Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Page 1

THE £6.95 APRIL 2021 ISSUE 200

Leading rider

Rachael Blackmore’s Cheltenham masterclass


Hamdan Al Maktoum

Tribute to the late owner-breeder

Trevor Hemmings

Grand National record beckons

Charlie Hills

Trainer looks to the future


To Stud


Oasis Dream Gr.1 sire and Leading First Season Sire

To Stud


Frankel Gr.1 sire and Leading First Season Sire

To Stud


Bated Breath Gr.1 sire

To Stud


Kingman Gr.1 sire and Leading First Season Sire

To Stud


Expert Eye 2015 Acclamation - Exemplify (Dansili)

First yearlings in 2021 2021 Fee £12,500 1st Oct, Special Live Foal

Contact Shane Horan, Claire Curry or Henry Bletsoe +44 (0)1638 731115 |

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£6.95 APRIL 2021 ISSUE 200

Leading rider

Rachael Blackmore’s Cheltenham masterclass


Hamdan Al Maktoum

Tribute to the late owner-breeder

Trevor Hemmings

Grand National record beckons

Charlie Hills

Trainer looks to the future

Cover: Rachael Blackmore partners Sir Gerhard to victory in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival Photo: Bill Selwyn

Edward Rosenthal Editor

From Fallon to Blackmore via Cheveley Park in 200 issues T

he very first issue of Owner Breeder magazine, in September 2004, featured the Cheveley Park Stud silks on the cover, donned by Kieren Fallon, and an article about the success of the Newmarket-based operation. It seems fitting that in this magazine, issue number 200, we again feature the Cheveley colours, this time worn by Rachael Blackmore. Perhaps it’s a sign of the progress horseracing has made in those 17 years, with regard to jockeys at least, that a woman rider is gracing the cover of a publication without reference to her gender. Blackmore stole the show at the Cheltenham Festival, winning six races and taking home the leading rider trophy. Her talent, composure and confidence shone through over the four days on the likes of Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle and Ryanair Chase victor Allaho; in fact, she made it all look quite easy, which is usually the sign of an outstanding sportsperson. With Hollie Doyle enjoying a superb time on the Flat, British and Irish racing have two wonderful success stories with which to sell the sport at a time when negative headlines are rarely far away. The Gordon Elliott photo saga broke after the March issue had gone to press and with it came an avalanche of hostility and vitriol. For those of us who work in or are connected to racing, or simply love and enjoy the sport, it was devastating. It should be pleasing to see a horseracing story ranked as the most-read article on the main news websites; not on this occasion. No news sells better than bad news, it seems, and the damage to racing’s image was, and still is, incalculable. The scandal(s) may have happened in Ireland yet Britain has been caught in the crosswinds of criticism. One idiotic moment should not define the life of Gordon Elliott – he has been, as the results suggest, an outstanding racehorse trainer – and he will know the spotlight will be

on him for the rest of his career. The travesty, of course, is that in addition to the vast majority of racehorses being treated superbly in their stables by devoted staff, outstanding work is happening at charities and rehoming centres to look after and care for the animals that have provided us with so much pleasure and enjoyment, and these stories receive scant, if any, coverage in the wider media. British-trained runners played second fiddle to their Irish counterparts at this year’s Festival – a final score of 23-5 was an unwanted record for the home team – and it wasn’t long before commentators were coming up with a plethora of explanations for the hammering. Analysing this year’s results, it’s evident that

“Perhaps it’s a sign of the progress that racing has made in 17 years” the Irish point-to-point scene is playing a significant role in producing horses for our headline meeting, with 13 winners starting out in that sphere. Interestingly, looking at the results from the 2005 Festival, the first one that Owner Breeder covered, just three winners – albeit from fewer races – graduated from point-to-points, while nine of the 23 winners came off the Flat. This year, only one horse did the same, showing how the sourcing of horses for the National Hunt sector has changed in under two decades. Yet markets evolve constantly and who’s to say matters won’t change again in the following years? Perhaps we’ll know more in another 200 issues.




April 2021


News & Views ROA Leader Poor prize-money unacceptable

TBA Leader Supporting breeders now essential

News Ireland dominant at Cheltenham

Changes News in a nutshell

Howard Wright Supporting racing's workforce vital

Features continued 5

Tribute to the owner-breeder

The Big Picture Cheltenham Festival action

The Big Interview With trainer Charlie Hills

Robson Aguiar Rising star of the breeze-up world

Alne Park Stud Outfit puts faith in Dink



Congratulations to Elody Swann

Sales Circuit 7 14 18

Goffs moves online

Caulfield Files Mischief making hay

Dr Statz

Dangers of inbreeding

Grassland management Part two in the series


The Finish Line

With owner Trevor Hemmings

Features Hamdan Al Maktoum

Breeders' Digest

53 55 58 62 66 88

Forum 8

Great British Bonus News and views


ROA Forum

Owners back on track

36 42 48

TBA Forum

Bumper month for British bloodstock

Breeder of the Month

The Glanvilles Stud for Honeysuckle

Vet Forum

Laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome

70 72 78 83 84




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ROA Leader

Charlie Parker President

Pitiful purses puts British racing on the rack W

hilst Cheltenham, with the help of its media partners, put owners at the heart of the raceday, the results on track at the Festival showed that the lack of prizemoney in Britain is beginning to have a visible impact. Similar concerns surrounding the Flat are bubbling up. With the fantastic social experience on the racecourse missing for over a year as the sport has continued mainly behind closed doors, the poor return that our horses are racing for has been laid bare. It was a Cheltenham like no other. With no spectators or owners on track we missed the action in person. Empty stands were the backdrop to the week’s action whilst the victorious horses and jockeys returned to deserted enclosures. Gone was the famous Cheltenham roar but still there was the same magic. Blackmore blazed a trail. Tiger Roll showed us his talent. De Bromhead broke the mould. It was a great week that has raised excitement levels ahead of owners being allowed to return to the racecourse. Even more so, owners were put firmly at the centre of the day, with stories throughout the TV coverage and giant ROA banners adorning the main stand. Cheltenham properly celebrated the owner this year; it was a real shame that none could attend. Our thanks must go to all the committed owners, participants, the Jockey Club and ITV, whose collaborative and can-do attitude made it all possible. There was one nagging hangover, however. The complete obliteration of the British runners by the Irish, some 23-5. How things have changed in a matter of years, when the British were outperforming our Irish friends and the Irish were having to take a good look at their own house. There were some extraordinary factors at play: no owners, Brexit and Covid have all taken their toll. I am also sure that the likes of Paul Nicholls, Dan Skelton, Alan King and Nicky Henderson will be leading the charge next year. But, when some of the best and most experienced trainers in Britain leave Cheltenham on Friday night without a single winner on the board, we need to stop and think. A stewards’ enquiry will no doubt be held and it needs to hear the views of the owners and trainers to find the right answers. We should start by listening to those owners whose horses are racing in Ireland while they themselves reside in Britain. It’s bigger than Cheltenham. Many have remarked that prizemoney is the rotten root of the problem in British racing, not just in National Hunt. The impact of reduced prizes on the Flat is also causing great concern, with fewer top-quality yearlings going into training and the continued sale of highly-rated prospects to other jurisdictions another major issue bubbling just under the surface. Those who believe that poor prize-money levels are not

the cause of talent drain or loss of owners should wake up. Cheltenham may have been a circumstantial blip, but the problems are systemic. We know this is the case yet choose to ignore it. The sport must tackle the prize-money problem together. We cannot just redistribute the ‘pie’; we have to grow it for all and make sure British racing continues to be seen as the destination for top-quality bloodstock and investment. At the highest level, the ROA and Horsemen’s Group continue to work through new commercial agreements with racecourses to improve prize-money levels and get a better share of rights income to the owners and participants who contribute so much. In addition, changes to the way the levy is collected and ultimately distributed are high on the agenda. My experience so far is that

“Poor prize-money levels are the cause of talent drain and loss of owners – we know this is the case” changes take time, but the clock is ticking, and short-term wins are needed to keep the wagon rolling. To this end we have just announced new changes and improvements to prize-money distribution that will improve median earnings by up to 13% for owners, trainers and stable staff, ensuring a better return on investment in non-Pattern races. These projects – tackling the basic costs and return for owners, dropping the barriers, and raising the rewards – are the meat of the matter that can help push racing forward as an attractive investment. The return of owners to the racecourse gives us all a boost with the new Flat turf season underway. Wishing all owners the best of luck over the coming months.




Cheltenham Festival Winners


CLOSE BROTHERS MARES’ HURDLE RACE, Gr 1 sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to B O’Ryan by Kilmoney Cottage Stud for €36,000


SPORTING LIFE ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE, Gr 1 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale to Highflyer Bloodstock by Virginia Considine for £170,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to Boyne Farm by Goldford Stud (Agent) for €28,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale to Ben Case by Rathbarry Stud (Agent) for €40,000


WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER, Gr 1 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale to Gordon Elliott Racing by Coolmeen Stables, Ireland (Miss E Holden) for £400,000


WELLCHILD CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP CHASE, Gr 1 CHANTRY HOUSE sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale MARSH NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE, Gr 1 to John Nallen by Rathkenty Stud for €24,000 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale to M Hyde by C H Thoroughbreds (Agent) HONEYSUCKLE (right) for £295,000 UNIBET CHAMPION HURDLE CHALLENGE TROPHY, Gr 1 sold Tattersalls Ireland August NH Sale sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to E A Elliot by Mount Brown Farm for €26,000 to M O’Hare by The Glanvilles Stud for €9,500 sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale to John O’Brien by Evergreen Stud for €12,500 MONKFISH (centre) BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE, Gr 1 GALVIN sold Tattersalls Cheltenham May Sale SAM VESTEY NATIONAL HUNT to H Kirk by Monbeg Stables (Cormac Doyle) CHALLENGE CUP NOVICES’ STEEPLE CHASE, Gr 2 for £235,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to I Ferguson by Castlefergus Stud for €34,000 to Monbeg Stables by Busher Bloodstock Ltd for €36,000 TELMESOMETHINGGIRL sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale PARNELL PROPERTIES MARES’ to Furziestown Stables by Ennel Bloodstock NOVICES’ HURDLE RACE, Gr 2 for €12,500 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale

to Rathmore Stud by Milestone Stables (Colin Bowe) for £150,000 SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE, Gr 1 sold Tattersalls Ireland May Store Sale sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to Rob James by Weirside Farm for €39,000 to Suirview Stables by Sladoo Farm for €60,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale to Weirside Farm by Coolamurry Stud for €4,500 to Apple Tree Farm by Charel Park Stud for €18,500


Derby Sale 23-24 June T +353 (0) 1 8864 300


BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE RACE, Gr 3 sold Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale to Peter Nolan Bloodstock by Ballinvana House Stud for €24,000


MCCOY CONTRACTORS COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE, Gr 3 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham April Sale to Direct Bloodstock by Kingsfield Stud (Patrick Turley) for £30,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale to Timmy Hillman by Cooney Old Town Stud (S Cooney) sold €10,000


JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL CHALLENGE CUP HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE, Gr 3 sold Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale to Jonjo O’Neill Racing by Cottagefield Stables (T Lacey) for £150,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to Tom Lacey by Oak Tree Farm for €34,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale to Oak Tree Farm by Goldford Stud for €32,000


GLENFARCLAS STEEPLE CHASE sold Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale to Mags O’Toole by Thorne Farm Racing for £80,000


FULKE WALWYN KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CUP HANDICAP STEEPLE CHASE sold Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale to A O’Ryan/Gordon Elliott by Shanrod Stables (J G Cosgrave) for £70,000 sold Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale to James Gillespie by Mount Eaton Stud for €16,000

Cheltenham Sale 23 April T +44 (0) 1638 665931


TBA Leader

Julian Richmond-Watson Chairman

Invest today to safeguard our sport in future years A

s part of the TBA’s remit to provide members and the rest of the industry with up-to-date information on which to base sensible strategy, the executive team at Stanstead House has pulled together various strands of survey information, projections and statistics to produce a British Breeding Industry Report. The intention of the document is to focus the whole of British racing’s outlook and planning on how issues covering breeding in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic will spread to and affect the entire sport. For far too long the sport has taken for granted the presence of a supply line of horses, whereby animals bred in Ireland, France and the US have filled the gap between the number of foals produced annually in Britain and those required to sustain the current racing model. The situation has started to become and will continue to be challenging, as far fewer horses are already being bred worldwide than in recent years, and major racing jurisdictions are increasingly diverting prize-money and promoting breeders’ incentives to ensure more of their homebreds stay at home. In addition, countries in the Middle East, such as Bahrain and Qatar, which cannot or do not breed thoroughbreds in any significant numbers, are expanding their racing ambitions, using strong financial incentives to encourage more horses than previously to relocate away from Britain. It might be a simple truism, but horseracing is about horses. To sustain the level and extent of the sport to which we have become accustomed in Britain, we require fit, sound and healthy horses in requisite numbers. Everyone involved directly in the sport is affected. It does not matter whether you run a racecourse or are involved in the administration through the BHA, or are an owner, trainer, jockey or stable employee, you have no employment or role without the thoroughbred, which is where the problem turns into reality. Fewer horses mean fewer staff to look after them, less racing, less betting, and so on. Even if the recovery from Covid-19 brings the British economy back to, or close to, pre-pandemic levels by 2022, the idea that bloodstock sales in 2021 will be boosted is difficult to imagine, and, of course, the prize-money situation does little to encourage or help the situation. The scenario portrayed in the TBA assessment is a reminder of what happens once breeding activity falls as a reaction to lower sales prices, as experienced in 2020, and is expected to occur again this year. The number of starts ought to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2025 or 2026 through an improvement in

general economics, but it cannot happen, because there will not be sufficient horses to make these starts. The situation would be exacerbated if the decline in the worldwide foal crop accelerates and the export market for British-bred horses continues to grow. Breeding has a medium- to long-term turnaround and is therefore unable to react quickly to short-term trends. The worldwide decline in foal crops, which started after the 200708 financial crisis, was only just showing signs of recovery in 2015-17, before starting to slide again in 2018-19. The effects of Covid-19 will only accelerate this decline. Once the number of broodmares and fillies and mares in training falls, the breeding industry does not have enough raw material to react to economic recovery. So, the foal crop,

“The breeding industry does not have enough raw material to react to economic recovery” and consequently the pool of runners required for the race programme, will remain low after the economic shock and take several years to recover. A reduced number of filly foals born in 2022-23, as a result of mating decisions made this year and next, will affect racing in 2024-2026, but equally importantly they will then lessen the number of mares entering the breeding cohort to produce foals in 2027 and onwards. That is why it is so important for racing’s future to support breeding activity now, and to do our best to ameliorate that decline as much as possible. It is in everyone’s interest to encourage the production of British thoroughbred foals as much as possible, so that we maintain a sustainable breeding and racing industry going forward.




Sheikh Hamdan with his sprint star Battaash after victory in the 2019 Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York



Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum 1945 - 2021 Words: Nancy Sexton • Photos: George Selwyn


ew men have wielded such an influence over the worldwide racing and breeding scene as Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who has died at the age of 75. His passing is a further major loss to the horseracing industry after the deaths of Prince Khalid Abdullah and David Thompson in January and December respectively. The elder brother of Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Finance, was a significant investor in the sport on a global scale, his interest dating back to the early

1980s and ultimately covering major breeding operations in Europe, North America and Australia. His blue and white colours have been synonymous with numerous high-class horses including Derby winners Nashwan (1989) and Erhaab (1994), sprinting stars Dayjur and Muhaarar, and more recently speedball Battaash. Just last year his silks were carried to victory in the Sussex Stakes by the brilliant miler Mohaather. The colt’s performances under the care of Marcus Tregoning contributed to a ninth British owners’ championship for Sheikh Hamdan, who had





Tribute ›› previously won the accolade in 1990, 1994, 1995, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2019. A passion for racing was ignited during the Dubai royal’s younger years studying at Cambridge and in 1980, having appointed Harry Thomson Jones as a trainer, he celebrated a first winner courtesy of Mushref at Redcar. Between them Thomson Jones and fellow mentor Captain Bobby Dolbey helped the young Sheikh Hamdan lay the foundations of a thriving racing operation. Early significant investment in stock was made and in the Blushing Groom filly Al Bahathri, purchased through Jones for $650,000 out of the 1983 Keeneland July Sale, there was an immediate reward when she went on to win the 1985 Irish 1,000 Guineas and Falmouth Stakes. The catalyst, however, was the purchase of Height Of Fashion from the Queen in 1982. Trained by Major Dick Hern, the daughter of Bustino had capped an unbeaten two-year-old season by taking the Fillies’ Mile and won the Lupe and Princess of Wales’s Stakes at three. Sheikh Hamdan paid a reported £1.5 million for the filly following that Princess of Wales’s success, in which she had made all under a feather weight, and although two dismal outings followed, she went on to become a blue hen for Shadwell as the dam of celebrated trio Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef. “When Sheikh Hamdan was advised to buy Height Of Fashion from the Queen, that was the start of it because we eventually got the likes of Unfuwain and ultimately Nashwan,” remembers Marcus Tregoning, who was pupil assistant to Major Dick Hern at the time. “Then of course the whole operation snowballed from there thanks to Nashwan and Sheikh Hamdan owning that wonderful mare. We’ve still got the legacy now and some great, great, great-grandchildren of the family.” By that time, Angus Gold had been appointed as Racing Manager and the 6,000-acre Shadwell Estate near Thetford added to the portfolio of properties. A stallion base was swiftly established on the estate’s Nunnery Stud and while Green Desert, owned by Sheikh Maktoum, would come to be regarded as its most influential resident, it is a measure of Height Of Fashion’s influence that Nashwan, Unfuwain and Nayef would also become Group 1 sires for the stud. An extremely fruitful partnership was also forged early on with Willie Carson, who as a retained jockey became a vital cog in the careers of Nashwan, Dayjur, Salsabil, Erhaab and Bahri. Paying tribute to the owner, he said:



Sheikh Hamdan (right) with his younger brother Sheikh Mohammed (centre), trainer Luca Cumani and jockey Rae Guest in the winner’s enclosure at Newmarket in May 1986

“We will all miss him. He was very much involved as an owner and knew his horses well. “It was during the late 80s and Dick Hern was thinking of giving up training and I thought I might give up too. But I saw Angus Gold at Newbury one day

“You would not meet a more loyal man; it has been an honour to ride for him” when I was riding one of Hamdan’s good horses, and asked if he would consider hiring me as retained jockey. About a week later I got the job. “Nashwan, Dayjur, Salsabil – they were all wonderful horses. Nashwan was the best middle-distance horse I rode. Dayjur

was the fastest – in fact he might have been the fastest anyone rode. Salsabil was a wonderful filly who only had to be ridden with hands and heels. She was brilliant on the day she beat the colts in the Irish Derby.” Carson had to be at his best on Erhaab in a rough renewal of the 1994 Derby, as he navigated a daring run up the inner aboard his willing partner, and was again clever in his handling of Bahri in the 1995 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot; charting a solo, wide course under the trees in search of better ground, he boasted such an advantage as they crossed over turning into the straight that the pair ultimately won easily by six lengths. “Sheikh Hamdan was always interested in how they should be ridden but he particularly liked them to be on the outside,” recalls Carson. “Before the Queen Elizabeth, I had this idea to go wide on Bahri – Richard Hills [riding pacemaker Muhab] was in on the plan but I hadn’t told Sheikh Hamdan. I saw him standing in the paddock before the race and thought, ‘Well I better tell him’. And

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum

so I said that I thought we couldn’t beat the filly, Ridgewood Pearl, but that this plan might work. There was a 20-second delay while he thought about it and then he just said ‘do it’. John Dunlop wasn’t aware of what we were thinking, and I can’t imagine he was too pleased during the first couple of furlongs, but it worked out.” Richard Hills took over the reins as first jockey when Carson retired in 1997, and with great success until his own retirement in 2012. By that stage, the Shadwell operation was reaping the fruits of significant investment in its bloodstock holdings. In addition to the stud at Nunnery, headed by Stud Director Richard Lancaster, an Irish stallion base had been launched at Derrinstown Stud while Shadwell Farm in Kentucky housed Dayjur. The broodmare band had also grown

to become of numerical significance worldwide. Over the following decades, a series of homebreds continued to do their bit to advertise the brand. Unfuwain rewarded his owner’s support as the sire of homebred Classic winners Lahan (2000 1,000 Guineas) and Eswarah (2005 Oaks). Bahri’s son Sakhee, bred by Shadwell out of Ribblesdale Stakes heroine Thawakib, captured the 2001 Arc for Godolphin. Haafhd, trained by Barry Hills to win the 2004 2,000 Guineas and Champion Stakes, also encapsulated all that was best about the operation as a son of Sheikh Hamdan’s champion two-year-old Alhaarth, himself by Unfuwain, and out of Al Bahathri. Another top Hills-trained miler, Ghanaati, added to the Height Of Fashion legacy by winning the 2009 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes. Nayef, the final foal out of Height Of Fashion, was another excellent performer, with his four Group 1 victories for Tregoning comprising the Champion Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Dubai Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International. “Nayef was one of the most beautiful yearlings I’ve seen in a long, long time,” says Tregoning. “I saw him quite recently at Shadwell out in the paddock and just remember thinking what a beautiful horse he was. “He and Nashwan were so incredibly sound. If you look at Nashwan as a three-year-old he had to be very sound to back up in all those Group 1s – it was sensational.”

More recently, superstar sprinters Battaash, who broke Dayjur’s track record in the 2019 Nunthorpe Stakes, and Muhaarar have also flown the flag while last season was particularly memorable thanks to a sextet of Royal Ascot winners alongside the exploits of Mohaather. The colt was ridden for much of his career by the operation’s currently retained jockey Jim Crowley, who took to Twitter to pay his tribute. “You would not meet a more honest and loyal man,” he said. “I will be forever grateful to him, it has been an honour and privilege to ride for him.” Shadwell’s reach has also been hugely international. In America, there have been highlights such as Jazil’s victory in the Belmont Stakes and Invasor’s success in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A private purchase out of Uruguay, Invasor went on to win the Dubai World Cup, a race in which Sheikh Hamdan’s colours had previously been carried to victory by Almutawakel. In Australia, he also won two Melbourne Cups with At Talaq (1986) and Jeune (1994) while a foray into South Africa yielded Group 1 winners such as Soft Falling Rain, Rafeef, Mustaaqeem and Malmoos, who struck only last month at the top level for trainer Mike de Kock. While Sheikh Hamdan maintained a keen interest in the development of his families, he also remained a regular player at auction. Indeed, his appetite for stock

Sensational sprinter Dayjur blazed a trail for Sheikh Hamdan in 1990, winning the King’s Stand Stakes, Nunthorpe, Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye





The brilliant Nashwan and Willie Carson return to the Ascot winner’s enclosure after their success in the 1989 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while left, Sheikh Hamdan enjoys Taghrooda’s 2014 Oaks triumph

Six of the best in Sheikh Hamdan’s silks BATTAASH

Four King George Stakes, two Nunthorpe Stakes, two Temple Stakes and a Prix de l’Abbaye - few sprinters have compiled the record of Battaash, who also owns the distinction of lowering Dayjur’s track record when romping to victory in the 2019 Nunthorpe. His consistent displays of raw speed have won the hearts of racegoers during his five seasons with Charlie Hills, and there could be yet more to come in 2021.


