July 2020

We are still on cloud nine here following Thunderous’s wonderful victory in the Al Basti Equiworld Dante (Gr 2) at York last week. It was such a gutsy performance from this beautifully bred son of Night of Thunder and we all screamed him over the line here at HTR HQ!! We have been lucky enough to win the Dante three times now with Motivator for the Royal Ascot Racing Club in 2005 and Bonfire in 2012. The only sad part about this is that in any normal year we would be headed for the Derby as one of the top three in the betting but that of course has already come and gone so we will sit down with Mark and Charlie Johnston to plot his next race which might well be back at York in the Voltigeur (Gr 2) in August.

On the rest of the racing front our horses have run really well but we have suffered a severe case of seconditis! It is of course great that they are…

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On the rest of the racing front our horses have run really well but we have suffered a severe case of seconditis! It is of course great that they are running so well but also agony when you continually get so close without lifting the trophy. Not so in Australia though where Tess who manages Highclere Australia has enjoyed an amazing run with five of our last six horses all winning! Edison won again on Saturday following his victory a week ago and added another A$80,000 to his ever increasing prizemoney tally. $160,000 in two weeks is pretty good going!! Global Gift ran a blinder over too short a trip to finish third and he looks sure to win next time when tried over further. Anyone wanting some immediate fun “down under” should seriously consider taking one of the remaining few shares in this new recruit who I think has a very bright future ahead of him there.

The Guineas, Derby and Royal Ascot have come and gone in a flash - all of course behind closed doors and with little or no atmosphere but great racing nonetheless. Now at long last we have got to the next stage racing wise of coming out of Covid lockdown which allows two owners per horse to attend. It was front page news of the racing press and of course it’s good news to a degree but the fact is that owners can’t go into the paddock or winners enclosure and are kept in a separate owners zone. Also they must arrive not earlier than forty five minutes before their race and leave within an hour after it. Not exactly a great experience but a step in the right direction which hopefully will lead to greater numbers and more access as soon as possible. It appears that Goodwood could have up to 5,000 people allowed for each of their festival days which would be a massive boost especially with York’s Ebor meeting doing the same a few weeks later.

We are excited to at long last be back holding stable visits this week in Newmarket as well as at other yards. It seems an eternity since we last gathered on the gallops so it will be good to catch up with everyone again albeit in much smaller numbers.

I am extremely grateful to Newbury Chairman, Dominic Burke, for his fascinating article on Covid and it's effects on Newbury racecourse and the racing industry generally. Thanks also to Hollie Doyle for bearing up under Rolf’s grilling for another really interesting interview. Hollie is seriously talented and has every chance of one day becoming champion jockey. Geoff Lane (FRCVS) the go to vet for wind problems has written a very informative article on equine breathing disorders. Finally Alex’s article on rose is essential reading for wine lovers whilst thanks again to Clodagh for another delicious recipe!

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

By Alex Smith

A long run of seconditis was brought to an abrupt and glorious end when Thunderous stormed to victory in the Dante, a race Highclere won back in 2012 with Bonfire.…

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A long run of seconditis was brought to an abrupt and glorious end when Thunderous stormed to victory in the Dante, a race Highclere won back in 2012 with Bonfire. He went on to run in the Derby that year whereas Thunderous will not have that opportunity this time due to the re-arranged fixture list. However he will certainly be running in a Group 1 race before long following an incredibly gutsy performance which saw this lovely Night of Thunder colt dig really deep, ably assisted by Franny Norton, to claw back victory inside the last fifty yards. Cue rapturous joy in the HTR office!!!

Thunderous winning the Dante at York

A brief purple patch in the middle of June saw a gutsy win from Nugget at Doncaster and a really impressive front running victory from Civilian in Dieppe. Nugget has always been a horse we hoped would improve as a three year old and he got his season off to the best possible start when displaying real determination to win with a bit in hand in a competitive contest at Doncaster. He stepped up in trip (and class) when finishing second at Newmarket next time to the fast improving Al Maysan from Chalie Appelby’s Godolphin stable. This was another step forward for a horse who we hope will carry on improving this season.

Civilian, after a highly encouraging debut at St Cloud, made all to win really impressively at Dieppe next time, crossing the line with plenty left in the tank and showing that he will stay even further than a mile and a half. This three year old colt by Teofilo could well be competing in black type races before too long. Deputy, a two year old trained by Charlie Fellowes, nearly made it four when just failing to get up on his debut at Thirsk. Having got off to the worst possible start, completely missing the break and then encountering trouble in running, he flew down the home straight and was only beaten under a length! He looks sure to win next time.

