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January 2017

As you will read in this month’s newsletter we have enjoyed a wide variety of runners in multiple continents and codes of racing in the past few weeks. To have a winner over fences, a maiden winner at Lingfield and a two-year-old filly win on her debut in Australia, was a great start to the year.

Dane has now returned from his month in Australia and I’m so thrilled that he and John managed to secure two fantastic yearling fillies at the Magic Millions Sale on…

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Dane has now returned from his month in Australia and I’m so thrilled that he and John managed to secure two fantastic yearling fillies at the Magic Millions Sale on the Gold Coast while they were there. There is no better time to get involved in racing down under now that the minimum purse on a Saturday in New South Wales has been upped to a staggering $100,000!

We are currently offering shares in an equally wide variety of horses, including just one share remaining in the smartly bred Smart Missile filly purchased in Australia. There are one or two shares remaining in One More Hero, who is closing on his debut over hurdles for Paul Nicholls. He has thrived over the Christmas period and Paul is eager to get him started. Last, but by no means least, we have two shares remaining in a very precocious son of Dream Ahead named Prediction who is in training with Kevin Ryan. He has been showing a really good attitude to his work and looks as though he will be one of Highclere’s first juvenile starters in the spring. To view all the shares we currently have available please click here.

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

It has been a relatively quiet start to the year on the track, but it is fantastic to be off the mark already thanks to Abatement’s very taking maiden victory at Lingfield last week. He has been kept in work over the winter having raced twice as a two-year-old towards the end of the summer and the manner in which he brushed aside his well fancied opposition to win by two and a quarter lengths was eye catching to say the least! Roger Charlton made it clear before Lingfield that he has left plenty to work on and his jockey, Josephine Gordon, was delighted with the performance, so all being well the future looks bright for owners in the Rudyard Kipling syndicate.

National Hunt

Highclere’s growing string of jumpers is stronger by two well-bred five-year-olds mares fresh from their respective Point-to-Point victories in Ireland. If You Say Run, a daughter of Mahler (by Galileo), joined Paul Nicholls just before Christmas and she has settled in very well, already showing herself to be a superb jumper in the school. The deal to secure Cabaret Queen, a daughter of multiple Champion sire King’s Theatre, was made soon after and she has now also settled into her new surroundings at Dan Skelton’s. We look forward to seeing both mares out in the early spring.

This month has been an example of the highs and lows of the racing game and a time to pay tribute to two horses who will never again step out…

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This month has been an example of the highs and lows of the racing game and a time to pay tribute to two horses who will never again step out onto the track. Meet The Legend, an incredibly talented young hurdler, looked back to his best earlier in January when approaching the last at Kempton four lengths clear, but to everyone’s horror he took a nasty fall and was very sadly fatally injured. It was a very distressing day for all involved and our thoughts go out to his owners. In a career that was cut tragically short Meet The Legend won two of his seven starts. He was a bumper winner when he joined Highclere and added an impressive win at Newbury to his CV before finishing third in a Grade 3 at Kelso. 

Just a couple of weeks later Herons Heir stormed to an emotional victory for the Skelton team producing a career best performance to win by six lengths in a two mile handicap chase at Catterick. He was given a tactical ride by Harry Skelton who kept him wide throughout and on entering the straight he jumped himself into the lead and never looked like being caught. Unfortunately, that proved to be his last race because he came home with tendon lesions and so will be retired from racing and given a home. In a career that spanned five years and seventeen races, he won three times (over hurdles and fences) and was placed on six occasions providing his owners with a great deal of fun and he will be sorely missed.

Over in Ireland we saw Caro des Flos make his first appearance for Highclere in a two mile maiden hurdle at Thurles. Our first ever runner trained by the Champion Trainer, Willie Mullins, Caro des Flos found only his stable mate, and the strong fancied, Al Boum Photo too good. He travelled and jumped very well for a horse that will ultimately benefit from a greater distance, so there was plenty to like about the performance. He has been given an entry back at Thurles over two miles and seven furlongs next Thursday so will one to watch on his second start for Willie Mullins.

