2014 saw another solid year of consolidation for us, with the same total of winners (18) as in 2013. What was particularly frustrating is that the number of 2nd and 3rd placings rose from 11 and 8 respectively in 2013, to 23 and 15 in 2014. However, this did mean that a much higher percentage of our runners finished in the frame (33% vs 24%) which in turn saw a much more respectable prize money haul of £103’000 for the year vs £68’000 in 2013.
Highlights of the year included getting a great tune out of recent purchase Liberty Jack to win a nice prize at Newmarket, though his career best, but nostril second at Ffos Las, also rates as one of the most agonising moments. Getting Ripinto, who at 110’000 euros was by far the most expensive yearling we have purchased, to win his maiden at Kempton having sustained a fractured pastern in May of this year, also ranks highly in my personal favourite moments, not least because it repaid some of the faith and patience shown by his owners The In Recovery Partnership. It was also very pleasing to end the year on a high for Inside Track Racing club, with previously frustrating character What A Dandy showing new found resolution in winning two races on the bounce, before getting narrowly beaten on New Years Eve. Inside Track have been really unlucky until recently, and I hope that Artistic Flight and What A Dandy can go on to score several more races for them in 2015.
Homebred filly Clearing has really found her feet of late and looks an exciting and improving sprinter, having won or finished 2nd on each of her last 4 starts. The ever consistent Sonnetation again added a number of wins and places to our tally this year, whilst getting Perfect Pastime to win three races this year also proved particularly satisfying, as he has (rather unfairly in my opinion) been called some rather unflattering names in the past. His last run rates as his best run for a long while so I hope he can continue his new found resurgence into the coming season.
Ree’s Rascal winning the same handicap at Newbury for the third season in a row was definitely one of my favourite moments as he has been such a star for us over the years, but it was tinged with a bitter disappointment when he sustained some damage to a tendon after running at Ascot and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
My Inspiration winning for new owner David Powell at Windsor was very pleasing and I’m delighted that they are sending me another filly this season in Dangerous Moonlite who was bought at the Newmarket HIT sales in October. She is highly rated having shown a lot of promise early in her 2yo season, so I hope we can rekindle some of that ability.
Gentlemax provided Allen Pope with two winners this year, but he has schooled nicely over hurdles and I hope we may see him come into his own in that sphere over the coming months, whilst Speed Society went from hero to villain fairly quickly when landing a nice gamble for his owners early in the season, before subsequently deciding that racing wasn’t really for him. He has now been rehomed to pursue a more leisurely career, but at least he did have his day in the spotlight and gave us all a great thrill on that day.
Finally, the saddest moment of 2014 undoubtedly came with the loss of Intomist after falling and fracturing a shoulder coming round Tattenham Corner at our local track. He was a great fun horse over the years for his enthusiastic owners The Clueless Syndicate, and he won 5 races for them and was placed a further 12 times. He left them, and us, with a number of fantastic memories.
Looking ahead into 2015, the most exciting news is that after protracted negotiations, we have finally exchanged contracts on South Hatch Stables, and will be looking, with our backers, at some exciting plans to try to develop the yard into a first class facility from where we hope to build numbers of horses back to somewhere near our pre-recession levels. I’m delighted with the team of horses we’ve got for this year so far, and we’ve got 5 very nice yearlings to go to war with too. Watch this space for more news on these horses, and our plans for the yard in the coming months.