Civilian winning well on his second start at Dieppe

Ascot was not quite what we hope for with Cirrus finishing down the field in the Albany and Nicklaus, despite a good effort, finishing mid division in the Silver Hunt Cup. Durston looked sure to be competitive in the Duke Of Edinburgh but although making up late ground, never really fired on the day. Other good efforts, all seconds! Included Union who is proving to be a very consistent performer, this time in a tight contest at Newmarket. Sermon must be one of our most unluckiest of horses, finishing second for the fifth time out of nine races! This time at Haydock where he looked all over the winner before just getting run down in the dying strides. Rival, a two year old out of our very own Pamona, showed that he could be winning soon when finishing second (yes!) on his debut at Haydock.

Immaculate ready to make her racecourse debut

This week it would be worth keeping an eye out for Immaculate, a lovely 2yo filly by Invincible Spirit who will be making her debut at Kempton on Wednesday in the 6f fillies novice at 4.40pm.

The Impact Of Covid

By Dominic Burke (Chairman of Newbury Racecourse and HTR share owner)

In truth, I sleepwalked into Covid-19.  I watched with interest as the Coronavirus first appeared in a City in China that I had never heard of.   I travelled to Miami…

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In truth, I sleepwalked into Covid-19.  I watched with interest as the Coronavirus first appeared in a City in China that I had never heard of.   I travelled to Miami during the third week of February to join my fellow US Executive Committee members of Marsh & McLennan Companies where I am now working following the sale of JLT PLC in April 2019, where I acted as Chief Executive.  At the time we were discussing how events were unfolding in Hong Kong but never anticipated what was to follow just two weeks later.

On my return I went to Cheltenham with much excitement and anticipation, hosting our usual party at our home just outside Tetbury.  My wife, Valda, insisted on everyone using hand sanitisers, even ensuring our table at the Cheltenham Club had copious bottles of the stuff each day to ensure we were all frequently using it.  I believe it provided us protection from catching the virus so she was the sensible one. 

I went into my office in the City the following Monday (16th March) but the Prime Minister announced if you could work from home then you should do so with immediate effect, and I have not set foot in London since which is now 17 weeks ago.  Waking up at home on that Tuesday morning was very strange.  I had already become a regular user of Zoom but little did I know then that I was going to spend so many days and weeks staring at the screen as my diary filled up with meetings at gathering speed.  Whether it was my work in the city, racing related or family concerns, everyone was searching for ways to come to terms with the stark reality of lockdown. 

When Harry asked me to write an article for the Highclere Magazine he felt that as a breeder, owner, sponsor (JLT), and administrator - being the now Chairman at Newbury Racecourse - I could give his readers a perspective of how I am viewing the impact of current events on the racing industry, and how we continue to learn and adapt during this Health Crisis.   

Turning now to Newbury Racecourse, by mid-March our business had ceased to operate and in effect had closed down.  All racing was cancelled, our hotel, conference and events business had shut down, whilst our successful children’s nursery was deserted.   In recent years we have taken on a major refurbishment of the racecourse, whilst also building a new hotel and children’s nursery as we seek to diversify the business.  We were entitled to believe as we entered 2020 that Newbury Racecourse was set for a bright future.  Racing as an industry still has its challenges around prize money levels but we could never have anticipated what we had to accept was our new reality as Covid-19 hit. 

We established a weekly Board Zoom call first thing every Monday morning.  This call provided us two distinct benefits; firstly for the Executive team - led by Julian Thick as Chief Executive - to bring the mounting challenges we faced as business to the Board’s attention.  It also created a Newbury ‘bubble’ where we could all exchange views and experiences from across many other businesses bringing thoughtful insights and knowledge to the table which assisted us as we made difficult decisions.  Our Board at Newbury is highly experienced across many other industries be it financial services, construction, theatre, music, hospitality or catering.  I felt uplifted and encouraged as I saw each member of the Board appear in their ‘box’ on my Zoom screen reminding me that we were a community and none of us were alone. 

