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May 2017

With the Investec Derby upon us it is that time of year when I tend to look back and dream again of Motivator's fabulous victory in 2005. When John bought him as a yearling we were so excited to get a son of Montjeu for only 75,000 Guineas and especially one that had a decent pedigree.

Michael Bell was on the phone as early as March of his two year old year raving about the horse and I remember seeing him come up Warren Hill, a bit sweaty and showing quite a knee action with his trainer waxing lyrical about his prospects - "Oh this horse can really gallop" Michael told us and sure enough when he made his debut in August on Newmarket's July course he won by six lengths with Kieran Fallon pulling him up a long way from home. He then went on to win the Racing Post Trophy (Gr 1) in great style to stamp himself as the leading 2yo of his generation in Britain. 

With the Dante in the bag he headed to the Derby as favourite and what a day the 4th June 2005 turned out to be! I remember watching him descend…

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With the Dante in the bag he headed to the Derby as favourite and what a day the 4th June 2005 turned out to be! I remember watching him descend Tattenham Corner on the bridle with Dubawi (F Dettori) the only other horse in the field going almost as well, but when they straightened up for home and Johnny Murtagh asked Motivator to hit top gear the response was scintillating as the horse surged six or seven lengths clear of the field. Johnny would tell me later "Harry I couldn't hear the other runners - it all went quiet and I kept telling myself don't fall off Johnny, don't fall off!!" I ran from the winning post down the track to where they pull up where Johnny and I had an emotional hug (see picture!) before heading back up the course to the deafening sound of the crowd.

Motivator is greeted in the winner's enclosure by hundreds of Royal Ascot Racing Club members

That was when the tears began to flow as I realised that a boyhood dream had come true. All those days riding my bicycle pretending I was Lester Piggott on Nijinsky hadn't quite prepared me for this epic moment. The noise, the elation, the sight of Johnno Spence trying (and failing) to hold back 200 members of the Royal Ascot Racing Club from entering the winners enclosure and then the massive cheer as Motivator returned is as crystal clear to me now as it was then.

This is what we all dream of when getting involved in the sport of kings and so, whilst I will watch the world's greatest horse race unfold on Saturday, a part of me will be so frustrated that Highclere doesn't have a runner. You see to have had Motivator, Housemaster (4th 1998), Regime (Sandown Classic Trial winner 2007, unplaced), Bonfire (Dante winner and third favourite 2012, unplaced) and Telescope (favourite 2013, didn't run) I know that it's possible to win this race again so hopefully, one day, the stars will all align and we will win this great race with a Highclere horse in the pale blue, dark blue armlets and dark blue velvet cap! Onwards!

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

It was been a brilliant couple of weeks in the Highclere camp with the fine run of form continuing to maintain an amazing strike rate for the season of 29% winners to runners! William Haggas sent out five winners last Saturday, including Contentment for Highclere’s Edward Lear Syndicate. It was her seasonal reappearance having run three times as a two-year-old and she made all under Pat Dobbs to score comfortably by one and a half lengths. She has always been one that William has liked at home and her second placed effort behind the subsequent Oh So Sharp Stakes (Gr 3) winner Poet’s Vanity filled everyone with confidence that she could develop into a smart filly. Being a daughter of Cacique, it may have been expected for her to improve with time and physically she has thrived this spring under the careful management of her trainer. 

The debutante Mam’selle broke her maiden with a narrow win over the well-bred Juddmonte filly, Circulation, at Salisbury. She also has a very attractive pedigree being the half-sister…

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The debutante Mam’selle broke her maiden with a narrow win over the well-bred Juddmonte filly, Circulation, at Salisbury. She also has a very attractive pedigree being the half-sister to Jacqueline Quest (who won the 1,000 Guineas before being demoted for interference) and, although her trainer William Haggas warned she would be green on debut, she showed a great appetite for racing to fight off the challenge of Circulation in the final furlong and win by a nose. Mam’selle is a quality filly with plenty of scope and being a daughter of Teofilo, she is sure to benefit for a step up in trip, so it will be interesting to see where William decides to go with her next.

