Endless Acres is gone, but not forgotten
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, that Endless Acres (Champs Elysees) very sadly had to be put down last week. He was the first horse of mine that ran a big race at Royal Ascot when he finished second behind the really good horse of Willie Mullins’ Thomas Hobson (Halling) in the Ascot Stakes. He was a real late bloomer who showed nothing as a two or three-year-old, but I remember so well when he came back from his winter holiday as a four-year-old and he did a couple of pieces of work on the Waterhall grass gallop and he was just a completely different horse. I knew then we were going to have some fun with him and when we went to Ascot he was slightly under the radar. They went really hard early and he was up there with the pace. Turning in he hit the front and for a very brief moment I thought I was going to grab my first Royal Ascot winner and then I glanced across to see Ryan Moore and Willie Mullins’ horse cruising on the outside and he ran so well to finish second.
We then decided to give him a break and preserve his handicap mark so we could go straight to the Cesarewitch. He really was cruising when he lost his action with two furlongs to go and turned out he ruptured a tendon, or as good as ruptured a tendon and his career was over that day all far to quickly. Withhold in the end bolted up, but I think it is fair of me to say that the only horse in the race that might have given him a run for his money was us. It is probably one of the worst days of my racing career. He only had nine races and never finished out of the first four and I think he would have turned into a really good stayer – he was just a really nice genuine horse. He was owned by a lovely syndicate as well, they were all so different but got on with each other really, really well and most of them are still owners with me now.
We retired him and he became a companion for just over a year at one of my owners’ studs while he got over his tendon and then he came back to be my hack which he didn’t really enjoy at all, but mainly because I’m an awful rider. However, I wasn’t the only one to fall off him there were lots of other people who came to the same fate. So, we found him a home doing some dressage and some jumping. They had only had him for about a month and they called us up and said he got colic and was unfortunately unable to be saved. It really is sad, because he deserved a nice retirement and he didn’t get that, but he left some wonderful memories.
Prince Of Arran spot on for Saudi
Prince Of Arran (Shirocco) did his final piece of work this morning (Friday) ahead of his crack at The Longines Turf Handicap, Open in Saudi Arabia next Saturday (February 29) and he is in great form. We went for a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford last week which went really well and then did a piece of work on Monday and he is spot on for the race. He looks great and Stevie Donohoe has been riding him in his work and says he is as good as he has ever felt him. James Doyle will ride him in the race which is great as he knows the horse well and also the course well, which I thought was really important. It is going to be a really strong race – Cross Counter is favourite who we beat out in Melbourne in November, but there is a big weight difference this time. We have got the likes of Dee Ex Bee who is very good horse and a couple of good ones from France – Call The Wind and Called To The Bar, so it is going to be a really, really strong race. I feel like the conditions will suit him, you couldn’t really write a race for him – just short of two miles, flat, left-handed, nice big galloping track and I have no doubt he will love it. I am really looking forward to it.
They have done really well to promote it and obviously it is a new concept so they are going to be throwing everything they have at it to make it a meeting that people want to come back to. There were doubts from some people about whether it was going to be ready on time, but it has come together seemingly very quickly and I think the trials went really well the other day. It’s potentially a new big meeting for us flat people to target.
We’ve had some runners last week, who rather frustratingly have kept hitting the post. No winners, but a lot of seconds and thirds and lots to look forward to.
Golden Force (Lethal Force) finished third at Chelmsford on Thursday. He has not been an easy horse to train and it has taken a bit of time to work him out, but we seemed to have cracked him and he ran a stormer to finish third, only beaten half a length. He has got a lot of ability, but he is just tricky and I have a feeling that he might be one of those that will keep getting beaten by not that far but might prove hard to win with. He is owned by a group of boys who have never owned a horse before that are friends of Martin Mitchell’s and they seem to be having a good time which is great.
Amarillo Star (Society Rock) ran an absolute screamer to finish second at Newcastle in a fast-track qualifier for the All-Weather Championships on Wednesday. The winner, Lord Of The Lodge, finished second in the Gimcrack, so is clearly a good horse, but Amarillo Star ran on eye-catchingly well at the end having been out-paced early on. He is by Society Rock, who was at James Fanshawe’s when I was assistant there and he was a horse who was very dear to my heart, so when he went to stud, I really wanted to have a half decent one by him and luckily, I have come across this one. In all honesty he is probably not the most talented horse in the world but he has his father’s fight and love for racing which makes my job a lot easier and he showed that the other day against a tough field. The plan is to go to the All-Weather Championships Finals on Good Friday.
Smoke On The Water (Iffraaj) finished fifth at Newcastle on February 15. This was a good run considering nothing seemed to go right for him, but he ran on nicely at the end. He will have a win in him at some point this season.
Alamora (Gleneagles) ran a lovely race when third at Newcastle on February 15 and I suspect bumped into a really nice filly of Jedd O’Keefe’s in Salsada (Mukhadram), who finished behind London Arch (Fastnet Rock) last time out. Alamora is still very immature and quite narrow, but she will be a nice filly in time and I will be disappointed if she doesn’t turn out to be stakes class. She is still learning and looks quite weak still, but the family all got better with age. She is a filly I am really looking forward to and will make a lovely four-year-old to go to war with next season.
Blow Your Horn (Golden Horn) finished fourth at Newcastle on February 11 and the race probably didn’t quite go right for him. He got stuck out in the middle with no cover and got a bit gassy early on. It was when the weather was horrendous and there was strong wind and he just fell in a heap in the last furlong, having travelled like the winner. He will be a nice horse as well – he just needs to learn to race properly first.
Runners coming up…
Pirate King (Farhh) (Betway Handicap, Lingfield AW (1m4f), Saturday) is one of the three runners in the field going for the hat-trick on Saturday which is pretty incredible in five runner race. Pirate King is incredibly versatile and incredibly straightforward, so hopefully that will work in his favour this time round. He should run really well.
The whip debate rolls on…
It was announced this week that tougher penalties for the jockeys are coming in for misuse of the whip, which a lot of people believe is the way forward. My argument is that when you employ a jockey you are responsible for employing that jockey so everyone should carry the punishment not just the jockey. If the race was taken away from the horse, owner, trainer and jockey and that rider continuously broke the whip rules you stop employing that jockey pretty quickly. But in saying that these new rules are certainly a step in the right direction.
Last time the BHA brought in a rule like this they gave in pretty quickly when Christophe Soumillon complained when he didn’t get his prize-money, but I have a feeling this time will be different. I think they have realised that society is changing and we need to do something about it.
The one thing in Britain we are not good at is telling people how good we are at looking after our horses. In the UK we look after horses better than anywhere else in the world. From the moment they are born to the end of their lives, we are really, really good at looking after them, they are given impeccable lives and I don’t feel like that we really tell this side of the story very well. Owners are good now and understanding and would prefer you found them a good home if they are not racehorses. I have horse dotted all over the country doing weird and wonderful things, from polo to hunting, ROR and Pony Club amongst other things. We are so good at re-homing these animals and finding them second careers where they can have a good life. I think most people think that when a horse has done with racing they end up in a can of dog meat, but this really isn’t the case anymore.
In terms of the whip though, I think racing people live in this bubble and believe that things do not need to change, but the BHA now realise that they do and we’ve got to be seen to getting our house in order ourselves otherwise someone will force us to. We have to dictate what we do and if we are seen to be weak on this and don’t change it now we will not be given the choice and we will be forced to change it rather than do it on our terms. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats had in their manifestos that they would address the whip had they been voted in, so Parliament have an eye on us and we have got to be on our best behaviour otherwise we will get hammered – so it is good something is being done about it now before it is too late.