The reality of our situation today at Newbury is a stark one.  Whilst we have opened the children’s nursery it remains very difficult to operate with the social distancing rules.  Whilst racing behind closed doors is a step in the right direction, until we have a return of crowds it is a very far cry as an experience for owners, or for us at Newbury to operate profitably.  We had to put over 2/3rds of our staff on the Furlough scheme with the remaining team all accepting a voluntary pay cut to seek to protect the future of the business.  As a public company we have issued statements saying we cannot predict or forecast the future until events become clearer but nonetheless we will suffer significant losses and depletion of the cash resources of the business through 2020 and 2021.  The future remains very unclear but having sold some land adjacent to the Racecourse several years ago we have revested all proceeds back into the business, building around the core proposition of an aspiration to be one of the Leading UK Racecourses.   

Shareholders have not received any payment of dividend in over 20 years so you can imagine how galling it is to hear from some in racing how racecourses are ‘making out like bandits’ following the uplift in revenues with the new racing media rights deal of a few years back.  The consequence of FOBT’s seemingly being ignored, and only recently the Racecourse Owners Association Chairman, Philip Freedman, wrote an open letter to decrying racecourses for reducing our prize money as we recommence racing behind closed doors, seeking a legal review of whether racecourses are in breach of contract.  The harsh reality is that almost all racecourses are losing money save but a tiny few, employees of the majority of racecourses have either been Furloughed or had their salaries reduced, while sadly I predict many will lose their jobs in the coming weeks.  Some racecourses will not survive the consequences of Covid-19 so the facts are that racecourses do not have the money today to fund prize money at the levels of pre covid-19 so it is frustrating in the extreme to see the actions of the ROA seeking to take racecourses to court.

As an owner and breeder I do foresee extreme difficulties for many particularly those operating without scale or not at the top end.  As a repercussion to Covid-19 I sadly predict a smaller industry in the coming years unless we can urgently get racing back to normal.  This is very unlikely unless someone finds a silver bullet be it a vaccine or the virus weakens.  So racing must unite to find a way forward to help us navigate through the very specific challenges we are facing.

At Newbury we will survive because we have a strong balance sheet as a consequence of our land sale a few years ago.  But I hesitate to imagine how things would have unfolded if we hadn’t made the choices we made then.  The racing industry has to now make equally bold decisions if we are to see a return to a healthy and successful future.  Becoming more united rather than divided, which appears to be the default position all too regularly; whether it is the funding of prize money, collective media rights deal or the ITV extension rights we are rarely able to find a way forward united as an industry so it is little wonder that we struggle to get the Government’s attention or financial support which is so urgently needed today.  

Hollie Keeps Pace With Her Buddy

An Interview by Rolf Johnson

The lives and careers of Hollie Doyle and her partner Tom Marquand have been ‘upsides’ for years but they wouldn’t dream of walking hand in hand to their workplace. In…

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The lives and careers of Hollie Doyle and her partner Tom Marquand have been ‘upsides’ for years but they wouldn’t dream of walking hand in hand to their workplace. In step to the racecourse, when the gates open the gloves are off.

They bumped into one another, literally, no quarter given, pony racing around the Gloucestershire circuit: Tom is equivocal about who used to beat whom; and Hollie demurs.

They were already an item by the time they arrived at Richard Hannon’s as apprentices; and while Tom beat Hollie to a hundred winners in a season, she was twenty-four hours ahead of him last month riding her first Royal Ascot winner on Scarlet Dragon: in the last race of the Royal meeting Tom equalized with Who Dares Wins.

They ‘met’ at Kempton the night I attended in the first week of June, Hollie second on a longshot a place ahead of Tom on the second favourite but he managed a winner for bragging rights on the way home to Hungerford; that’s if they were in the same car – often their destinations are different compass points. On Derby day Tom headed for Epsom and the Investec Derby: Hollie was sent to East Anglia for rides in all eight races by the seaside. Surely her talents deserved the bigger stage?

She made minor headlines with her customary double but Tom’s profile soared with his second in the Derby.

Lies, damned lies and statistics – 116 winners last year was a record for a female rider but still twenty-nine behind her partner who as result was backed to be this year’s champion. This year, by July, numerically Hollie was ahead. And she won’t let him forget she rode her first winner, in 2013, the season before he did. Tellingly, Tom is approaching £3m in stakes won, over a million ahead of Hollie. The patronage she should command should not be defined by “top female jockey” variety but the quality she gives her rides.

Richard Hannon Snr has nurtured champions of the order of Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes. When Hollie turned up as a raw apprentice, bottom of the stable’s pecking order, Richard gave her chances on horses he owned. If the redoubtable retired four-time champion trainer describes you as a ‘grafter’ you’re honoured.

