Elvis has left the building:
Having had a productive spring we were all very much looking forward to seeing our Cheltenham Festival winner, Present View, running in The Grand National. I was delighted with his prep run over hurdles when he was 2nd, and he looked to be back to his brilliant best. However, he missed the cut by 5, and is the highest rated horse to ever miss the cut – which shows how competitive the National is becoming, and how the race is increasing in quality each year. So instead of seeing Elvis over the National fences he rerouted and went for a 3m handicap chase at Kempton. He jumped with the same assurance and zest as when he won at Cheltenham, and jumping the 4th last it really did look like he was going to bolt up…..unfortunately though he dropped away from the 3rd last and came home lame. It transpired that he had ruptured his tendon, and although we did bring him home, we were faced with no option but to put him down on Friday. It was the saddest day of my training career! The whole team here were absolutely devastated – he had given us the most incredible moments of joy, and had put us on the map when coming home in front at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
From the moment Present View arrived at Folly House in 2012, he looked a star. He acted like a star, and as he thought he was the king - he was nicknamed Elvis in the yard. His talent was obvious, but his character was complex – from walking his box, to showing signs of temperament, he was always the centre of attention. He made his racecourse debut in a novice hurdle at Kempton under Sam Twiston-Davies, and he acted like a boy in a sweet shop – he would eye up each hurdle and bolt at it, giving it 6 foot, and then eyeing up his next flight. He pulled so hard, and jumped so enthusiastically that he burnt himself out, but still finished 4th in a race which worked out incredibly well. He went on to finish 2nd in two other novice hurdles that season before we gave him a summer holiday. He finished runner up again in another novice hurdle that autumn before we sent him chasing, which is when he finally began to excel. He was runner up to Annacotty before he won at Market Rasen. He then bolted up at Kempton and booked his place at the Festival, and gave me the greatest ever moment as a trainer when winning the novice handicap on the first day. He went close in the following seasons Paddy Power Gold Cup when he finished 3rd beaten only 2 lengths after an interrupted preparation after he struck into himself when clattering through the last hurdle at Prestbury Park that October when forfeiting his chance to finally win over hurdles! Unfortunately he then picked up a further niggley injury and was out of action until this season. However, his complex character showed its dark side this season when all but refusing to race in this seasons Paddy Power, but after a winters hunting, he came back better than ever with a smashing 2nd in another novice hurdle prior to heading to Kempton last week.
Elvis will be sorely missed by us all, but no one can take away the amazing memories he gave us – the incredible highs, but devastating lows. Onwards and upwards – and I hope we can find another like him.
Other news throughout the month:
I was delighted to see Naranja win her bumper at Market Rasen last week on her racecourse debut, as she was the first of our youngsters to hit the track this spring. She was given a fantastic ride by Brendan, and despite showing signs of greenness in running she won in taking fashion from a very strong field of mares. I think we’ll give her a holiday now, and all roads will lead to the listed bumper for mares at the November Cheltenham meeting. She’s another mare on a free lease from Broadwell Stud, who is leased by White Diamond Racing and Kate Austin.
Naranja powering clear in her bumper.
Ebadani benefitted from running on some spring ground when pushing an odds on shot of Paul Nicholls’ close in a novice hurdle at Taunton. He is a talented individual and must surely win his novice shortly before he lands a nice handicap.
Having won on his hurdling debut, it was a great shame Three Ways came down at the last at Cheltenham in the class 2 novice, when he was running a lovely race. We were caught a little flat footed as the sprint opened up, but we were staying on approaching the last, when he tipped the top and came down but I think he'd have been 4th. Thankfully he’s none the worse, and will make into a lovely horse after a summer holiday.
Buche De Noel has taken a while to acclimatise but ran a nice race at Kempton last week under a double penalty. She galloped all the way to the line but just appeared one paced. She'll certainly appreciate a step up in trip on slightly softer ground, and she is another who will be twice the horse after a summer holiday. She is tailor made for those mares listed chases next season.
I’m not sure how Our Three Sons never won a bumper but he went very close to winning in that discipline, and went very close over hurdles at Plumpton last week. He was beaten into 4th place but by just under 4 lengths…..surely he won’t be far off hitting the back of the net!
Denboy, Kapgarde King, and Belcanto have all stepped up and improved in their novice hurdles and are waiting to run in handicaps. Although Belcanto did win a bumper, all three should be seen in better light in handicaps.
Naranja was one of five babies we took to Newbury earlier this month for a racecourse gallop, and I was most impressed by all of them. A 125 lead horse took them down the back straight at a good clip, and then they quickened up the straight. Midnight Chill quickened up in the style of a very smart young horse – and amazingly there is still 50% left for sale!
There is 50% for sale in the exciting Midnight Chill
Blue Bullet, Born Naughty and Kaspian Tern were the other three we took, and I have to say we do look to have some seriously smart 4 year olds, so the future looks really bright. I look forward to seeing them on the track either this spring or in early autumn.
A final analysis of the 2015/2016 season:
As the 2015/16 season draws to a close, I can safely say that we salvaged a perfectly respectable total albeit below our expectations of building on the last few seasons increases across the board. We finished 2 winners shy of last seasons total of 19 winners. Frustratingly we had 21 seconds, but once again 50% of our horses were placed. Unfortunately our top horses this season where hit by injuries as Val de Law and Monbeg Theatre had to sit out the majority of the season, whilst Souriyan had an interrupted campaign and we faced the huge disappointment of losing our Cheltenham Festival winner, Present View. However, I am delighted that our investment in young horses is beginning to bear fruit as 55% of our winners this season came in either bumpers or novice hurdles, which bodes very well for the coming season. The first runner of our current 4 year old bumper horses won in taking fashion on racecourse debut only last week, and I am very much looking forward to the new season - which starts on Thursday!