Highclere Australia

Highclere Australia have had a busy January, shopping for the two newest stable stars at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale, racing in both New South Wales and Victoria, and stable visits to some of the upper echelon of Australian training ranks including David Hayes, Chris Waller, Lee & Anthony Freedman Racing and Hawkes Racing. The highlight of the month coming from our youngest member of the stable, Pageantry, who was victoriuous on debut in highly encouraging fashion at Seymour in front stellar crowd of excited share owners who, we are thrilled to say, will be out in force again on Saturday as she steps up to Group 3 company!

With the month full of highlights, we begin with the Magic Millions Yearling Sale where Highclere Australia teamed up with two of Australia’s oldest and most successful training families in…

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With the month full of highlights, we begin with the Magic Millions Yearling Sale where Highclere Australia teamed up with two of Australia’s oldest and most successful training families in both Melbourne and Sydney, Hayes’ and Waterhouse, to secure two outstanding fillies to race in the light and dark blue silks next season. The first, a beautifully bred Smart Missile filly out of Group 2 winner and multiple stakes producing mare Miss Vandal. This filly represents outstanding residual value as a broodmare, being a half sister to Group 1 performer and sire, Eurozone and Group 2 winner Miss Marielle. A blueblood Australian family with a physical that made John Warren and Gai Waterhouse peg her as one of the most athletic in the sale. With all but one share remaining, you wouldn't want to miss your chance to be involved with her and our first ever Highclere Ladies Syndicate, to be trained by the Queen of Australian Racing and in partnership with John and Lady Carolyn Warren of Highclere Stud and Julia Ritchie. 

Please Click Here to see her page and video from the sale. 

The second filly was one of the best overall physicals we'd seen over the six days of inspections at the sale, a later foal who showed outstanding depth and precocity for her age and one we cannot wait to see furnish over the coming months as she begins the breaking in process. This daughter of Exceed and Excel was bought in partnership with David Hayes’ Lindsay Park Racing and Kia Ora Stud’s Ananda Krishnan who knows a good horse when he sees one, breeding Exceed and Excel himself. Ananda was only too happy to stay in this filly as she is one who will be an early type and, judging by the quality of both her physical and pedigree, we could very well be racing this filly at the Magic Millions next year!

There are only three shares left in her, so if you are interested please contact the team ASAP because shares in horses like this don’t hang around. Please Click Here to see her page and video. 

From where champions are sourced to where champions are made, the racing over the last month has proved highly promising for Highclere heading into the Sydney Autumn, with Regal Monarch improving each start as he steps up towards his ideal trip of a mile and a half (and the rest!). Chris employs a methodical plan for his staying imports and is confident that he has now put the foundation in Regal Monarch to have him producing at this next start on the 11th February, the very same day that our stable star Libran makes his return to the race track in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at Rosehill Gardens against the likes of the world’s highest rated turf horse, Winx. Much to look forward to in Sydney over the coming months!

Looking further south to Melbourne, the highlight of the month came in the form of our bonny two-year-old debutante, Pageantry, who, to the delight of all share owners, but especially those who braved the drive and mid thirty degree temperatures on the day, watched her storm to victory at Seymour for Lee and Anthony Freedman. This ripping daughter of I Am Invincible showed a touch of class on debut and is certainly one to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks after as Lee and Anthony are expecting plenty of improvement to come as she steps up into Group 3 company this Saturday, 4th February, in the Chairman’s Stakes for two-year-olds over five furlongs at Caulfield. Exciting times ahead for the I Am Invincible Syndicate heading into the Autumn Carnival!

A huge thanks must go out to all of the trainers who hosted us over the past month, with special thanks going to the team at Lindsay Park Racing who went well out of their way to accommodate and show around the farm. It was particularly satisfying to see the change in Foundation, who is in enjoying his time being trained out of the paddock and the inclusion of swimming and water walker work into his training routine which looks to be working a treat in the lead up to his first start down under in the coming months.

