to hear him say 'and AP is worried in 2nd, here comes Benozzo Gozzoli', Benny and Andrew managed to get past AP on the favourite Stravita to come in to second place, by this time all three horses looking very tired.  The leader Boomtown made a mistake at the last and Benny jumped it well, but by this point the heavy ground had really made it's mark on Ben and he finished in second place 21 lengths behind the winner Boomtown, and 11 lengths in front of third place Stravita.

We are all delighted with his performance, although not a EPDS horse as he was bought as John's ride in a charity race and for John to ride out on, he is still very much part of the EPDS family and is a bit of a favourite with us all due to his lovely nature.  Plan now is for him to spend the next few days walking out to loosen off after the race and depending on how he goes in the next few weeks John and Simon will look for another suitable race for him in about six weeks time, lets hope the going is a bit better next time.

For me personally it has been great to see Benny back on the course doing well.  He caught my eye at Seamus's yard when we were there to see another horse, John was offered the chance to ride work on him with the string, he had only been riding for five months by that point.  I promised Benny that if he bought John back safe and sound in one piece that we would buy him at Ascot Sales and John duly did.  Since that time he has taught John quite a bit about riding and it is a shame they didn't both get the chance to do the charity flat race that he had been promised he had an entry for.  Hopefully there will be something for them both to do in the future, in the meantime it is good to know that Ben has another chance as a jumper and this experience will only make him a more formidable opponent should they get the chance to do something for charity next year.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

10th December saw Shilpa's return to the racecourse since she had some time off after her disappointing and worrying performance at Ffos Las back in August.  During this time we have worked on some health issues and Simon has changed her work and schooling regime.  Simon reported that she was pretty sparky at home and although she is a good ground horse bearing in mind the weather, and the fact that we were ready to go with her this time last year then UK racing shot down due to frost and snow, we thought we had better seize the day just in case it happened again.

She duly made the trip to Fakenham, taken by Simon on his own and both enjoyed the delights of an overnight stay, I think Shilpa possibly in more comfortable surroundings than Simon who was suffering with a heavy cold.  Shilpa travelled up well and the following morning with the permission of the Clerk Of Course Simon took her out for a leg stretch around the course and reported back that the ground was very wet, but not sticky.

Suffice to say we didn't have great expectations due to the going but the girl and Gerard did us proud, Gerard getting her positioned nicely and on the last circuit gradually picking them off one by one.  The race was commented by Derek Thompson and he hadn't mentioned her at all until he said 'and here comes Shilpa'  as she was making her move, she made a great jump at the last and finished strongly winning by 3/4 length.

We are all absolutely delighted with the win, Shilpa has had her problems and some people around us have commented that we should send her to a different trainer who would be harder on her, or retire her as she wasn't up to it any more, but we always believed that if we could get her right health wise she would do well for us.  

She came out of the race well and has been showing a lot of joie de vie in her work since, we visited on Saturday and she certainly looked in good spirits giving Sam quite a challenge when she was supposed to be doing some trot work and a steady canter, I think Shilpa had other ideas.  Plan now (weather permitting) is to look for something for her in the New Year, hopefully the handicapper won't put her up too much in the meantime.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Benny and George Go Back To School

Yesterday John, Charlotte and myself had an early start to go over to Simon Earle's to see all the horses.  EPDS sponsor a young jockey called George Gorman, George is a great lad who has ridden in point to points and had two races under rules riding for his mother.  Although we have sponsored George for about a year now, we had not managed to actually get him sat on any one of our horses, mainly due to logistics as the two yards are about 2.5 hours away, and George has only recently passed his driving test (being just 17).

Anyway, yesterday it all came together and George had arranged with Simon that he would be in the yard for 8.30am to school Benozzo Gozzoli (Benny) and then ride work on Loxley Mezile (Poppy), this meant we had to be there at that time too, so a very early start for us as well, so early in fact that the horse I had to do before we left was laying down asleep in her stable when I arrived at the yard and was turned out looking very bleary eyed indeed.  She at least had had breakfast however, unlike the rest of us.