Brilliantly fast, yearling purchase Dayjur rewarded the decision of the Hern camp to cut him back to sprint distances by taking the Temple Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes, Nunthorpe Stakes, Haydock Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye during a momentous season in 1990. The Danzig colt would have most likely won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint as well had he not jumped a pair of shadows near the wire. “My hunting days stood me in good stead that afternoon,” chuckles Carson.


Argentinian-bred was purchased by Sheikh Hamdan after sweeping the Uruguay Triple Crown. Sent to Kiaran McLaughlin in the US, he proved an excellent acquisition as the winner of



four further Grade 1 races including the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup.


An imposing, powerful chestnut produced by Height Of Fashion, Nashwan was beautifully handled by Major Dick Hern to dominate the 1989 season, becoming the first – and only – horse to sweep the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Eclipse Stakes and King George. He went on to stand at Nunnery Stud, from where he sired dual King George winner Swain and Arc hero Bago.


Purchased from Pat O’Kelly’s Kilcarn Stud as a yearling, Salsabil showed brilliance from the outset for John Dunlop, winning the 1989 Prix Marcel Boussac as a two-year-old and the 1990 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, Irish Derby (the first filly to win in 90 years) and Prix Vermeille at three. Sadly the daughter of Sadler’s Wells died young but three of her five foals became stakes horses led by American Grade 2 winner Sahm, later a successful stallion for Shadwell in Kentucky. Salsabil’s younger half-brother Marju also won the St James’s Palace Stakes for Sheikh Hamdan before becoming an important stallion for Derrinstown Stud.


In the same way that Sheikh Hamdan wasn’t afraid to pitch Salsabil against colts in the Irish Derby, he also allowed Taghrooda to take her chance against open competition in the 2014 King George. Such confidence was placed in the John Gosden-trained filly following her devastating win in the Oaks and she didn’t let connections down, skipping clear for a three-length success over Telescope.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum

›› was often strong enough to impact the

fortunes of certain sales; nowhere was this more evident than at last year’s Tattersalls October Sale, where Shadwell accounted for nearly 8.4 million guineas worth of stock. “It encouraged a lot of the small guys as well to get going because they always knew if they got a really good one, Sheikh Hamdan might come along and buy it or be in the mix as a bidder,” says Tregoning. “Even when he had a not so successful season, he was right back at those sales and was telling people ‘we’ve got to get

better’. I’ve never known anyone to take the lows as well as the highs – he was quite extraordinary like that.” It had been announced in February that Shadwell was to disperse its Australian and South African bloodstock. Even so, his bloodstock interests remain immense with approximately 200 horses worldwide. Among the stallions, Mohaather is a new addition to Nunnery Stud and heads a roster that also consists of Muhaarar, Eqtidaar and Tasleet. Proven sire Tamayuz and new recruit King Of Change sit

among a roster of five at Derrinstown Stud, while a trio of stallions based in Kentucky include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tamarkuz. Through one man’s passion and knowledge, the racing and bloodstock interests of Sheikh Hamdan became such that an indelible footprint has been left on the industry. Yet underneath it all, those who knew him speak of a man whose loyalty, attention to detail and understanding of the horse was second to none. Racing is all the poorer for his passing.




Inquest continues after Ireland’s Cheltenham Festival domination

The Cheveley Park Stud silks are carried to victory by Rachael Blackmore on Sir Gerhard in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper


he post-mortem had started well before the last horse had crossed the line in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, the final race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Irish-trained horses had dominated the action on track, recording a record 23 winners against five for Britain. Of the week’s 28 successful horses, 20 carried the Irish suffix that designates where the horse was bred, with Britain and France sharing the remaining eight winners. For the British racing industry, it was a wake-up call, if one were needed, that the power balance has well and truly shifted across the Irish Sea. The pattern in the last five years has seen Ireland dominate the end-of-week standings – the nation came out on top at the Festival in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020, while 2019 saw a tie – but never to this extent. So, what’s behind the one-sided results? Certainly, myriad reasons have been thrown into the melting pot, including Ireland’s far better prize-money, quality-focused racing programme, government support for the sector and proliferation of big-spending owners basing their horses in the country.



The expansion of a small number of increasingly powerful stables is another factor. Willie Mullins fielded 55 runners over the four days and enjoyed six winners, the same number as compatriot Henry de Bromhead (23 runners), taking the leading trainer title on countback. By comparison, Nicky Henderson’s 23 runners yielded two winners. Paul Nicholls ran 20 horses without success. Ireland also produces far more racehorses than Britain; the 2020 foal crop saw 8,542 foals born in Ireland against 4,236 in Britain. Whichever way you dissect the results, the simple fact is that Ireland has the better National Hunt horses – and more of them. But what can Britain do to redress the balance?

‘It’s an upbringing issue’

Bryan Mayoh, Chairman of the TBA’s National Hunt Committee, believes one of the answers lies in addressing how horses in Britain are prepared for their jumping careers. Thirteen of this year’s 28 Cheltenham Festival winners graduated from the Irish point-to-point scene and Mayoh feels it is a lesson that must be heeded. He said: “I’ve looked at National Hunt

results over the last ten years. During that period the French-breds were dominant, outperforming the foal crops in France significantly. I looked at the breeding of those horses but that did not explain the results. “What screamed out is that it was never a breeding issue – it was an upbringing issue. The French horses were far more likely to have run over obstacles at an earlier age than the British and Irish horses. “Ten years ago, there was probably an 18-month difference between the two groups. Before this year’s Cheltenham, the difference had crept down to 12 months. The reason is the Irish four-year-old point-to-points were starting to play a role. If you look at the results this year the significance of Irish point-to-points is inescapable. “[French trainer] Guillaume Macaire said that if you teach a child to ski at the age of six, he’s a better skier than if you teach him to ski at 16. The Irish are simply following the French example. “I believe one of the solutions is to have a programme to encourage jumps horses to race in this country much earlier. Therefore, the TBA’s proposal is for a programme of races for three- and

Stories from the racing world four-year-olds that have not run under any Rules of Racing before October 1. These races are not instead of what we have now but in addition to the current programme. “The key to these races is they have to be treated as development races. The proposal made to the BHA recommends that horses winning these races are treated as if they had won a bumper or point-to-point – i.e. they can still run in novice races the next year. “It will certainly encourage participants – people won’t have to wait as long to race these horses, not spending money for years without a return, and they can potentially race them at three, or sell them at two for someone to buy and race at three. “Trainers could get on with the horses quicker. Some of the trainers want to do that now but there’s no incentive. To me, this is the most fixable thing we’ve got. It’s not a silver bullet but it’s a significant part of the answer for how our trainers can compete better with the Irish and French horses.” Mayoh, who bred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John with his former wife Sandra, believes the current crop of stallions is well capable of producing horses with the attributes needed to race at a younger age. He continued: “Are we able to breed these types of horses with the stallions we have? Absolutely. “Look at the sires we have – Telescope and Jack Hobbs both won as two-yearolds and were very good horses at three. It’s inconceivable that they are not going to be able to breed horses that can jump and race in two-mile hurdles at the age of three. “On the breeding side, I would say there is virtually no difference between the quality in Britain and Ireland. There are a lot of extremely good mares in Britain. Yes, there are more stallions in Ireland but Kayf Tara and Midnight Legend [sire of Sizing John] were as good as anything they have in Ireland.”

‘Ireland has the best of everything’

Richard Aston, who with wife Sally runs Goldford Stud in Cheshire, has produced and raised plenty of leading National Hunt stars, among them multiple Grade 1 winners Cue Card and Inglis Drever. The operation played a part in the early careers of this year’s Cheltenham Festival winners Shishkin and Sky Pirate. For Aston, this year’s results reflect a number of factors, both breeding- and racing-related, that have played against British-based trainers and runners.

He said: “The pendulum has swung as far as it probably can. But it’s a cyclical thing. It wasn’t that long ago we were hailing all those good horses of Paul Nicholls’ and the Irish were going home from Cheltenham with low single-figure winners. “The owners’ power base has focused on Ireland and they have the best of everything, though not trainers. I can’t have it that Willie Mullins is a better trainer than Nicky Henderson or Henry de Bromhead is a better trainer than Paul Nicholls. But they have the superior horses and in Jack Kennedy and Rachael Blackmore I would suggest they have the better jockeys.

Any post-mortem must look at why people want to race in Ireland. “Prize-money is the ever-present thorny issue. These last 12 months have seen a huge strain on resources. We’ve been lucky that racing has continued as long as it has. But our funding model is where the problem lies. That’s where everyone’s energies need to be concentrated. “In Ireland it’s a different financial model – and it would appear more successful. France obviously has the tote monopoly and the breeders’ premiums, which incentivise owners to a much greater extent. “It would be lovely to see our races run at more realistic levels but at the moment, with the funding problems we have, it’s a long way off.”

‘Prize-money is a factor’

Bryan Mayoh: ‘no silver bullet’

“We have always had good sires in Britain, but Ireland has a much wider cross-section of stallions and many more mares. As for our younger stallions, Jack Hobbs has covered large books of mares, certainly by UK standards, but even so that would be half the number covered by Maxios for example. “Then you have Crystal Ocean, the highest-rated racehorse in the world, who retires straight to The Beeches Stud in Ireland. That tips the balance extraordinarily in their favour. “Have I been supporting the young British sires? The simple answer is no, because I have a policy of using a proven stallion every time rather than use my mares to make somebody else’s stallion. That’s just my way of doing things and no reflection on those young stallions. “My mating plans this year include sending four mares to Nathaniel. I think we’re very lucky to have a horse that has achieved what he has available to us for National Hunt mares.” Aston continued: “Historically, the Irish have been traders, breeding and racing horses with the prime aim of selling them on. Now these horses are being retained or sold to owners stabling them in Ireland.

Envoi Allen may have lost his unbeaten record when taking a tumble in the Marsh Novices’ Chase but Cheveley Park Stud still enjoyed an outstanding week with its boutique stable of jumpers at the Festival, notching three Grade 1s with Sir Gerhard, Quilixios and Allaho, and seeing A Plus Tard finish a gallant second to stable companion Minella Indo in the Gold Cup. While its Flat breeding operation is based in Newmarket, the National Hunt arm – the passion of the late David Thompson, who died in December – is in Ireland, though this is as much through circumstance as anything else according to Managing Director Chris Richardson. He said: “We’ve had horses in both countries. Going back to [Grand National winner] Party Politics with Nick Gaselee, we have also had horses with Colin Tizzard, Jimmy Moffatt and Sandy Thomson. “It just so happened with the advice we were given at the time that the better horses ended up being put into training in Ireland. Mr Thompson decided he wanted to have a select few that were the very best and we supported Willie Mullins, Henry de Bromhead and Gordon Elliott. “There was no direct targeting of just having an Irish-based operation. But the Irish horses worked out better. David’s wife, Patricia, runs the stud on the Flat in Britain and this gave Mr Thompson a different avenue. The success has been remarkable. “Prize-money is a factor, too. Britain is in a difficult period, not helped by Covid. At this point in time there won’t be any fresh reinvestment; we’ll enjoy what we have. It’s just very sad that Mr Thompson wasn’t there to enjoy the wonderful week at Cheltenham.”




Racing tries to move on after scandal of Elliott image Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott had emerged as the top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival every year since 2013, and while last month’s meeting saw no change to that trend, events in the build-up to jump racing’s Olympics defined the result. For shortly after Owner Breeder’s March issue went to press came the publication on social media of a photograph that showed Elliott sitting on a dead horse on the gallops. Universal condemnation swiftly followed, the wider media pounced on the opportunity to denigrate the sport, and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) was forced to move quickly to convene a disciplinary hearing. The upshot was a €15,000 fine and 12-month ban, of which six are suspended, for the three-time Grand National-winning trainer, who at Cheltenham had broken the Mullins monopoly to emerge leading trainer at the Festival in 2017 and 2018. As it turned out, had the photograph not been leaked on social media, Elliott would have been top dog at the Festival this year as well, for six of ‘his’ horses were on the scoresheet – three for Denise Foster, who has taken over the licence at his County Meath yard, and three for other trainers. Cheveley Park Stud chose to move their horses from Elliott, with subsequent Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard joining Mullins and Triumph Hurdle victor Quilixios being sent to Henry de Bromhead. Galvin, who was to win the National Hunt Chase, was moved by Ronnie Bartlett to Ian Ferguson. Mullins and De Bromhead tied at Cheltenham with six winners apiece, Mullins defending his crown on the countback rule, while the three winners who remained at Cullentra House and ran under Foster’s name were Tiger Roll (Cross Country Chase), Black Tears (Mares’ Hurdle) and Mount Ida (Kim Muir). Elliott’s penalty may have divided opinion but what didn’t was the view that the damage would be felt more intensely by the sport as a whole than the trainer as an individual. Denis Egan, CEO of the IHRB, said: “Where breaches of rules occur and where participants in racing act in a manner that brings the sport into disrepute, there are no winners, and in



Tiger Roll scored at Cheltenham for trainer Denise Foster

fact, the loss is to Irish racing with damage to the reputation of the sport. “Having acted with thoroughness and having followed due process at all times, the IHRB team are satisfied that the case has been dealt with fairly and appropriately.” He added: “We recognise the heartfelt upset that this matter has caused to people inside and outside of racing, none more so than to the staff employed by Mr Elliott. We also see at first hand both on the racecourse and as part of our stable inspection programme that horses receive unrivalled care, attention, and affection. “Indeed, as part of the investigation into this very case, an unannounced stable inspection of Mr Elliott’s yard led to no concerns about the welfare of the horses in his care, as has been the case during any other inspection we carried out at his premises each year. In our opinion the incident covered in the hearing is not reflective of Irish racing.” While Elliott’s actions did not necessarily, as Egan stressed, raise the welfare red flag, the whole sport bore the stigma. Barry Johnson, independent Chair of British racing’s Horse Welfare Board, said in a statement: “For me, the image of racing projected two weeks before this year’s Festival was not a true or recognisable one. “One awful image – and it was gut-wrenchingly awful – and one equally

repugnant video were inaccurately interpreted as the norm across racing. One plus one does not equal 600, but that is the extrapolation that around 600 licensed racehorse trainers in Britain, and their teams of dedicated staff, find themselves addressing.” He added: “Reassuringly, from my still independent perspective, long before racing found itself having to address the recent affront to its public image, the industry was acutely aware of this and already had a plan in place to address it. “This is partly the recognition that racing is dependent on continued social licence in order to operate but, perhaps more fundamentally for the people who work in the sport, it is simply the right thing to do for the horses.” Elliott’s head lad who took the picture, Simon McGonagle, also received a ban, in his case for nine months, with seven suspended, while in a separate incident a video of jockey Rob James clambering onto the back of a dead horse also emerged and ended with the amateur being banned for 12 months, of which eight are suspended. It all added up to wider media glare on racing during the Cheltenham Festival – unfairly portrayed as a ‘superspreading’ Covid-19 event as the pandemic took hold last spring. As it happened, Rachael Blackmore’s sensational week stole the headlines and catapulted racing into the mainstream for positive reasons.

Prize-money redistribution agreed The Horsemen’s Group has agreed to a significant redistribution of prizemoney that will improve median earnings of horsemen, excluding jockeys, by up to 13%. Effective from March 27, the redistribution aims to better support the grassroots as racing continues its recovery from the pandemic, with winning horses earning less of the prize-money pot but placed horses more. The changes to non-Pattern race prize-money distribution are designed to help create a simpler, more equitable system that is easy to understand whilst improving median earnings. Changes apply to payments made to owners, trainers and stable staff. The redistribution is underpinned by an industry-wide review of prize-money distribution, commissioned by the ROA. The review, undertaken in July 2020, highlighted prize-money as the single biggest challenge to retaining and attracting owners, as well as showing the gradually poorer returns at the lower end of the racing pyramid. Of particular concern was the comparatively low return on investment

Grassroots racing is the focus of the revised strategy

rate in non-Pattern racing and the impact of the ‘triple loss’ of losing, receiving less prize-money and receiving handicap increases up to 80% of the winner’s mark. Over 54% of the owners surveyed supported a redistribution of prizemoney to placed horses in non-Pattern races. New distributions to owners under both codes will be: first 53.3%; second 26.7%; third 13.3%; fourth 5.33%. The changes will provide an additional £7.5 million in prize-money to placed owners in non-Pattern races, increasing median earnings by 12.5%. Trainers will also see median earnings in non-Pattern races increasing by up to 9%. Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of

the ROA, said: “Prize-money is a huge, long-term challenge for owners and racing. These changes are being made following feedback and consultation with owners. “With the impact of Covid on racing, the ROA is working hard with industry colleagues to retain and attract owners, and improving prize-money distribution is a key part of that. “Prize-money distribution has always been a frustration for owners, whether it was the complexity of the system or the levels generally. The changes deliver what owners want: simplicity and fairness. Put simply, more owners can access a larger share of the prizemoney now. This improves earnings across the sport and enhances funding to the middle and lower tiers.”

Beck Edmunds named Employee of the Year The Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards 2021 was held as a virtual ceremony in February owing to Covid-19 restrictions and the winner of the coveted Employee of the Year accolade was Rebecca ‘Beck’ Edmunds of Bryan Smart Racing. Edmunds received £10,000 for herself and a further £10,000 to be shared among her colleagues at Smart’s stable, as well as the perpetual Godolphin Trophy. She also claimed the Leadership Award, which itself carried prize-money of £5,000 for the winner and the same amount to be shared among their colleagues, which means Edmunds and the Smart team each walked away with £15,000. Head girl to trainer Smart, Edmunds has worked at the yard near Thirsk for 17 years and was nominated by her boss in light of what he described as her “exceptional knowledge, unwavering

racing over the past few months has had a positive impact on the mental health of the sport’s fans during a most difficult year, so it is right that we acknowledge the sacrifices made by racing staff to make this possible. These dedicated and talented people have worked hard throughout to provide world-class care to our horses, ensuring they are fit and ready to perform at the highest level for our entertainment.” Beck Edmunds with her trophy

dedication and loyalty”. He also cited her attention to detail when working with horses or humans. Nick Luck, Chair of the judging panel, said: “Beck is a most deserving winner of the Employee of the Year Award and all of her colleagues at Bryan Smart Racing should rightly feel very proud. “We know that the continuation of

2021 Roll of Honour Employee of the Year and Leadership: Rebecca ‘Beck’ Edmunds – Bryan Smart Newcomer: Alice Price – Ben Pauling Rider/Groom: Joanna Lacisz – Sir Michael Stoute Stud Staff: Elody Swann – Newsells Park Stud Dedication: Joline Saunders – Richard Phillips




Racing’s news in a nutshell

People and business Rob James

Irish amateur jockey banned for 12 months, with eight months suspended, after footage is circulated of him sitting on a dead horse.

Adrian McCarthy

Jockey, 42, banned for six months after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine at Chelmsford in October.

Chris Cook

Award-winning racing journalist joins the Racing Post team after 15 years with The Guardian.

Darryll Holland

Former jockey embarks on a training career at his 50-box Harraton Court Stables in Exning, Newmarket, with Kieren Fallon as his assistant.

Brian Kavanagh

Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland will step down in September after 20 years in the role.

Charity partner of this year’s Cheltenham Festival raises almost £200,000 in donations following the successful collaboration.

New era starts at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket as five-times champion trainer moves to operate under a joint licence with his son.

Cheveley Park Stud

Removes eight horses from Cullentra House, including Envoi Allen and Sir Gerhard, after Gordon Elliott has his licence removed.

Denise Foster

Takes over the licence at Cullentra House after Gordon Elliott is handed a six-month ban for bringing racing into disrepute.

Tom Taaffe

County Kildare trainer who enjoyed Cheltenham Gold Cup glory with Kicking King in 2005 calls time on his 27-year career.

ITV Racing

Just under two million viewers tune in to watch Minella Indo win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a record for the channel.

People obituaries Tom Foley 74

Sent out the brilliant Danoli to win 17 races including two Aintree Hurdles and the Irish Gold Cup.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum 75

Leading owner and breeder whose list of champions includes the likes of Nashwan, Salsabil, Dayjur and Battaash.


Trainer to relinquish his licence after 28 years having enjoyed success with high-class performers Celibate and Moon Over Miami.


John and Thady Gosden


Charlie Mann

Chester Barnes 74

Former table tennis champion who was assistant to Martin Pipe during the trainer’s 15 title-winning campaigns.

Reg Bond 77

Yorkshire-based owner-breeder whose black and yellow silks were carried by the likes of Monsieur Bond, Misu Bond and Ladies Are Forever.

Rebecca Bastiman 40

Trainer who sent out more than 100 winners after taking over from her father Robin in 2015 dies after a long illness.

An eye for success

visit studlife online:

April 2021

ZOUS STAR, KAMEKO SHINES The progeny of Tweenhills stallion Zoustar produced another set of stunning results on the first weekend in March, including the international sire sensation’s second 1-2 in a Gr.1. Zoustar’s sons Zoutori and Indian Pacific fought out the Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap, while his two-year-olds Lightsaber and Glistening won Gr.2s. Gr.2-winning Zoustar mare Mizzy added a second place in the Gr.1 Canterbury Stakes to her CV, while

STAFF PROFILE Lawrence Jordan Stud Hand

How it started... I’m a local lad to Tweenhills as I grew up in Herefordshire and have been around horses from day one. I was a work rider for such as Venetia Williams, Tom Lacey, Tom Symonds and Ed de Giles before I joined Tweenhills in early-January 2021. I was lucky enough to have spins on Royal Pagaille and Song For Someone on the gallops. How is Tweenhills life? I have done a bit of everything already – including walking stallions and helping at the foaling unit. It’s all completely new to me and Iearning about the covering process has been fascinating. Being close to the stallions is great as they have big personalities, though mares Bebeautiful and Con Te Partiro are two of my favourites – they are nice characters to be around and were very good racehorses too. Away from horses.. I was on the GB Start rowing team until 2018, winning the National Championships, until A-levels got in the way! I got back into running recently and have been joined by a few of the boys from the yard – Xander, Ivo and Charles…we could do with David getting involved as we need a pacemaker!

juvenile Solar Winds was runner-up in a Gr.3 on debut. Sisstar broke the 955m track record at Moonee Valley! In other news, Kameko has settled into stallion duties extremely well. As of March 23, he had covered 55 high-quality mares, showing excellent fertility. Stud Manager Pieter Van Zyl said: “He’s a very fertile horse, getting most of his mares in foal first cover, which makes our life very easy!” A pair of Zou-stars! Zoutori beats Indian Pacific

FESTIVAL FUN The winner of the Tweenhills Cheltenham Festival Tipping Competition was Stud Secretary Karen Holmes whose +£36.23 profit to a £1 level stake in all races across the four days was incredible, especially given some her selections were made before declarations!

A lice with her bo

y Edwardstone...

