Retired Racehorses by Charlotte Bullimore

Retired

Hey guys!

Today’s post is brought to you by the lovely Charlotte at Scratch & Reveal. So without further a do, let’s get straight into it.

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Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my blog about my thoughts on protecting the future of retired / retiring racehorses.

As I sit down to start writing, I have just arrived home from visiting an ex-racehorse as part of a voluntary role I carry out for a thoroughbred charity (more on their fantastic work later!) after my ‘day job’. It’s been a long but rewarding day, getting my horsey fix and seeing the good progress the horse has made since I last saw him around 11 months ago.

If you are wondering why I have decided to write about such a subject, it may help if you know a bit about my background…. I’ve ridden horses since being 4 years old and rehomed my first ex-racehorse aged 16. For those who remember the Epsom Dash 2010 winner, Bertoliver, that is him! A popular horse – I had people messaging me across multiple social media platforms asking to meet him and racecourses inviting us to parade days. It was like being a PA for a celebrity! He really was a sweetheart. I also have worked in racing yards and experienced first hand the different needs and requirements of the thoroughbred. Each horse was catered for individually from nutrition to shoeing to how they prefer to travel or graze. I think it’s great that some trainers are fortunate enough to have their horses turned out at grass – it’s great relaxation and socialisation for the horses. Since returning to my office job, I have been extremely fortunate to part own a lovely national hunt mare with Chris Down in Devon who after winning 2 hurdle races for us, retired due to a re-occurring injury and has gone to a lovely home as a broodmare.

Something that makes me so passionate about retired racehorses securing a home for life is the joy and pleasure they give us. My best memories are either at the races or enjoying a relaxed morning watching our horse cantering on the gallops.

The amount of negative or upsetting news out there is very upsetting – for every success story, it feels like there is a sad one to follow. I often see the ‘popular’ or ‘legendary’ horses that retire from racing often end up with their own social media page and fans can follow their re-training journey which is lovely. But the average racehorse who maybe won a 0-60 handicap almost seems to disappear once their journey starts, or end up making headlines for the wrong reasons.

Due to the large numbers of racehorses retiring (I have shared 4 posts today alone), many are offered for free or for a very small price. The experienced horse owners know the effort and time required to rehabilitate and retrain such an athlete, however it’s only too common that an ex-racehorse gets into the wrong hands. As they are cheap, they are seen as a project or a good buy to sell on in 6 months or so and that is when the future of the individual horse can be placed at risk. Don’t get me wrong, some ex-racehorses can be an absolute dream to retrain, whereas others are challenging and require a lot of time and TLC (plus expensive feed, bespoke shoes and unlimited hay and vets bills!!) Thankfully, many trainers keep the horses on their own yard and meet the potential new owners and only agree to sell with a non-racing agreement. However I know of cases personally whereby trainers have a relationship with a local ‘dealer’ who ships the retiring horses off there to find a new home in good faith that the new owners will be vetted.

Every time a horse changes hands, we are reliant on the new owner updating the passport with Weatherbys which often does not happen. Just like that, the horse is now untraceable. How can we guarantee this horse will get the retirement he/she deserves?

There are many charities and organisations that rehabilitate and re-home ex racehorses however some of these are purely reliant on donations and the longevity of these wonderful places also needs future proofing. Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) and the BHA also contribute to the re-homing and re-training of ex racehorses however further steps are needed in the right direction.

The charity who I volunteer for as a ‘Welfare Officer’ is called The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre – https://britishtrc.co.uk/. On arrival at the centre, the horses are assessed for any injuries or quirks and begin a programme of rehabilitation. Horses are only placed up for loan when they are fully sound and able to go to a riding home. All potential loaners are invited to the centre in Lancaster whereby they ride the schoolmaster to assess their riding skills. If suitable, they are then required to ride their potential equine partner a couple of times to ensure they are a good match. Once the horse is in his/her new home, a Welfare Officer attends at least once per year to assess the quality of stabling, grazing, tack, vaccinations, shoeing and body condition of the horse. I have the pleasure of being a Welfare Officer and look after horses in Sheffield, Derbyshire & Peak District, Lincolnshire and Humberside. It is a role I thoroughly enjoy and I am proud to be a small cog in the very well oiled machine that future proofs the lives of our lovely thoroughbreds. If only BTRC was 100 x bigger and could help many more horses…

A big thank you to anyone reading this who take the time out of your hectic schedules to advertise and personally rehome your retiring ex-racehorses. And for those who do it differently, please consider using a reputable charity and paying the small fee to guarantee the horse a retirement he/she deserves.