Got to the yard and said hi to all the horses, Shilpa was looking great after her race earlier in the week, Homer was a little bit miserable having blown an abscess out of his coronet band, Benny looked in fine fettle and Poppy had lost a little bit of weight following her race at Lingfield but was bright eyed and bushy tailed as normal.  George quickly tacked Benny up and then they hacked up to the large outdoor school at Downlands that Simon uses for schooling.

I'm not quite sure what George was expecting but it probably wasn't anything like a Simon Schooling Session.  George has come in to racing via pony racing and the pony club, so he is perfectly used to someone in the middle of the school shouting instructions at him, his flatwork was really good and he rides accurately to his markers, transitions at C were at C, change of diagonals were straight, he even (god forbid) rode his corners.  I think he needs to get out of this correct way of riding if he wants to progress, go round corners on the wrong bend, preferably with one hand on the reins and to really reach the heady heights, possibly with a fag hanging out of his mouth!  Seriously it was nice to see a young rider ride quietly and accurately, he is the first person in the school for a long time that I haven't wanted to drag off the horse and explain the importance of bend to.  It was the first time we had seen Benny being schooled and he hasn't done a great deal, Simon said that the first time he asked him to canter in the school he was so stiff he couldn't bend around a corner so my expectations were not high.  George warmed him up on the flat and then Simon explained what he wanted him to do and ride:

Once Benny was warmed up Simon introduced the jumps, Simon always starts a session in the same way, a small grid of poles on the ground building up to cross poles and then uprights, then an upright leading to a small spread culminating in a single jump with pallets to make it hurdle like.  George was asked to canter at A, come back to trot at C, trot over the first part of the jump then in to canter between the elements and canter away back round the school to C and repeat.  Simon likes the horse to learn from it's own mistakes so George was not to see a stride and if Ben landed on the wrong leg he wasn't to change leads, just let Ben sort it out for himself.  This is the complete opposite to any form of showjump gridwork that George would have done before but he picked it up well, he just needed to get Benny motoring on a bit more.  Simon hopped on to show him the tempo he wanted to go at, which I have to say was a surprise to me in an outdoor school the first time I saw him ride it on Shilpa, particularly on a horse that may be going round a left handed corner on a right leg lead, and in Ben's case, one that a few weeks ago couldn't bend around a corner anyway!

George did very well and they were both popping the fences nicely at the end, my camera batteries were starting to die at this point so I didn't get many shots but this one is probably the best of what I got:

I also managed to get some video which shows the canter trot jump canter exercise, this was taken before Simon asked George to up the energy a bit:


They then finished with a single jump being ridden at a good working canter with George not setting Benny up for the fence at all, but letting him jump out of his stride.  

Benny is owned by John so not a club or partnership horse at the minute, mainly because John would like to ride a charity race on him at some point and it is fair to say that John riding work is probably not the best way of keeping Benny up together.  He is due to race soon however with entries for the 18th, 20th and 21st December, we are hoping Andrew Thornton will ride him as he has ridden him before.  We are not sure what to expect with him really as Simon has put a lot of work in to him and physically he is now quite a different horse, he has an official rating of 80 so I suspect the bookies won't think much of his chances but it would be nice to see him go out and get round and enjoy himself.

We then all returned back to the yard for a welcome cup of coffee while George tacked up Poppy to take her up one of the grass gallops.  Simon boxed to this gallop as it is the other side of a busy dual carriageway, not sure it would have been my first choice as a gallop being part of the army training grounds, there is a footpath that runs up the side of it but Simon explained we could not go along the ridge that they were going to be cantering across, I presume for fear of being shot.  They did one steady and one quicker canter, Simon has backed off the fast work a bit with Poppy to give her plenty of time to recover from the Lingfield race, she is not fit enough for the race at Newbury and the ground is likely to be heavy so it looks like we will be aiming for something on an all weather again in the New Year.  We didn't get a chance to speak to George about his thoughts on Poppy as by this time we were freezing, all needed the loo and the Little Chef down the road was calling.