GO EDDY! It was also an exhilarating Cheltenham for Alice Thurtle (Nominations and Marketing) as her family bred and part-own Edwardstone, who bettered his sixth in the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by finishing fifth in the County Hurdle. Karen flashes the cash!


We are pleased to announce that all money raised by the Tweenhills Angus Burger and Tweenhills Coffee vans at the Tattersalls December Foal and Mare Sales has been donated to Racing Welfare.

The vans proved extremely popular and all £9,865.65 raised has gone to Racing Welfare, which supports all of racing’s people – including stud staff – from recruitment to retirement. David Redvers said: “We are delighted to be able to support Racing Welfare in these incredibly challenging times and wish to thank everyone for their custom. Tweenhills Angus Beef is produced from the grass-fed herd of cattle reared at Tweenhills alongside the stallions, mares and foals.”

Tweenhills, Hartpury, Gloucestershire, GL19 3BG W: T: + 44 (0) 1452 700177 M: + 44 (0) 7767 436373 E:


Racehorse and stallion

Movements and retirements Ghaiyyath

Sam Spinner

Happy Diva

Perfect Candidate

Godolphin’s champion middle-distance performer will join Pinatubo in shuttling to Australia.

Talented mare for trainer Kerry Lee, winner of seven races including the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup, is retired aged ten.

High-class hurdler and chaser for the Jedd O’Keeffe stable, winner of the 2017 Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle, is retired aged nine.

Popular staying chaser for the Fergal O’Brien stable, winner of nine races including a Grade 3 at Cheltenham, is retired aged 14.


Formidable hurdler/chaser in his prime, winner of five Grade 1s for owners John and Heather Snook and trainer Colin Tizzard, including the 2016 King George VI Chase.

Guitar Pete

Dual Grade 1-winning juvenile hurdler, latterly based with Nicky Richards for whom he won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, is retired aged 11.


Classy hurdling mare, winner of three Listed races for the Willie Mullins stable, is retired to the paddocks aged seven.

Horse obituaries Balanchine 30

Godolphin’s first Classic winner completed the Epsom-Irish Oaks double in 1994 under Frankie Dettori.

Cockney Rebel 17

Secured the English-Irish 2,000 Guineas double in 2007 for owner Phil Cunningham and trainer Geoff Huffer.


Agrippina 24

Listed-winning daughter of Timeless Times is the dam of six winners including black-type producers Cartimandua and Terentia.

Kind 20

Daughter of Danehill who will be remembered as the dam of superstar Frankel and his full brother Noble Mission for her owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah.

S TA N D I N G AT P E E L H A L L , C H E S H I R E 14



Winner of 14 of 18 Jumps Races

60% winners to runners

Impressive 18% strike rate


Frammassone was a Triple Grade 1 Winning Hurdler

So far he has produced 10 runners on the track, 6 individual winners, four multiple winners He has had winners at CHELTENHAM and PUNCHESTOWN

Progeny have sold for: €170,000, £50,000, £48,000

Will Kinsey | 07803753719

MC002_Potrait_Ad.indd 1

Marcus Collie | 07855169249

26/03/2021 15:22

The Big Picture


Cheltenham Festival

A very different Festival The 2021 Cheltenham Festival was a very different animal, taking place under lockdown restrictions and without the spectators that usually descend on the Gloucestershire venue in their thousands during the most famous week in jump racing. In this picture, taken from Cleeve Hill, the leaders can be seen heading towards the final fence in the Gold Cup, which saw Minella Indo defeat stablemate A Plus Tard, with just a few individuals watching on from the empty stands and concourse. Photo George Selwyn


The Big Picture


Cheltenham Festival

Sweet victory for perfect partners Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore had never been defeated as a partnership coming into this year’s Cheltenham Festival, their winning run standing at ten races. That sequence was extended to 11 with a quite brilliant success in the Unibet Champion Hurdle. In truth the result never looked in doubt, as Honeysuckle travelled easily on the quicker ground, jumping accurately and fluently. The British-bred daughter of Sulamani, trained by Henry de Bromhead for Kenny Alexander, flew the last flight and galloped on strongly up the hill to score by six and a half lengths from Sharjah, with 2020 heroine Epatante three lengths back in third. Photo Bill Selwyn


The Big Picture


Cheltenham Festival

Six of the best for brilliant Blackmore Broadcasters and commentators had run out of superlatives to describe Rachael Blackmore by the time the Cheltenham Festival was over. The 31-year-old partnered six winners over the four days to take the leading jockey title, the first time it had been claimed by a woman. Her successful sextet were (clockwise from top) Quilixios (JCB Triumph Hurdle), Sir Gerhard (Weatherbys Champion Bumper), Telmesomethinggirl (Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle), Allaho (Ryanair Chase), Bob Olinger (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle) and Honeysuckle (Unibet Champion Hurdle). Photos George Selwyn and Bill Selwyn


The Big Picture


Cheltenham Festival

Home defence Ireland dominated proceedings at this year’s Festival, notching 23 winners from 28 races. Two of the home-based performers to get on the Grade 1 roll of honour were sent out by Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville. Joe Donnelly’s Shishkin (main image) produced a fine round of jumping in the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, while JP McManus’ Chantry House (right) took advantage of Envoi Allen’s fall in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Photos George Selwyn and Bill Selwyn


The Big Picture

Kettle too hot Tough-as-teak mare Put The Kettle On (left) was not for passing in the Queen Mother Champion Chase under Aidan Coleman. The daughter of Stowaway, trained by Henry de Bromhead for the One For Luck Racing Syndicate, stayed on in determined fashion to deny the fastfinishing Nube Negra by half a length as hot favourite Chacun Pour Soi could only finish third in the two-mile contest. Photos George Selwyn and Bill Selwyn


Cheltenham Festival

Above: the Gavin Cromwelltrained Flooring Porter produced a fine front-running performance under super sub Danny Mullins in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle; Below: Will Biddick and Lorcan Williams combined for Porlock Bay’s St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase triumph; Bottom left: Appreciate It proved different class in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle



The Big Picture

Henry’s heroes Henry de Bromhead (below) enjoyed an outstanding Cheltenham Festival, sending out six winners over the week. His two runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup had the race between them in the latter stages and it was Minella Indo under 21-year-old Jack Kennedy (right) that stayed on strongest to defeat stable companion A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore by a length and a quarter. Al Boum Photo, the Gold Cup victor in 2019 and 2020, was back in third. Photos George Selwyn and Bill Selwyn


Cheltenham Festival


The Howard Wright Column

Foundations in place for future support network The sport’s workforce has had access to unrivalled support during the pandemic



hen the coronavirus pandemic calms right down and life gets back to something resembling what it was the year before last, one thing will be clear. British horseracing as a collective will deserve high marks for the attention it has demonstrated towards welfare while Covid-19 caught hold. Individual organisations have gone above and beyond normal expectations. No other sport has been as well served as ours has through Racing Welfare and the Injured Jockeys Fund, as well as the trade bodies for jockeys and stable staff. Much of the admirable effort has been bound together by financial assistance from the Racing Foundation, an under-acknowledged body

Jockey Club hiding behind data rules Where is Father Brown or Shakespeare & Hathaway when you need them? The midweek-afternoon detectives from BBC TV, who offer an occasional, passing antidote to mundane fare on the two racing channels, would have solved The Curious Case of the Missing Jockey Club members in less than their allotted hour. Ascertaining whether a certain person was a member of the body whose title must rank as the biggest misnomer in sport proved a tortuous and unavailing endeavour. The Jockey Club’s difficult-to-navigate website happily identifies this year’s Friday evening headline acts at Newmarket but not the 168 elected and 24 honorary members who ultimately hold its existence in their voting hands. Members used to be individually named in the Club’s annual report but that stopped in 2018, a year before the printed version was scrapped as the first digital-only publication appeared. The website, which I am informed is the responsibility of the marketing team, not communications, is almost totally bereft of detailed information about the people who run the central organisation and its subsidiaries. Click on ‘Our Board’ at the bottom of the home page, and there is no reference at all to the board. Click on ‘Our Structure, meet the team’, and there is no mention of ‘the team’. Click on ‘About Us, find out who we are,’ and up pops a woolly, woefully inadequate page headed ‘Who We Are.’ If only. A 2020 edition of the annual report did not appear at all, a victim, it seems, of Covid-19, although why that should be is not immediately obvious. Jockey Club staff have undergone stiff pruning, mainly


affecting its racecourses, which has not been publicly acknowledged in numbers and will leave interested observers guessing as to who might still be in place as managers when they are allowed back on track. Maybe a combination of furlough and redundancies affected compilation of the annual report, beyond the statutory publication of financial results. However, the total disappearance of members’ details comes into a different category, and, according to the Jockey Club’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, is all down to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679, behind which such as the MCC, All England Lawn Tennis Club and Royal & Ancient also bury the identification of members’ names. GDPR came into force in May 2018, is not affected by Brexit, and covers collection of personal data including name, address, credit card number and more, stored by organisations. Hence such a simple service as identification of acknowledged Jockey Club membership is hidden from view, even though long-winded compilation of the record is possible by finding the last published list, taking out members who have died and adding those elected in the meantime. Does it matter that the names of members have disappeared, beyond those of current stewards and individual racecourse committees, which can be unearthed through a tricky trawl of the website? I’d say it does. Together, they are responsible for a commercial body with an annual turnover of more than £216m, and which impacts daily on the lives of so many people, who deserve a greater degree of transparency, let alone access to a more customer-friendly website.

“Nowhere is the need for a sound welfare foundation more evident than at the point where newcomers enter the workforce” illustrated by the following statistics: 40% have received counselling or had a support worker; 30% have a self-stated learning difficulty; 27% consider they have a mental health problem; 13% did not complete school; 12% have an Education, Health & Care Plan; 9% were in care, fostered or adopted.” The report adds: “The extent of disadvantage among learners entering the College has increased, but dedicated staff continue to enable students to improve achievements and progressions.” Bearing out this assertion, the retention rate for all age groups on the College’s foundation course was 93%, the highest for at least a decade. Drilling down farther, the report states: “Functional English (72.9%) and mathematics (81.0%) results are good, considering the starting point of learners, while GCSE achievement rates are English 100% and mathematics 60%, albeit from very small numbers.” Few, if any, other sporting activities will support a workforce with the kind of credentials outlined in the NHC report. It has to be acknowledged that for every two Pony Club members and horse-mad youngsters coming into the sport, there is one more who brings along personal issues that have to be catered for. The latter’s attraction is a reflection of the opportunities on offer, but they also illustrate the demands placed on welfare provision if British racing is to continue to hold its head high.

established in 2012 to receive £78m from the government as racing’s share of the Tote sale proceeds. Not everyone will agree with every project that the Foundation has backed, but no-one can crab overall spending of £23m since inception, while its keeping pace with inflation to build a net fund of £88m for future programmes has been a worthy achievement. Since 2018, when the Foundation’s support has totaled more than £14m, one of four major grants was £3.9m over three years to Racing Welfare to improve occupational health services for racing staff. The need for and value of this service has been amply borne out during the pandemic. However, when normality does return to the sport, the necessity of continuing with support of welfare will be just as obvious, perhaps even more so, given that the circumstances of the last year have encouraged more people in the industry to reach out for help. Nowhere is the need for a sound welfare foundation more evident than at the grassroots, and at the point where newcomers enter the workforce. Some telling data, which might not have surfaced before, has been published in the annual report compiled for trustees of the National Horseracing College – of which I must declare an interest as one of them – for the year ended July 31, 2020. The report notes: “The challenges for 2019-20 cohorts are


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THE OWNER BREEDER 35 Pub_Muco_NLook_Ang_88x265.indd 1

15/03/21 09:30

The Big Interview

Spring in his


With a mixture of established stars and exciting youngsters to look forward to, Charlie Hills feels energised by the new turf season as he looks to put the problems caused by the pandemic behind him and build on his training achievements over the last decade Words: Julian Muscat • Photos: George Selwyn and Edward Whitaker


t is all too easy to jump the gun, especially when the route out of lockdown was outlined by Downing Street in a week of balmy late-February sunshine. Spring was nigh, and with it, the dawn of a new Flat turf season. It was time to rejoice. Or at least, that was the pretext of a visit to Charlie Hills. Come the appointed morning and the first task ahead of the drive to Lambourn was to clear the car of snow. So much for bidding farewell to the depths of winter. And yet, and yet. On reaching Faringdon Place the springtime theme was manifest in a batch of two-yearolds. Simultaneously inquisitive and apprehensive, they pranced on tiptoes around the indoor school, setting one another off like a shoal of synchronised swimmers. In their wide-eyed expression was the essence of a new dawn. Two-year-olds are dream factories: for owners who bought them, for stable staff who attend them, and for trainers like Hills who yearns for another Battaash. And there was optimism on other fronts. The slowing of the Covid tide promoted a feeling that the worst had come and gone. Owners frozen out of racecourses since January would soon be back on track. All of the above is manifest in Hills’ demeanour as the two-year-olds circle around him. He identifies each one as they pass him. His own sense


of optimism is evident in his asides. “There’s a colt by Highland Reel; I think he’ll do well as a sire.” And “That’s a filly by No Nay Never; let’s hope she’s as fast as him.” A positive vibe also emanates from his staff. The shift away from the allweather winter rounds to the turf is a rite of passage still enacted in this corner of Lambourn. “We are never busy on the all-weather,” Hills says. “Quite a few of our owners prefer to

“We have been trying to bring in younger British owners but it’s hard” see their horses winning on grass, so the traditional start to the season still means something here.” Hills, 42, is embarking on his eleventh season from a stable established by his father Barry, who trained more than 3,000 winners before he retired in 2011. Barry left big shoes to fill but his son has not shirked the challenge. Charlie has won two Irish Classics

with Just The Judge and Phoenix Of Spain, and trained a pair of champion sprinters in Muhaarar and Battaash. His resume would have run deeper but for the cruel fate met by Chriselliam, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf heroine who succumbed to a bacterial infection soon after. Her memory is perpetuated by the garland wreath she wore as she entered the winner’s circle at Santa Anita, which hangs from a wall in the barn. Nor did Hills have a silver spoon thrust into his young mouth. He started as a salaried employee within a business run by his father, and remains one to this day. In the intervening ten years his desire to manage his own affairs has grown stronger, although he will have to buy the 185-box property to take sole charge. As things stand any spare cash at the end of each year is swallowed up by school fees for his two sons, James and Eddie. Indeed, the only thing Hills inherited when he started was his father’s owners. Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, the mainstay of the stable with 35 horses in Hills’ care, sadly passed away in March. The sheikh enjoyed rich pickings from Faringdon Place and the complement has been returned with two of the gallops on Hills’ private training grounds, spread over 180 adjacent acres, named after Haafhd and Muhaarar. His death aged 75 has hit the Hills family hard.


Charlie Hills

Charlie Hills starts the 2021 turf season with a team of around 120 horses at his Lambourn stable, which is sponsored by Stonegate Homes


The Big Interview ››

“Sheikh Hamdan has been a constant presence in my life and his death is very sad news,” Hills says. “He’s been a big supporter of mine since I took over from my father and we shared a lot of success together with some amazing horses. “He was a very loyal man and had a lot of patience, which gives you great confidence as a trainer to let the horses mature as they should do. He was very firm and ambitious, had high standards and wanted to achieve the best results. “It was a great privilege to train for him. This is usually the time of year he returns from Dubai to inspect all his horses. It’s terribly sad to think I won’t see him again.” The importance of Sheikh Hamdan’s patronage is evident within Hills’ aspirations for the year ahead. Battaash returns for more this season while Mujbar is the stable’s hope for the 2,000 Guineas, having closed his juvenile campaign by winning the Horris Hill Stakes. “We’ll take him to one of the trials, possibly the Free Handicap,” Hills says. “His best form is on softish ground. We’ve always liked him, and a lot of Muhaarars seem to improve with age.” Two unexposed three-year-olds also belonging to the late sheikh are high in their trainer’s estimation. Mutasaabeq, a colt by Invincible Spirit out of Ghanaati, was too immature mentally for more than his solitary outing at Newmarket, which he won decisively over seven furlongs. He will start in a novices’ race before his sights are raised. “And there’s Tanmawwy, who won on his debut at Haydock,” Hills says. “He hasn’t been the soundest but if we can get him right he could be something special.” Hills starts the campaign with around 120 horses, a string similar in size to 2020. Some of his owners opted out of the autumnal yearling sales but are now sufficiently encouraged by Covid’s regression to engage at the imminent breeze-ups. Encouragingly, and perhaps surprisingly, the ship has been stabilised by an unlikely source. “We have some new British owners


here,” Hills says. “It’s encouraging, because it hasn’t been easy selling on the yearlings without potential owners being able to come down and see them. We have owners who enjoy coming to watch their horses on the gallops as much as they enjoy going racing. “From that perspective last year was a struggle,” Hills continues. “The owners got a bit fed up, everyone did, but they were very patient. I was fortunate to inherit a good few of dad’s owners, some of which were Arabs who aren’t getting any younger. We’ve been trying to bring in younger, ambitious, British owners, but it’s hard. People don’t tend to have funds to spare until their children finish their education.” This is a problem blighting

Charlie Hills

Last year’s King’s Stand Stakes one-two Battaash (blue/white) and Equilateral (pink cap) will bid for more sprinting glory for the Hills stable this year

British racing as a whole. “There is no magic formula because it’s the same old story,” Hills says. “Prize-money levels really put them off. That’s why the various bonus schemes are so important, especially the Great British Bonus [for GB-bred fillies and mares, which can reward connections with an extra £20,000 on top of the winner’s purse]. I look out for those races in the programme book all the time.” Brexit, too, has taken a toll. “It created a lot of uncertainty for some of our owners,” Hills says. “Chris Wright has been a big supporter but he is sending horses over to race in France. It’s demoralising. We can’t afford to lose people like him to other nations. Especially when so much about British racing is up there or even better than what other countries have to offer.”

The only consolation is that the same constraints apply to every other trainer not fully attached to the middleeastern umbilical cord. And as Hills acknowledges, the Covid interruption could have been a lot worse. “When the [first] lockdown happened in March last year the bulk of the horses were here in the yard,” he says. “When racing stopped we were able to carry on doing our normal job, but had the lockdown happened in November half of the horses would have been out of the yard. We were fortunate there.” The morning routine continued during lockdown but Hills put to good use idle afternoons that would normally have seen him go racing. More than 20 new cookbooks in the kitchen attest to his new-found hobby, together with

a drawer overladen with Indian spices. Mary Berry has a new devotee. Nothing culinary is off-limits; no dish too complex. Hills still cooks for the family most evenings: anything from salads to French cuisine, with something like orange drizzle cake to follow. He has improved apace from his early efforts, which were compromised when he returned from last year’s Cheltenham Festival with coronavirus. To the dismay of his two young sons, and a little consternation from his wife Philippa, his supressed sense of smell and taste saw him seriously over-spice his curries. Needless to say, when his father gleaned of his new calling, he put his son to the test. “I had to cook a whole tongue which Dad got sent down from London,” Hills says. “It



The Big Interview

Charlie Hills

Charlie Hills took over from his father Barry at Faringdon Place in 2011

‘It’s not always good to start out with a big string’ August will mark the tenth anniversary of Charlie Hills taking over from his father, Barry, at Faringdon Place stables. How does the master assess his apprentice? “When Charlie started, the idea was that he would do better than me and I think he is on track,” Hills says. “He has made as good a start as any of the big trainers with the possible exception of Charlie Appleby, who took over a very strong string for Sheikh Mohammed.” With hindsight, Hills wonders whether the handover saw Charlie take on too many horses for one of his relative inexperience. “It’s not always a good thing to have a big string when you start out,” he says. “You need time to bed down and get the feel of it. “When you look at the likes of William Haggas, it took him a long time to build up his string to where it is today. When you start you have all the energy but very little experience. Then you have a period of ten to 15 years

›› wasn’t straightforward: I had to soak

it overnight, boil it for three hours and then rip the skin off it. It was amazingly tender, though – and Dad enjoyed it.” But that’s not all. With supper in the oven, Hills turns his attention to painting for an hour. It’s an oil-paintingby-number hobby which helps to pass the time constructively. “You start by following the instructions but after a glass of red you start choosing your own colours,” he says. Hills still exudes a youthful optimism even though he has been at Faringdon Place for 18 years – the last ten of them in the hot seat. That decade has raced by. “It’s true what they say: you learn something new every day,” he says. “It’s a tough game, very competitive, with a lot of new young trainers coming


where you have a bit of both and then you lose the energy.” The bedrock of any successful stable is its band of owners. Hills acknowledges the difficulty in recruiting them, particularly over the last 12 months. “Most of the Arabs have their horses in Newmarket,” he noted, “and you meet a lot of owners on the racecourse, which has been impossible. “Charlie’s numbers are down from four years ago, when he had 160 in training. I think everybody’s numbers are down to some degree, but it could have been worse. By and large owners have been good about it, and I think there will be a bit of a boom when this Covid thing is over. People will want to have some fun.” While the owner demographic may change, the challenge confronting trainers remains exactly the same. “You have to keep your head down, keep your standards up and work hard,” Hills said. “There is no substitute for it.”

through each year. It seems like only yesterday when I was fashionable for being the new young trainer, when everyone wants to support you. But I’ve certainly noticed I’m no longer in that category. I’m no longer flavour of the month.” He has also come to realise how much about training racehorses is a team game. “It’s about the people around you,” he says. “Philippa has been great in helping to manage the staff, many of which have been here for a long time. And Dad running the business side of things leaves me free to concentrate on getting results.” On that score, Hills is emboldened by the prospect of the imminent turf season. Most of his top earners from 2020 are back in training, among them

star sprinters Battaash and Equilateral and Group 3-winning miler Tilsit. And he will not be alone in bidding good riddance to last year’s truncated campaign, with its Covid-induced uncertainties and the soullessness of empty racecourses. Battaash’s mid-March return to Faringdon Place from his winter break has come to signify the starting gun. The natural electricity he emits courses through the yard, serving to remind that the turf resumption is imminent. And of course, there are those untested two-year-olds waiting in the wings. “It’s a wonderful time of year,” Hills says. “A bit of sunshine soon puts a spring in the staff’s step.” Perhaps more so this year than any other in recent memory.