All of this and the Autumn Carnival hasn’t even begun yet! A big month to look forward to Down Under for Highclere Australia, and as we shape up to prepare to head down for the Inglis Easter Yearling Sales in April, there really has never been a better time to get involved as a Highclere owner. 

Rolf's Ramblings

New US President Donald Trump missed a trick. He’s got three sons, Donald Jnr, Eric and Barron. And yet the man who in his election victory speech paid homage to Secretariat, his nation’s greatest racehorse, overlooked a golden opportunity not calling one of his boys Jay.
 
Jay Trump was America’s winner of the 1965 Grand National, before which he had finished second to Frenchman’s Cove in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park for which there were, like the American Presidential race, only two runners: like Trump his namesake was outsider of two.

You can see where I’m heading – to Kempton racecourse, Sunbury-on-Thames. If the Jockey Club, trumpeting its role as guardian (Mr Murdstone?) of British racing, has its way they will…

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You can see where I’m heading – to Kempton racecourse, Sunbury-on-Thames. If the Jockey Club, trumpeting its role as guardian (Mr Murdstone?) of British racing, has its way they will sell Kempton. I am reliably informed, unless we can come up with some exceptionally rare Sunbury Park newts or bats it’s a done deal for 2020.

What follows is a personal reflection on a shoddy episode but given the furore roused in the racing community mine cannot be said to be an isolated opinion.

It’s an awful start when you know you can’t be funny but can hardly avoid being flippant. In September 2015 speculators expressed their “interest” in acquiring 224 acres of green belt land at Sunbury saying: “We are at a very early stage but are committed to keeping residents, businesses and stakeholders informed as we investigate. Local people will have their say”: no mention of racing folk having their two penn’orth.

The developers and the Jockey Club have, by their lights, ‘fulfilled’ that ‘commitment’: the former are buying, the latter is selling - at fire sale price. Fire destroyed Kempton stands in 1932. And four days after Emily Davison threw herself under the hooves of the King’s 1913 Derby runner, Davison’s suffragette ‘sisters’ set light to Kempton’s sister course Hurst Park.

At the price bandied around it’s a wonder D. Trump Property Inc. isn’t sniffing round. There is no word on whether the cash realised will be hypothecated for an artificial track at Newmarket, to reduce the Jockey Club’s debt, or paint Sandown red. If Hurst Park, which was almost joined at the hip to Kempton by the latter’s old Jubilee course, went for a figure the owners wouldn’t refuse - £950,000 in 1962 – current quotes for Kempton, £100m, even £200m are a steal. There are plenty of those, ‘steals’, at the twice-a-week markets held in what was Kempton’s Silver Ring where the bookmaking tradition of taking punters for a ride persists. Kempton stallholders have contributed to an outstanding record of convictions for trading in fake and counterfeit goods.

When the racecourse’s family jewels come under the hammer top lots are bound to be the parade ring statues of Desert Orchid and Kauto Star. I’d be happy to cart off the judges’ ‘birds nest’ eyrie still standing where the old sprint course bifurcated the round track: alternatively I’d settle for what’s left of the defunct Jubilee running rail that you can just make out at the far end of the course. It stands at crazy angles – bit like a Turner Prize also ran.

They, the Jockey Club Del Boys, will knock out the exemplary turf that wasn’t buried under the artificial stuff in 2004. Hurst Park’s grass went to Ascot; what to do with Kempton’s degraded slow standard sand is more problematical. The double-barrelled argument for selling off racecourses is that shareholders love capital gains and people need houses. But whilst Hurst Park’s investors were nakedly ‘in it for the money’ Kempton basked, so we thought, under Jockey Club protection: such self-delusion ignored the fact that the JC consistently starved the place of investment, milked its media rights, and are intent on getting rid for a mess of pottage - which is about what the course’s catering is capable of running up.

In November, to my undying regret, I missed the closure of Enghien – the Parisian Kempton. But I intend being at the last Sunbury gathering – unless the thought of the Jockey Club and the ‘right people’ filling up the panoramic restaurant (that’s if they know the way up there) for the wake, churns my stomach.