“She’d have a ride in the evening at Newcastle and be back down here for first lot (7am) next day,” he said. A longer trip, with Tom, a mini-break in the Caribbean last winter, saw them land at Gatwick – and with a clear run up the M25 Hollie was just in time to ride a winner at Kempton!

“Yes, she’s a grafter alright,” affirms Richard.

That verdict was as gratifying to Hollie as masses of public praise. “I wasn’t the best of riders when I went to Richard’s, my second job after starting with David Evans. Richard Snr saw something in me and even let me ride out once a week at Archie’s (Watson) and now I ride once a week for Richard Jnr.” Hollie has graduated to be first jockey to the upwardly mobile Watson at Lambourn.

She tried to convince me Tom is the more driven. Well she ought to know. But since her pony wasn’t of the ‘just turn up and win’ variety, she forged a will to win. One advantage was that her father Mick had been a jump jockey: otherwise she is not one of the thronging Doyle racing ‘constituency’.

“I’m not really as competitive in the way Tom is. I’m a bit softer,” Hollie says unconvincingly.

I’d say a diamond rubbing against carborundum would be a softer catch-weight contest – for all Hollie’s natural charm. No jockey could last in the obsessive Watsons’ yard who didn’t share his goals and outlook.

Some people carry their determination lightly; others with forced intensity. Following a four-timer at Wolverhampton in early July, at the inevitable interview she said, brow furrowed, “I think I’ve had one before.” At least she recalled her first winner, The Mongoose at Salisbury. She was sixteen.

She admits to crying then, as she did after her first at Royal Ascot. I did suggest, perhaps mischievously, that ‘big girls don’t cry’ and the tears after Scarlet Dragon’s victory would have been inappropriate in a male counterpart – Tom doesn’t blub.

So she reels me off a list of men (I won’t name them) who have done so on the big occasion; one knows when one has been put in one’s place.

“I hate being called a female jockey I’m one of the lads (sic), same as Josephine (Gordon), Hayley (Turner), Nicola (Currie) and all the girls in our changing room.”

At least I was sufficiently conscious, appreciating that she has taken a few hard knocks, not to say she’s taken them ‘on the chin’. After a stumble and fall at Haydock she required jaw reconstruction and face surgery. When you’re riding so often and as competitive as Hollie the injuries accumulate, whatever the precautions. The operations cost £8000, but they were successful.

There have been other injuries which would have seen a bareknuckle boxer flinch - but not this shade under five foot (taller than Willie Shoemaker, about the same height as Willie Carson) rider who is quite dauntless. 

And she gives the game away regarding her definition of determination. “I don’t just want to reach a level – a comfort zone where I maintain a standard – I’m reaching upward all the time.”

To where? Her career is developing so fast there’s hardly time to reflect, to look over her shoulder. The BHA Diversity Group looking into the career paths of women jockeys will only see her disappearing taillights.

Hollie and Tom have different agents – if they were the same the agent might sing “you can’t have one without the other.” Shashi Righton comes out of one corner for Tom, and Guy Jewell (who was Hayley Turner’s aide) out the other for Hollie.

She bubbles when I ask how they confront each other after a tight finish. “Ask him,” she laughs. “Seriously we’re not concerned looking back. Oh yes I’ll be riding every stride with Tom in the Derby – but as soon as it’s over my focus will be on Voi, my ride in the first at Yarmouth.”

Again a little archly I ask if she has ever been jocked off, which is just what happened to Tom, leading contender for the jockeys’ title, in the Derby, from English King on whom he’d ridden a masterly race in the Lingfield Trial. For the first time, her face clouds. “Oh it happens all the time. Plenty goes off under the radar.  I soon caught on, I was a tiny fish in a big pond when I started. It’s down to me to keep pace.”

Hollie hasn’t increased in size but enormously in prestige. Still, I asked, “Where are you again Derby day?” “Lovely Yarmouth,” she chortles. Epsom’s (and perhaps racing’s) loss: Yarmouth’s gain.

