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Horse Race

Latest News – keeping up to date with our runners, events and horses for sale

April – August 2020

Rarely have any of us in racing experienced such a strange and disrupted period as the five months following the Cheltenham Festival in March, with all the restrictions on normal life introduced by the government as the country battled the Covid-19 pandemic.  Everyone is now keeping everything crossed that there won’t be a second wave over the autumn, and that soon a vaccine will be available so that life can return to normal.

First Foal 2020
New arrival - First OfO Foal

Life, of course, with horses continues and they have been blissfully unaware of disruption in the human world.  Throughout the five months, as you can see in the photographs, there have been some very enjoyable times despite all the worries and woes of the pandemic.  In April our first OfO foal was born – a beautiful Havana Grey filly from our former Flat mare, Mayfair Rock, with Karl Burke.  You may remember that Karl trained Havana Grey to win Group races in Ireland and France, and both he and we were very keen to support the new stallion at his base at Whitsbury Stud, Hampshire.  We were all delighted with the filly foal, not least because she is a most beautiful grey herself.  So delighted were we that we sent Mayfair Rock back for a second encounter with her boyfriend, and she is now in foal again, based with John and Kirsty Weymes at their beautiful farm in Wensleydale, just along from Karl’s yard.

Acknowledging the NHS
Acknowledging the NHS by Martin Keighley

As soon as all racing was suspended, each of our National Hunt horses was turned away, with their spring holidays out in the paddocks starting much earlier than normal.  Luttrell Lad and Melekhov went back from Philip Hobbs to their usual summer base with Clare Hart at Adlestrop near Stow on the Wold.  Acey Milan and Sojourn were similarly turned out into Anthony Honeyball’s paddocks.  At Martin Keighley’s yard, Ben Buie, Dreamsundermyfeet, Lord Condi, Duke Of Luckley, Mozzaro and Sarasota Star had a lovely couple of months enjoying the superb pastures of the North Cotswolds.  Martin had a few horses that remained in training for the Flat, and as you can see, created a striking mown acknowledgement of the fantastic work being done by the NHS.  On more than a few occasions my wife and I raised a glass of fine wine to the sterling efforts of the health service and our trainers.


Raising a glass of fine wine 2020
Lord Condi Winning
Lord Condi - winning July 2020

Once racing resumed on 1st June, Foreshore, the Flat horse that we have with friends, was able to recommence his Flat career and he has put in a couple of excellent runs to finish 2nd although the first win remains elusive.  Similarly, from 1st July, National Hunt horses have started to reappear again, and it didn’t take long for Lord Condi to be our first post-lockdown winner.  He had completely lost his way and his confidence in 2019 and had been rather unlucky with an unusual injury incurred on the racecourse when a shoe punctured his hoof.  We were delighted when he bounced back from a series of PUs to win a competitive novice handicap chase really well.

New Filly 2020
3yo filly by Soldier Of Fortune acquired
August 2020

From August onwards the majority of our NH horses will be coming out.  We have already had a couple of excellent runs, from Sarasota Star (3rd at Stratford) who looks a lovely prospect for this season and Mozzaro (4th at Uttoxeter on debut in a bumper) who is a big, imposing horse and definitely one for the future.  A year ago, we leased Enforcement to the Martin Keighley Racing Club and he almost won a handicap chase at Bangor, jumping superbly, and was only run out of it after the last fence.  Ben Buie had a pipe-opener and will be out again in September, as will Dreamsundermyfeet.  We’re also expecting Luttrell Lad and Melekhov to run in early September.  Gold Mountain raced really commendably to be placed, without winning, and we decided with our co-owner to retire him, with re-homing being done by Claire Hart.  “Goldie” is guaranteed a great future.

Throughout the pandemic, a lot more time than normal has been spent at home.  We linked up with a friend and co-owner, Ged Shields, to write A Blueprint for Racehorse Ownership in the UK:  Making retention and acquisition of owners the number 1 goal of a racing recovery plan.  This was motivated by our serious concern that many owners may exit the game, as happened after the financial crisis of 2008/09 when there was a straight decline in owners and horse numbers for seven years.  We have kept the pressure on the leaders of our sport through a web site, www.keepownersinracing.com, and have been producing videos and blogs throughout the summer.  We’d be delighted if you joined our campaign and signed up to that effect on the web site, if you haven’t done so already.  Despite all the dreadful forecasts of recession and economic damage post-pandemic we’ve maintained our commitment to the sport, not least by investing in a gorgeous 3yo filly by Soldier Of Fortune.  Gerry Hogan and Anthony Honeyball did all the research at the recent Land Rover sale and we were thrilled to acquire such a fine animal.  She is being broken in at the moment by P.J. Colville, whose yard is just round the corner from Aidan O’Brien, and she will come over to Anthony later in the autumn.
January / March 2020

On the racing front, the start of 2020 has been quiet.  With endless storms such as Ciara and Dennis blowing through in January and February, Middleham in particular had quite a hammering with extensive flooding, but fortunately Karl Burke and his team and John and Kirsty Weymes, who look after our pregnant mare Mayfair Rock, carried on safely with barely a hitch.  Similarly, Martin Keighley was afraid that his state-of-the-art carpet gallops would be blown away and was out rolling them down late at night when the gales were blowing.  Our trainers are nothing if not committed.

Constitutional ran consistently over the winter on the all-weather and was in the money in five of his six recent races.  He was sold at the Tattersalls February sale and has headed off to an excellent home in Spain, where he will continue to race on the A/W.  Acey Milan and Dreamsundermyfeet both ran and then unfortunately we found a few physical niggles that needed to be sorted out.  Sarasota Star ran a blinder to be 4th at Catterick, and he will hopefully be winning soon.

With the bad weather and boggy ground, however, most of our NH horses won’t be seen out again until early spring, including Ben Buie, Dreamsundermyfeet, Lord Condi, Luttrell Lad and Mozzaro.  One of our youngsters, who we’ve had since foal days and is now named Duke Of Luckley, is off to expert Martin Jones to be backed and then, after a summer holiday, he will be in full training as a 3yo juvenile bumper.  However, as he is by Mahler, it could well be that he will be a 4yo before he races – it can take time.

Increasingly we are linking up with other owners outside OfO syndicates, and we will be following Foreshore and Gold Mountain in the spring, with Karl Burke and Martin Keighley respectively.  We’re also involved in a new breeding syndicate with our former Charlie Longsdon trained mare, Scented Lily, heading over to Ireland for a date with Coolmore’s Getaway.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 epidemic took its toll on the country and, inevitably, all racing was suspended.  The safety of the nation had to come first.  Owners for Owners wish everyone the very best and that our friends and owners emerge from the lockdown unscathed.  On the racing front though it was frustrating that Melekhov was not able to reappear in a handicap hurdle at the end of March, nor were Luttrell Lad and Mozzaro able to make their long-awaited bumper debuts.  As with all our horses they have been turned away now but will come back into training on 1st June and hopefully racing will resume over the spring / summer.  Lord Condi is the only horse to remain in training, and as a summer jumper he is ticking over with Martin Keighley.