The worry is that it is neither greed nor corruption but sheer ignorance of what is enduring about our racing. The ‘custodians’ are selling the family silver (many of the ‘masterpieces’ of the Jockey Club Rooms are copies – certainly above the standards at the Kempton market). What further infamy will the Jockey Club get up to? Are they shaking the Monopoly dice (there is a racing version, based on Newmarket of course) to decide the next track to be traded? Jockey Club CEO Simon Bazalgette (ancestors invented the London sewage disposal system down which pan Kempton will be flushed) when asked where the booty would be spent mumbled:  “We’ve put a lot of money into the fences at Aintree and Warwick”.  Topiary obviously comes at a price. I’m told the next pruning will be Ascot jumping.

Kempton was on death row in the Sixties’ when racing’s Beeching years saw one track closure after another. It survived the chop but not castration - the straight six furlongs and the Jubilee course - scene of the historic first victory of a woman jockey, Meriel Tufnell, both went. In 2006 Lord Coe pressed the button for the first Kempton floodlit sand meeting. Now, having been run into the ground as a racecourse, an urban jungle (surely not of the Calais variety?) will replace its annual eighty plus days of sport – and the last chapter of an encyclopaedia of racing history will have been written. There’s already a page of eulogies to Kempton on the Jockey Club website – and no hint of clemency.

There is talk from Bazalgette of a “new heritage” an oxymoronic phrase which I can’t even begin to unscramble; Charles Dickens might. Nicholas Nickleby was published in 1838, forty years before Kempton opened, and contained his description of Hampton Court races, the old Hurst Park: it could have been of Kempton in its halcyon days.

“The little race-course at Hampton was in the full tide and height of its gaiety, the day as dazzling as day could be, the sun high in the cloudless sky and shining in its fullest splendour…It was one of those scenes of life and animation, caught in its very brightest and freshest moments.”

Dickens would surely have compared our degraded Kempton to the dosshouses of Oliver Twist and Bleak House in which he gave his unique description of the identity between slums and slum dwellers. With no disrespect whatsoever to the winner of the first at Kempton the other night, I wonder whether the owner of a £1512 first prize felt ‘enriched’? Nowadays there is not so much a throng as a Pinteresque (single figures) cast wandering in dimply lit empty Dickensian spaces as yet another inconsequential card takes place in front of regulars few and familiar enough to exchange Christmas cards.

I am indebted to, if not dependent on, A Long Time Gone the unique work by Chris Pitt on departed British racecourses which is an indispensable part of a racing man’s (Jockey Club nb) library. I attended the last rites of Alexandra Park 1970, Manchester ‘63, Lincoln ‘64, Birmingham ‘65 and Hurst Park ’62: someone else switched the lights out. Manchester, Castle Irwell, is the one I remember best if only because I backed the last true Manchester November Handicap winner Best Song, trained by ‘Towser’ Gosden. A bookmaker hung a wreath on the winning post at the final Hurst Park meeting after the last race, won by the self-same Towser, father of champion trainer John.

Before this year’s novices get their chance to grow into King George VI Chase contenders Kempton will be gone. No longer will the first two-year-old winner of the season get the chance to go on and win the Cheveley Park as did Tiggy Wiggy two years ago; or will first home in last season’s Sirenia Stakes go on to triumph in the Middle Park, as did The Last Lion.

Charlie Mortdecai, dubious hero of the black humoured novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me, recollects an encounter with a cabbie: “The driver gave me ‘Nostalgia for the fourth at Kempton Park’. I wondered what on earth he was on about.” As far as Kempton goes nostalgia isn’t what it was.

Taittinger Moment

Congratulations David and Prue Hayes!

This month's Taittinger Moment goes to David and Prue Hayes and all the team at Lindsay Park Racing for going out of their way to look after us on our recent trip to Euroa to see Foundation and the Exceed and Excel ex Ashley's Kitty filly, our newest member to the Highclere Australia stable. 

Lindsay Park's hospitality is second to none, as we enjoyed a full guided tour of their world class training facilities and brilliant buffet breakfast thanks to the ladies in the office. A world class experience and highly recommended for any share owner looking to race with David's team. 

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