Harraton Herald February 2017

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The Harraton Herald www.juliafeildenracing.com

February 2017

Back in the groove It was only last month that I was bemoaning the yard’s lack of luck on the racetrack with a few results not going our way. However, I’m glad to report that we had a much better February with both Spirit Of Sarwan and Critical Thinking getting their

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Star Performer 

SPIRIT OF SARWAN (Elzaam x Hidden Heart)

heads in front at Lingfield.

Purchased last spring at the Ascot Breeze-Up Sale for £10,000, the son of the precocious sprinter Elzaam wasted no time in losing his maiden tag by winning on his second The saying goes that you should always back the outsider of three

start at Brighton last June.

runners and so it proved true with Sarwan defying his 11/1 odds

After being highly tried in

to run out a narrow winner against his two more fancied

the G2 Superlative Stakes


at Newmarket’s July

The result definitely gave a boost to the whole yard and it was good to win a valuable Class 3 prize.

Festival and then running respectably twice after, Sarwan was given the

Critical Thinking’s success a week later was definitely a sign that

winter off to mature and

the horses are back in flying form and hopefully we can keep the

came back better than ever

momentum going into March and the start of the 2017 turf season.

to spring a surprise and

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land a valuable Class 3 handicap at Lingfield earlier this month.



Shares in our Arakan 2yo (now

Bookmakers get plenty of stick, and rightly so, but none get more abuse than Fred Done of Betfred who bought the Tote a few years ago and has proven reluctant to pay the sport what it is rightly owed through their profits. Anyway, that is a whole other debate but Fred

named Boxatricks) have proven extremely popular and a fantastic syndicate of enthusiastic owners has come together with just 10%

definitely did the right thing this month after a peculiar incident at

remaining for purchase, full

the company’s Chelmsford City racecourse. After a seemingly

details of which can be found on

perfectly normal start to a race, for some unknown reason, the flag

our website at:

lady a furlong down from the start signaled that there was a false


start and the horses should be pulled up. However, her efforts were


a bit half-arsed and none of the jockeys saw her so, naturally, they rode the race as per normal, meaning the connections of the first

We will be heading to Ascot’s

horse past the post thought they had won quite a valuable race.

Breeze Up Sale at the start of

However, under the rules of racing, if the flag operator signals a

April as well as Tattersalls later

false start (even when there isn’t one) the race is declared void if the

on that month so watch this space

horses complete the course, meaning all bets are refunded and

for more details!

owners lose out on prize money. Thankfully Fred Done saw the nonsense in this and agreed to pay out the prize money from his own pocket to those who thought they had won it. I know lots of people will say that was money which should be racing’s anyway but I thought it was a generous touch that he wasn’t obliged to do.

THUMBS DOWN The Cheltenham Festival is meant to be the showcase of British National Hunt racing with all the finest jumpers out to strut their stuff over the Festival’s four fantastic days. However, this year more than any it seems, the big names have been falling by the wayside through injury. Thistlecrack (left), Annie Power and Faugheen are just a few of the stars set to miss Cheltenham next month and the whole event will certainly be a lesser place without them. Jumps racing is a tough old game with injuries much more common than on the flat so it must be highly frustrating for connections when they nurture a horse good enough to head to the Festival only for a small injury to rule them out. On the plus side, hopefully we will be able to see the likes of Thistlecrack back in action next year.