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Robson Aguiar


Robson Aguiar has built an enviable reputation as a source of high-profile runners from his base near Mullingar

Robson Aguiar began breezing two-year-olds with just a handful of horses to sell. Now, thanks to some excellent results, he heads into this spring with his largest draft to date Words: James Thomas of the Racing Post


season for Aguiar, with The Lir Jet, a son of Prince Of Lir pinhooked for just £8,000, winning the Norfolk Stakes for Michael Bell and Qatar Racing, and Star Of Emaraaty, a €3,500 Pride Of Dubai filly, landing the Sweet Solera Stakes for Kevin Ryan and the Ontoawinner syndicate. Since sold to Teruya Yoshida and transferred to John Gosden, Star Of Emaraaty holds an entry in next month’s 1,000 Guineas. Aguiar was also responsible for producing last year’s Gimcrack runner-up and Dewhurst fourth Devilwala as well as the Listed-placed Queen Of Rio. This year he has his biggest draft of breezers to date. “I started with two or three each year and did well, and when you start to do


here are roughly 5,815 miles between the bustling Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo and the market town of Mullingar in County Westmeath, Ireland. However, despite being a world apart, a grounding in the former has helped build a bright future in the latter for one of the breezeup industry’s most upwardly mobile practitioners, Robson Aguiar. Although the 39-year-old has been trading under the Aguiar Bloodstock banner only since 2019, he has already amassed an eye-catching roll of honour, having produced stakes-calibre graduates like Group 3 scorer Queen Jo Jo, Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy winner Summer Sands and the classy Dubai Dominion. Last year proved to be a breakthrough

The Lir Jet: Norfolk Stakes winner was pinhooked for £8,000 as a yearling by Robson Aguiar


“xxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxx”

well in the horse business you need to increase your numbers,” says Aguiar. “I love what I do and I want to produce good horses. I work hard because I want to be good at what I do, I don’t just want to be one more breeze-up consignor.” Preparing and selling a slew of talented performers has not been Aguiar’s first brush with success in the thoroughbred world, however, having enjoyed a fruitful time in the saddle in his younger days in Brazil. His journey began alongside two of the world’s most high-profile riders. “I went to the Sao Paulo racing school when I was 16,” says Aguiar with an unmistakable South American twang. “I was there at the same time as Silvestre de Sousa and Joao Moreira, and after that I was an apprentice in Sao Paulo before moving to Rio a year later. I had a lot of winners, 220 in five years.” Despite his burgeoning riding record in Brazil, a combination of economics and biology prompted Aguiar to take a bold decision, and in 2006 he uprooted and headed for Ireland. “Silvestre came first and a few other lads followed in 2003,” says Aguiar. “They said you can make the same money riding



“I love what I do, I don’t just want to be one more breezeup consignor”

out in Ireland as if you are a jockey in Brazil and there’s no need to lose weight. I thought that sounded good as they run light weights in Brazil, the racing is very competitive and I was finding it hard to keep losing weight.” Upon his arrival he found work with trainer Paul Deegan, with whom he spent three years. Aguiar continued to hold a jockey’s licence but was unable to replicate the success he had enjoyed in his home country, boasting just a brace of victories at Dundalk, the first aboard Shes Ranger in 2016 and the most recent on Ascot Dreamer in December 2019, from a relatively limited number of rides. After his time with Deegan, Aguiar joined the all-conquering team at Ballydoyle, where he spent a formative five-year stint absorbing as much as he could of Aidan O’Brien’s masterful training regime, while observing first hand the



Robson Aguiar “Being in Ballydoyle was a very good experience,” says Aguiar. “You learn a lot there with Aidan and I had a very good time. There are so many good horses and facilities, I used to ride Excelebration, Camelot and Magician. Every day with horses you learn and I paid a lot of attention when I was there, and now I use what I learned for myself. “They probably have 150 yearlings coming in every year and I rode them when they were being broken. You see how they move and how they feel; you can really learn what a good horse feels like there.” Aguiar first ventured into the breezeup market by trading a handful of his own horses consigned through other outfits, but it was while working at Ballydoyle that he made an important connection with Roger O’Callaghan of Tally-Ho Stud that set in motion the next chapter of his career. As well as standing high-achieving stallions such as Kodiac and Mehmas and breeding Group 1 winners like Sky Lantern and Campanelle, the O’Callaghans are also past masters of the breeze-up


›› characteristics of the elite equine athlete.

Aguiar has a group of 40 breezers to showcase at this year’s breeze-up sales

business, having produced a significant list of talents that includes names like Dream Ahead and La Pelosa. “I got friendly with Roger and told him I wanted to do something myself and he said he would help me,” says Aguiar, who remains a key cog in Tally-Ho’s breeze-up

“The one that jumps out is Ulysses” “I have four Ardads, I think he will be a good stallion. He’s by Kodiac and I actually broke him in before breezing him in Doncaster for Tally-Ho. His progeny are like him; they’re strong, fast and they want to work. I like them a lot. “I have a few by Cotai Glory, they go well. The Profitables I have go well too and I have a few nice ones by Galileo Gold – I like them. I mix it up with the stallions and have a nice bunch this year.” Robson Aguiar “We have a Ribchester filly that we really like. She was a lovely yearling and she’s really grown and

stretched out since then. She looks smart.” John Cullinan, Church Farm and Horse Park Studs “The one that jumps out is Ulysses. I have two by him, both bred to go over a bit of ground but both are quick. The other one that I’d say is a sleeper is Highland Reel. I wasn’t looking for a Highland Reel or Ulysses at the yearling sales but they got on the list. I think Highland Reel is underestimated - he was a very good two-yearold and was sound and kept running. I also have a Churchill that I love, the word on them seems to be very good, and a Caravaggio that I like.” Johnny Hassett, The Bloodstock Connection


Johnny Hassett: likes Ulysses and Highland Reel


machine. “If you work in Ballydoyle you don’t have time to do much outside of work so I started working the mornings for Roger and doing my own thing in the afternoons. “He helped me a lot when I started and is still helping me now. I’ve helped him too and we’ve done well together, Tally-Ho do a very good job. Tony O’Callaghan is a very hard worker, and with Henry, Roger and Anne they all work hard as a family. They never miss a day’s work.” The fruits of Aguiar’s own hard work, both at the sales and at home, have since been borne out on the racecourse, with a string of bargain buys transformed into high-class runners. Summer Sands, an £85,000 two-year-old who resold for 625,000gns at the horses in training sales, was picked up for just £2,000, Queen Jo Jo was sourced for £11,000 while the classy Queen Of Rio cost a mere €1,000. “Most of the time I look at every yearling in a sale because I cannot afford to pay for horses with big pedigrees,” Aguiar says of his modus operandi at public auction. “But it’s not the pedigree that runs, it’s the horse that runs, so I look at the individual first and then I see the pedigree. If you have pedigree but no horse, that’s not going to work. If you have both that’s a help, but sometimes you have to compromise and I would prefer to have the horse rather than the pedigree. “I like stronger horses with good bone, ideally a correct horse but sometimes you give one a chance with a fault. If you buy a lot of horses every year, you can’t always find the perfect individual. If they have a good action when they walk, good bone and are big and strong, that’s what I want to see in a racehorse.”


Such consistent results have not gone unnoticed, with Amo Racing, the banner under which prominent football agent Kia Joorabchian races a rapidly expanding string, having added Aguiar to their team in 2020. As well as helping select stock at the sales, Aguiar has spent the winter months pre-training around 15 of Amo’s new recruits. Explaining how the association began, Aguiar says: “I met Kia, who’s lived in Brazil before as well, and we became friends. He was asking me about horses at the sales and I recommended Devilwala. He used to work with The Lir Jet so I said to Kia that I thought he was a good horse and that he should buy him. After that he asked me to help him to buy horses and to break and pre-train for him. “It’s good to be involved with someone like him because he loves his horses. I tried to find the best horse I can for him and I hope they have success because he loves his racing. He’s helping me and I hope I can help him to have more success.”

Summer Romance: breeze-up graduate has enjoyed a productive season in Dubai

Breezers continue to shine in Dubai

Having made his name by finding major talents at chicken feed prices, Aguiar’s association with Amo Racing afforded him the opportunity to play at the other end of the market during last year’s sales season. His eye-catching acquisitions made on Joorabchian’s behalf include the £190,000 brother to last year’s Round Tower Stakes winner New Treasure and colts by Wootton Bassett (260,000gns), Kingman (300,000gns) and Kodiac (420,000gns). “I think Amo Racing will have a lot of success this year,” he says. “Out of all the ones I’m pre-training, I’m not disappointed with one of them. The Wootton Bassett is a really nice horse and goes to Michael Bell, and the Kingman may not be a fiveor six-furlong horse but I think he’ll be a very good horse in time. “There is also an Invincible Spirit filly going to Ralph Beckett and a Kodiac colt. I’ve never seen a Kodiac like him - he caught my eye in the sales, he’s big and strong, and will be a very nice horse.” As well as pre-training the Amo Racing


“Covid stopped racing and sales but a good horse still sold well”

The array of successful breeze-up graduates is a versatile one, with current examples ranging from the high-class speedsters A’Ali, The Lir Jet and Ubettabelieveit to the stayers Trueshan and Red Verdon, writes Nancy Sexton. The list is also international, as illustrated by the likes of War Of Will, the 2019 Preakness Stakes hero who now stands at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, and Australian Group 1 performers Gallic Chieftain and Big Duke. Of particular note is the depth of success enjoyed by European breezers in Dubai. A good proportion arrive with a grounding in Europe behind them - think 2019 Dubai World Cup runner-up Gronkowski, Group 2-winning sprinter Waady and recent Group 3 winners Midnight Sands and Al Tariq. Others, however, are purchased straight out of the breeze-ups with a career in Dubai in mind. Regardless of the path taken, Dubai’s racing scene is littered with breeze-up talent. Recent weeks have featured high-profile wins from Arqana breezers such as Summer Romance, a former member of Willie Browne’s Mocklershill academy who struck in the Group 2 Balanchine Stakes for Godolphin, and Brown Island Stables graduate Midnight Sands, the recent wide-margin winner of the Group 3 Burj Nahaar for Doug Watson. With that victory still fresh in the mind, the six-time winner was a leading


fancy for the Godolphin Mile as this magazine went to press. Another former Brown Island inmate, Shanaghai City, has also won three times this season at Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi for Rashed Bouresly. Both Midnight Sands and Shanaghai City have found their niche on dirt as befits a pair of American-breds. The idea of sourcing such animals for Dubai is a logical one given the country’s strong ties to dirt racing and is eased by the fact that a number of pinhookers raid the Kentucky yearling sales each year, meaning that breeze-up catalogues are never short of opportunity to acquire potential dirt runners. Inevitably, a number wind up in Dubai and on occasions with excellent results; for Rabbah Bloodstock, such a buying approach has yielded the likes of Down On Da Bayou, a daughter of Super Saver sold by Tally-Ho Stud who ran away with last year’s UAE Oaks, and the lightly-raced Blame colt Hurry Up, a graduate of Longways Stables who has won his last two starts by close to eight lengths. There naturally remains trepidation among the breeze-up community ahead of this year’s sales season, to be once again staged against a pandemic backdrop. But heart can be taken from the bold showing of breezers worldwide, in particular Dubai. With that in mind, it is a sector of the market that should again exert some significance throughout the sales season.


Robson Aguiar the finishing touches to his biggest ever draft of breezers from his base near the Deravarra gallops just north of Mullingar. He reports that it is not just the quantity that has risen, but the quality too. “I have about 40 horses for this year’s breeze-ups,” he says. “I bought more yearlings last year and improved the stock as well. I have some really, really nice horses. I’m very happy with them and hopefully things can keep going well.” The preparation breeze-up horses undergo not only determines their success at the sales, but can have an impact on their subsequent racing career too. On the regime his juveniles go through, Aguiar says: “I prepare my breezers like a racehorse. I don’t do fast work on them over one or two furlongs, I work them for four or five furlongs. They do a lot of half speed in groups of five or six so they get kickback, learn to settle and it teaches them to be a racehorse. “I don’t really do breezes on them. When you breeze them for one of two furlongs you turn their heads and when you sell them people can’t train them. Then they come back and blame you.” Given the results that have followed, Aguiar’s clients have had little cause for consternation thus far. And despite the sector experiencing some fairly sizeable disruption over the last 12 months on account of Covid-19, with sales dates and


›› horses, Aguiar is, of course, busy putting

All hands on deck: Aguiar assisted at home by niece Emanuelle

locations undergoing some significant shifts, the man at the helm has no complaints either. “Covid stopped racing and sales but in the end a good horse still sold well,” he says when reflecting on 2020. “The good horses made good money and the average horses made average money, but everybody sold most of theirs last year and I was happy with the sales.” With his biggest, and potentially

Robson Aguiar: “I bought more yearlings last year and improved the stock as well”


best, team of horses yet, Aguiar is understandably eager for the coming season to get under way. “This year I have 12 for the Craven, six horses for Doncaster, four for Deauville and maybe ten or 12 for the Guineas and eight or nine for Goresbridge,” he says enthusiastically. “I can’t say which one is best at the moment but I’m very happy with the group and I think I’ll have a lot of success with these horses.”


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Speak to your vet about using GastroGard® to treat and prevent EGUS. References: 1. Sykes BW, et al. ECEIM Consensus Statement – EGUS in Adult Horses. J Vet Intern Med 2015; 29: 1288-1299. GastroGard® 370 mg/g oral paste contains omeprazole. UK: POM-V IE: POM. Advice should be sought from the prescriber. Further information available in the SPC or from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd., RG12 8YS, UK. Tel: 01344 746957. GastroGard® is a registered the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. ©2020 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Date of preparation: Oct 2020. EQU-0200-2020. Use Medicines Responsibly.

GastroGard_racing_a4_TRAINER version.indd 1

26/10/2020 20:35

Alne Park Stud


CHAPTER Nube Negra’s win in the Desert Orchid Chase in December not only turned the spotlight on to his little-known French sire Dink but set the wheels in motion for his arrival as the first stallion to stand at Alne Park Stud Words and photos: Carl Evans “


e couldn’t have asked for a nicer horse as a first stallion,” says Alne Park Stud Manager Nick Pearce while giving Dink a brush over for the camera. The dark bay, apparently unticklish, is the personification of gentle, showing none of the traits you would expect of many stallions, especially during the breeding season. “Take him to the covering shed and he knows exactly what his job is,” continues Pearce, now standing directly behind Dink in double-barrel kicking range while taking a few rogue straws from his tail, “yet he travelled here from France in a lorry with mares on board. He’s 16.1hh and he throws a good-sized foal.” Minutes later the 17-year-old is led out, growing an inch in the process while walking purposefully into the yard which looks across part of the Skelton family’s Warwickshire-based racehorse training complex. It grew from the showjumping world of Olympic gold medal winner Nick Skelton, whose eldest son Dan and younger son Harry are now at the

forefront of jump racing as trainer and jockey respectively. That makes Dan’s recent investment in a little-known stallion all the more intriguing until you discover the interest he and his wife Grace have in breeding, and remember that in Nube Negra he trains Dink’s best progeny. Half a length separated Nube Negra from victory in steeplechasing’s most prestigious two-mile race, the Cheltenham Festival’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, in which he finished second to the mare Put The Kettle On. That gallant effort followed a comprehensive victory over Altior in Kempton’s Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase, a win that elevated the Terry Spraggett-owned chaser to a place among the best of current two-mile chasers, and gave his little-known sire a lift, too. Skelton says: “We have always had an interest in breeding, and we subsequently got to know Nube Negra’s breeder Luis Cervera [a showjumping friend of his father’s], who also owned Dink, plus Nube Negra’s four-year-old brother Noche

“I think Dink will do well in Britain as he will put speed into mares”


Negra and a two-year-old sister. “We bought Nube Negra’s two siblings [and their dam, Manly Dream, a daughter of Highest Honor] and then it transpired Luis wanted to find Dink more opportunities. We recognised the Brexit situation would make travelling more difficult and decided that rather than take the mountain to Mohammed we would bring Mohammed to the mountain. He is going to cover the majority of our mares, but I think he will do well in Britain because he will put speed into mares.” At the start of the current breeding

Grace Skelton and Nick Pearce pictured with Dink, an exciting new arrival to Alne Park Stud this season

season, Dink, a son of Poliglote, was standing in France at Haras de la Bareliere, but had covered tiny numbers of mares. An approach was made to the Skeltons and a deal was struck, although when the news broke Dan was quick to say his wife, with assistance from Stud Manager Pearce, would be responsible for the stallion. Grace is allergic to horses and trained as a lawyer, yet she comes from a Somerset dairy farming family, and her father, Robert Blackburn, owned some useful jumpers in past decades, namely

Mr Moonraker and Holemoor Star who were trained by Susan Morris. She became the first woman to officially train a Grand National runner, her Petruchio’s Son finishing 11th in 1973 behind Red Rum. The Skeltons met by chance when Grace, then a 19-year-old university student, was asked by Paul Nicholls to chaperone his young daughter Megan at the races. At some point during the afternoon Dan, who was assistant to Nicholls, bought the ‘babysitter’ a prawn sandwich and their future was unwittingly sealed. Grace says: “My father

and grandfather had racehorses, but my allergy means I don’t ride. When Dan started his own yard I ran the office and have supervised that ever since, but I have long had an interest in breeding. I’m a bit of a nerd in that I love learning. Law represented a challenge. “The opportunity to buy Dink could not have come at a better time, because we have the racing yard in place down the road and the stud was ready to accommodate a stallion and mares. Our daughter Florence is now seven and so I have a bit more time on my hands to pick



Alne Park Stud ›› up on this new project and run with it.

“It’s an exciting development for us as a family and as a business, and we feel Dink represents a really good addition to British breeding and the stallion ranks. It is also good timing in terms of the challenges which have arisen from Brexit and the additional paperwork involved in moving horses. The VAT bonds involved when sending mares abroad makes a stallion based here more attractive.” Dink and his Spanish background may not be familiar to breeders in Britain and Ireland, but his late sire Poliglote is no stranger. A son of Sadler’s Wells, Poliglote finished second to Celtic Swing in the 1995 Prix du Jockey-Club and went on to sire top-grade winners on the Flat and

Dan Skelton (left) has already had a successful insight into Dink’s progeny as the trainer of Nube Negra, a recent second in the Queen Mother Champion Chase

over jumps, none better than his Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victress Solemia and the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Politologue. Don Poli and Top Notch have been other headline jumpers by Poliglote, and while Dink did not match Solemia’s level on the Flat he won seven races in Spain, including the 2,000 Guineas, before finishing third in the Spanish Derby. He retired to stud aged eight and will stand at Alne Park Stud at a fee of £3,000. Grace says of Dink: “A lot of good jump stallions go through their career without siring Graded winners, yet he’s had four successful foals from eight runners, including a Grade 2 winner over fences who is now Grade 1-placed.” Is this not just a private enterprise in which the new recruit has been bought in to cover mares owned by the family and friends. “Absolutely not,” she says emphatically. “We are serious about the commercial aspect of doing this. There is no reason why the British breeding industry cannot be stronger, it just requires a will. Dan and I have never entered into any aspect of the equine industry half-heartedly.


“It has been in the back of our minds for some time that standing a stallion is something we wanted to do, and to create a system where you can go from start to finish by breeding, raising, breaking in and then racing horses. If you race a mare from here and you want to retire her then she can stay on the stud to produce foals.

“Dan and I have never entered into any aspect of this industry half-heartedly” “Dan is one of the world’s most enthusiastic people, and he is taking a keen interest in Dink, but he is absolutely content to let me and Nick get on with this side of the business. He has his hands full with the racing yard, and while I would

be a fool not to tap into his expertise he is leaving the decisions to us.” If Grace’s husband receives five stars for enthusiasm, Stud Manager Pearce is not far behind, and when it comes to multi-tasking there is no one finer. A former point-to-point rider, he was nicknamed Dijon for his keen-as-mustard attitude by changing tent colleagues. They included the current National Stud Director Tim Lane, who has been a source of advice for Pearce. His other roles include training pointers, being head of breaking and pretraining at Skelton’s racing yard and now Clerk of the Course at a new point-topoint venue nearby called Shelfield Park. It opens for the first time, albeit behind closed doors, on April 11. Pearce says: “I was very lucky to spend ten years in Kent working for Simon Tindall, who bred and raced [the dual Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival winner] Simonsig. I trained his pointers and produced his young stock, which gave me an interest in breeding and pedigrees. He had a lovely mare called Ronaldsay, who lived at Stowell Hill Stud and produced Gale Force Ten, in addition to some very good jumping mares.” So the team is in place, the stud is open and the stallion’s profile has just risen a notch with Nube Negra’s fine run at Cheltenham, but what does Dan’s former boss and mentor Paul Nicholls think of this curious diversification? “Oh,” says Dan, “Paul has a Presenting mare which he’s sending to Dink.”

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Breeders’ Digest

Nancy Sexton Bloodstock Editor

Swann’s award is a good news story for the industry



n a month when racing hit the headlines for many of the wrong reasons, there was at least something to cheer about in the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, an annual event that recognises the dedication and passion of the people working behind the scenes to keep the show on the road within the country’s yards and studs. The fact that this year’s ceremony had to be staged in a virtual format did little to dampen celebrations. And it certainly became an evening of enjoyment at Newsells Park Stud, where barn manager Elody Swann came away with the Stud Staff Award. Having arrived at Newsells Park Stud from France 17 years ago unable to speak “a word of English”, Swann is today an integral part of the stud’s home team as well as a familiar face within its sales consignments. Horses are her passion and it shows through in a career underpinned by hard work, seemingly unwavering enthusiasm and respect from her peers. “My family wasn’t into horses but I always loved them and it was a dream of mine to work with them one day,” she recalls. “I used to work with showjumping ponies in France. I always liked the breeding industry though, and then I got very lucky as one of my friends knew someone who worked at Newsells Park – he said it was a good job and that if I wasn’t worried about leaving my parents, he would try to get me an interview. “So I had an interview with Gary Coffey [then stud manager] on the phone, started a six-month trial and got the job. “I couldn’t speak a word of English. I had my dictionary and notes, and had to relearn everything that I should have learnt at school!” Swann hasn’t looked back since. Today she runs a barn of 24 mares and foals during the foaling season and later in the year switches to yearling sales prep. She also takes overall responsibility for foal prep and enjoys following the stud’s graduates during their racing careers thereafter. “Taking care of the foals and taking responsibility for their management is something I really enjoy,” she says. “It’s really nice to have had a foal in the yard, then to prep it as a yearling and take it through the ring – it’s a proud moment.”

Elody Swann: barn manager has worked at Newsells Park Stud for 17 years

Swann has worked at Newsells Park long enough now to have become well associated with the development of its various families. One mare recalled with notable fondness is Special Meaning, a half-sister to 1,000 Guineas winner Speciosa who Swann remembers being foaled and raised at the stud before returning as a broodmare. Melon, Willie Mullins’ Champion Hurdle runner-up and high-class chaser, also went through Swann’s yard as a youngster. So what advice does Swann offer to someone aspiring to enter the industry? “You just have to go for it,” she says. “Keep your head down, work hard and prove yourself. It is a tough job but if you love horses and work hard, you will get rewarded.”


However you slice it, this year’s Cheltenham Festival very much belonged to the Irish, their dominance consisting of 23 Irish-trained winners topped by 12 of the 14 Grade 1 events. By contrast, Britain fielded five winners – to put that into perspective, that’s one less than the number partnered by the meeting’s top rider Rachael Blackmore. Their success, and the British lack of it, understandably provoked much debate in the aftermath of the festival as observers sought to find some answers. The likelihood is that it marks the

culmination of a combination of factors and is a cyclical issue at that. Put simply, Irish interests also headed to Cheltenham with the deeper group of horses, itself a reflection of the strength of its bloodstock industry. Look no further than the spread of winning sires. Only three successful stallions, Honeysuckle’s sire Sulamani, Kayf Tara and Midnight Legend, stood in Britain at the time of their winning representative’s conception and each are now either retired or dead. Ireland, on the other hand, could boast to have been the base of nine successful stallions including Jeremy, Stowaway and Yeats, who were responsible for four winners apiece. Added to that, 13 of the 28 winners were graduates of the Irish pointing field while 20 carried the IRE suffix. As British jumps breeders are all too aware, this domination is nothing new, with it being aided by the gulf between the British and Irish foal crops; using last year as an example, 4,036 foals were bred in Ireland with a dual-purpose and/or jumps career in mind compared to 1,073 in Britain. It wasn’t all bad news for Britain, though. Led by the Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, the week featured four British-bred winners, admittedly not a hefty total but one greater than that achieved during the 2019 and 2020 Cheltenham Festivals put together.


