Thursday, March 12, 2015

Local(ish) heroes

Just one bit of house-keeping (and this again is because I still haven't worked out how to post replies to my own posts) is that, Mick, there was no decision to take regarding Fen Flyer's jockey on Tuesday.  Three jockeys had ridden him while he's been here, and all had ridden him very well.  Of those three, Paddy Aspell has not yet resumed race-riding after his fall at Kempton in the autumn (but has recently resumed riding out, as you can see); John Egan came out of the equation once it became plain that his principal patron, David Evans, would have a runner in the race; and Joe Fanning was free.  So Joe it was, which was grand as he's a terrific jockey.  And the fact that it didn't work out this week certainly wasn't his fault.

So that's Wolverhampton been and gone.  And now we have Cheltenham.  I was glad that I got back into the house after morning stables in time for the first race today, because I would have been disappointed to have missed that really special display posted by Vautour.  We don't have many local horses to cheer, but there was a runner there from Exeter Road yesterday when Don Cantillon ran a no-hoper in the bumper.  He ran no worse than the form book suggested.  Aside from that, we can view John Ferguson's horses as semi-local - but more local are the Nicky Richards horses, strange though that may sound.

A few years ago when the winter conditions were really bad in Cumbria, Nicky Richards sent a batch of horses down here so that they could continue to exercise uninterrupted.  They stayed in Abingdon Place Stables in the Bury Road.  I remember Noble Alan was one of them as was another very good grey horse, a steeplechaser whose name I forget but who I seem to remember running very well in a Lexus Chase or an Irish Hennessy.  But the real star was the mighty grey Monet's Garden, who ended the stay in a very special way by going down to Ascot to win a Grade One Steeplechase there.  This winter was not nearly as bad as that one, but conditions were still tough in the north-west with far worse snow and frost than we had down here, and Nicky sent a batch down again this time (as you can see in the second and third pictures, with Nicky leading the string in this paragraph on a day he was down here).

Nicky's horses were over in Hamilton Road this winter, in what used to be Loder Stables and which is now Cedar Lodge Stables.  I didn't get as far as working out which is which, but I saw plenty of them, and I assume that the batch included all their stars.  There were 13 of them, and then generally went out in four batches of three, with Nicky's daughter Joey then taking the last one out as a fifth lot on her own.  Glingerburn has been the stable's star this winter, most notably at Kelso last time out.  I don't think that he is running at the Festival, but a handful of his stablemates are doing so, with outside chances.  If one of them could win a race, that would be a lovely result, and I'd feel that it was a local win for us.

We've had more local wins recently which aren't really local wins, but feel that way.  Our jockey William Kennedy has been suffering from lack of patronage for ages, which is very tough on him as he is top-class, and as professional as you'd ever find.  If I were champion jumps trainer, he'd be champion jockey; but I'm not, and he isn't.  Jonjo O'Neill has used him for quite a long time now on occasions when his regular jockeys are elsewhere, and recently his talents have come to the notice of one of Britain's best trainers, Dr Richard Nooland (as they say on the TV - and isn't it annoying at the start and end of the ad breaks on C4 when the man says "Doobai" in those "people like to feel a sense of enrichment when they come on vacation" slots?).  This is great.  This link yielded a double at Kempton one Saturday a few weeks ago, but an even better result came on Saturday when William rode his first Graded winner in the Imperial Cup for Dr Nooland.  Then another very special result came yesterday when he rode his first treble, all three for Jonjo O'Neill at Huntingdon.  That was really, really good (as is today's weather, as the last two photographs confirm).

1 comment:

M Anderson said...

Shame Fen Flyer flopped John, but there's always next time (hopefully).

Love the post about Nicky bringing his horses 'locally' and it's only a matter of time before he hits the Cheltenham Winner's Enclosure - surely?