Charlotte x

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Charlotte’s piece and I hope you did too. I will see you all in my next post Sunday at 11am which will be an interview with Oisin Murphy!

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Irish Racing – Featuring Visits to Listowel, Leopardstown and Galway by Stuart King

Irish Racing

Hiya,

Today’s post comes from Stuart King (juan_the_man21 on twitter) all about Irish racing. I hope you enjoy.

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Through this blog I want to review 3 of my visits to the Irish racing shores within 2019. Over the last few years I have begun venturing over to the emerald isle for my hit of pure thoroughbred racing and it has become somewhat of a fixture in my calendar year on year visiting different racecourses and sampling the local cuisine and nightlife. This blog reviews the three I visited last year.

My first visit was to the home of the newly established Dublin racing festival and the only racecourse within county Dublin. A 2 day festival with the quality I think, to rival if not surpass that of Cheltenham week. That said it is much easier to establish quality races within 2 days than it is the current 4 at Cheltenham. 2018 wetted our appetites with stellar performances from Footpad, Min, Supasundae, Samcro and the fairytale that was Edwulf winning the Irish Gold Cup even if it did cost me a nice Trixie.

2019 we saw the likes of Commander of Fleet win the 2m6f novice hurdle, then a performance from Apple’s Jade that had all the hallmarks at the time of a champion hurdles heroine and finally a bumper performance from Envoi Allen that had us all licking our lips for the 2019/20 season. Sir Erec duly followed on the Sunday and I thought we had seen the future stars but sadly Sir Erec was ill fated at Cheltenham when seemingly carrying the substantial wagers of many racing fans. Other top class wins were gained by Klassical Dream, Bellshill and Santa Rossa. This gives you an idea of the quality races Leopardstown offers and for the racing fan there is no better to place to see such quality racing over the course of 2 days.

The transport to the racecourse from the airport is very good indeed. There is a shuttle bus with pick ups throughout Dublin which drops you at the doorstep of the Clayton Hotel (extra bonus if your staying there), there is then a max 10 min walk to the racecourse. Definitely avoid the taxi’s unless you have your gold card ready, we fell for that on our first visit.

For the last 2 years we stayed at the Clayton hotel 2018 & 2019. It has to be said the second year there was much more atmosphere, I think helped by the fact Ireland and England we involved in a 6 nations titanic tussle. I did however notice the prices we on the increase from the first festival in 2017 so we are taking a leap of faith this year and booked an Air B and B in central Dublin.

We also paid a visit to the ‘Lep inn’ again that had good atmosphere and decent food but it was exceptionally busy. Other than the Lep there isn’t much in Leopardstown itself for evening entertainment. The racecourse put a band/ singer on and many people stayed after racing, this is the only element to me that the Dublin racing festival could improve upon, maybe they could take a leaf out of Galway’s book?

To the other side of Ireland and the west coast, when the wind if blowing make sure you have your best Thermal coat because even at the beginning of August you are more likely to come back with Pneumonia than your pockets full! But then again Galway isn’t as much about the racing as Leopardstown but more about the craic and the atmosphere. The reputation of Galway spreads far and wide and we as race goers wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

We landed at Dublin, collected our car from Avis and off we popped, pretty much one direct road from Dublin to Galway but whatever you do, don’t take the wrong exit at the first roundabout we ended up at the docs with the armed Garda. Once on the right road and the three wise men set on the journey this time in the right direction!

A couple of hours drive and we arrived at the apartments, we heard that the place to drink after racing was at the Clayton so we found some cheap apartments right next door to the Clayton. Check in was effortless and the room clean and spacious no need to pay 3 times the price to be in the Clayton. The second time we went we splashed out on the Clayton and I have to say they didn’t cater in the slightest for residents and they had no specific bar to be served at after racing. You can quite easily stay 100yards away for one third of the price and enjoy the vibe at no extra cost.