Your Consignor of Choice

Yearlings, Foals, Broodmares, Horses-in-Training To discuss all your sales options throughout the year please contact: Bill Dwan | +353 (0) 87 648 5587 | or Andrew Mead | +44 (0) 7940 597573 |

Sales Circuit • By Carl Evans

Far from ideal but outlet to trade welcomed as Goffs moves online Goffs came up with the imaginative idea of splitting its February Sale in order to offer Flat and jumps-bred weanlings in March, hopeful that Covid restrictions in Ireland would have been lifted. Selling such youngsters in the flesh before an audience clearly has benefits for vendors and buyers, but sadly the plan was thwarted when the Irish government announced it had no option but to keep in place the Covid lasso. Vendors were therefore given the choice to sell behind closed doors or withdraw, and a significant number took the latter option, doubtless waiting for another day and a full auditorium at which to display their wares. As a result 84 of the 228 catalogued lots were offered of which 35, or 42%, found a buyer at an average price of €10,311 and a median of €8,000. Bids were taken via the online platform and telephone and were accepted by an auctioneer playing to an empty ring. Goffs Group Chief Executive Henry Beeby summed up the situation in his post-sale summary when he said: “Selling weanlings in March without proper viewings was never going to be ideal, but circumstances dictated that was the only option if we were to hold the sale.” He said consideration had been given to cancelling the event and asking vendors to hold onto their stock until the autumn, but they had been “implored” by some to go ahead. Pat Fennessy of the Kilkenny-based Ballinaroone Stud sold the top lot, a


Goffs February Sale Part 2

This Walk In The Park colt topped Part 2 of the Goffs February Sale at €35,000

Walk In The Park colt who was knocked down to Michael Shefflin for €35,000, a profitable return for his breeder albeit the stallion’s fee has been private since he moved from France to Ireland in 2016. Walk In The Park, who stands at Coolmore’s Grange Stud, has been responsible for some cracking jumpers, not least Douvan, whose full-brother Jonbon was sold for a record £570,000 at Goffs UK’s November P2P Sale at Yorton last year.

Shefflin, who runs Annshoon Stud, was involved in that result, for he and Paul Holden bought Jonbon as a store for €140,000. Jonbon made an impressive debut under Rules at Newbury on March 27, taking a bumper by four and a quarter lengths. Mark and Elaine Clarke of Wardstown Stud in County Meath traded an Exceed And Excel filly sold for €26,000 to BC Bloodstock, while the third top-priced youngster proved

Goffs February Sale Part 2 Top lots Sex/breeding


Price (€)


C Walk In The Park - Charming Present

Ballinaroone Stud


Thursday Bloodstock

F Exceed And Excel - Mystic Dream

Wardstown Stud


BC Bloodstock

F Zoustar – Tschierschen

Baroda Stud


Grizzetti Galoppo SRL

C Order Of St George - A Good Year

Newmarket House Stud


Rathmore Stud

C Order Of St George - Miss Cilla

Peter Nolan Bloodstock


Philip Kirby

F Australia - Mt Of Beatitudes

Baroda Stud


Stone Farm




Agg (€)

Average (€)

Median (€)

Top price (€)









Sales Circuit ›› to be a daughter of Zoustar who made €25,000. Consigned by David Cox’s Baroda Stud, the filly fell to an offer from Italian trainer Bruno Grizzetti,

OBS March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale

Anyone operating within the bubble of the Ocala Breeders’ Sale Company’s March Sale in Florida would have been forgiven for thinking that some kind of normality had returned to the world, writes Nancy Sexton. A year ago, OBS’ flagship two-yearolds in training sale had the misfortune to open just as the realisation of the pandemic’s severity rocked the globe. One year on and while Covid remains a serious menace, thankfully its threat seems to be doing little to dampen the appetite of American buyers judging by the results of this year’s renewal. Trade was strong from start to finish during the two-day sale with a $750,000 daughter of Practical Joke leading the way among a group of 326 horses that grossed a total of $38,265,000. The average of $117,377 marked a 27% improvement over 2020 while the median climbed 25% to $62,500.

who might not have to race his purchase to be in clover. The filly was a half-sister to dual two-year-old winner Perotto and a granddaughter of the

excellent mare Roo, whose blood courses through such top-class performers as Mohaather, Prize Exhibit and Accidental Agent.

Most strikingly, 82% of horses through the ring changed hands, an impressively high figure for an American breeze-up sale and a welcome progression from last year’s level of 61%. Japanese buyers have fared notably well out of this sale in recent seasons, with this year’s Grade 1 February Stakes winner Cafe Pharoah the headline act among a clutch of talented Japanesebased graduates. With that in mind, it was no surprise to see Japanese participation underpin the top end of the market led by trainer Hideyuki Mori, who wound up as the sale’s leading buyer with eight bought for a total of $2,245,000. Yuji Hasegawa, the purchaser of three lots worth $1,500,000, and agent Eugenio Colombo, who signed at $600,000 for an American Pharoah filly on behalf of Shadai’s Teruya Yoshida, were also significant players. The buzz surrounding the first-crop of Coolmore’s Practical Joke, a dual Grade

1-winning two-year-old by Into Mischief, has been a major theme of recent months in Florida and unsurprisingly that carried over into the sale ring, where five of his progeny sold for an average close to $300,000. They included the saletopping filly, who sold out of the Top Line Sales draft for $750,000 to Mori after clocking a furlong of 9.4 seconds during the under tack show. Out of Peruvian champion Valiant Emilia, she turned a fine profit for connections, having cost $120,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Overall, the sale was kind to pinhookers and crucially to a number of those who had taken a chance on inexpensive yearlings. Nowhere was this more evident than in the case of a Tonalist filly from Cruzin’ Thoroughbreds, who blossomed from a $10,000 yearling into a $300,000 two-year-old, or for that of a colt from the first-crop of Unified, a $19,000 pinhook who went on to realise $400,000 for Dark Star Thoroughbreds.

OBS March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale Top lots Sex/breeding


Price ($)


F Practical Joke - Valiant Emilia

Top Line Sales LLC, agent


Hideyuki Mori

F American Pharoah - Henny Jenney

Wavertree Stables, Inc., agent


Colombo Bloodstock Agency

C Kantharos - Ari The Adventurer

Woodford Thoroughbreds, agent


Spendthrift Farm/

Figures Year


Agg ($)

Average ($)

Median ($)



















Please contact Andrew Mead (+44 7940 597573 or Bill Dwan (+353 87 648 5587 to discuss all your 2021 sale requirements


Top price ($)


winner 100. German 1.000 Guineas, Gr.2

Classic Winners

Miss Yoda

winner 162. Henkel-Preis der Diana - German Oaks, Gr. 1

Talk to us and we will assist you!

Spring Breeze Up Sale – 4th June Entries close: 16th April

Premier Yearling Sale – 3rd September Entries close: 23rd April

October Mixed Sales – 15th and 16th October Entries close: 6th September

Caulfield Files


Into Mischief: the overachiever who continues to rewrite the record books

Authentic: Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner contributed to an outstanding year in 2020 for his sire Into Mischief


onsidering that the Blood-Horse’s 2010 Stallion Register credited Storm Cat with no fewer than 160 stallion sons worldwide, it’s hardly surprising that the male line descending from this two-time champion American sire has been flying high in recent years. And it is also hardly surprising that one of the high-flying branches descends from his outstanding son Giant’s Causeway, a multiple champion sire who gave us Shamardal, himself sire of Lope De Vega, Blue Point, Earthlight and Pinatubo. Giant’s Causeway is also the sire of Not This Time, one of the North American “buzz” sires of 2020 whose first-crop juveniles did so well that his fee has been raised from $12,500 to $40,000. Fortunately, the bloodstock world isn’t always so straightforward and some of the other highflyers from the Storm Cat male line have emerged from less obvious sources. A prime example is Scat Daddy, who gave us No Nay Never, Caravaggio and Triple Crown winner Justify. Although Scat Daddy was a Grade 1 winner at two and three, he laboured under the handicap of being a son of Johannesburg. Admittedly, Johannesburg had been spectacularly successful as a two-year-old but he


struggled to maintain the considerable success achieved by his first crop and was sold to Japan in 2009. This didn’t help Scat Daddy, who had made his stallion debut the previous year at a fee of $30,000. Over the next three years his price fell to $22,500, then $15,000 before crashing to $10,000 in his fourth

“The star of the US industry is Into Mischief, America’s toppriced stallion” season. Scat Daddy had also been shuttled to Chile, a comparative backwater in the breeding world, so he beat the odds by developing into such an effective stallion, despite never having stood for more than $35,000 during an eight-year career (he was scheduled to stand the 2016 season at $100,000 but died in December 2015).

Now the shining star of the American industry is Into Mischief, who has replaced War Front as America’s highest-priced stallion, at a fee of $225,000, following his second successive sires’ championship – the latest of which saw him establish an all-time single-season record for a sire in North America with a treasure chest of over $22 million. No other stallion has ever topped $20 million, but Into Mischief did so with the help of Horse of the Year Authentic, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, and champion female sprinter Gamine. It’s surely safe to say that even those closest to the stallion never imagined success on such a grand scale for Into Mischief, who – like Scat Daddy – is a great-grandson of Storm Cat. Although his grandsire Harlan managed to win a Grade 1 race, that win – in the 1994 Vosburgh Stakes – represented Harlan’s only stakes success in a 30-race career. Attracting mares didn’t prove easy for Harlan and his death at the age of ten meant that he left only 99 named foals. However, each of his first two crops contained a colt destined to rank among the best of their


Bloodstock world views

Into Mischief: once available for as little as $7,500, North America’s champion sire today commands a fee of $225,000

age at three. The first, Menifee, was runner-up in the first two legs of the 1999 Triple Crown and the second was Into Mischief’s sire Harlan’s Holiday, who was conceived at a fee of only $5,000. Bred in Ohio, where he was to make some of his early starts, Harlan’s Holiday went into training with Ken McPeek. Whereas Harlan had never raced as a two-year-old, his son made six juvenile starts, five of them at stakes level, and he was never worse than second. Harlan’s Holiday’s four stakes victories earned him a weight of 114 on an Experimental Free Handicap topped by Johannesburg at 126lb. He was even more effective at three, when a ten-race campaign yielded Grade 1 victories in the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes. Another ninefurlong Grade 1 race – the Donn Handicap – fell to Harlan’s Holiday as a four-year-old, but his International Classification of 118 placed him 15lb below top-ranked Hawk Wing. While clearly tough and talented, Harlan’s Holiday fell some way short of the very best, as he showed when only seventh when favourite for the Kentucky Derby. The possibility existed, though, that this son of a sprinter didn’t have the stamina for distances beyond a mile and an eighth. With a less-than-fashionable sire, Harlan’s Holiday was priced at $17,500 when he took up stallion duties at Airdrie Stud in 2004 – a year which saw his fellow newcomers Empire Maker and

Mineshaft command fees of $100,000. On the plus side, his original trainer McPeek was full of admiration for the colt, once commenting that “he’s got so much speed and it’s tactical speed. He’s just a very talented horse, a very easy horse to handle. He’s push-button, no problem.” There was also plenty to admire about the bottom half of his pedigree. In addition to having the Triple Crown winner Affirmed as his broodmare sire, his third dam was Princessnesian, a top-class racemare who was also a half-sister to the important stallion Boldnesian and to some very good broodmares. Airdrie Stud has an enviable reputation for making stallions and Harlan’s Holiday wasted no time in making his mark, going close to first-crop sire honours in 2007, with the help of five individual stakes winners led by Into Mischief. There appeared to be no special reason to expect Into Mischief to be anything out of the ordinary. He was the third foal of Leslie’s Lady, a daughter of the Grade 2-winning stallion Tricky Creek. Conceived at a fee of only $2,500. Leslie’s Lady was sold twice as a yearling, for only $8,000 and $27,000. To her credit, Leslie’s Lady became a stakes winner, but only at Hoosier Park in the backwater of Indiana. In the circumstances breeder James T Hines Jr must have been satisfied when Leslie’s

Lady’s colt by Harlan’s Holiday sold for $80,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton in October. However, that satisfaction was no doubt diminished when the colt was resold less than six months later for $180,000 at Ocala in Florida. The colt’s sale at Ocala was to prove central to Into Mischief’s career, as his purchaser was B Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm, where Into Mischief has been based since the start of 2009. The story goes that Hughes’ team had considerable difficulty choosing between two very similar Harlan’s Holiday colts at Ocala before finally opting for Into Mischief, after reviewing the video of his work on the dirt track. He had worked a furlong in :10 2/5 seconds, just 2/5ths of a second slower than the fastest works. Interestingly, Into Mischief’s buyer was .the sale’s leading purchaser, picking up four youngsters for $1.05 million, with Into Mischief the cheapest of the four. One member of the selection team had pointed out that Into Mischief was a little over at the knee, but trainer Richard Mandella wasn’t concerned, and how right he was! After allowing the colt time to recover from his sales exertions, Mandella was rewarded with two wins and a second from three starts in California. Into Mischief was impressive on his debut on the Cushion Track at Santa Anita on October 21, setting fractions of :21.87 and :44.58 on his way to a final time of 1:14.36 for six and a half furlongs. After a second place in the



Caulfield Files ›› Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes over

seven furlongs, Into Mischief stepped up to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, again over Hollywood Park’s all-weather track. He finished well to score by just over a length from future Grade 1 winner Colonel John. While Colonel John was garnering his Grade 1 successes as a three-year-old, Into Mischief was on the sidelines, following a disappointing second in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes in February. He wasn’t seen out again until lateOctober, when he inflicted a decisive defeat on the future Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing In Silks in the Damascus Stakes over seven furlongs on the Santa Anita all-weather. Into Mischief’s final appearance came over the same course and distance at the end of 2008, when he could finish only second as favourite for the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes. So Into Mischief’s career ended after a mere six starts, spread out over 14 months. While breeders could justifiably wonder about his soundness, his difficulties related to his feet, rather than the usual problem areas. It was reportedly these foot problems which had kept him off the Kentucky Derby trail. There was never any hope that Into Mischief would be allowed to make up for lost time as a four-year-old, as it had been announced in the September of his second season that he would be retiring to Spendthrift in 2009. Sure enough, he was retired just days after the Malibu Stakes, to commence stallion duties at a fee of $12,500. Clearly, he was still something of an unknown quantity. All six of his starts had been on all-weather surfaces and he had only once raced around two turns. Predictably, there wasn’t a mad rush for his services. Into Mischief attracted no more than 61 mares in his first year, 44 in his second, 54 in his third and 50 in his fourth, in 2012. His fee was quickly on the slide too, to $7,500 in his third and fourth seasons. He ended up with a total of 143 named foals in these first four crops, which put him at a considerable numerical disadvantage in an industry where popular American stallions, such as Uncle Mo, can sire more than 150 foals in their first crop. However, Spendthrift took steps to remedy the situation with the introduction in 2010 of its Share The Upside programme, whereby breeders could earn a lifetime breeding right to a stallion if they sent him a mare for two consecutive years. While Into Mischief’s figures remained low, the programme is credited with earning him just enough support to stand a chance.


Into Mischief’s first runners did so well that Spendthrift had to keep revising his fee for 2013. Having initially announced in November 2012 that his fee would remain at $7,500, it was quickly raised to $10,000. This was in response to overwhelming demand for nominations fuelled by Goldencents’ victory in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in November, Sittin At The Bar’s easy win in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie on December 8 and by Vyjack’s win in the Traskwood Stakes on December 9. Between them they helped Into Mischief take third place on the first-crop sires’ table, just $60,000 behind the champion. Then Vyjack and Goldencents achieved a Graded stakes double on January 5, sending his 2013 fee up to $20,000.

“Into Mischief has had only three runners in Britain, two of them winners” His fee has hardly stopped rising ever since. His 2021 three-year-olds are off a $75,000 fee and his current two-yearolds were sired at $100,000. The best may yet to be to come, bearing in mind that he stood for $150,000 in 2019, $175,000 in 2020 and is now priced at $225,000. Into Mischief’s appeal also received a couple of substantial boosts from his parents. Harlan’s Holiday became 2012’s leading sire of two-year-olds, thanks to a team of five stakes winners led by champion Shanghai Bobby. More importantly, Into Mischief’s dam Leslie’s Lady continued to thrive with stallions from the Storm Cat male line. Mated to Henny Hughes, she produced that remarkable mare Beholder, a dual Breeders’ Cup winner for Spendthrift who achieved champion honours at the ages of two, three, five and six. Then Leslie’s Lady’s Scat Daddy colt Mendelssohn justified his $3 million yearling price by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the UAE Derby. No wonder Leslie’s Lady was named 2016’s Broodmare of the Year. Her 2018 American Pharoah filly, America’s Joy, sold for a record $8.2 million as a yearling.

Hardly a day seems to go by without Into Mischief being represented by a winner or two and his tally in 2020 stood at 189 winners – at least 34 more than any other American stallion. No fewer than 29 became black-type winners and 74 of his progeny won more than once. In terms of conformation, he is mediumsized and well proportioned, with a shorter back than his sire Harlan’s Holiday. He is correct, as was his sire, and arguably the most striking aspect of his physique is his rear end, with excellent hips and hind-leg. He is also no doubt finding it helpful that his pedigree is free of many of the ubiquitous names in American breeding, such as Mr Prospector, Seattle Slew and Danzig. He owes his eight Grade 1 winners to daughters of Mr Greeley, Speightstown, Unbridled, Distorted Humor, Banker’s Gold, Gilded Time, Kafwain and Indian Charlie. The average winning distance for Into Mischief’s progeny in North America stands at 6.73 furlongs, and his progeny are renowned for their speed, thanks partly to the exploits of those fast fillies Covfefe and Gamine. There are solid reasons, though, for thinking that his progeny from his higher-priced crops will include more performers in the mould of his Kentucky Derby winner Authentic and his Florida Derby winner Audible. His Grade 1 victory was gained over 1 1/16th miles, on the only occasion he ventured beyond seven furlongs. With nine-furlong specialists as his sire and broodmare sire, Into Mischief wasn’t bred to be a sprinter, as has been borne out by the exploits of his younger siblings. Also, Into Mischief’s second, third and fourth dams were all by stallions – Stop The Music, One For All and Sea-Bird who won over at least a mile and a quarter. As Into Mischief is now 16-years-old, the time is ripe for some of his stallion sons to come to the fore. There has been plenty of hype about the first two-yearolds by Practical Joke, a dual Grade 1-winning two-year-old based at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud. His first yearlings sold for up to $575,000 and his first two-year-olds include a filly which topped the OBS March Sale at $750,000. Even so, it appears that Into Mischief’s charms have largely been wasted on European owners and breeders. He has had only three runners in Britain (two of them winners), three in France and none in Ireland. At a time when outcrosses are urgently needed, perhaps it is time for Europe to give him much more serious consideration.

U NEED A BREEZE UP HORSE 2020 was a sensational year War Of Will A’Ali Trueshan Red Verdon Ubettabelieveit The Lir Jet Far Above

1st Gr.1 Maker’s Mark Mile (also won the 2019 Gr.1 Preakness Stakes) 1st Gr.2 Sapphire Stakes and Gr.3 Coral Charge 1st Gr.2 Long Distance Cup 1st Gr.2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil 1st Gr.2 Flying Childers Stakes Waady 1st Gr.2 Meydan Sprint st 1 Gr.2 Norfolk Stakes Steel Bull 1st Gr.3 Molecomb Stakes st 1 Gr.3 Palace House Stakes Umm Kulthum 1st Gr.3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes




C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S T O O U R O W N E R S AT C H E LT E N H A M 2 0 2 1


visit Cheltenham 2021.indd 1

23/03/2021 09:52:01



Dr Statz

John Boyce cracks the code

Inbreeding: you can have too much of a good thing




he recent news that three major Kentucky stud farms are intent on testing to the full the legal veracity of the US Jockey Club’s decision to curtail stallions’ future book sizes has not come as any great surprise. It is clear to all that the Jockey Club’s plans will have a huge impact on the business models of many commercial farms. But the proposed cap on book sizes has also got its supporters. In fact, it’s hard to counter the view that greater genetic diversity will benefit the thoroughbred breed. And there are definitely some facts that back up the case in favour of some kind of intervention, whatever that intervention may be. Take the example of inbreeding. Most modern-day inbreeding occurs out of necessity and is certainly not by design. A dominant commercial sire that covers large books of mares over a long period of time will inevitably force some breeders down the road of relatively close inbreeding. We have seen it with Danehill in Australia and with Sadler’s Wells in Europe. Danehill blood has been so pervasive in Australia that it caused breeders to scratch their heads when looking to mate mares that already carry his genes. Many of the very best sires the top breeders craved also carried the same Danehill blood. And here’s the problem. Top-class racehorses inbred to Danehill have been conspicuous by their absence. To date, there have been 3,175 runners foaled in the southern hemisphere inbred to Danehill within three generations. Only 55 (1.7%) were talented enough to win a stakes race and 24 (0.8%) a Group race. Incredibly, there are only eight Group 1 winners in Australia inbred within three generations to Danehill, headed by a trio of top-class fillies in eight-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant, triple Group 1 winner Alizee, plus Guelph, the winner of two Group 1s at both two and three. Whilst no one could ever prove that these three star fillies required a duplication of Danehill within three generations to be top class, it is clear that inbreeding to Danehill is no path to glory. We can also use three top-class sires to prove the point that inbreeding has a deleterious effect on producing top-class

Danehill: inbreeding to the great stallion has occurred in some cases out of necessity – and with underwhelming results

horses. The Arrowfield pair, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt, produced significant numbers of runners with two crosses of Danehill within three generations, as has Coolmore’s Fastnet Rock. Snitzel’s strike-rate with mares carrying Danehill close up is 2.6% stakes winners to runners and 10.3% stakes winners to runners from his outcross runners. Not A Single Doubt scores 1.8% stakes winners to runners from his mares with Danehill close up and 8.0% stakes winners when Danehill is absent from his mares’ first two generations. It’s a similar story with Fastnet Rock, who made a better fist of it with extra Danehill blood from his dams, scoring 7.8% stakes winners, compared to 9.3% with all his other mares. But, significantly, none of the inbred Fastnet Rock stakes winners scored above Listed level. In Europe, racehorses inbred to Sadler’s Wells within three generations also have an exemplary mare at the head of their list. But not even Enable can make up for the disappointing stats that inbreeding to Sadler’s Wells produce. So far, there have been 1,221 northern hemisphere foaled runners inbred to the influential son of Northern Dancer within three generations, producing 34 (2.8%) stakes winners and 21 (1.7%) Group winners. Enable is one of only six Group 1 winners with two close-up lines of Sadler’s Wells, and only two – the Camelot pair Russian Camelot and Sir

Dragonet – have run to a level worthy of a Timeform rating higher than 120. Several sires with significant numbers of runners with an extra line of Sadler’s Wells have poorer strike-rates with their inbred runners compared to their outcross stock. Among those with 20 or more runners carrying two lines of Sadler’s Wells, Australia and New Approach have yet to register a single stakes winner, while the likes of Frankel has a score of 7.3% stakes winners from his inbred runners, way short of his typical output of around 14%. Meanwhile, Teofilo – a consistent source of stakes winners at a rate of 10% throughout his career – has sired just one stakes winner from 35 runners inbred to Sadler’s Wells. Even the best Galileo inbred to Sadler’s Wells is only a Group 3 winner. It is remarkable to think that there have been nearly 70,000 northern hemisphere foaled runners with Sadler’s Wells in their sire’s pedigree and they include 4.3% stakes winners. Yet, when Sadler’s Wells is also present in their dam’s lineage, that percentage drops to 2.8% stakes winners. It’s the same story with Danehill down south, his percentage of stakes winners dropping from 3.5% to 2.5% when there are duplications present on the dam’s side.