William also trains Headway, who stormed to victory at Chester over the weekend to break his maiden in fine style under young, up and coming jockey Kevin Stott. Headway caught the eye when finishing second on his debut at Newbury’s Greenham Meeting and since then has really thrived physically. It was a busy day at Chester, but he behaved like an old pro in the preliminaries and, although he showed some inexperience in running, there was no doubt of his ability when he quickened off the bend to win by a wide margin. Headway is one of the five horses owned by the Royal Ascot Racing Club and so a tilt at the Royal Meeting looks on the cards for this son of first season sire Havana Gold.

Chelmsford City Racecourse is steadily becoming a more successful hunting ground for Highclere following Archetype’s close-fought maiden victory there last week. He was up against it drawn wide in stall ten of thirteen, but Martin Lane road a brilliant race on him from the start, tucking him in behind the leaders and coming wide into the straight for a clear run. It looked for all the world as though he hadn’t got up on the line, but the judge soon called him the winner, with a short head back to the second placed horse Cool Team. On only his second career start it was fantastic to see him show such a terrific attitude and not shy away from what turned out to be a serious battle in the final furlong. Archetype is a big striding individual and so I’m sure a switch back to the turf and step up in trip will see him at his best in the future.

Commodity made nearly every yard of the running at Kempton to record a hat trick of victories this season. In each start Ryan Moore has partnered him and he worked his magic once again to get this horse into the lead from stall fourteen. From there he steadied the pace and then kicked for home off the bend laying down a strong challenge for the rest of the field to play catch up. Commodity kept finding in the straight and a few back handers from Ryan sealed the win by a length on the line. This lightly raced four-year-old is highly progressive and, although the handicapper has had his say following the impressive win a Kempton, there is hopefully further improvement to come.

Out and about with the Highclere Camera

HTR Australia Fillies Soar in Residual Value Stakes

Share owners who took the plunge into the two Australian fillies purchased at the 2017 Magic Millions Yearling Sale will be delighted to hear of some encouraging updates to their pedigrees over recent weeks, which includes two highly promising stallion prospects. 

The Exceed & Excel ex Ashley’s Kitty filly’s update came all the way from California on May 27th where her dam’s brother Cupid (Tapit ex Pretty 'n Smart), returned from an…

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The Exceed & Excel ex Ashley’s Kitty filly’s update came all the way from California on May 27th where her dam’s brother Cupid (Tapit ex Pretty 'n Smart), returned from an eight month lay-off to triumph in the US$500,000 Group 1 Santa Anita Gold Cup at the West Coast's premier race track. 

Purchased for US$900,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Cupid won as early favourite for the Kentucky Derby after winning lead up races at Group 2 level as a three-year-old before a securing his maiden Group 1 victory on Saturday as a four-year-old. Owned by Coolmore America, this win will ultimately secure his stallion duties at Ashford Stud next season which will be a good boost to the pedigree pages of this filly.

The Exceed Syndicate still has two shares available in this exciting filly in training with Australian Hall of Fame Trainer, David Hayes in Melbourne. Please contact Dane Robinson should she be of interest to you. 

The Smart Missile ex Miss Vandal filly’s update occurred on the second day of the Scone Country Carnival in early May, when France (Redoute’s Choice ex Miss Marielle) came from last to win the Listed Scone Guineas to beat dual Group 1 winner Prized Icon. France’s dam, Miss Marielle is a half-sister to The Highclere Ladies’ filly and looks like a horse who can continue to add further value to her pedigree in what is already a blueblood page. France’s owners have ambitions to develop him into a stallion prospect, with Group 1 aims during the Brisbane Winter and Sydney and Melbourne Spring Carnivals. If successfully developed into a stallion, France would be the second active stallion under the first dam in her pedigree! 

Finger's crossed these two gorgeous fillies will be ones to add to their young and active pedigree pages when they hit the race track in the coming season, but it's great to see their residual broodmare values franked for their share owners in recent weeks. 

Where Are They Now?

With all the thrills our horses have given us over the years, we thought it would be nice to share some stories of their careers after racing.This story takes us back to 2013 at the Goffs Yearling Sale where a bay filly by Duke of Marmalade out of G3 winner Palanca, later named Pamona, was knocked down to John Warren for €120,000 on behalf of HTR. 

Pamona took her share owners on a thrilling ownership journey after winning as a two-year-old, placing in her three first starts as a three-year-old in black-type races and winning a Listed race as…

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Pamona took her share owners on a thrilling ownership journey after winning as a two-year-old, placing in her three first starts as a three-year-old in black-type races and winning a Listed race as a four-year-old, after transferring in to Ralph Beckett's care. Pamona then went on to sell at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale, where she was purchased once again by John Warren, who thought she was one of the best value for money mares at the sale, only that this time she was sold to become a broodmare at Highclere Stud. 

