The Autumn is a very busy time for flat trainers, as the flat season “winds down” the sales season is in “full swing” . In some ways it is my favourite time of year because we are buying next year’s stock of (hopefully) winners and at this stage of the game none of us know how good they will – or will not be. But experience, a good “eye”, some background inside information from breeders and vendors, a bit of courage, a dollop of good luck and a few pennies in the bank, all help.
Money alone however, never bought winners, or class horses - but of course it helps. If it did then racing would be boring.In the 1980’s Sheikh Mohamad spent 800 million trying to buy a Derby winner, many more millions and decades later he still hasn’t bought one (his wife Princess Haya of Jordon did own a half share along with breeder / trainer Jim Bolger in the 2008 Derby winner "New Approach") , yet the 2006 Derby Winner “Sir Percy” cost only 15.000 guineas at the breeze up sales (Newmarket). When he arrived at Marcus Tregoning ‘s yard the idea that he might one day win the Derby would have seemed like a crazy, impossible pipe dream.
At Fairyhouse last week we aquired four more smashing looking babies, owner Craig Buckingham loves to get seriously involved in the selection and buying process and has had incredible success buying his own horses, added three more to his Doncaster purchases as we go in search of another “Rainbow Mist” whose form was franked again yesterday when “The Last Lion” won the Group 1 “Middle Park Stakes” under one of the most popular and successful jockeys in Joe Fanning. It was Jo’s first Group 1 winner so the moment will have been very sweet indeed for Jo whose loyalty to Mark Johnston is unquestionable and impressive. Few Trainer / Jockey combinations have lasted so long, apart from George and Sir Mark’s 32 yearlong association the Johnston / Fanning connection must come second?
“The Last Lion” beat our boy “Rainbow Mist two and a quarter lengths in the Brian Yardley conditions stakes race back in May when he was second and we were third, recently in the Group 2 Flying Childers The Last Lion was second (one and a half lengths in front of Rainbow Mist). Our boy has already gone up to a rating of 100 and may well be put up again now. Not bad for a £12.000 purchase last year.
Middleham Park bought a classy looking individual when spending 34.000 euros on very handome and athletic chestnut colt by "Dragon Pulse". He looks certain to be syndicated quickly and looks a smart prospect for the famous Blue silks for whom I have trained 96 winners over the (many) years we have been associated with Tim Palin and his team. Hopefully we will get to the "century" of winners for them next season. Tim (Palin) and I share the same surname, hail from Liverpool and although we don't know for sure- we are probably cousins. The colt can be seen on this link.......................
So far we have 18 yearlings bought and hopefully a few more will come along between now and Christmas.
On Thursday "Arnold" made a good start to his racing career when a very promising fourth at Pontefract, a great big "raw"colt we have had to really take our time with him, he had been a bit keen of late after his gallop at Ripon some time ago so Paul Mulrennan needed to ensure he got him settled and relaxed in behind. He ran on well to be fourth just in front of "Sugar Beach" who is a filly we think highly off but she decided to pull so hard she was unable to finish her race off when the time came.
On Friday night Mr Coco Bean made his racecourse debut under stable jockey PJ when running in the first race staged under lights at Newcastle. The race was one mile and PJ managed to get him in behind horses from a wide draw. He needed cover and to learn to race amongst horses, and he had a lovely introduction to racing finishing third beaten only three parts of a length.
Yesterday one of the yards stars in the Spring “Uncle Charlie” was lining up for only the second time having fractured his pelvis at Hamilton on debut at the end of May. A period of box rest, a patient “patient” and a lot of work on the incredible water treadmill helped him back to full fitness in no time at all, and yesterday he did what we thought he would do on debut by winning nicely by 2 lengths, under Royston Ffrench. The enigmatic “Encantar” ran a blinder confirming she is back on song and liking the newly acquired headgear. She had her race won and thought she had done enough only to be collared on the line. Up at Hamilton “Toboggans Fire” ran a real cracker when second to an improving horse who outstayed her but nevertheless is was an excellent performance.
At Perth during last week “Silver Streak” showed further improvement from his debut fourth over hurdles, this time finishing third after a blunder at the last cost him second place money. But he is heading for the winners enclose. Prairie Impulse however gave us all a bit of a shock when she fell heavily at the last and looked in big trouble as the screens went up around her. Thankfully, she was just badly winded and was soon up on her feet and marching back to the stable yard.
While the runners will be less frequent at this time of year, we nevertheless have plenty of nice ones still to run and some lovely babies to keep us busy and very excited about.