“Enable is one of only six Group 1 winners with two close-up lines of Sadler’s Wells” There are, of course, exceptions to every rule and we can point to the likes of Camelot with his two Group 1 winners and a success rate of 11.1% – well in advance of his typical 7.6% – as a good example. Nathaniel and Kitten’s Joy are others with top horses and good strike-rates. That said, the overall data is pretty conclusive: close inbreeding will severely limit your opportunities.

MASSAAT TEOFILO - MADANY (ACCLAMATION) 16.1 (1.65m) Fee: £5,000 1st Oct. SLF

Full for his first two seasons Stud Fee for 2021: £4,000

By Teofilo, sire of 6 Gr.1 winners in 2020 Brother to Gr.1 Commonwealth Cup winner EQTIDAAR and exciting Gr.3 Winning 2YO MUJBAR, from the immediate family of PRECIEUSE, etc. Gr.1 placed at 2, 3 and 4 • Gr.2 winner over 7f Timeform rated 122 Standing at MICKLEY STUD • Enquiries: Richard Kent T: 079 73 315722 • E: Or John Walsh Bloodstock T: +353 (0)86 2558945


Published here is the FINAL LIST of European stallions registered in full with the EBF for the 2020 covering season. The progeny of these stallions, CONCEIVED IN 2020 IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, (the foal crop of 2021) will be eligible to enter the EBF races to be held during the year 2023 and thereafter. They will also be eligible for other relevant benefits under the EBF terms and conditions in force in Great Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.







The European Breeders’ Fund, Lushington House, 119 High Street, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9AE, UK T: +44 (0) 1638 667960 E:







The stallions listed above stood OUTSIDE THE EBF AREA IN 2020 and have been registered as EBF International Stallions. The progeny of these stallions, CONCEIVED IN 2020, (the foal crop of 2021), will be eligible to enter and run in EBF races to be held during 2023 and thereafter, with no further nomination payments. Further details from the Chief Executive, European Breeders’ Fund.

Grassland management

Getting the best out of your pasture In the second part of our series we look at the nutritional content of grass for horses and how grassland management can improve this Words: Dr Simon Daniels


rass plants contain, protein, fibre, sugar, fats and vitamins and minerals. The extent of these nutrients will vary greatly with season, soil type and management. Plant protein is found inside the plant cells and is made up of sequences of amino acids. Some amino acids can be synthesised within the body but others must be sourced within the diet and are essential nutrients for normal body function. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is also the first limiting amino acid, meaning it is the first to become deficient. Therefore, when considering protein content in the diet, we have to consider if we can meet the horse’s amino acid requirements from our grass. The next consideration for protein within grass is the digestibility; the horse can only make use of protein that is digested and absorbed within the small intestine. As the plant matures and the cell wall becomes more lignified, then the amount of protein digestion in the small intestine is reduced. In more mature lignified grass, the protein is liberated from the plant cells in the horse’s hindgut where billions of bacteria, fungi and protozoa that we collectively term as microbiota ferment the plant material. However, protein that is digested in the hindgut is not bioavailable to the horse; instead, the microbiota make use of this protein themselves. So as the growing season progresses the protein digestibility within the horse decreases. Fibre is essential for the horse’s diet and fibre digestibility is also influenced by the grass growth cycle. Fibre is structural carbohydrate, meaning is it made up of chains of beta glucose molecules. Now this may initially


sound confusing, as we tend to think of glucose as a soluble sugar. Soluble sugars, e.g. glucose, maltose and sucrose, can be made of alpha glucose molecules and this reflects their biochemical structure. So, glucose is a simple sugar, maltose and sucrose and examples where two glucose molecules or a glucose and a fructose molecule are joined together by a bond. Similarly, starch, the storage molecule of cereal plants, is where lots of alpha glucose molecules are joined together by chemical bonds and for starch this is what makes the more simple sugars a storage molecule (as mentioned in the first article) converting glucose to glycogen within our bodies.

“The digestibility of fibre is also influenced by the grass growth cycle” However, fibre is made by joining beta glucose molecules together – this makes short storage molecules such as fructans or more significant structural carbohydrates like cellulose. The key thing to grasp here is that to digest fibre, we need to break the glyosidic bonds between these beta glucose molecules to be able to make use of these carbohydrates. However, mammals do not possess the enzymes, principally cellulase, that is needed to break down the bonds between the beta glucose molecules which form cellulose. Microbiota that reside in a

horse’s hindgut and in the rumen of cows and sheep do produce cellulase and these microbiota can therefore break down fibre through fermentation. As I mentioned in part one, not all fibre can be digested and the younger the plant in the growth cycle, the more fibre can be digested. We measure this in feeds and forages through acid detergent fibre (ADF), which provides an estimation of the lignin content of the diet and neutral detergent fibre (NDF), which also gives an indication of the digestibility of the plant cell walls and tends to link to the amount an animal will eat. For both of these markers the lower they are the more digestible the fibre and the more the animal will eat. Of the cell wall contents, the most digestible component is hemicellulose; other digestible fibre sources are pectins, found between two plant cells. Pectin acts as a glue to stick cells together. Within the horse there is virtually no fibre digestion in the stomach and small intestine, however the fibre is fermented by microbiota in the hindgut to produce volatile fatty acids which the horse can metabolise into useful energy. You will note that earlier I defined fructan as chains of glucose and fructose molecules linked with beta glycosylic bonds. Lots of fructans entering the hindgut and those with longer chains can be problematic to the horse. Fructans are readily fermented by microbiota in the horse’s hindgut by ‘sugar loving’ saccharolytic fermenters. Fructan is converted into a volatile fatty acid that feeds into the glucose pathway but it is also converted into lactate. The production of significant amounts of lactate drops the pH in the horse’s hindgut ecosystem, altering

Grass: an important source of nutrition for horses

the conditions which the fibre loving bacteria need to survive. Practically we see this on a scale from horses producing loose droppings at the subtle end of the scale, to colic and laminitis at the severe end and thus stability of microbiota in the horse’s hindgut is essential for horse health. This is why we avoid grazing laminitic animals when fructan in the grass is likely to be high, and why it is not a good idea to graze hay stubble. You will see above that grass produces lots of sugar and therefore the notion that horses should not have

high-sugar diets can be misleading. Horses are not good at digesting complex sugars, e.g. starches found in cereal grains and the storage sugars such as fructans, which lead to changes in the structure of hindgut microbiota. Simple sugars such as glucose, fructose and maltose and sucrose from grasses are readily digested and absorbed in the small intestine to be used by the body as an energy source. For young growing thoroughbreds this should not be a problem; these sugars are more problematic for native pony types or obese animals.

I would not consider grazing any horse on a high WSC ryegrass ley but including ryegrasses in your meadow sward should not be problematic for thoroughbreds unless they are particularly good doers. The fat content of grass is limited, but fat is present consisting of waxes and includes essential omega 3 fatty acids. The vitamin and mineral content will be influenced by the soil and the management of the grass e.g. fertilising, but much of the major mineral requirement of horses will be covered by grass.



Grassland management ›› Nutrient requirements of If initially we assume the nutrient requirements at maintenance for a mature 500kg animal are approximately 70 mega joules (Mj) of digestible energy (DE) per day, a full breakdown of the nutrient requirements can be seen in table 1 below. The energy content of grass will obviously be variable on time of year, weather conditions, location and management but on average for meadow pasture the DE content is approximately 8-10 Mj/Kg on a dry matter basis. However, some ryegrasses with high water soluble content can be up to 14 Mj/Kg/DM. We generally assume that on a dry matter basis that horses at pasture full time will eat over 15 hours around 1kg of dry matter per hour. We work to the basis that grass is roughly 20% dry matter and therefore the fresh matter intake is considerably more allowing for the water content. Working on those assumptions the average 500kg horse can consume 135 Mj on that dry matter basis of 15kg. On the assumption that the digestibility of good pasture is around 60%, on average we still exceed the energy requirement. The protein content varies by season, approximately 300g/kg DM in the spring, 100-140g/Kg DM in the summer, 140-200g/Kg DM in the autumn and less than 100g/kg DM in the winter. Applying this to the scenario above, in theory the crude protein requirement would be met all year. However, this does not factor in protein quality, availability, digestibility nor the amino acid profile. Working to the digestibility profile above when there is less than 120g/ kg of CP available, this is unlikely to meet the daily requirement of our scenario animal. Equally the digestibility will decrease as the plant matures as the protein become less bioavailable. Minerals and trace minerals in well managed grass should meet the nutrient requirements with possible slight deficiencies in copper and selenium by 2 and 0.5 mg/kg respectively, but this will depend on the individual soil profile.


When considering the nutrient requirements of growing youngstock



Mares even in the final trimester should have their energy requirements met by good pasture

the energy requirements of foals starts at 34 Mj per day at one month increasing to 79 Mj per day by 12 months; by maturity at 20 months the daily energy requirement is approximately 70Mj per day. Crude protein requirements are approximately 656g per day at one month increasing monthly to 846g per day by 12 months and again at maturity these reduce to approximately 630 grams per day. Working on the previous figures the energy content should easily be met by good pasture. However as previously identified the crude protein is unlikely to be sufficient in the winter months. Similar to mature animals there may be slight deficiencies in copper and selenium depending on the soil profile. Several studies in the UK, Europe and New Zealand have identified that youngstock including thoroughbreds can grow successfully on forage only diets as long as the nutrient profile is good enough.

Mares and stallions

Mares through early stages of pregnancy and even into the final trimester theoretically should have their energy requirements met by good pasture. However, depending on

the quality and the digestibility, the energy and the crude protein might be limiting. Again, minerals should meet requirements but trace minerals copper and selenium may be deficient depending on the soil profile. For stallions the situation is similar to the mare and youngstock in that on good pasture the nutrient requirements should be met, however during the breeding season there is likely to be a lack of crude protein.

How to improve your pasture

Firstly, we should be getting our soil tested. If we know the soil profile and the soil pH then we have a much better idea of potential deficiencies that we can correct for. Soil pH is essential for soil health; if soil becomes too acidic then this is less optimum for grass growth but allows weeds to thrive. Soil pH is likely to only need correction back to pH 6.5 every 2-3 years and this is commonly done using lime. Fertilising at the right time with the right nutrient is also important. Traditionally fertiliser is applied in the spring when the cumulative temperature from January 1 reaches 200, this is known as the T-sum or T-200 and this is the optimum time to

Nutrient requirements of a 500kg horse at maintenance 500kg Horse


DE (Mj)

CP (g)

Lys (g)

Ca (g)

P (g)

Na (g)

Cl (g)

K (g)









feed the grass as long as environmental conditions allow. Many people do not understand the importance of the main elements of fertiliser. Nitrogen is the element people are aware of to make the grass grow. Optimising nitrogen can double the grass dry matter production and therefore have a significant impact upon your pasture. Nitrogen content will also influence the sward composition as rye grasses will thrive and become more dominant, whereas some other species prefer lower nitrogen and therefore their presence in the sward is reduced. When it comes to nitrogen application, the optimum level will vary somewhat depending on the situation e.g. grazing, or forage production. How has the land previously been managed? Are there legumes present in the pasture? With all of this in mind, an optimum nitrogen level could be anywhere between 0-400kg per hectare. Phosphorus and potassium are also important for growth and previous studies at Rothamstead Research has shown no response to nitrogen on grass growth when levels of phosphorus and potassium were low. Phosphorus is required for cell division, germination and early growth and root formation. Potassium is also essential in complementing nitrogen for high grass production and is important for ensuring the grass is as drought resistant as possible and improves wither hardiness as well as being required for flowering. The final element is sulphur – grass has a similar requirement for sulphur as it does for phosphorus and it forms part of essential amino acids. A more modern approach is to fertilise specifically to

your requirements rather than a generic NPK combination. You might also want to fertilise specifically to support root growth and development without too much grass growth especially if you have legumes present. If you have deficiencies in these key nutrients you will see reduced productivity. Phosphorus is more likely to be deficient in clay soils,

“Grass is a highly important resource that horse managers can undervalue” plants will display dull blue/green leaves and poor root development. Potassium deficiencies can be seen through poor drought resistance and winter hardiness. For sulphur slight deficiencies should still produce reasonable grazing but for conserving forage you will see reduced yields after the first cut. If you are using animal manure as fertiliser then you are unlikely to have a sulphur deficiency.

What to do when nutrient levels are low

We have seen above that at certain points of the year nutrient content, especially protein, may be limiting. So how do we improve this situation other than introducing legumes and following the tips above? One thing you can do is get the pasture tested for nutrient content in the same way you can for hay and haylage, but this will only give you a snapshot for that sample at that time. Alternatively, you can make use of conserved forage. Good hay and haylage produced when grass is at its best can be an excellent way to provide forage based nutrition. Colleagues and I at the Royal Agricultural University recently published a study looking at growth rates of TB foals fed a total fibre, cereal free, mixed ration compared to those fed cereal based stud cubes. We found no difference in the average daily gain and growth trajectories between both groups. So, at times when nutrient levels in grass are low, conserved forages and complementary feeds would then be a suitable addition to the diet. Our take home message is that grass is a highly important resource that many horse managers undervalue. Good grassland management can reap rewards in providing good quality cost effective forage to horses.

Dr Simon Daniels is a senior lecturer in equine science at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Simon’s area of specialism is equid gut health and this encompasses both intestinal parasites and equine nutrition, both of which are particularly pertinent to equine grassland management




Chartered Surveyor

RICS Valuations, Leases, Sales 124 High Street, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8JP

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. . Your Racing . Colours To Life . Bringing THE OWNER IrisUPC BREEDER 69

More than £600,000 in GBB Jumps bonuses paid out! Could you be our next winner? The focus of the GBB scheme for the first couple of months of 2021 has been on the Jumps programme. There have already been 21 winners since January 1st, bringing the total distribution of Jumping bonuses to more than £600,000. Of particular note (and this has been used extensively in our advertising and marketing of the scheme), is that there have been four multiple winners already this year. Three of those winners were Jumps fillies, each of which has triumphed in three GBB races: ANYTHINGFORLOVE has won GBB Jumps winners:

GBB Jumps bonus payments:


£60,000 for Jamie Snowden; MARADA has collected £25,000 for Dan Skelton; and MARTELLO SKY has picked up £22,500 for Lucy Wadham. The scheme also had some excellent TV and media coverage of PERFECT MYTH and MOLLY OLLYS WISHES as they (unsuccessfully) pursued their third multiple win. All of this provided vital publicity for the scheme in the build-up to the February 28th Flat two-year-olds’ registration deadline. Grant Pritchard-Gordon, GBB scheme manager

GBB Flat winners:

GBB Flat bonus payments:

Total bonus payments:


71 £612,500


MARADA and MOLLY OLLYS WISHES, multiple-bonus winners over the Jumps, have given Dan Skelton his share of the pie! The GBB is a great scheme and a big help to breeders and sellers of fillies, particularly in the current climate. The support of British breeding is paramount and the GBB scheme is a fantastic incentive for both breeders and owners. We should be really proud that this scheme exists to promote British-bred horses and it is nothing but an asset to our industries. Dan Skelton, trainer (Bonus payments: £65,000)

Trainers getting their slice of the pie Michael Scudamore

Hugo Palmer Alan King

Chris Honour Neil King

2 Jimmy Moffatt

Lucy Wadham

2 3




Bryan Smart


4 Jamie Snowden

Dan Skelton

William Haggas


3 Henry Daly

Richard Hannon

Jumps Jumps bonuses won

Harry Fry

3 3



6 6

Flat bonuses won



4 Roger Varian

4 Fergal O’Brien

Charlie Appleby

Roger Charlton

5 Mark Johnston

Ralph Beckett

John Gosden

5 Karl Burke

Early warning – 2020 yearling filly registrations close May 31st For more information on eligibility, visit TBA GBB TOB Mailers A4_April.indd 1

Information correct at time of going to press

23/03/2021 14:57




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The special section for ROA members


ROA Forum

The stands were empty for this year’s Cheltenham Festival but owners are now permitted to return to racecourses

Owners back on track


s we go to press plans are in motion to welcome owners back to racecourses in England and Scotland from March 29, in line with the government roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions. Racecourse attendance has been restricted since early January, following the announcement of a national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. During this period, owners have continued to support their horses in training, despite not being able to see them in yards or on course. British racing is enormously grateful to owners for their patience, understanding and unwavering support. Owners returning to the racecourse will mark a significant step in the return to normality – and will be welcomed by the entire industry. Under current plans, owners – as key investors in British racing – will be able to attend race meetings in England and Scotland from March 29 as part of a phased, risk-managed approach, which corresponds as closely as possible with the respective government timetables. Like other elite sport, racing continues to operate behind closed doors, with strict infection control measures in place. Therefore, owners will be asked to follow the BHA’s Covid-19 requirements and


the specific owner protocols. These are outlined at with updates shared in our daily Inside Track ebulletin. If you are not receiving the daily ebulletin, please email us at Unless agreed otherwise with local authorities, from March 29 to April 12, access to the racecourse will be limited to a maximum of two owners per horse, as was the case initially when owners returned in July 2020. Racecourses will not be able to provide hospitality at this stage, due to government restrictions, but light refreshments will be available and there will be no time limit on how long owners are able to remain on course. The aim is to increase access to a maximum of six owners per horse from April 12, following further easing in government restrictions. At this point, racecourses will also be permitted to reintroduce outdoor hospitality. Specific arrangements remain subject not only to government guidance, but also local authority decision-making and therefore conditions may vary according to racecourse area. Racecourse officials are currently liaising with their local authorities and will contact owners directly ahead of each fixture with further details of any local requirements. As ever, pre-registration is essential,

and owners will be emailed automatically with details of how to register once their horse is entered to run. Please also see the Racecourse Association’s guide for owners, also available on the ROA website, which outlines important information on returning to the racecourse. Racecourses in Wales are awaiting guidance on the return of owners, so please check with the racecourse in question as to the current arrangements. We would like to thank those owners who have attended behind closed doors fixtures and co-operated fully with the infection control measures in place. These are designed to keep everyone safe and protect racing from the risk of Covidrelated disruption. Thank you for your support – and we look forward to seeing you back on the racecourse.

Keeping racing Covid safe

Owners are reminded that they can prepare for their return to the racecourse by completing the online Covid learning at if they have not already done so. Owners who are unable to access online learning can obtain details on request to the ROA office. Email info@ or call 01183 385680.

Lambourn Open Day goes virtual For the second year, the coronavirus has prevented the Lambourn Open Day from taking place. The event has previously attracted around 10,000 visitors in its traditional Good Friday slot. This year the Peter O’Sullevan Lambourn Virtual Open Day will be held on Good Friday, April 2. Events will be conducted online at with video clips, interviews and articles. Each trainer will have their own page to host a 360°

degree tour of their yard and to suggest horses to follow. The ROA will be helping to support this event, which benefits hardworking stable staff and their families. Fundraising will be conducted online through a silent auction and raffle. Except for some seven films on Lambourn, which will be available to watch on Good Friday, April 2 onwards, all the items for our Open Day site will be shown from Monday, March 29 and remain viewable until April 2022.

Royal Ascot prize-money boosted Prize-money for Royal Ascot 2021 will total £6 million over the week – a 66% increase on the £3.61m offered in 2020. The Royal Meeting will take place from June 15-19. The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, which takes place in July, will be run for £875,000, having been worth £400,000 when Enable recorded her third win in the contest last year. Guy Henderson, Chief Executive Officer at Ascot racecourse, explained last month: “In 2020 we had hoped to offer record prize-money of more than £8 million at the Royal Meeting. In the event the pandemic made that impossible and we have now spent nearly a year racing behind closed

doors with our trading income down 80%. “This year’s prize-money of £6m represents 75% of what we had originally planned for 2020. “With restricted attendances in 2021 and pandemic insurance cover no longer available, the business will need to absorb a significant loss this year in order to deliver our wish to support the industry with the most prize-money that we can prudently afford. “Whilst Covid-19 has knocked back our long-term financial trajectory by several years, our aim is to make the largest steps we can towards getting prize-money levels back on track as soon as possible. “Without owners we would have no

racing. We are very grateful for their commitment and thank them for their support. We look forward to being able to increase prize-money further as soon as it is possible for us to do so. “We are also very grateful to our official partners, QIPCO and Longines, as well as our official suppliers, sponsors, broadcast partners and betting media partners. All of their support is deeply appreciated. “We at Ascot much look forward to being able to welcome back our racegoers in June and delivering a special week of racing, both for those who are able to be with us on site and the many millions who will be with us in spirit through our broadcast and digital channels.”