Pamona is reported to be enjoying her new role as an expecting mum, as she is now believed to be in foal to Iffraaj, the sire of multiple G1 winners including this year’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes winner Ribchester. Let’s hope that Pamona’s foal, due in January of 2018, follows in the hoofprints of her stakes winning parents. We wish Pamona the best of luck delivering her foal and look forward to sharing her new arrival with all of you early next year. 

A Warm Welcome to Lauren De Arias Huep

This month HTR will be welcoming a new member to the team as Lauren De Arias Huep joins us for the next four weeks on work placement. As a trainee of Godolphin Flying Start, a management and leadership training program that specialises in the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, Lauren will be supporting HTR  over the coming weeks as we lead into one of our busiest (and more importantly favourite!) months of the year.

A native Spaniard with an Australian twang, an interesting combination indeed, Lauren has spent the last two years travelling around the major racing and breeding hubs around the world through this prestigious program. On the homestretch now and with only one month left until she graduates, Lauren will be part of our HTR team for the next four weeks and hopes to meet many of our Highclere share owners during her time with us. 

Upon graduation Lauren aspires to commit to  a career in the area of racing management and training which made HTR her perfect choice for an internship. With two former graduates of the program in Emily and Dane in our HTR racing team, we think it is safe to say that we enjoy having the Godolphin Flying Start trainees join our team and we look forward to the next month with Lauren on board.

Rolf's Ramblings

Philosopher/tipster or tipster/philosopher? there isn’t any question that Michael Oakeshott was the leading conservative thinker of the twentieth century – the only confusion was, it is said, in Mrs Thatcher’s mind as she gave the wrong Oakeshott (cousin Walter) the peerage. Furthermore, all shades of political opinion lay claim to Oakeshott and he was nothing if not inconsistent. If you have money and position you are a libertine: if you have neither you are a letch. Michael Oakeshott had money and position. He had many wives – three of whom were his own.

His book, A Guide to the Classics or How to Pick the Derby Winner, co-authored with his Caius College friend Guy Griffith, was first published in 1937  and ten years…

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His book, A Guide to the Classics or How to Pick the Derby Winner, co-authored with his Caius College friend Guy Griffith, was first published in 1937  and ten years later as A New Guide to the Derby - a beautifully printed copy to which I return with great pleasure. The work has been re-issued by Amphora Press.

Oakeshott noted in the 1947 Preface: “It has been an upsetting ten years; but all that has happened just goes to show how much mischief men can get into when they allow other things besides the flat to occupy their minds.” The rest of the book has a similarly light, not to say flippant, touch. “I have wasted a lot of my time living,” he confessed.

His guide to backing the Derby winner has no less a desire to tease than his seminal work Rationalism in Politics. “We do not come before the public with a formula or a system…we have no infallible receipt. Our method is that of commonsense…and our conclusions are modest. To a world sunk in superstition we offer a brief and business-like account of the rational principles upon which we believe a winning selection may be based. Loving is like gambling, winning and losing are equally irrelevant what matters is wagering, the adventure. Gamblers and lovers play to lose.”

You could be forgiven for attributing, “I have no method. Method is imitation. I invent” to Oakeshott: they are though the words of the greatest of all breeders of the thoroughbred, Federico Tesio (the former if not the latter would have appreciated my spellchecker persisting in altering Tesio to Tesco). Oakeshott placed the influence of breeding as the salient factor in picking the Derby winner: “It is at once the simplest, the most certain and the most far-reaching of all the steps in the process of elimination of those that cannot win.”

He continued: “To the general rule that the sire of a Derby winner must be a horse who has won the Derby or the Leger there have been two notable exceptions, Blandford and Phalaris (Manna) and the only thing that can excuse it (the unpalatable fact) is that he (Phalaris) got no more than one.” Of course had this maxim held water and Phalaris been gelded, instead of going to stud at a fee of 200 Guineas, the racing world would have been denied his descendants, Galileo and Dubawi. Philosophically Oakeshott would have dismissed the oversight with “some you win some you lose”. 