To the racing we went full of hope and excitement, a mix of flat and jumps, day an evening racing consisting of 7 days of bundles of handicaps and full speed cavalry charges with the odd sprinkling of class, but never discount the market movers. ‘Small’ trainers seem to make hay there, Sheila Lavery and Ado McGuiness I keep a particular eye on. We however can not last the full 7 days, we dropped from 3 days to 2 this year and went for the Monday and Tuesday of the festival. Good times for the O’Briens and Mr Mullins but even better for when Saltonstall won the premier Handicap at SP 9/1. A few Guinness were sunk courtesy of that one. But my fondest memory of all and something I never do is back a name rather than study the form and after the run in with the Garda on route to the festival in 2017, Mr De Bromhead ran a horse called Three Wise Men and these 3 wise men duly emptied the satchels of the bookies and had a night I presume I enjoyed as I can’t remember!

This leads me directly on to the reason why Galway is much loved within the racing community, we have done it the cheap way and the more expensive way but we always end up having the same enjoyable time. Yes the racing is a complete minefield but the craic and the atmosphere is the best I’ve ever experienced. Galway centre has pubs and bars aplenty, standing room only and lots of live music to choose from. I must also say that if you ever visit Galway and you have rented a car take a trip to Clarinbridge and visit Paddy Burke’s they have the finest baked Oysters and seafood chowder!

My final visit to Ireland in 2019 was my first ever visit to the Listowel Harvest festival, another 7 day meeting within the Irish racing calendar. This was a rather last minute

decision, no accommodation was available near the racecourse and we ended up staying in Limerick not too far but far enough to be a slight inconvenience at an Air B and B called Willmount on Ennis Rd only a walk across the bridge from the centre, which I have to say for the money was brilliant value and I couldn’t fault it.

The drive to Listowel proved to be shorter than expected as the roads were clear of traffic and the routes connecting Dublin to the likes of Galway and Limerick on the west coast are very easy to drive and are flowing. We took a walk around Listowel itself and we soon realised why there was no accommodation available. We only managed to spot 1 place to stay in the centre. That is not to say there aren’t anymore however if you’re looking to go and want to stay in Listowel you will need to book early. It is a quaint little town with all the amenities but if you’re like us and you like the craic then I can’t imagine it being buzzing in a similar manner to Galway.

Onto the racecourse and after being to Leopardstown and Galway I was expecting something similar and when we walked in it was very similar to that of a Ripon or Catterick somewhere between the 2 is the best way to describe it. However the use of space was very good, plenty of places to get a pint of the black stuff and several food stations with plenty to offer. The parade ring was easily accessible and the viewing very good, however if you want to watch by the rails it does feel as though you are below the track so to speak.

The racing started off fantastic with an EW steal in the first on a horse I have ear marked as one to follow, given a cunning ride from Derrick Fox, For Everyone nipped round the inner and obliged at 14s. He hasn’t run since but he gave weight and beat a horse called A Wave of The Sea whom has since run in a Grade 2, I suggest For Everyoneis is put in more notebooks than mine. Shock in the second Stratum gets turned over but surprisingly then wins the Ceasarewhich! Zola then breezes in at Even money after a massive drift and Wicklow brave shows all his class to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Cabaret Queen then finishes second and goes back to Listowel to win the Munster National.

On the Monday racing reverted back to the flat, oh no was the cry after the first day success. A couple of EW pokes were not enough to stem the flow of cash back to the bookie’s satchels. I somehow managed to miss a Hogan handicap blot and the good thing of the day Lancaster House. Franklin Street for JP O’Brien stemmed the flow with a good performance and the performance of the ill fated Angel’s Amy was a sight to behold routing the opposition by 7L over 8F. The lucky last a statement I have never believed in until the last race on the Monday, a paddock pick John Oxx’s, Clockers Corner looked the part and at 10s the price was too big to pass up. The butcher and I duly rowed in with cash aplenty EW, we didn’t need the EW element he duly hosed up. I do have put a special mention to Tuesday’s flat race as Soviet Pimpernel beat The Little Yank both of whom I think could be good horses over the coming 18 months.

After the success at the races we ventured into Limerick centre buzzing with students this was not the butcher’s scene but a tour round the pubs ensued and many a pint of Guinness was drunk. On our walk back through the city we stumbled into a small bar one for the road, why not, a bottle of Jameson’s later I don’t think we knew what day it was. Cheers to John Oxx! The following days drive back to Dublin Airport I spent cursing Mr Oxx for getting me in that state!

In summary all the trips above were done on a budget and as you all know these can be as expensive as you want to make them but for example the trip to Listowel including car (not petrol) and tickets was done on around £120 each whereas the trip to Galway staying in the Clayton opposite the racecourse was just shy of £300 per person. Some even do Leopardstown in the same day due to the transport links back to Manchester.

