June 2017

What a thrilling week it has been at Royal Ascot with all the Highclere managed horses running fantastic races, albeit in defeat.  Both Royal Ascot Racing Club representatives Headway and Projection so nearly won and gave everyone a huge shout with Headway finishing second in the Coventry only beaten a head and Projection finishing a close up third in the Wokingham despite being drawn on the un-favoured stand side.  

Hertford Dancer running for 5 Hertford Street also ran an outstanding race in finishing a close up third in the Ribblesdale (Gr 2) having looked the likely winner for most…

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Hertford Dancer (farside) gets headed by Mori and Coronet in the Ribblesdale Stakes (Gr 2)

Hertford Dancer running for 5 Hertford Street also ran an outstanding race in finishing a close up third in the Ribblesdale (Gr 2) having looked the likely winner for most of the way up Ascot’s long straight.  The excitement that this race created in the Herbert/Warren household can be clearly seen here (please click here for video)! 

Raucous, our sole Highclere representative finished eighth in the Wokingham but that too was a much better result than it looked as he actually crossed the line a close up third behind Projection, again on the un-favoured stand side.  He started favourite for this red-hot handicap and for a while both he and Projection shared that honour which was great to see on the big screen. 

The Wokingham betting showing Raucous and Projection at the top of the market

It really was special to see so many of our owners each day at the HTR picnic in the Owners & Trainers car park and with temperatures meeting Namib desert levels tail coats and top hats were cast asunder in a bid to stay cool! All in all this was a really memorable week which enabled us to catch up with owners from as far afield as America and Australia as well as from many other parts of the globe.  That, of course, is what makes Royal Ascot the week it is with the best racing bringing everyone together in a magnificent five-day extravaganza.  By close of play on Saturday I had definitely run out of steam and so Sunday was a time to recharge the batteries with a family barbecue at home before Monday’s Windsor evening meeting beckoned bringing me well and truly down to earth from the excitements of the week before!

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

Royal Ascot has been the obvious highlight of this month’s action in the racing calendar, but there has been plenty of other racing and news of Highclere winners to bring you as well. Our largest horse, standing at 17.1 hands, is a striking son of Dalakhani called Opposition and he provided his owners in the Melbourne Syndicate with lots of excitement this month starting with an agonisingly close second at Windsor, which saw him bounce right back to form. Less than two weeks later he travelled up to York where he was sent off favourite for an Apprentice Handicap and his pilot, Adam McNamara, gave him a beautiful ride to claim victory by three quarters of a length. He has come out of the race in terrific form and his trainer Ed Dunlop is looking forward to bringing him out again in the near future.

Another progressive four-year-old in the ranks is Selection, trained by William Haggas, who put a below par run on soft ground at Newmarket well and truly behind him…

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Another progressive four-year-old in the ranks is Selection, trained by William Haggas, who put a below par run on soft ground at Newmarket well and truly behind him when making all to win by two lengths at Yarmouth. This was his second success of the year having won on his seasonal return at Kempton in April. He is a late maturing type that didn’t see a racecourse at two and remains lightly raced, so given how fond William is of him, there is hopefully more to come from this incredibly handsome son of Siyouni. A mile looks to be his trip at this stage, but we wouldn’t rule out stepping him up to a mile and a quarter on sound surface and galloping track in the future.

Racing has its way leveling the playing field and for every race you win in a photo there will be the same number that you lose out on. Members of the William Wordsworth Syndicate had to endure such highs and lows when Archetype got pipped at the post by Jupiter Light in a thriller at Sandown three weeks after getting up on the line to win his maiden by just a short head at Chelmsford. The hill at Sandown is formidable and there are not many horses that manage to make all, especially when the early pace is as furious as it was in Archetype’s race. He led from the start under Martin Lane and after being a little free early he did settle into a better rhythm and with a furlong to run he looked the likely winner, but John Gosden’s horse was stalking him up the rail and once he got a clear run he finished well to claim victory in the dying strides.

Intellect gets the better of Stormy Blues to break his maiden at Nottingham

Another three-year-old to break his maiden at just the second time of asking was Intellect who won a mile and a quarter maiden at Nottingham on Wednesday. Being a son of Nathaniel trained by Sir Michael Stoute he was trained patiently at two years of age in order to give him time to fully mature and he has repaid that confidence with a stylish win under Andrea Atzeni. He jumped smartly and settled into a good rhythm in fourth position on the outside and although he was off the bridle before Godolphin’s Stormy Blues, who finished second, he found plenty for pressure and stayed on strongly to win a little cosily in the end.

Great Sound making a winning debut at Chepstow

The long wait to see Great Sound make his racecourse debut was worth the wait for members of Bermuda Thoroughbred Racing’s Bluebird Account who were rewarded with a win. This three-year-old colt by Galileo, from the family of Group 1 winner Wannabe Grand, was given all the time he needed by trainer John Gosden and he has really thrived this spring. In the race itself he ran very greenly and needed every yard of the mile and a half contest for the penny to drop, but he won well in the end, beating the favourite Kazawi (Al Kazeem’s full brother) by a length and three quarters. He followed up with a good third in a competitive 0-95 handicap and he is likely to be seen at his best once stepped up in trip. 