The authors took against 50-1 1946 winner Airborne because of his colour – only four greys have won the Derby since 1780: eventual runner-up, Lord Derby’s Gulf Stream, remained their selection. They’d just missed out in the original work on Midday Sun (in their final three) who made Mrs Lettice Miller the first woman owner ever to win the Derby at Epsom and at 28, the youngest. The second horse, Sandsprite, was also owned (and unofficially trained) by a woman, Florence Nagle. Then again Mrs Miller might not have appreciated an Oakeshott endorsement. She said: “The publicity afterwards was rather frightening and I didn’t know how to handle it. I was invited to do television, which then was just starting, but I decided against it. Journalists rather got on one’s nerves.”

I digress: Oakeshot - “It (form) can never be allowed to override Breeding, or rather to excuse the lack of right Breeding, form can speak riddles…We should keep ourselves unencumbered with merely parasitic opinion.” Phil Bull, racing’s other great philosopher, established Timeform in 1948, the year after the re-publication of Oakeshott’s original. Bull likewise exhorted punters to follow him “not religiously but agnostically” to think for themselves, just as ardently as in the real world. Bull and Oakeshott would have been as one in describing racing as, yes, one of life’s great irrelevances – but only in the context of life as a whole. And they would extoll its virtues and not shyly either.

Howard Wright in his biography of his old boss (and mine) quotes Bull: “I am sufficient of an egoist (or conceited if you like) to believe my judgment is, in the main, sound and I am certainly not going to creep about in an atmosphere of vague indecision (usually mistaken for modesty) in the vain hope of concealing my fallibility”: Oakeshott’s “Here here” was guaranteed.

So, what would A New Guide to the Derby have come up with for this year’s Blue Riband? Things were very different in 1946; estimates varied between 250,000 to twice that number attending Epsom (on Pathe News the larger figure looks vindicated) so I request Messrs Oakeshott and Griffiths’ indulgence for my presumption interpreting their strictures for an Investec Derby 2017 selection – blame for defeat rests entirely on my shoulders.

Apart from Rekindling (High Chaparral) and Wings of Eagles (Pour Moi) – Permian’s sire Teofilo was injured and could not take part - there are eight at the declaration stage offspring of Galileo the 2001 Derby winning sire of three Derby winners already. The highest-rated two year old still in the Derby is Andre Fabre’s Waldgeist (Galileo), only fifteenth in the list of last season’s juveniles rated a lowly 114, 8lb behind Galileo’s dual Guineas hero Churchill: he had no prospects of staying the trip at Epsom.

I tipped Cracksman to the Oakeshott book launch audience – at least he’s unbeaten and has won at Epsom but the author would have shivered about the choice of this son of Frankel since the sire never won over further than ten furlongs. I do not believe Sheikh Mohammed will never win the Derby but Dubawi, responsible for the main thrust of the Godolphin challenge, does not qualify as an Oakeshott ‘Derby stallion’ either. He was third at Epsom, to Motivator, but never won over further than a mile. Douglas Macarthur (Galileo) and Wings of Eagles are my each-way offerings.

Of the Oaks Oakeshott says it is “by far the trickiest of the classics, and there are years in which it is necessary to be up very early in the morning and have fish for lunch in order to see where the money is to come from.” This is the least plausible section of the work: “Choose your filly as you would choose your wife, because you like her face or her name, or because she (I take it he means the horse) knows the difference between a tough old thistle and a nice bran mash.”

I hope he would appreciate my Oaks predilection for Rhododendron (Galileo) confirmed by her unfortunate second in the Guineas. If you want to confuse cold callers ask them “Are the rhododendrons out in Cubbon Park?” THEY hang up in a trice. Bangalore was a city of parks – once – the most famous being named for Henry Cubbon who spent sixty one year’s administrating in India.   Tipping I find can have a lot in common with cold calling – but there is nothing but warmth in Oakeshott’s idiosyncratic work.

Taittinger Moment

For this month’s Taittinger Moment we have taken the opportunity to recognise the lads and lasses that look after our horses and thank them for all their hard work and dedication. In light of Commodity’s amazing hat-trick this year we would like to present a bottle of Taittinger Champagne to Sir Michael Stoute’s head girl, Kerry Jones, who rides Commodity every day and Laura Peterson, who looks after him and takes him racing. Let’s hope this lightly raced four-year-old can continue his fine run of form!

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