Prize-money for this year’s Royal Meeting will total £6 million


ROA Forum

The Festival at Home


he Cheltenham Festival was very different this year, and the pilgrimage to Gloucestershire would have been most especially missed by the owners involved. The week provided some fantastic stories on the racecourse and racing can be justifiably proud of the sport and its participants and showed what our sport is really about. While events had to be enjoyed at home, owners were at the heart of the Cheltenham story. The partnership between the Jockey Club, ITV and the ROA helped to put owners at the heart of Festival coverage, through daily pre-race owner interviews on The Opening Show and during racing, sharing owner stories. The colours of every owner who has had a winner shown on ITV Racing since racing resumed last summer were branded in the stands as was the ROA. We look forward to building on this arrangement and new partnerships. Owners are the lifeblood of our sport and have played a vital role through these difficult times. Recognising and valuing their contribution has to be a continued part of the racing conversation going

Value Racing Club’s Leoncavallo finished a fine sixth in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

forward. As the voice of owners, the ROA continues to work across the industry to ensure that, as the country comes out of lockdown, owners and the promotion of ownership is at the centre of the industry’s recovery. On each of the four days an ROA

Les Fell saw his star performer Silver Streak contest the Champion Hurdle


Owner of the Day was recognised and their story shared on the day their horse ran. We would like to thank all four owners – Les Fell (owner of Silver Streak), Emma Palmer (Le Breuil), Racing for Maggie’s Partnership (Another Venture) and Value Racing Club (Leoncavallo) – and connections for sharing their stories, and they are curated at Direct contact was made with owners of many of the winners and placed horses, to congratulate them and let them know how to obtain images and race replays. ROA Ambassador Richard Johnson did sterling work in providing members with regular video clip updates before and after racing, which were shared via Twitter. Our thanks go to Richard’s wife Fiona for arranging the clips. The ROA marquee at the Festival is usually one the most popular gatherings for members during the year. While the Festival had to be enjoyed at home, members were able to take part in our usual free daily tipping competition, offering £150 per day to the winner. Competition was typically strong and we saw some split winners across the week. We were delighted to share the daily prizes among Alan Beard, Gillian Morgan, Heather Shane, Ian Bellingham, Jeff Craft, Nick Burrows, Celia Djivanovic, Paul Stacey and Geoff Forward. A new Triple Crown competition to predict the leading owner, trainer and jockey over the Festival went down to the wire with two entries in contention until the last race where Willie Mullins secured

the champion trainer trophy with Galopin Des Champs’ victory in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. Managing a clean sweep and picking the leading owner (Cheveley Park Stud), jockey (Rachael Blackmore) and trainer was Kate O’Brien. Congratulations Kate – a luxury hamper has been despatched. There were some incredible images captured over the four days. A selection of images are available in printed and mounted form, along with raceday videos in memory cards through the Raceday Photos online portal. See http://www. or email: orders@

Bonus won

There were smiles all around when The Shunter won the Paddy Power Plate for owner Paul Byrne, trainer Emmet Mullins and rider Jordan Gainford landing connections a bet365-sponsored £100,000 bonus. The owner’s influence reportedly saw the 20-year-old 7lb claimer take the ride and the move paid off when Gainford delivered an impressive victory, having finished second in the Pertemps Network Final earlier in the afternoon. Credit must be paid to Kelso racecourse, which adjusted the race conditions at the start of the year to offer the substantial bonus to the winner of the Morebattle Hurdle if they followed up with success in any race at the Festival. The Shunter did just that, back over fences only 12 days after his Morebattle win.

Aintree arrangements

As the Randox Grand National Festival is rapidly approaching, we wanted to share some brief information on what to expect at this year’s event. More detailed information will be sent to all owners after

Emma Palmer with her pride and joy Le Breuil, who took on Tiger Roll at the Festival

entries have closed. Aintree racecourse very much hopes to welcome owners on course at Aintree for the Randox Grand National Festival (April 8-10) subject to the easing of restrictions as per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Regrettably, due to the government restrictions on hospitality which will still be in place, Aintree will be unable to offer the full raceday experience that owners will be used to at Aintree this year. Owners will be based in an Amber Zone, which will include access to the Earl of Derby and Queen Mother Grandstands. Unfortunately, Aintree is not permitted to allow access to the parade ring, winner’s enclosure or to walk the track before racing. Six owners’ badges will be available The Racing For Maggie’s Partnership tuned in to see Another Venture run in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase

per runner. However, due to the restrictions placed by local authorities, it will not be possible to issue or purchase any additional badges. Badges must strictly be used only by the named/ registered owner or their immediate family. Badges cannot be transferred to the owners of other horses, owners without runners or other guests. All badges must be booked via the PASS System by 4pm on the day before racing by the named/registered owner. Aintree regrets that it will not be able to take badge bookings received by phone/ email sent by the trainer’s office. Every owner with an entry will be sent both an email via Weatherbys and also via the PASS System. Owners are reminded to ensure their email contact information is up to date on the PASS System and also at to ensure they receive pre-raceday communications. ROA members will receive updated information via the Inside Track daily ebulletin. International owners without access to the PASS System should contact Carly Sage at Aintree. Canteen-style catering, soft and hot drinks will be available for owners in the Amber Zone. Accommodation is available in Liverpool for individuals travelling for work purposes (proof may be requested by the hotel). Further information on hotels can be found at www.visitliverpool. com. For further information regarding attendance, please contact Carly Sage at or 0151 522 2959.


ROA Forum


Jack Turton is looking forward to getting back on a racecourse in 2021

Improving mare Dragon Bones and Robbie Dunne (right) recorded a Listed win for owner Jack Turton (inset) at Doncaster on March 6


t may not have been the most super of Saturdays but a 5,423-1 fourtimer on what is invariably the most competitive day’s racing of the week is not to be sniffed at, and Jack Turton was highly delighted that Dragon Bones was part of Ian Williams’ quartet of winners on the first Saturday of last month. To say that the six-year-old has been a pal to any punter who has sided with her from the outset is an early contender for understatement of the year, having scored at 50-1 and 40-1 - from just three starts! In between she was fourth at 66s. Last month’s win came in a Listed contest at Doncaster live on ITV, with Dragon Bones running on well under Robbie Dunne in stepping up in trip by a mile to defeat eight rivals by upwards of two and three-quarter lengths. Her owner, whose business is property development, has been involved in the sport for a good while, as he explains, saying: “I have long been interested in horses and have followed them all my life really.


“I really got interested in owning myself when my brother Sam bred a horse, at least 25 years ago now, at his small racing stable. He ran in a few point-to-points, and I brought the horse from him. He was Samara Song, who ran a good number of times and was frequently placed.

“Horseracing is the most exhilarating sport to be involved in” “At the time Paul Nicholls used to come and ride out for my brother, along with Guy Upton. Through the purchase of Samara Song, I got to know Ian Williams and his father Billy, and he has been my trainer for most of the time I’ve been in racing.”

Turton continues: “I’ve had several partnerships in horses over the years with a few different trainers, one of which was Mick Easterby. I got to know Oliver Greenall there, who is now training himself. “I’ve always followed racing, and dabbled in it a little bit, and I’ve met some great racing people; nowadays some of my best times are spent playing golf with Dave Crosse and the other jockeys I’ve come to know through racing.” Dragon Bones is one of around 20 horses Turton has owned, and he was more than happy to entrust the training of her to Williams. “I have stuck with Ian over the years because he is the most honest and straightforward guy – he is knowledgeable and his horse husbandry is second to none,” says Turton. “The time that he spent with Francois Doumen, the master French trainer, taught him a lot about conciliation with horses, and that’s how he tends to get the best out of the horses. They may not be the best,

News in brief Fixtures from May but he gets the best out of them. He has a wicked sense of humour too, which helps in this business.” Williams is one of the premier dual-purpose trainers in the land, and Turton has enjoyed magical moments on the Flat as well as over jumps, a couple of them split by more than 20 years. “Winning at York with Samara Song, ridden by the American Gary Stevens, was most definitely a magical moment,” he says. “This little horse was barely 15 1hh and was like a little motorbike; he used to dodge his way through lots of horses. “He wasn’t a frequent winner but always gave his best and was more often than not placed. He was a great-looking horse, and always won best turned out. “I have fond memories also of the 17hh mare who I brought from Germany, Reseda, who won at Taunton and Ludlow. “More recently, it was fantastic to watch Dragon Bones win at Doncaster, having never run over hurdles before, or over three miles.” Watching from afar on television, rather than at the track, has sadly become the norm, but, like all his fellow owners, Turton hopes that 2021 brings a change of tack in that regard. “The best times are yet to come, I would say, as I look to the future and being able to get back to live racing at the track, as this is the most exhilarating sport to be involved in,” says Turton. “To see your colours at the track and the buzz of the crowd, there is nothing like it! “The worst moment for me as an owner was losing a horse at the races, which happened with a horse called Alarico, who unfortunately had to be put down at the course. At the time I was with two friends who I had just sold a share to, and this was their first horse.” Such highs and lows are perhaps inevitable for any long-standing owner, which makes it all the more important to savour the good times, and horses like Dragon Bones.

Programme book two, listing full fixtures from May to June, is available now at www2.racingadmin. Registered owners can access the Racing Admin website to search on fixtures. A listing can also be found at

Owners Guide to Buying

Tattersalls has provided a helpful guide to buying and selling at Tattersalls following the departure of the UK from the single market and the customs union. The pdf document can be found at

Madrid’s spring programme

The Hipódromo de la Zarzuela racecourse in Madrid stages an exciting spring programme offering over €390,000 across its main eight races. Feature fixtures at Zarzuela take place on Saturdays during June. Entries closed in February for the race programme. Details can be found at and were shared with members in our Inside Track bulletin on February 23 as they closed the following day. Trainers Ed Dunlop and Andrew Balding have supported the

meeting in recent seasons, adding an international spectacle and dimension. La Zarzuela was built in the 1940s and established in 2003 as a business organisation wholly dependent on the Spanish government. Attendees may be subject to possible restrictions. Visitors are advised to check local restrictions in place.

Flat owners’ championship

This year’s Flat Owners’ Championship will revert to its usual format of beginning with the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas meeting at Newmarket on May 1 and concluding on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 16.

Riding fees

Riding fees were increased by 0.6% with effect from March 1, as agreed between the ROA and Professional Jockeys Association, in line with the inflation rate of December 2020. From that date the jump fee increased to £174.63 and the Flat fee to £127.90. The non-runner fee has increased for jump riders to £87.31 and Flat £63.95. Valet fees and jockey coach fees also increased by 0.6%.

Golf Day at Woburn Plans are in motion for the first Injured Jockeys Fund and Racing Welfare Golf Day to be held at the iconic Woburn Golf Course on July 21. The ROA will be supporting the fundraising event by sponsoring the nearest the pin/hole in one competition. A prize of £50,000 will be awarded for a hole in one. This event continues to attract support from racing and beyond with all revenue raised by the event being split 50/50 between the IJF and Racing Welfare. Owners will be given the chance to feature their racing colours at the course either on an individual hole or on a team’s golf buggies. Support of 16 holes and 28 buggies will be invited through an online

auction with the chance to brand with owners’ colours. The winning bidder for each hole would receive branding at and around the tee box. Each of the successful 16 bidders would also have their colours featured on each table used for hospitality at the event. The reserve for each hole will be £200 with each hole offered as an individual lot. Further details of the auction will follow shortly and be shared with members via our usual communication channels. There is still a limited opportunity to enter a team of three in the event as well – for more information please contact Naomi Jones at njones@


TBA Forum

The special section for TBA members

Bumper month for British bloodstock


The ultra-game Dashel Drasher captures the Grade 1 Ascot Chase under Matt Griffiths


ebruary may be the shortest month of the year but British-bred winners came thick and fast over the course of the 28 days both on the Flat and over obstacles. The first day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown witnessed a spectacular victory for the Dr Geoffrey Guy-bred Honeysuckle in the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle. In retaining her title, the daughter of Sulamani jumped with prowess and put up a thoroughly spectacular performance. The following day the Britishbred Quilixios captured the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle for owners Cheveley Park Stud. The same day, but at Musselburgh, the Pantile Studbred Fiveandtwenty, a four-year-old daughter of Farhh, captured the Listed Scottish Triumph Hurdle. In what was a stacked week of action in the third week of the month, 11 Graded contests were staged in Britain and six of them fell the way of Britishbreds, a strike-rate of 55%. These victories were headlined by the success of Dashel Drasher in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase. A son of Passing Glance, for whom this was a first top-level success, the eight-year-old was bred by Camilla Scott out of the five-time point-topoint winner So Long, and maintained his progressive profile with a fourth win at the Berkshire track from as many starts. Having idled and then rallied late on he defeated fellow Brit Master Tommytucker (Kayf Tara). On the undercard at Ascot, the Elms Stud and Graham Peck-bred

Remastered made it three from three over fences for David Pipe in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, while at Haydock Park the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle was won by the Mouse Hamilton-Fairley-bred Third Wind. The following day, at Newbury’s rearranged Betfair Hurdle meeting, Secret Investor, a son of Kayf Tara bred by Brian and Gwen Griffiths, made every fence a winning one under Bryony Frost in the Grade 2 Denman Chase. The week started out with Kingmaker Novices’ Chase day at Warwick – rearranged due to the weather having played its part in wreaking havoc on the race programme

– which was won in good style by the Stetchworth & Middle Park Studs-bred Allmankind. A son of Sea The Moon, the Lanwades Stud-based stallion was also represented by Tritonic, a smooth winner of the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park at the end of the month. Later in the week and Sandown Park played host to an intriguing card, which included the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over an intermediate trip. Come the end of a stamina-sapping contest, the Bryan Mayoh-bred Anythingforlove, a Black Sam Bellamy half-sister to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John, was victorious.

Royal performs on biggest stage in Herbie Dyke A three-time winner for owner John Fretwell, Turn Tide was sold to Hong Kong and renamed Royal Performer. A two-time winner for Caspar Fownes, he found his way down to New Zealand last year. The son of Medicean, bred by Lady Legard, has found a new lease of life and rattled off his fourth win in seven New Zealand starts when defeating a field that included star mare Melody Belle in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa. A week before and at Caufield, the Gerhard Schoeningh-bred Best Of Days landed his third Grade 3 contest in Australia when winning the Carlyon Cup.


The Dubai Racing Carnival continued throughout the month and there were a number of successes. The Juddmonte Farms Ltd-bred Equilateral followed up a Listed win at Meydan the preceding month in the Group 2 Meydan Sprint, his first win in Group company. Godolphin scored in black-type company with a sextet of homebreds across the four Thursdays of racing in February. Sons of Dubawi, Dubai Future and Naval Crown, scored at Listed level in the Meydan Cup and Meydan Classic respectively. A Group 2 winner at the Carnival in 2020, Zakouski took the lead in

the final furlong ahead of success in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya. At the beginning of the month, Secret Ambition, officially bred by Darley, gained a second Group 3 win of his seven-year racing career when running clear for success in the Firebreak Stakes on dirt. On the card in which Naval Crown won the Meydan Classic, Star Safari and Volcanic Sky were successful in the Dubai Millennium Stakes and Nad Al Sheba Trophy, both Group 3 contests, respectively. Results up to and including February 28. Produced in association with GBRI.

Enhancement to Digital Equine Movement System


Molly Ollys Wishes: Listed winner at Warwick

Wishes coming true through exploits of Molly Given a positive ride by Harry Skelton at Warwick in the middle of February, Molly Ollys Wishes dished out a 15-length beating to the reigning French Champion Hurdler Paul’s Saga in the Listed Warwick Mares’ Hurdle. That victory provided the highlight to the breeding operation thus far for brothers Dean and Kim Pugh. “We started out in syndicates with Man Of Mystery in the early 90s. He won six or so times for us and was sixth in the Mildmay of Flete after we had sent him to Nigel Twiston-Davies,” said Dean Pugh. “After him we went to the sales in Doncaster and thought we would buy a mare – La Bella Villa won first up in a bumper at Aintree. She was retired early and Kim bought out the syndicate and her best was Amroth Bay, who won the Cambridgeshire National.” Following the death of La Bella Villa, another broodmare was considered and Mick Appleby pointed the brothers in the direction of September Moon, a daughter of Bustino. “We purchased her at the end of her racing career,” said Dean. “She visited Black Sam Bellamy three times and produced Molly Ollys Wishes as well as Olly The Brave, who we sadly lost last autumn after he was recovering from injury. “There is a five-year-old by Haafhd, which went to Dan [Skelton] last summer, but needed more time, so will go back there this summer, and we

have a lovely three-year-old filly by Telescope. September Moon was retired a couple of years ago and spends her time just behind the house.” Subsequent to her black-type win, Molly Ollys Wishes was third in the National Spirit Hurdle, her first attempt in Graded company. “Molly has surpassed them all – she is rated 147 and there is more to come,” said Dean. “She would have preferred more cut at Fontwell, but against the quality of opposition, she probably ran her best race. It is now difficult to find races for her, she did not take to chasing at home, but the plan will be to run her till she is ten and then breed from her.” The seven-year-old mare is named after a local charity that supports the emotional wellbeing of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Molly Ollys Wishes was set up by family friends Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw after their daughter Molly was diagnosed with a Wilms tumour at three. Dean said: “The mare was named after the charity originally with a view to giving awareness to the charity’s name. “As a company [West Mercia Fork Trucks] we support the charity financially. We give every month anyway, but this year Molly Ollys Wishes has had such a great campaign that we’ll see what she’s won come April and do a one-off donation.”

Following the issue of Equine Premises Numbers (EPNs) to the owners/ managers of thoroughbred breeding premises at the end of January, developments are now being made to the software at Weatherbys to facilitate the mandatory capture of EPNs against routine online General Stud Book registrations (e.g. foal and broodmare registrations). If you are the assigned keeper of an establishment where thoroughbred broodmares or young stock are kept and did not receive an EPN, these are available by request (free of charge) from Weatherbys (01933 440077 or e-mail: If you are a breeder who boards your mares and foals externally but who processes your own Stud Book registrations, you will need to request the EPN from the manager of the farm(s) that your horses are residing at. The Digital Equine Movement System (DEMS) is also being upgraded to support the semi-permanent (90 days or more) movement of horses around EPNs. The DEMS portal can be accessed by typing the following into your web browser: https:// Breeders are reminded that as part of the TBA Covid-19 Breeding Season Protocols, the movement of mares for covering, plus any travel across EU borders, should be recorded on DEMS. The e-passport, currently in production for the 2021 British and Irish foal crops, will store the movement history of horses uploaded via DEMS. These digital enhancements are important steps in increasing the lifetime traceability and welfare of thoroughbreds.

Mares' movements are recorded on DEMS


TBA Forum

Racing Welfare launches spring family support grant Coronavirus has hit people in many different ways, including putting pressure on the finances of individuals within the racing and breeding industries. Last month Racing Welfare launched its spring family support grant, which aims to assist in alleviating the financial pressures that some families are facing. Simone Sear, Head of Welfare at Racing Welfare, said: “We know that the pandemic continues to impact many racing families and as such, I am really pleased to announce our spring family support grant. "We hope this grant will reduce the strain on parents and families in our industry. The application process is very straightforward and confidential so please get in touch with our team to find out if your family could benefit.” Racing Welfare will award grants to those who currently work (and/or have lost their job/work due to coronavirus) in the racing and breeding industries, and who have dependent children (up to the age of 18 years). The grant is awarded to assist with additional expenses caused by the pandemic and to prevent financial difficulties for families with dependent-

Jacques Prinsloo, winner of the Stud Employee Award last year, and family


age children. All awards are discretionary and grants will be awarded at £100 per child (up to 18 years) to a maximum of four children per family. Grant applications will close on May 7, 2021 (or sooner if all available funds are used before this date). Applications can be made by phoning the support line on 0800 6300 443, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Grants are available to anyone

currently working in the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry who has dependent, school-age children (4-18 years). Parents must be working or be self-employed in the industry for a minimum of one year, or have lost their job or work or be on furlough, within the last year. Total household net income must be on or below the Joseph Rowntree Minimum Income Standard and be in receipt of child benefit.

TBA Stud Employee Award: nominate now Nominations for the TBA’s Stud Employee Award are now being accepted. Kindly sponsored by New England Stud, the award winner will be selected from six shortlisted candidates and will receive a £2,000 cash prize. The award winner will also receive the perpetual Charlie Langton bronze trophy and be invited to attend the TBA’s Flat Breeders’ Awards evening later in the year. The award recognises the significant contribution that stud employees make to the breeding industry and reward those who have shown dedication and excellence in their role.

Last year the winning recipient was Jacques Prinsloo, who is based at the Harper family’s Whitsbury Manor Stud. The remaining five shortlisted nominees will be given £250 in recognition of their achievement. Nominations can be made by an employer or fellow colleague by downloading a form from the TBA website, where further details and terms and conditions of the award can be found. Nominations close Friday, May 28 and late nominations will not be accepted. Completed nominations should be sent by post to the TBA office or emailed to Heather Ewence at heather.

This month the ever popular regional forum will be taken online for the first time with our inaugural virtual webinar scheduled to take place on Monday, April 12 at 2pm. The forum will provide a great opportunity for TBA members to learn about the current hot topics, including a Brexit update, information on the Animal Health Law, which comes into effect on April 21, plus the latest news and updates from Weatherbys and Racing Welfare. Also on hand will be one of our regional representatives, who will give an overview on their role as an ambassador for the TBA and how they can help breeders at a local level. The interactive forum will end with a question and answer session, which gives the chance to put questions to the presenters in an open session. Further information about the event and details of how you can join in can be found on the events page of the TBA website at www.

Nominate your 2021 Devonshire and Dominion Award winners The TBA is calling on members to put forward nominees for both the Devonshire and Dominion Awards, which will be presented at the TBA’s Flat Breeders’ Awards Evening later in the year. The Andrew Devonshire Award recognises outstanding achievement and contribution to the British thoroughbred breeding industry, and was last year awarded to Anthony Oppenheimer. The Dominion Award, which recognises outstanding contribution and long-term commitment to the improvement of the thoroughbred, was last year presented to Ruth Quinn. If you have a suggestion, please email

Meet the regional reps Every TBA member belongs in one of seven regions, each of which is headed up by a group of volunteer regional representatives who work tirelessly to help us promote British breeding. Over the past six months the TBA has secured a number of new regional representatives. Regional representatives are on hand to offer support and guidance to members at a local level.


A long-standing regional rep for the south-west region, Caroline George says: “I have always been interested in racing and was lucky as a child to spend holidays in Westmeath where my grandmother ran Tally-Ho Stud for my great uncle Sir Cecil BoydRochfort where many good winners were bred. More recently my sister and brother-in-law started the very successful Manor Farm Stud (Rutland) where they bred amongst others Airwave and Jwala. “When my husband John and I moved to Cornwall we started with one National Hunt mare. She has done us so well. Out of her first six offspring, five have been winners, with the first three homebred mares being trained by my stepson Tom George all being winners. Miss Night Owl won four races and was Listed-placed and is now a broodmare, continuing the line of our foundation mare Moyliscar. As well as Miss Night Owl we have three further National Hunt mares. “I have really enjoyed my time as a TBA representative for the west country, particularly when we are able to meet up at stable and stud visits and on the racecourse, hopefully congratulating TBA members on their winners!”



Return of regional forums

“As a family, we run a commercial Flat stud under the banner of Stringston Farm,” says south-west regional rep Nick Pocock. “The breeding venture is run alongside beef and arable ventures. We consign both foals and yearlings at Tattersalls and Goffs UK. In our 20 years of breeding Flat thoroughbreds, Rekindling winning the 2017 Melbourne Cup was our most memorable day.”


One of the regional reps for the west region, Tim Davies says: “Nature rather than nurture explains my interest in horses. Even though my grandfather died before I started school the seeds had already been sown. At 14 I was a regular in the local bookmakers and knew the form inside out. Much later in life I formed a small syndicate with a couple of work colleagues and we bought a sprinter called Misaro. He won several times, and the journey began. “After Misaro retired, I joined another syndicate and we bought a Kayf Tara filly. She ran only once but was blighted by injury. Against lots of advice I bought her out of the syndicate and she became my first broodmare. I soon bought another mare, the uniquely named Ykikamoocow and between them they have bred four colts – it must be something in the water! – by Mountain High, Dartmouth and Jack Hobbs. “Although I haven’t been ‘hands on’ for very long I have been overwhelmed by the level of support and advice I have received. I have been equally impressed with the TBA; they do so much for the thoroughbred community. I very much look forward to being part of this and helping where I can.”