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THE MONTH IN RUNNERS After a blank month in January with plenty of near-misses, SPIRIT OF SARWAN wasted no time in making February far more profitable for the yard by getting his head in front at Lingfield on 3rd February. Sent off the outsider of the three starters at 11/1, Shelley Birkett kept the son of Elzaam at the rear of the field, allowing the two other runners to waste energy running too keenly. Turning into the straight, Shelley nipped up the inner and squeezed through a tight gap on the rail to cause an upset and win by a neck with ears pricked (right – photo: Steven Cargill). The three-year old tried to repeat the effort at Wolverhampton three weeks later but found the seven furlong trip a bit on the short side so will step up to one mile next month. CRITICAL THINKING (left) had been a model of consistency over the winter months and finally got his breakthrough win when overcoming trouble in running to win at Lingfield on 16th February. Settled at the rear of the field by Finley Marsh, the pair waited until entering the straight before making their move but were denied a run up the rail. Switching right, the colt found another gear to hit the front in the shadow of the post. As it was a claiming race and his performance was eye-catching, it was no surprise that there were a pair of claims submitted for him after the race and he was subsequently bought by Shropshire-based trainer Kevin Frost.

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The ever-consistent GO ON GAL (right) provided her syndicate of owners with another good day out by adding yet another place effort to her CV. Having finished in the frame eight times in her last 11 runs, the daughter of Approve cannot be faulted although finding that elusive first win is proving difficult! She seems handle Southwell’s unique surface well and looked the likely winner there on February 21st before tiring towards the finish. Her versatility is her greatest asset and she will hopefully be able to finally get her head in front sometime this season on the turf but may head to Chelmsford on March 13th before then. LIMERICK LORD is another horse who rarely runs below form and he put up another solid effort to finish 4th at Chelmsford on February 16th. He too is equally as effective on all weather and turf so he will likely be kept busy in 2017. With a remarkable ten 4th places from his last 16 runs, DAKOTA CITY (left) is another who always gives you a run for your money and he seemed to handle a step up to two miles perfectly well at Lingfield on 22nd February. After his customary slow start, he raced towards the rear of the field before making his move at the top of the straight and running on past a few weakening rivals. The main protagonists were out of reach but the run gave us hope that he could get back to winning ways over this kind of distance during the turf season. One horse who seems best on an artificial surface nowadays is VEERAYA. He has put in two disappointing runs since winning at Kempton late last year but there were excuses on both occasions so hopefully he can bounce back to form in a claimer at Wolverhampton on March 6th. Also looking to get back to form will be CUBAN QUEEN who seemed to fare better than previously with a change of race tactics at Kempton on February 22nd and she will try to build on that at Southwell on March 7th.

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Friendly faces in the yard (Julia Feilden)

Michael Bhatti steals a winners’ selfie with Spirit Of Sarwan at Lingfield (John Hoy)

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Boxatricks struts his stuff in the yard (Adi Tuddenham)

Happy members of the N.E.T. Racing Club after Critical Thinking’s win at Lingfield (Gay Chalklin)

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A day at…Cagnes Sur Mer This month I was lucky enough to get the chance to ride abroad for fellow Exning trainer Gay Kelleway at Cagnes Sur Mer racecourse, located in the south of France. Sandwiched between the two better-known towns of Nice and Cannes, Cagnes Sur Mer is best compared to a typical English seaside town – it was probably a great place in the 1960s but lack of investment and dwindling tourism have seen it turn a bit shabby around the edges. That’s not to say it’s an unpleasant place – the town centre is very pretty with a charming market whilst a drive up the hill to the Medieval part of the area is worth it for the views. For many years now, Cagnes Sur Mer has been the go-to place for French (and a handful of English) trainers during the winter months as they try to escape the worst of the winter with their horses. With these trainers, and the hugely popular trotting horses, the equine population of the racecourse would number near 300 and mornings training on the course are a hectic affair with horses coming from all directions, making use of the course’s many different training tracks (below). Bordered by the Alps on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, you couldn’t find a more dramatic backdrop for racing and the action on the track is of a decent quality with two Listed races taking place on the day I was there. The prize money is not to be sniffed at either with €8000 on offer to the winner of my race, a low grade claimer. With a reasonably mild climate, turf racing can take place here over the winter but a good proportion of the races take place on the artificial track. Officially called fibresand (as is Southwell), it would be a closer comparison to the surface at Chelmsford – not as deep and severe as Southwell but still predominately sand-based. The track itself is very fair; a near three furlong straight means that horses can come from behind or make all the running. Races are typically slowly run in France with the emphasis on a sprint at the end. One thing that is universal across the horseracing world is the fact that no matter where you go, an amateur race will usually be run at a strong pace and my visit proved no exception!