Headway gets a well deserved pat after his second in the Coventry Stakes (Gr 2)

This year’s Royal Meeting was a hugely exciting one for members of the Royal Ascot Racing Club with their two runners, Headway and Projection, both going incredibly close in the Coventry Stakes (Gr 2) and the Wokingham Stakes respectively. As you know the action comes thick and fast on the Tuesday of Royal Ascot and with the Coventry Stakes the second race on the card, there wasn’t long to wait for Headway’s appearance. The race was an open contest this year and although William Haggas thought Headway would run with credit he was still sent off at 33/1, odds which he duly out ran to finish second by a head. This colt has progressed with every run and on last week’s effort he looks to be a highly exciting prospect for the rest of the season and beyond. 

Members of the Royal Ascot Racing Club gather in the winner's enclosure following Headway's second place finish in the Coventry

The next hope for RARC was on Saturday in the Wokingham for which Projection started second favourite. The draw bias in the large field races seemed to change with each day that passed and probably was more down to which side the early pace was on than anything to do with the track. Unfortunately for Projection the far side group got ahead in the early stages and the thirteen horses on the stand side rail were playing catch up from then on. To his credit he was the clear winner of his group on the near side, but had to settle for third place overall, beaten only three quarters of a length by Out Do and Steady Pace who finished first and second on the far side.

Royal Ascot 2017

Following a fantastic week at Royal Ascot with great weather, superb racing and a number of Highclere picnics, we thought you might like to see a few photographs that were taken over the course of the week, featuring some amazing outfits and the odd glass of Taittinger!

Out and about with the Highclere camera

Five to Follow Update

As the Five to Follow competition is now well underway, we wanted to remind you all of the wonderful holiday prizes that could be yours.

Oxford Private Travel have kindly donated two amazing holidays, one to experience the breath taking views and elegance at The Vasilicos on the volcanic island of Santorini and the second…

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Oxford Private Travel have kindly donated two amazing holidays, one to experience the breath taking views and elegance at The Vasilicos on the volcanic island of Santorini and the second to explore the wonders of Vietnam at the beautiful newly opened colonial beach resort of The Anam.
We wanted to give you some more details on The Vasilicos, so you can see why we are so excited that one of our lucky members will be experiencing this luxury oasis.  

Santorini, also know as Thira, has a rugged volcanic landscape with jaw dropping views over crystal blue waters.  It is the most westerly of the Cyclades islands and is hugely popular due to it’s quaint setting of white villages, which cling to the towering volcanic cliffs. An incredible eruption about 3,000 years ago is thought to have destroyed the ancient settlements in Santorini (as evidenced by the excavations at Akrotiri that can be visited). All that remains now is the vast sea-filled caldera that makes up the foundation of this must see island.

3 nights in a Honeymoon Suite at The Vasilicos, Santorini, including complimentary breakfast for 2 people.

The Vasilicos is perched high on the caldera cliff, in the exclusive yet central area of the Agios Nicolaos Monastery. The hotel consists of a collection of cave-like structures typical of Santorini architecture, that have been transformed into 8 stunning suites, all with exceptional caldera views and private terraces. Each suite features a private outdoor jacuzzi, heated plunge pool, or priviledged access to the large, quiet heated swimming pool. There are no end to the activities available on offer at The Vasilicos, from in house exercise classes such as outdoor Yoga and mat Pilates, to other activities such as visiting the remarkable ancient ruins, wine tasting (Santorini is a top wine destination), diving in the Caldera waters, trekking the numerous island paths, horseback riding on the beach, and more.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oxford Private Travel on 01993 899 430 or or visit

The current standings for the competition are shown in the table below


Alex's Review

English Sparkling Wine beats Champagne in blind tasting

What this I hear you cry “English Sparkling wine is better than champagne”?! Surely not!! Well the current boom in planting vineyards over here to produce more fizz continues apace. Even our own Taittinger has purchased vineyards in Kent to produce their own version under the Domaine Evremond label (once used a house style champagne for big hotels and restaurants, which yours truly tried to sell into the hotel and restaurant market in London!). So why the rush to produce more sparkling wine? Quite simply there is not enough champagne to go round, so not surprisingly entrepreneurs, wine makers (even a Highclere owner) are trying their hand at producing a wine that might beat champagne at one of the world’s premier tasting, a feat achieved by Nyetimber at the a tasting in Paris last year, attended by some of the top sommeliers in Paris, where their standard wine (costing £40 per bottle) was deemed superior to other well know champagne brands such as Billecart Salmon (£65 PER BOTTLE). Half the tasters at the event thought the English wine was champagne, prompting Matthew Jukes (well known wine critic) to say “in all my years writing about wine, I never would have believed that the top French palates would take English sparkling wine for champagne”.