For the purist Ireland is most definitely worth a visit and I would recommend it to anyone.

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Thank you for reading this post, I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did when Stuart sent it to me! I will see you all in my next post, which is going to be a horse racing Q&A where I am answering all of your questions. If you have any questions you’d like answered there is a question box on my Instagram story right NOW so make sure you head over there: instagram.com/zoelouisesmithx and ask me any questions you have racing related. See you all the weekend with that post!

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Four Horses to Follow from the West Country by Joseph Bell

Four Horses to Follow West Country

Hiya guys,

Today’s post comes to you from Joseph Bell (jm_bell95 on Twitter) as a guest writer, I really hope you enjoy reading his post as much as I did.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am passionate about National Hunt racing and particularly jump racing in the South West. Here I will give you four horses, based in yards here in Devon/Cornwall/Somerset or Dorset to keep your eye on for the future and during the season.

Cobra Angel (IRE) – 6yo Brown Mare

Breeding: Flemensfirth x Lemon Cello (Accordion)

Trainer: Chris Down (Cullompton)

Owner: Upton Racing 2

Form: P/6-246P5

BHA Rating: N/A

Chris Down began training in 2002 and has had some smart horses in their own right pass through his hands. Rhacophorus was the winner of the listed champion flat race at Aintree in 2006 when ridden by none other than Ruby Walsh. He would later be sold for £220,000 while Sir Harry Ormesher (Both owned by breeder Bill Bromley) was sold for £75,000. Since then, it’s been harder going for Down who also breeds horses himself. In recent times, he trained a smart mare named LOYAUTE who reached a mark of 132 in her prime.

Cobra Angel has a long way to go to live up to those named before her however she’s made an encouraging start to her rules career. She was purchased for £10,000 at Goffs back in August after reaching the frame in her last two Irish points. She made a satisfactory debut at Exeter behind the smart Queens Cave to finish 6th when just weakening close home. A disappointing run at Warwick in heavy conditions (15 started, only 3 finished) followed in December however she returned on New Year’s Day back at Exeter and finished 5th. Although her form is modest and she’s been beaten at long odds so far, she improved last time when doing her best work late on when staying on past beaten rivals. She’ll need another completion over hurdles to get an official mark however she is getting better and is likely to improve for a step up in trip and handicaps. She may only make into a low grade handicapper however she’ll be one to keep on the right side of in modest staying handicap hurdles around the west country tracks.

Tile Tapper (GB) – 6yo Bay Gelding

Breeding: Malinas x Darn Hot (Sir Harry Lewis)

Trainer: Jimmy Frost (Buckfastleigh)

Owner: No Illusions Partnership

Form: 3-41

BHA Rating: N/A

Jimmy Frost has been a household name in the South West since riding his first winner in a point to point in 1972 at the tender age of just 14. He would go an ride over 500 winners under rules including the 1989 Grand National and 1991 Champion Hurdle. He took over training from his father Richard back in 2001. His best season came in 2005/06 where he trained 21 winners and has been operating consistently in recent years average 5/6 winners a season with his small string of horses with Newton Abbot being his favourite place to have a winner.

Tile Tapper is a fine looking gelding who is a homebred for the No Illusions Partnership. He’s the half-brother to the two time winning handicapper Hot Ryan (Trained by David Pipe). He made his racecourse debut in March in a 4,5&6yo PTP flat race at Milborne St Andrew finishing third behind two nice rivals for local yards. He was switched from Chris Honour’s stable to Frost’s and made his debut in an Exeter bumper in December when beaten only four lengths back in fourth place behind the exciting Picanha. He was a long way behind that day and showed tremendous resolution to overcome traffic problems and still finish fourth. The three in front of him that day look to be above average and his promise was backed up and more on New Year’s Day at Exeter when overcoming another decent field. Although we couldn’t see much of the race, it’s clear this gelding has a fair engine and was staying on well right to the line. He had some well fancied, well regarded rivals in behind and gave his trainer his first bumper winner at the 132nd attempt. It’s great to see Jimmy have a really exciting horse to go to war with for the rest of the season and it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses throughout his career.