TBA Forum

Point-to-Point bonus renewed With the return of point-to-points at the end of March, the TBA is delighted to announce that its popular Point-toPoint 3-2-1 bonus has been renewed for this year, with updated conditions. The bonus aims to encourage more owners to test their mares on the point-to-point circuit and provide those proven horses with the opportunity to progress to the National Hunt racing programme. Previous bonus winners include the subsequent dual winning hurdler Lily The Pink and the winning hurdler Granny’s Secret. In order for connections to receive a bonus they must fulfil the following criteria: • Be the highest-placed mare in the top three; • Carry a GB suffix; • Be owned by a TBA member. Should connections fulfil the above criteria, bonuses will be paid out as follows: 1st - £3,000; 2nd - £2,000; 3rd - £1,000.

The bonus offers prizes up to £3,000

Qualifying races are due to be staged at Exeter on April 22, Aintree on May 14 and Stratford on May 28. Mare owners with eligible horses can join the TBA to qualify for the bonus up to the day prior to the qualifying bumper in which the horse is entered. For cases where horses are owned by

more than one individual, the majority (of up to eight partners) must be current members, otherwise for larger syndicates, just the managing partners will need to be current TBA members. Further details can be found on the TBA website or by contacting olivia. or call 01638 661321.

Congratulations Elody The TBA would like to congratulate Elody Swann (pictured), who was crowned winner in the Stud Staff category of the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, which were presented live on Racing TV on February 22. Elody, a long-standing member of the team at Newsells Park Stud, beat Tom Hughes (Hazelwood Bloodstock) and Martin Languillet (Fittocks Stud) to the prestigious award. Elody manages a barn of 28 mares and foals during the season and runs one of the two barns for yearling prep, as well as taking overall responsibility for foal prep at the Hertfordshire-based stud. On the evening, Elody said: “I used to work with showjumpers in France but my big passion was the breeding industry so I came to England – I could not speak a word of English. “I’m very lucky to work for Newsells, they gave me a good chance and now I’ve been here for 17 years. I love looking after the foals, then seeing them as yearlings and seeing them run. It makes me very proud.”

MEMBERSHIP BENEFIT – Racecourse Badge Scheme for Breeders Following the release of the Covid-19 roadmap the TBA anticipates that the full range of Racecourse Badge Scheme for Breeders (RBSB) benefits will be available to scheme members in a few months’ time. By signing up to the RBSB, breeders are entitled to free entry at


many UK racecourses should a horse you have bred be declared to run. During racing behind closed doors, members in the scheme have received alerts when horses they have bred have been entered and/or declared in all GB races. This service has been well received with members commentating

on how much they enjoy finding out where horses they have bred are running. We have now enhanced the alerts with a congratulatory message being sent to members should they have bred a winner. To join the RBSB please contact

Breeder of the Month Words Howard Wright

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BREEDER OF THE MONTH (February 2021)

The Glanvilles Stud


Breeders are optimists by nature, but even the most optimistic, such as Doug Procter, is apprehensive about what the rest of 2021 will bring. Procter, who with his wife Lucy manages The Glanvilles Stud near Sherborne, Dorset, in a 50-50 association with his business partner Dr Geoffrey Guy, has started the year on a high, being named TBA Breeder of the Month for February for the Irish Champion Hurdle success of Honeysuckle. Yet he worries about what lies ahead. “I’m desperate to sell some stock,” he says, pointing in the direction of the coronavirus pandemic for the halt in activities. “It’s over a year since we had any meaningful sales. We sold a couple privately, but it’s been tough, especially having the foal sale put back. And I think we’ll have a rocky year. “It takes time to get everything back on track. The foal pinhookers still have to buy, because they’re looking two years down the road. The store sales will be interesting, because the drivers of the market, the Irish point-to-pointers, are full, and have loads of stock, not just from this season but left over from last year. “I would expect the Goffs UK Spring Sale to be very strong, because I imagine the English trainer buyers will be straight in, rather than thinking they should keep their powder dry for the big sales later. I hope so; I’ve got a very nice Davidoff filly for that sale.” Procter’s sales experience with his two biggest successes offers a salutary lesson to anyone breeding for the National Hunt market. Sam Spinner sold for £6,000 as a foal, before nine wins from his first 21 races

Honeysuckle: pride of The Glanvilles Stud

helped towards prize-money earnings of more than £275,000. Honeysuckle turned her three-year-old store sale price of £9,500 to Irish amateur Mark O’Hare into a €110,000 sell-on to betting giant Kenny Alexander, who was rewarded with an unbeaten run of ten hurdles wins before she headed into this year’s Cheltenham Festival, where she produced an outstanding winning performance in the Champion Hurdle. “Honeysuckle was always a nice model,” Procter recalls. “I liked her pretty much as soon as she was foaled, which was why I sent her dam First Royal back to Sulamani the following year. “Had she been by a fashionable Irish stallion, she would have been a £2030,000 store, not £9,500. Instead, I had Irishmen coming up to me at the sale asking who the stallion was. Sulamani had a Grand National winner [Rule The World] and a St Leger winner [Mastery], and had been a phenomenally tough racehorse himself, but he wasn’t a commercial proposition, although at the time, apart

from Kayf Tara, probably nothing in Britain was.” Today’s other headache for British breeders, transport and accompanying issues in the wake of Brexit, has already affected The Glanvilles Stud schedule. “Normally, half my mares would go to France,” Procter explains, “which to an extent is a consequence of where I am – 40 minutes from Poole, where it’s quicker for me to get to Cherbourg than it is to most stallion studs in Britain. But this year I’ve got three mares booked to each of Telescope, Falco and Scalo; one is going to Planteur, one to Jack Hobbs and Honeysuckle’s half-sister Roc Royale is off to Nathaniel. “I have one mare going to Bathyrhon in France and one to Ireland. I’ll take the hit, see how easy it is to travel, and hopefully things will have got better by next season.” Procter adds: “I always use the stallion that I think is best, but one of the things with using French stallions is that at a reasonable level you could go to a good stallion, and when you’re at the foal sale, you’re one of only two or three by the stallion and you stand out. The stallion has a disproportionate effect on how much people think they want to pay.” Summing up, Procter says: “You like to think you can breed good horses, but if anyone sets out thinking they’re going to breed a horse that does what Honeysuckle has done, they’re kidding themselves. What she’s done has been fantastic. “Still, you have to be circumspect about this business. We’re all going to breed more moderate horses than good ones, but when you stand there and one of yours crosses the winning line in front, you can say, ‘I made that.’ That’s why it hurts so much when they run badly.”




The Foundation for Future Success



Vet Forum: The Expert View

Laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome L

Broodmares are particularly susceptible to laminitis

rest, some laminitis cases will weight shift or lean back in an attempt to shift weight from their toes back onto their heels. Feet will often be warm to the touch and on physical examination increased digital pulses are palpable. If sinking is occurring, there may be a depression at the coronary band. Severely affected animals may be reluctant to rise. Laminitis can be classified in a number of different ways: by clinical timeline and severity, by stage of damage within the foot, or by the underlying mechanisms and causes. Laminitis is often referred to as acute (recent onset, short duration) or chronic (long-term) laminitis depending on the length of time the condition has been ongoing. In the acute phase, inflammation and separation of the laminae occurs within the foot. In chronic cases there are characteristic structural changes including remodelling of the pedal bone.

can penetrate the sole of the foot, with lethal results. Clinical signs to look out for include lameness affecting one or multiple limbs, with the front feet often more severely impacted. This may manifest as a reluctance to move or turn, as well as a more subtle short-strided gait. At


aminitis is a very painful disease and a common cause of lameness in the horse population in general. It commonly affects ponies and native breeds but can also occur in thoroughbreds, particularly broodmares. The laminae are sensitive tissues in the horse’s foot; they are formed in two layers that link together to connect the hoof capsule to the underlying pedal bone. The laminae are essential in providing support and structural integrity to the horse’s foot. In laminitis, these tissues weaken and ‘stretch’. Mild cases may resolve without permanent damage to the foot, particularly if quick diagnosis and treatment takes place. In more severe or protracted cases, the damage to the laminae leads to a weakening of the connection between the hoof wall and pedal bone. If separation of the laminae occurs then the pedal bone can rotate or sink within the foot and in the most extreme cases the tip of the pedal bone

Figure 1 This radiograph shows the changes which can occur with acute severe laminitis. The distance between the top of the hoof capsule (upper horizontal arrow) and the top of the pedal bone (lower horizontal arrow) has increased because there is ‘sinking’ of the pedal bone within the hoof capsule. Notice that this can be appreciated by feeling a depression which has formed at the coronary band (vertical white arrow). The front of the pedal bone is almost penetrating through an extremely thin sole (vertical black arrow)


What are the common causes of laminitis? Identifying the underlying mechanism or cause for the condition is vital to allow effective treatment and prevent the condition recurring. Laminitis can occur secondary to severe systemic illnesses such as sepsis, hormonal (endocrine) disease or severe injury to one limb that alters weight loading of the other limbs

By Charlotte Easton-Jones MRCVS and Celia Marr FRCVS

What is pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction?

The pituitary gland controls many different processes in the body. It senses the body’s need and sends signals to numerous different organs and glands throughout the body and the molecules it produces to send these signals are hormones: for example, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH – which stimulates the adrenal gland), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH – which stimulates the thyroid gland) and prolactin (which stimulates the mammary gland). Different hormones are produced in the three different regions of the pituitary gland. Pituitary gland function is closely regulated by communication with the hypothalamus (a part of the brain) and PPID is due to age-related changes in these control mechanisms. Increase in cell populations within the pars intermedia results in increased production of ACTH and other hormones from this portion of the pituitary gland. The exact mechanisms by which PPID is linked to laminitis remain slightly unclear but it is now recognised that insulin is a key molecule in this process. Other clinical signs commonly seen in PPID include failure to shed hair fully, long curly hair coat, recurrent infections, excessive sweating, increased water intake and urination, lethargy, loss of muscle mass and infertility or abnormal cyclicity in mares. PPID can be managed medically and the most commonly used drug for this purpose is pergolide, which helps to restore effective communication between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

What is equine metabolic syndrome?

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a reversible endocrine disorder that is characterised by insulin dysregulation and abnormal fat metabolism. Clinical signs of EMS include obesity, particularly regional adiposity (abnormal fat deposits), lethargy, abnormal reproductive cycles and laminitis. In horses with EMS, changes in the foot can be progressing without a clinically obvious acute episode of

and can damage the cells lining the blood vessels, resulting in an alteration in blood supply to the hoof. Laminitis in EMS cases is therefore considered to be the result of vascular dysfunction. CELIA MARR

(support limb laminitis). In the majority of cases laminitis is a reflection of underlying endocrine disease or hormone imbalance. The most common endocrine disorders involved are equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID). PPID is sometimes known as Equine Cushing’s Disease. Horses can develop both PPID and EMS at the same time, further increasing their laminitis risk.

Figure 2 This radiograph shows changes which can occur with chronic laminitis. There are rings on the hoof wall due to irregular growth – most obvious by looking at the irregularities at the front of the hoof wall (white arrows). There are small mineralised areas at the toe of the pedal bone (black arrow). Notice that the angle of the front of the hoof capsule and the front of the pedal bone (dashed lines) are not parallel, indicating that the pedal bone has rotated within the hoof capsule

classical laminitis being reported. The majority of horses are overweight or obese prior to laminitic changes but there is also a variation known as ‘lean EMS phenotype’ where insulin dysregulation and laminitis develop in horses and ponies which are not overweight. Insulin dysregulation is central to EMS. Insulin is a chemical messenger (hormone) that communicates with and controls the function of many cells in the body. Insulin has key roles in glucose, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. When blood glucose rises, insulin is released and this sends glucose into cells such as muscle cells for use as fuel. Insulin also promotes the storage of energy as fat and glycogen. Insulin communicates with some cells directly whilst other cells such as the structural epithelial cells in the foot receive its message indirectly, i.e. they respond to other hormones which are triggered by insulin. Insulin dysregulation has two interrelated elements: • Insulin resistance is the failure of the tissues to respond appropriately to circulating insulin and regulate blood glucose concentrations. • Hyperinsulinaemia: as a result of insulin resistance, affected horses and ponies show increased resting levels of insulin in the blood (hyperinsulinaemia) and/or an increased insulin response to dietary sugars and amino acids resulting in high levels of insulin after eating (postprandial hyperinsulinaemia). Persistent hyperinsulinaemia in EMS cases predisposes them to developing laminitis. Insulin can affect blood vessel function

What are the risk factors for insulin dysregulation?

The risk of horses with EMS developing laminitis is highest in the springtime, although laminitic bouts are possible at other times of the year including the autumn. At these times the grass is richer and contains higher levels of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs). Grass accumulates NSC during hours with sunlight when they are photosensitising and then uses the NSC as the energy source for growth. This increase in starch, sugars and amino acids can exacerbate hyperinsulinaemia, leading to an increased risk of laminitis. Bright but cold mornings are particularly problematic as grass can continue to synthesise NSC due to the sunlight but fail to use the NSC if growth is reduced due to cold. Excessive food intake is not the only risk factor for insulin dysregulation. Some horses have a genetic predisposition with breed differences in insulin sensitivity having been recorded. This combined with obesity and regional adiposity increases the risk of insulin resistance developing. Inflammatory diseases, age, PPID and possibly pregnancy may also alter insulin regulation.

How can we diagnose equine metabolic syndrome? Diagnosis of EMS is a combination of the horse’s history, clinical signs and laboratory testing. Blood tests can be performed by your veterinarian to demonstrate high resting insulin and glucose levels or high levels after a carbohydrate challenge.

How is equine metabolic syndrome managed?

Diet and exercise are the most important elements in restoring insulin function and horses should be allowed to be lean in the winter and not get too fat in the summer. A low starch, low sugar diet and exercise can very effectively improve insulin function. Hard feed is usually removed from the diet. Sugar levels can vary in grass and forage but ideally forage with a NSC content of <10% should be fed. Sugar levels are higher in the grass on sunny days after a frost and in haylage compared with hay. Hay can be soaked for 20-30 minutes to remove sugars; soaking for longer periods of time may lead to accumulation of bacteria. An example diet for an obese animal



Vet Forum: The Expert View ››

would be 1.5% of the horse’s body weight in soaked hay and fed alongside a low calorie balancer. Limiting pasture access is also important via restricted grazing times, a bare paddock or use of a muzzle. In certain situations, drugs can help manage EMS cases, particularly if ability of the horse to exercise is limited due to active laminitis. If a horse is concurrently diagnosed with PPID then pergolide is the treatment of choice but care must be taken in broodmares as this drug can decrease lactation. Levothyroxine is sometimes prescribed for horses with increased adiposity as it accelerates weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate. Metformin can also be used as it reduces glucose uptake from the gastrointestinal tract. Management of EMS is a long-term plan that requires diligence by the horse’s carer combined with support and guidance from your veterinarian.

Does it matter if broodmares are fat? Scientific studies have shown that foal birthweight increases in relation to the body condition score of the mare with a trend towards an increased average birthweight over the last three decades. There is also evidence that mares with heavy foals have longer pregnancies, a longer stage two of foaling and more minor nonreproductive problems. Heavy foals may also be at increased risk of non-septic musculoskeletal problems and conformational defects but, in a study performed in one group of broodmares, birth weight was not associated with racing outcomes. The increased prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions in heavy foals suggests the weight of pregnant mares should be carefully considered.

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However, more research is needed to identify the optimal body condition score for broodmares. There is also a lack of thoroughbred-specific research on endocrine function and dysfunction – most of the research on EMS to date is performed in high-risk breeds such as Welsh Mountain Ponies and other native breeds and it is not clear whether optimal body condition scores in these breeds are appropriate in thoroughbreds.

Infection and laminitis

Sepsis-related laminitis is important in all types of horses, including thoroughbreds. The mechanisms involved in this form of laminitis are also not entirely clear but it is well-established that horses with severe infections are prone to develop laminitis, and are typically severely affected. Examples of infections which are often linked to laminitis include colitis and postfoaling metritis (infection in the uterus). When metritis is diagnosed, the primary condition should be treated aggressively – with uterine flushing, antimicrobials and anti-inflammatories. The feet should be monitored very carefully and in an effort to reduce the risk and impact of laminitis, foot or sole supports are usually applied, while applying ice to the lower limb and digit has been shown to reduce the prevalence of this potentially-devastating and life-threatening complication.

Supporting limb laminitis

Supporting limb laminitis (SLL) refers to the occurrence of laminitis in one foot as a result of the excessive weightbearing which can occur when there is a very severe orthopaedic condition in the contralateral limb, for example a fracture. SLL remains a major contributor to losses associated with fractures in horses. Prevention remains challenging

but provision of balanced analgesia, using a combination of different painkillers given frequently to maximise their effects and use of slings designed to reduce load while still allowing the horse to move freely and lie down offer potential.

How is acute laminitis treated?

In horses with acute laminitis, rapid diagnosis and treatment is essential to minimise the structural changes occurring in the foot. The horse should be confined to a stable with deep bedding as any exercise will risk increasing the load on the feet leading to further structural damage. A variety of options are available to help support the integrity of the foot, varying from packing the foot or applying pads to support the entire sole to purpose made devices which will localise support to area of the frog. Most farriers agree that it is important to limit changes in the very early stages of the condition and therefore pads are usually taped on for the first few days after onset of signs. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relief are essential in managing acute laminitis cases.


Laminitis is painful in the acute stages and can lead to permanent structural damage in the foot. The majority of laminitis cases are associated with underlying endocrine disorders such as equine metabolic syndrome and PPID. Insulin dysregulation is central to EMS and an important contributor to laminitis. Diet and exercise are the most important elements in restoring insulin function. Sepsis and excessive weight bearing due to injury of another limb are also important risk factors where vigilance and aggressive therapy aimed at the primary disorder are beneficial.



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The Finish Line with Trevor Hemmings Trevor Hemmings’ love affair with the Grand National stretches back some 50 years, but there were plenty of disappointments and frustrations before he enjoyed his first success with Hedgehunter in 2005. Having triumphed again with Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds in 2015, he is one of only three owners in the history of the race to have enjoyed three Grand National wins. Now 85, he may never have a better chance of an unprecedented fourth success in the world’s most famous horserace than he has with progressive nine-year-old Cloth Cap. Interview: Graham Dench


he Grand National has been around me a very long time and I’ve always been a great follower of the race. It all stemmed from my time working for Fred Pontin, for whom I was building the Ainsdale holiday centre in Southport when he won the 1971 Grand National with Specify, and also through Ginger McCain and Red Rum, who I would see regularly close to the site. However, it wasn’t until 1985 that I had my first horse – Northern Trust, who was a winner on the Flat at Bath – and it was 1992 before I had my first Grand National runner, Rubika, who finished down the field.


I must have had a dozen or so runners in the race and not much luck before Hedgehunter in 2005, when I had a brilliant jockey in Ruby Walsh and a brilliant trainer in Willie Mullins. That was a real family success, with Willie’s parents Paddy and Maureen both present, as well as his wife Jackie and their son Patrick, and it was marvellous being a part of it. It was very special and finally achieving my ambition was the highlight of my racing life so far. It was in the old winner’s enclosure too, which had such a unique atmosphere. I was quoted then saying that my life was complete, but it turned out it was only part one of it. Ginger McCain and I didn’t always see eye to eye as we were both very competitive and probably too similar. It was just banter though and I’m glad he was at Aintree, though poorly and in his last year, when Donald won for me with Ballabriggs in 2011. Hedgehunter had done it all easily and was a 14-length winner, but when Ballabriggs got to the finish he’d given so much that he needed oxygen to help recover. He’d been superb that day, racing in the first six or so all of the way.


Many Clouds was a wonderful horse. You will never see a horse give more than he gave every time he ran, and the day he collapsed and died after beating Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham the whole crowd was in tears. I’d bought him as a foal as he was a dead ringer for Cloudy Lane, who had started [Grand National] favourite one year, and we had such a lot of fun with him. It was always with the Grand National in mind one day, as it is with all of them. I have a lot of time for Michael O’Leary but I dismiss his arguments about Tiger Roll’s Grand National weight as banter. We would all like our runners to have less weight, but Hedgehunter had 11st 12lb every time he went back to Aintree, even as a 12-year-old, and when Many Clouds went back after his win only a Gold Cup winner carried more. It’s the same for nearly all winners and Tiger Roll can’t have preferential treatment. Horse welfare is a big issue at present and I like to think mine have a better life than me. A lot of them come back to me when they retire, and we have about 35 horses here at the moment, including some Shires and Suffolk Punches. Among them are both Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs and also some of the other top-notchers like Albertas Run and Trabolgan. We find good homes for others and quite often allow a good groom to keep a horse they have cared for, which is what happened with Cloudy Dream.

Cloth Cap: impressive win at Kelso on March 6

The last year hasn’t been pleasant for anyone, and I’ve been suffering silently like everybody else, but it’s the people who have lost family and friends to the pandemic that I feel for. I haven’t left the Isle of Man since February 2020, and we’ve stuck to the rules, which have been very strict but very fair. We’ve run a lot of businesses in the UK from here. We’ve kept 360 closed pubs going, with a lot of staff furloughed, and we’ve kept a lot of other businesses going without furlough. After the experience of 2007 and 2008, when we all lost massive amounts of money, I ensured that all my businesses had more ‘wool’ around them in order to survive a crisis, and when I cut back on my horses it was to make sure that the bills could be paid for all of the other things. As some will know, Preston North End is another passion of mine and I’m pleased to say the club is completely debt free, with all taxes and wages paid. I wasn’t going to buy Cloth Cap but my Racing Manager, Mick Meagher, liked the Old Vic in his pedigree and he might have sulked if I hadn’t! The name was the idea of Kathryn Revitt – the boss of me, as well as my businesses – and as he’s out of a mare called Cloth Fair he couldn’t really have been called anything else if he was going to be racing for me. After his Kelso win, where he carried the green cap, he will carry it again at Aintree, even though it’s my second colours in the UK. The green cap is my first colours in Ireland, which is why Hedgehunter had it, but you don’t get any more Irish than Jonjo O’Neill, so we are going with it again. They tell me Cloth Cap is better treated than Hedgehunter was when he won. If he enjoys the same sort of passage through the race he should win. I’ve also got Lake View Lad and Deise Aba entered, and both are nice horses who should run well. But I learned long ago that you don’t get anywhere in the Grand National without luck in running – even with 14lb in hand.

130-rated Champion by Dubawi with first runners in 2021. Postponed: what’s to say he won’t be the next Night Of Thunder? The Postponeds I have are impressing me a great deal. Roger Varian My Postponed colt is more forward than I expected. I like him. Goes well! Ralph Beckett I bought a lovely colt by him who we think could be quite smart. More precocious than you’d expect. Alex Elliott £7,500 Oct 1, SLF Dalham Hall Stud, UK