At last the rain has relented and we can get back to some sort of normality. Thankfully here in Epsom we have not been as badly affected as many other areas of the country, but it has still been a relentless barrage which has not made life much fun for horses or staff. My thoughts go out to those whose yards or gallops (and homes) have been flooded out, as for them it must have been a complete nightmare. We have had far fewer horses to run over the winter than in previous seasons, and it has been frustrating seeing some of the races, which in previous years we would have been farming with our winter team, go begging. We have had to cut our cloth in these lean times, but I’d definitely like to make sure that we get a few more bullets to fire next winter.
Of the few runners we have had, I was delighted to get a win into Gentlemax on only his second start for us. It’s great to welcome back Allen Pope as an owner, and it was just a shame that Allen was in Nigeria when ‘Max’ won. Hopefully he will be here as and when Max follows up on his maiden win.
It was a shame to lose Ultimate Warrior earlier in the week after finishing 2nd in a claimer at Lingfield, but it was always going to be quite likely that he would get claimed having been entered at a very low claiming price. I had him entered in a seller 6 days later, and rather frustratingly it looks like being one of the worst races ever run, which should be his for the taking, but I wish his new owner and trainer every success with him – he was a lovely natured horse who will win races at a certain level.
There is good news of two of our other previous in-mates who have continued their racing careers in sunnier climes. Mr Knightley is getting on really well in Kuwait, where he recently won a race, and likewise Confucius Elite has just won over in Hong Kong for Albert Kwok. Ross Doyle and I bought him as a foal and he raced over here 3 times as a 2yo, winning his maiden by 6 lengths on his 3rd start which enabled him to qualify for entry to HK. It has taken a while for him to find his feet out there, but hopefully now that he has the winning habit again he can go on to further success. It is quite telling that the maiden he won in the UK had £3’000 total prize money, compared to the £43’000 total prize money for the race he has just won in HK.
Speaking of our former inmates, we had a fantastic experience at the London New Years Day Parade, where a team of our ex-racers (including Isingy Red, Tatawor, Regal Approval and the ex Terry Mills trained Law Dancer) were invited to take part in the parade. Despite the pretty horrendous weather conditions, the horses behaved brilliantly and were very well received by the huge crowds who turned up. It was a great experience, and was a fantastic way to showcase the versatility of ex-racehorses to a wider audience. For photos and videos of the day, and updates on what a number of our other ex-racers are up to, please visit our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JimBoyleExRacehorses.
It is always an exciting time of year as we head towards March, and we start to step up the pace with some of the earlier 2yo’s. We only have 6 2yo’s to work with, but I’m hopeful that they’re well up to scratch and hopefully one or two of them will prove to be well above average. I posted a photo to our Facebook and Twitter pages of 3 of the colts cantering upsides on the Polytrack on Saturday, and I was delighted with how well they all went. The Approve colt has really come on leaps and bounds, as he was a real handful in the early stages. Thanks to a lot of patient build-up work by Pip, and some excellent follow-up work by Jason Webb Australian Horsemanship (www.australianhorsetraining.co.uk) where he spent a week, and whose lessons have been continued by my head girl Lou, he is really getting the hang of things now. Ripinto (Rip Van Winkle colt) and the un-named Tagula colt are both quite forward and are doing everything that is being asked of them at the moment, while the Arcano and Intikhab fillies are two big, strong fillies who I like a lot. We also have a Mount Nelson colt who is a bit more backward than the rest, but is a lovely moving sort who will only really come into his own next year so we won’t be rushing him.
It is our National Trainers Federation AGM this week, at which I will be taking over the role of NTF president from Phillip Hobbs. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a touch nervous about taking on this role, but I’ll give it my best shot, in what looks like being an interesting year ahead. I’ve had my disagreements with our regulatory body the BHA, but I met with the new chairman Steve Harman recently and was very impressed with his passion for racing, and vision for a better future for our sport, which I hope bodes well for our industry moving forward.
Racing has once again become embroiled in another doping scandal, with further allegations of anabolic steroid possession by a couple of trainers in Ireland. It is a sad fact that these headlines threaten to overshadow the flagship Cheltenham Festival, but there is no doubt now that racing needs to be strong in it’s determination to ensure that there is no place for anabolic steroids in our industry, at any stage in a horses career.