Saturday, January 21, 2017

RIP Stewart Brown

We've become rather bogged down on this blog in the Grimpen Mire of the proposed Kempton debacle.  No doubt we shall return to it anon, but for now I can't let this week end without paying my respects to Stewart Brown, a good patron of this stable during the past two years who sadly passed away earlier in the week.  Stewart was a wonderful enthusiast who loved his racing and generated friendship and jollity wherever he went.  I was lucky enough to train three horses (Cottesloe, Blue Sea Of Ibrox and Kim's Star) for him, and an afternoon at the races with one of Stewart's horses was always a recipe for fun.

John Egan was a wonderful friend to Stewart, going well beyond the call of duty in his role as Stewart's advisor.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to Stewart by John in the spring of 2015.  Cottesloe, a lovely six-year-old gelding whom John had bought for Stewart out of Charles O'Brien's stable in Ireland, joined the stable a few weeks later.  He won at Lingfield (seen in this paragraph) on his first run in England, giving Stewart his first winner, ridden by John Egan and led up by David Egan.  Shortly afterwards, Stewart asked me to train two horses which he had with Alan Brown: Blue Sea Of Ibrox and Kim's Star.  The former was a National Hunt-bred seven-year-old mare who had never run on the Flat but who had run 27 times under National Hunt rules without winning, earning a rating of 68 over hurdles and 58 in steeplechases.  Kim's Star was an unraced three-year-old gelding who was on box-rest (recovering from a fractured pelvis) at the time, but Blue Sea Of Ibrox was ready to come back into training after having been struck into in a steeplechase at Southwell a few weeks previously.

Remarkably, that chapter of the story had a happy ending.  Stewart asked me whether I thought that Kim's Star had any prospects, a question which was impossible to answer at the time with anything other than a wild, albeit educated, guess.  I replied that the only way to find out was to put him back into training when he was better, and see; that the likelihood was that one would be throwing good money away after bad, but that one never knew.  Kim's Star was named after his late daughter and he was keen to find out, so I shared the costs with him to help him along and we put the horse back into training at the end of the year.

Disappointingly, by the middle of last year Kim's Star (seen in this paragraph, last summer with Jamie Insole) was nearly ready to run, but he was starting to find it tough, and he was not showing enough to justify running him.  He was duly re-homed through Kate Turner of Cheveral House near Southwell, thanks to whom he really fell on his feet by finding a lovely non-racing home, which was perfect for a smashing horse.  The other two horses, though, had worked out very well.  Blue Sea Of Ibrox really surprised me when we started galloping her, so I asked Stewart if I could take the less obvious option of running her on the Flat.  So she duly made her Flat debut at the age of seven at Chester in September 2015 - and the following month, having finished second in a 10-furlong maiden race at Pontefract, she won a maiden race at Pontefract over a mile and a half at 20/1 (seen in the third paragraph).

By this time we had run Cottesloe seven times for two wins, two seconds, a third and two fourths.  He was a terrific horse, who finished on the first four on each of the first ten times that we ran him even though it was becoming harder as he was going up in the ratings; and then he recorded two good close seconds when he resumed racing last summer, at Newmarket and Chester (pictured in the first paragraph, with Stewart in the dark glasses).  So all in all we had a great and happy run with Stewart's horses.

The desperate sadness, of course, was that Stewart was battling cancer at the time, which meant that the good results at the races were rays of sunshine on an otherwise bleak horizon for him.  His treatment was very gruelling and the outlook was not good, but surprisingly he managed to come through it to receive the all-clear at the end.  Tragically, his period of remission proved not to be a long one, and he died earlier this week.  I hadn't seen him since since October as he had sold Blue Sea Of Ibrox last spring and then Cottesloe (seen in this paragraph on the Links with Jack Quinlan in October, and in the previous one on Bury Hill with David Egan in September 2015) in the autumn after he had finished fourth in his first two novices' hurdles, at Hexham and Ludlow.  But we'll all miss him here.  He was a generous and enthusiastic man who was a pleasure to know.

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