The Rise And Rise of Rosé

By Alex Smith 

What do Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie, George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) and Jessica Parker of Sex and the City have in common? You’ve probably guessed it already but they have…

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What do Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie, George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) and Jessica Parker of Sex and the City have in common? You’ve probably guessed it already but they have all bought vineyards in Provence to jump on to the fast moving and on trend rosé train. Even Graham Norton has leant his name to a range of wines including a rose from New Zealand. Interest in rosé wine is on the rise. Last year sales of rosé in the US grew by 40%. Wine making associations held their first Rosé seminars. Producers world wide have waded into this rapidly expanding market, now representing 10% (up from 8% over the last decade or more), although Pinot Grigio remains a bigger seller.

Brangelina (now divorced) owners of Chateau Miraval

Provence has led the quality rosé market and while production overall hasn’t risen much, exports have rocketed, almost trebling in volume over five years, with value going up nearly fourfold. The US has accounted of most of this increase. “Provence style” has become the industry benchmark for rosé with many producers pressurised into making their rosé paler to match this style. Sales of Chiaretto (rosé made in Lake Garda in Italy) have increased three times since many producers changed the colour of their rosé from dark to pale to more than 12 million bottles.

Rosé is a type of wine that incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. So how is rosé made? Essentially there are three ways of producing the pink stuff: skin contact, Saignee (from the French word to bleed) and blending. The skin contact method allows for the skins of black grapes to keep in contact with the juice for a short time, typically twenty-two hours. The must is then pressed and the skins discarded rather than left in contact during fermentation as they would be when making red wine. When a winemaker wants to give the wine a bit more grip and structure, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage in what is known as “Saignee” method. The simple method of mixing red wine with white to give colour is not generally used and even banned in France, except interestingly for Champagne.

Graham Norton

France is the largest producer of rosé by far today followed by Spain, the US and Italy. Production has increased dramatically in Australia, Chile and South Africa. Sales of rosé are significant wherever wine is consumed, but France is the market leader with rosé accounting for a whopping 30% of all wine consumed!! Studies show that rosé outsells white wine in supermarkets, a surprising statistic. Although France is the largest producer in the world, it actually imports rosé from Spain. The young seem to drink more rosé than older age groups and it is now consumed throughout the year with a natural bias towards the summer months.

You might think that rosé is easy money in that the process from picking the grapes to you and I taking our first sip in May (if we have a warm spell!) is relatively short and therefore great for the cash flow of the vineyards. There is a catch though-they have to sell it for it to work. In other words, its difficult to sell the wines the following year and producers don’t want last year’s wine to be clogging up the supply of the new vintage.

Looking back, the fortunes of rosé took a big turn for the better after the second world war when two Portuguese winemakers both started making sweet, slightly sparkling rosés for the European and American markets. The wines, Mateus and Lancers would go on to set record sales in Europe and the US for most of the twentieth century as the trend turned towards drier wines. The US introduced “blush” wines (also semi sweet) which became a popular category and while not as popular now, still have a following.

So, with the myriad of different rosé now on offer, what to buy? I still lean toward Provence for the drier, leaner and pale pink wine for which I have a developed a taste, but there are so many good examples from other regions now that there are no hard and fast rules. Right now I am drinking Chateau Peyrassol from Majestic (£11.99 if you buy six bottles) which is far too easy on the palate! Personally I would avoid the over hyped, over marketed expensive roses which while may be perfectly good wines, are, in my experience, not worth the often big difference in price.

Respiratory (‘wind’) Disorders In Racehorses

By Geoffrey Lane FRCVS

Athletic horses, especially racehorses, must be able to breathe freely and this process requires the movement of very large volumes of air into and out of the lungs by way…

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Athletic horses, especially racehorses, must be able to breathe freely and this process requires the movement of very large volumes of air into and out of the lungs by way of the conducting airways extending from the nostrils to the alveoli where oxygen and carbon dioxide pass into and out of the bloodstream. At rest, in the loosebox, the turnover of air by a 500 kg horse is approximately 80 litres per minute, but under maximum pressure during a race this figure increases to between 2200 and 2500 litres. A number of disorders can restrict the flow of air with a resulting loss of performance - insufficient petrol reaches the engine and a Mini with a good carburettor will beat a Ferrari with a bad one. Hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen) has a performance-limiting impact on horses in racing and partial asphyxiation will have a negative influence on the enthusiasm of a horse to race whenever exertion is distressing.