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Racing over 1m4f and sent off as an unfacied 75/1 shot, my mount Uphold broke smartly from the stalls and we settled in a good position just behind the leaders. Turning into the straight the two market leaders showed their class and quickened away from the field whilst Uphold battled on bravely to hold off the pursuers to steal third place, collecting €2000 prize money in the process.

The race wasn’t without mishap though as, unknown to me at the time, further back in the field a horse had clipped heels and unseated his jockey. The horse got up fine but the rider was knocked out unconscious. The following day I heard that he wasn’t seriously injured but had broken his jaw and knocked a few teeth out so it looks like croissants will be off the menu for a while!


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THREE IS GOOD…BUT FOUR IS BETTER! The ever-popular Julia Feilden Racing ‘Three To Follow’ competition is back for another year but with a twist…now you have to choose four horses! This is your chance to get your entries in before the season-long rivalries can start! The rules are simple; simply pick two horses from POOL A and two horses from POOL B to get your exclusive quartet of horses. Entries must be emailed to: rbirkett1989@hotmail.co.uk Points are awarded as follows: 10 points for winning a race, 5 points for 2nd place and 2 points for 3rd place. Also, all unplaced runners will receive one point per race so you can win, even when you lose! Entries must be made before Monday 6th March 2017. Good luck!



Secret Strategy

Dakota City

Spirit Of Sarwan

Silver Alliance

Tallulah’s Quest

Limerick Lord

Pivotal Mark


My Name Is Jeff

Majestic Moon

Our Cilla

Best Example

Sunset Bounty

The Ducking Stool

Pitch High




Mungo Madness

Duke Of Diamonds

Sir Fred (Born To Sea x Diamond Line)

Cuban Queen

Gas Monkey (Cityscape x Bavarica)


Boxatricks (Arakan x Million To One)

Little Orchid Go On Gal Candesta

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How to win the ‘Four To Follow’ – by last year’s champion “There is little point in trying to uncover the ‘dark horses’ who could come from relative obscurity and become a top points scorer as, more often than not, they will not improve as much as you thought. The secret is to pick the horses who are going to run the most, thus giving you more opportunities to score points whether they are placed or not. Last year I had The Ducking Stool and Silver Alliance as my two mainstays – both were veterans of the yard but could be relied upon to run plenty and nick a win or two along the way. I admit that my third choice, Go On Gal, was unexposed at the start of the year but despite being one of the best scorers in 2016 (thanks to her five second places) she never actually won, highlighting the fact you need consistency over victory. Other than that, you need something on your side which can’t be predicted – luck…and lots of it!” Ross Birkett


Two new faces join the yard Julia was busy at the Tattersalls February Sale and came away with two new horses that look to have been great value for money. Long-standing owner at the yard Peter Foster (left, with Avocet) was after a filly he could race and then breed from and he looks to have found the perfect type in AVOCET. A four-year old by American sire Artie Schiller, she has had three maiden runs in France for Juddmonte and looks like she has needed plenty of time to mature due to her size. She already looks to be a shrewd purchase as her previously unraced half-brother has put in two promising runs at Dubai’s Carnival. The second new arrival is three-year old gelding OCEANUS. After running a big race on his debut when finishing second to Frankel’s first winner Cunco at Newbury, he was highly tried and never given time to develop. Since arriving at Harraton Stud, we have turned the son of Born To Sea out in the paddocks and he looks to have done really well ahead of a return to training next month.

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JULIA FEILDEN RACING WORDSEARCH Use the clues to find the hidden words!


(3, 7, 5) (3, 5) (3, 3, 3) (6, 8) (8) (5) (7)

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