The English have always been great wine drinkers, but it is only in recent years that their own industry has started to flourish. It remains extremely small-accounting for around one…

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Taittinger Champagne

The English have always been great wine drinkers, but it is only in recent years that their own industry has started to flourish. It remains extremely small-accounting for around one per cent of the domestic market-but sparkling wine is doing particularly well. Our increasingly warm climate and its chalk soils are ideal for producing bubbly, and now the French are starting to agree. Taittinger’s recent purchase of 170 acres of land which was formerly an apple farm is perhaps the ultimate endorsement that a quality sparkling wine can be produced in England. The production of English wine has seen record vintages in the last two years, seeing around an average of around five million bottles per year. This is expected to grow to ten million bottles by 2022. Other notable successes include Bolney Estate’s Blanc de Blanc being served on British Airways flights.

A winter scene at the vineyard

Coates & Seeley sparkling Rose

Not so far from our office, Coates & Seely, based in in the north Hampshire downs, was created in 2006 when Christian Seeley, MD of Axa Millesime (owners of Chateau Pichon Longueville, Chateau Suduiraut in Sauternes and Quinta da Noval Port) and Nicholas Coates, a former financier in the city, decided to create an English sparkling wine produced from the land owned by Nicholas. The chalk soil (almost identical to the soil in the champagne region) was deemed ideal for growing the traditional champagne grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. In addition, the climate (cool not surprisingly) was also remarkably similar. Grapes are picked by hand at harvest time and from the method for producing the final wine is exactly the same as used in champagne-Two fermentations, the famous riddling process (see photograph), all of which is key in achieving the quality of the final wine. Coates & Seeley produce four styles of including a brut reserve, rose and balance de blancs, recently adding a vintage. Some of these wines can be seen (and consumed) at Goodwood racecourse in the Gordon pavilion, thanks to a tie up with the course this season.

Fermentation tanks at Coates & Seeley

One advantage that Taittinger and all other champagnes have over English sparkling wine? Producers in the UK (and for that matter anywhere in the world outside the champagne region) will never be able to use the word champagne on their label. This is vigorously defended by the CIVC, the body that promotes and protects the trademark Champagne.

Rolf's Ramblings - The Ascot Opening Race

My Fair Lady's Royal Ascot Gavotte

The Ascot Opening Race 

The Royal Ascot Gavotte 2017

Every duke and earl and peer is here
Everyone who should be here is here
What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle
The ascot opening day

At the gate are all the horses
Waiting for the cue to fly away
What a gripping, absolutely ripping
Moment at the ascot opening day

Pulses rushing, faces flushing
Heartbeats speed up, I have never been so keyed up
And second now they'll begin to run
Hark a bell is ringing, they are springing forward look, it has begun

What a frenzied moment that was
Didn't they maintain an exhausting pace?
'Twas a thrilling, absolutely chilling
Running of the ascot opening race


HTR Australia - June

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliot, Harry and John Calvert Jones enjoying the views at Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of racing on the world stage, so it is only natural for racing enthusiasts the world over to come from far and wide to be in attendance of the greatest week of turf racing on the calendar (and remember this is coming from an Aussie!). Only the Melbourne Cup Carnival would rival the atmosphere and occasion of Royal Ascot and, as the countdown begins to the jewel of Australian racing where Highclere Australia is looking forward to fire some bullets of our own.

Foundation will be the first of our runners to stare down the barrel of the starting gate after his winter break and will be readying to line up in his first…

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Foundation will be the first of our runners to stare down the barrel of the starting gate after his winter break and will be readying to line up in his first official trial next week. David Hayes reports Foundation to have fully acclimatised now and is working with plenty of enthusiasm at home which is only encouraging to hear. Foundation has always showcased a great deal of ability, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can harness through the Melbourne Spring. 

Pageantry and Regal Monarch are hot on his heels as they step up their workloads leading into July, and the old boy Libran is now back under saddle at Limitless Lodge as he prepares for an assault on the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap in Septembr before heading down to Melbourne for the Cups. 

While a relatively quiet month during the Australian winter, you can understand why some share owners venture over to the northern hemisphere to escape the cold. As such, we were delighted to see Highclere Australia share owners well represented at this year’s Royal Meeting. Those to venture over this year would have been feeling right at home on the opening days where temperatures climbed over the 30 degree mark, but certainly worth sweating it out for the quality of racing we got to witness, and the Taittinger Champagne of course!

Libran owners share a glass of Taittinger at the Highclere picnic.


Taittinger Moment

This month’s Taittinger Moment has been awarded to Julia Lukas, who is the proud owner of six individual winners with Highclere this season! The first to score was Selection who broke his maiden in a mile handicap at Kempton at the beginning of April and since then Raucous, Adamant, Mam’selle, Archetype and Opposition have followed to provide Julia with an amazing start to the season. In Highclere’s 25th year it seems very appropriate that one of its original and loyalist owners should be rewarded with such success and we wish Julia the very best of luck for the remainder of the season.

Julia Lukas (centre) picture with her husband Francis (left) and Vanda Baker (right)

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