The soft palate

Most restrictions/constrictions cause turbulence within the tubes making up the airways which in turn will cause abnormal breathing noises - the horse is said ‘to make a noise’ which may range from a ‘whistle’ to a choking/gurgling sound. Although ‘wind’ impediments can arise at any level in the airway the two most common sites in racehorses relate to the soft palate and larynx (voice box). Horses are unusual in that they are designed to breathe exclusively via the nostrils and never through the mouth. The role of the soft palate is to stabilise this mechanism by locking the larynx into the back of the nose and when this seal becomes unlocked during vigorous exercise an aerodynamic disaster follows with partial asphyxiation of the victim. Malfunctions of the soft palate account for many times more upper airway impediments than all other sources put together. The cause is multifactorial but contributing factors include immaturity, unfitness, concurrent upper airway infections and inherent weakness of the muscles within the soft palate. Someway back in second place in the league table of ‘wind’ disorders lies partial or total paresis of the left vocal cord followed by a list of relative rarities causing collapse of the walls of the throat.

Diagnosis of ‘wind’ impediments is not straightforward. It is helpful to hear any untoward respiratory noises by attending an exercise test so that any characteristic sounds can be detected. A first hand race report from the jockey can be invaluable. Not all horses with ‘wind’ disorders make noises in races, for example some with a soft palate malfunction will tail themselves off before reaching the stage of asphyxiation when the palate displaces. For the past 50 years flexible endoscopes passed via the nostrils have been used to diagnose upper airway disorders of horses while they are standing still in a loosebox and yet it is obvious that this is a flawed technique when many of the malfunctions are only present once they are vigorously exercised. Many horses are only found lacking when they come under pressure in a race. To a large extent these shortcomings have been addressed by the advent of the overground endoscope which comprises the placement of a diagnostic camera into the throat via the nostril so that events therein can be recorded while the horse is exercised. While this is the current gold standard for diagnosis it is recognised that occasional false negative results do arise through the presence of the endoscope itself - strangely false positive results are less likely. Palpation of the throat and ultrasound scanning are other techniques that help to complete the diagnostic picture. One significant fly has emerged in the diagnostic ointment because it has been established that whenever there is one point of weakness in the walls of the airway it is common for there to be others. This explains why surgical remedies often address the soft palate and the larynx simultaneously - the ‘mixed grill’ approach.

It is recognised that ‘wind’ impediments have become a fashionable excuse for under-achievement in racehorses such that there may be an over-diagnosis, particularly of soft palate instability, whenever no other explanation is forthcoming for a horse repeatedly tailing itself off or weakening in races. Thus, speculative surgery, especially minor procedures, may be used whenever a definitive diagnosis cannot be reached.

Contrary to the impression that might be gleaned from the popular press there is no single ‘wind’ operation performed to relieve equine respiratory obstructions. Each surgery on the upper airways is tailored to a specific diagnosis and these range from relatively minor procedures performed on the standing patient under local anaesthesia, i.e. cautery of the soft palate, to major invasive operations such as laryngeal advancement (‘tie forward’) for soft palate displacement and prosthetic laryngoplasty (‘tie-back’) for left sided paresis.

Soft palate instability is common in two-year-old horses and in many instances resolution takes place with increasing levels of fitness and through a process of maturation. It is for this reason that most veterinarians working with ‘wind’ issues will advise against surgical intervention until the end of the juvenile season at the earliest. Some will have resolved spontaneously by the following spring and some will not. Thus, surgery performed over winter may be a pre-emptive measure to avoid further delays during the early months of the horse’s three-year-old career. Surgery becomes unavoidable for soft palate instability when it has failed to respond to conservative measures such as improved fitness, the elimination of concurrent infections and the application of tongue-ties and cross nosebands to inhibit the intake of air via the mouth. However, it is conceded that some horses are totally un-trainable, regardless of age, without some form of surgical assistance. Also, it cannot be right to subject a horse to partial asphyxiation every time it works while adopting a prolonged ‘wait-and-see’ approach - little wonder that some lose their enthusiasm for exercise or racing and become ‘doggy’.

For palatal instability, the least invasive surgical techniques, with the shortest recovery times, aim to tighten the tissues of the soft palate and include cautery that has the added advantage that it can be performed under local anaesthetic with the patient standing. For severe cases or where cautery has failed to achieve resolution a ‘tie forward’ operation is the current preferred treatment. This aims to advance the larynx against the caudal margin of the palate thereby inhibiting displacement.