As ever a warm welcome from everyone at the yard and a very enjoyable morning.

EPDS/Racing Welfare Best Turned Out Series Finale

The finale of the best turned out series was at Wincanton on 6th December.  The competition started back in January at Huntingdon where the first winner was Charlie Longsdon.  Each month a BTO qualifying round has been held at small jumps tracks around the country with points being award for first, second and third places with cash prizes for all three and branded gilets for the winning groom.

Going in to the finale two yards were joint first, Welsh trainer Tim Vauhan and Cambridgeshire based Sarah Humphrey, both yards on 20 points.  Six other yards were snapping at their heels with 15 points and six trainers on 10 points meaning it was all to play for at the last.  However, you have to be in it to win it and only two trainers high in the points list had entries in the Weatherbys Silver Buck Chase which meant that only Venetia Williams or Oliver Sherwood's yard could see off the opposition, should either of their entries come in the first three.

Jackie Potts who is head groom to Olympic rider William Fox Pitt kindly agreed to judge, and being a professional groom herself the lads and lasses had a high standard to live up to.  Venetia Williams proudly proclaims she has the dirtiest horses in training however the yard pulled out all the stops and were placed in the top three meaning they were the winners of the £1000 prize to be spent on the staff in the yard.  Venetia has asked the staff to decide what they would like to spend the money on, I'm expecting there to be a few sore heads at the Christmas or New Year Annual party!

EPDS are proud to announce that we will continue to sponsor the competition in 2013, Racing Welfare are also hoping to run a similar competition for flat yards in 2013 and are currently looking for a sponsor.

Well done to all the lads and lasses that took part, we hope they have all enjoyed their BTO prize money and here's looking forward to next years competition.

Loxley Mezile (Poppy) Débuts At Lingfield

Well for me it feels like it has been a long time coming, because we bought Poppy as a 2 year old, but on 27 November she made her début at Lingfield in a 3 year old National Hunt Flat (bumper) on the all weather, ridden by Gerard Tumelty.

Because we bought her at such a tender age we have taken our time with her, introducing her to work slowly and Simon has been working not only on her musculature but also her brain and her attitude to work.  Poppy can be a little headstrong at times but if channelled in the correct way this translates in to a joie de vie for her work, because of her slightly bouncy nature I was a little bit apprehensive about how she would take to her first 'grown up party' but the girl did us proud.

Holly led her up in the pre-parade ring and she was alert but cool calm and collected, being a 3 year old race  there were a lot of inexperienced youngsters entered, I think only two had ever raced before.  Things got a little exciting in the ring culminating in a horse getting loose and legging it towards Poppy, although she swung her bottom around as a warning to keep clear she did nothing else (most horses would have put one or both back hooves up in a horse equivalent of either a V or one fingered salute).

Gerard was instructed to give her a good experience of racing and got her positioned nicely, unfortunately when he asked her to go she got blocked in and he had to take a bit of a pull and then switch her to the outside, loosing valuable ground in the process.  She ended up finishing 8th out of 14th, 8 lengths behind the winner and alongside Chris Pea Green who had won his previous race first time out.

We were very pleased with her performance, although at one stage she lost a bit of concentration and came off the bridle, Gerard quickly got her focus back and when he asked her to go she did.  She finished strongly, her stride was very good and all in all it was a very promising start to her race career.

Plan is for a couple more bumpers before Simon starts schooling her over jumps, being young we want to ensure she has time to mature before we think about hurdling, even though there are 3 year old juvenile hurdles that she could be entered for.  We like our horses to be fit and healthy and have a long career so we will give her all the time she needs, if she takes to jumping like she attacks everything else in life however, I think we have a very talented girl on our hands.

Some pictures taken on the day by Racing Club member Ellie:

Poppy and Holly in the pre-parade ring

Poppy, Holly and Wally Irvine, Simon's excellent horsebox driver who is also happy to muck in with saddling and leading up

More parading, think Poppy just wanted to get out there at this point

Gerard on board with Simon issuing some last minute instruction

Shares are available in this promising youngster, please email us for more information.