Woulduadamandeveit (IRE) – 7yo Bay Gelding

Breeding: Stowaway x Figlette (Darshaan)

Trainer: Sue Gardner (Longdown, Exeter)

Owner: Keith Harris & Tom Gardner

Form: 2302/876P-05

BHA Rating: 102 (Hurdles)

Sue Gardner is always a name to keep an eye on in particular when her runners are at their native Exeter or when they have an away day outside of Devon, if their horses attract market support, you know it’s likely to be a good thing. Alongside her husband Des, they’ve built an excellent racing yard alongside their breeding operation (Woodhayes Stud). It’s a family affair with daughter Lucy taking the ride on the majority of their horses. In recent times, Sue has enjoyed a couple of big days out with the apple of their eye COEUR BLIMEY who took the listed championship flat race at Ascot in December 2015. Trans Express is another stable star who’s 5 course wins at Exeter have all come over 2m2f including winning the same race on the last three occasions that it has been run.

Woulduadamandeveit made an eye catching debut at Stratford back in 2017 before going on to run an absolute blinder in the listed bumper at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting later that year. He was coming with a real rattle before encountering traffic issues and still stayed on to grab third. A heavy defeat followed in a listed bumper at Ascot before running another mighty race on a big day when chasing home Acey Milan in the flat race on Betfair Hurdle day in 2018 beating rivals such as Good Boy Bobby and even Brewin’upastorm. His hurdling career sadly hasn’t lived up to the hype so far of his bumper promise failing to make the frame in his last 6 starts. He was well supported for his handicap debut off a mark of 107 at Uttoxeter before it all went wrong and he bled from the nose. After a long break, he ran flat once more when needing the run at Chepstow in October. He clearly improved for that outing in November when finishing 5th of 12 over 2m3f off a new mark of 103. He’s often shown a tendency to jump left handed and shapes as though a stiff 2m4f or further on a more galloping track will really suit him and providing all of his earlier issues regarding the bleeding are behind him, he should find races well within his grasp of his low mark given

he’s only had three starts in handicap company, he’s still relatively unexposed and he’s beginning to slowly get the hang of things.

Unwin VC (IRE) – 6yo Bay Gelding

Breeding: Black Sam Bellamy x Becky B (Alflora)

Trainer: Bob Buckler (Bridgwater)

Owner: Golden Cap

Form: 11/9392-431

BHA Rating: 133 (Hurdles)

Bob Buckler has been training racehorses since the 1988-89 jumps season. He’s based at Gibb Hill Farm on the Quantock Hills and has had some very nice horses in his care down the years. SEE ENOUGH delivered Buckler his first big success landing the Rendlesham Hurdle in 1996. His biggest success possibly came when NICHE MARKET landed the 2009 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse at odds of 33/1, while THE SAWYER delivered Buckler two Grade 3 handicap chases victories in a career which saw him rated well into the 140’s during the peak of his career. In recent times, he’s flagbearer has been REGAL FLOW who took the 2018 Midlands National at Uttoxeter and ran a huge race last Saturday when just touched off in the Veterans Chase final at Sandown Park.

In the shape of Unwin VC, he has the potential to be one of Buckler’s best horses. He’s the frame of a trojan horse, he’s a big boy and was very raw and green on his racecourse debut (Feb 18’) when sensationally did everything wrong before rallying late on to produce an excellent victory. He’d back that promise up with victory in a Wincanton bumper at the end of the 2017/18 season. All of a sudden, the hype was becoming reality. He grew further over that summer and looked big and strong before running in a listed bumper at Cheltenham when ultimately outclassed. A satisfactory hurdle debut followed back at Exeter before a really disappointing display beaten over 70 lengths in a Chepstow maiden hurdle. He then would return to form with a nice 2nd back at Exeter beaten just under a length by Truckers Lodge (who’s finished second in a Welsh National). Since returning this season, he finished fourth in a decent novice hurdle on Haldon Gold Cup day at Exeter before being beaten 15l at Ffos Las on handicap debut. This striking gelding clearly has an obsession with Exeter as he notched up his third career success and second on Haldon Hill when destroying a novice hurdle field on extremely deep ground in December. He really is a big, powerful gelding who’s going to stay all day. It’s a waiting game really until we see him over fences which really will see him at the best of his ability. His trainer really does like this horse and has confirmed he’ll stay over hurdles this season. The ground is probably key to him as he wants it as deep as possible and you wouldn’t be surprised if in a few seasons, you seem him entertaining big, staying handicap chases on soft/heavy ground.

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Thank you for reading today’s post. My next post will be a Philip Hobbs’ stable visit and it will be live on Sunday (19th January) at 11am!

See you all then!

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