Left-sided paresis of the larynx arises through failure of the nerve supply to the muscles that open this section of the airway. The defect may range from partial, leading to a slight obstruction causing a characteristic ‘whistle’ during the intake of air, to severe, leading to complete collapse of the vocal cord and its suspending cartilage across the airway with a loud obstructive ‘roaring’ noise. Lesser degrees of paresis can be treated by a ‘Hobday’ operation which has a smoothing out effect on the walls of the voice box. Severe paralysis is an indication for the ‘tie-back’ procedure that fixes the collapsing left half of the larynx into a semi-open position. However, this does leave some patients vulnerable to the inhalation of food and other debris into the lower airways. Recently a more enlightened approach has been developed which ‘re-wires’ the paralysed muscles by the implantation of grafts of local nerves - the future beckons! Many patients are suitable for Hobday, tie-back or laryngeal nerve graft surgery to be performed without resort to general anaesthesia.

While all of these ‘wind’ operations have the potential to improve or restore performance levels, the results are highly unpredictable and it is likely that the betting public will be more misled than enlightened by the ‘w’ note in the racecard - since January 2018 trainers must advise the BHA whenever a horse which has previously raced has been subjected to a ‘wind’ operation. Although the BHA is made aware of the nature of the surgery, the public are not and it simply shows as a ‘w’ alongside ‘t’ for tongue-tie and ‘v’ for visor etc. in the form guide.

Summer Green Patch Tart

By Clodagh McKenna 

Hope you are all having a good summer so far! You may have seen me cook this delicious tart last week on ITV This Morning, it’s a really easy recipe…

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Hope you are all having a good summer so far! You may have seen me cook this delicious tart last week on ITV This Morning, it’s a really easy recipe to pull together for a quick fix supper or lunch, and it’s bursting with all the flavours of a summer vegetable patch! If you are growing your own vegetables you will have a lot of these ingredients to hand, and the pastry you can buy in your local shops (make sure you get the one with butter!). Speaking of shops, I was so excited to launch my new online shop last week. Some lovely items for the kitchen, table-top, ingredients and books. We are adding every couple of days, and my new table linen will be arriving in a couple of weeks! You can have a browse here.

Have a lovely weekend and I hope you enjoy the recipe! Clodagh xx



2 tbsp olive oil

1 leek, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

200g spinach

100g broad beans

80g fresh peas 

2 eggs

200ml double cream

80g parmesan cheese, grated

100g crumbled feta cheese (or ricotta)

1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

4 sheets of filo pastry

50g butter, melted

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 180oC (160 fan)/360F/Gas 4.
Place a saucepan over a low heat and add the olive oil, then stir in the sliced leeks and garlic. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and stir in the spinach, broad beans and peas. Cook for a further two minutes. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and then pour in the cream and grated parmesan cheese. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and whisk again. Then fold in the cooked vegetables, fresh mint and the crumbled feta cheese.
Grease a tart tin with the melted butter. Brush each sheet of filo pastry with the melted butter and place the filo pastry sheet in the tin, one by one, in different angles so that each corner of the sheet isn’t overlapping on the rim. Spoon the tart filling into the centre of the tin and using the back of a spoon to spread the mixture out evenly.
Place the tart in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.

New Additions

The Breeze Up sales have been good to us this year as we managed to acquire three very exciting 2yo's..

Firstly Spycatcher - bought by Jake at the Craven Breeze Up for 95,000gns. This powerful colt has gone into training with North Yorkshire based Karl Burke - a new addition…

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Firstly Spycatcher - bought by Jake at the Craven Breeze Up for 95,000gns. This powerful colt has gone into training with North Yorkshire based Karl Burke - a new addition to the HTR training roster and early reports about the horse are very positive. 

Spycatcher - Vadamos ex Damask 2018 b.c

Rhythm was purchased by Jake at Goffs for £52,000 and we were all taken by this strong precocious filly who clocked a very impressive time in her breeze. She has gone into training with Richard Hannon and all being well, she should be making her debut in the Highclere silks very soon. 

Rhythm - Acclamation ex Strasbourg Place 2018 b.f

Having sold out both syndicates in record time we got Jake back on the prowl at the postponed Guineas sale and he came up with a shortlist of very nice horses. The star of the show for us was this colt by German Guineas winner Lucky Lion out of a Galileo mare, and we were therefore delighted to secure him for 95,000gns. He is a real beauty and whilst we should see him on the track this Autumn, he is definitely one for next year.

Unnamed - Lucky Lion ex Livia's Wake 2018 b.c

Out And About With The Highclere Camera

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