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Newsletter December 2019

I spent yesterday morning with share owners at Richard Hannon’s Herridge Stables looking at our two new recruits there - a yearling filly by Starspangledbanner and a colt by Mehmas. It is so exciting to see the next stage of these young horses careers as they cantered by on the all weather gallop looking as though they had done it all their lives!

All this combined with Richard Hannon Jnr’s comic banter and Senior’s legendary tales make for a magical pre Christmas time, not to mention the sausages and copious quantities of champagne!…

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All this combined with Richard Hannon Jnr’s comic banter and Senior’s legendary tales make for a magical pre Christmas time, not to mention the sausages and copious quantities of champagne! I love these two horses who look really athletic summer two year olds in the making. With a share or two available I would definitely advise you taking a closer look and giving them due consideration!

The jumps horses continue to run well and it was fabulous to see Hijack win so impressively at Ludlow. He looks to have a bright future ahead of him. And now all eyes are on Crievehill at Ascot tomorrow as he looks to get the hat trick up and bag £50,000 in the process!

Here’s wishing you a very Happy Christmas and much success with your horses in 2020.

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track - Dec 2019

With just a handful of runners since the last newsletter, the Christmas period looks like being very busy for the HTR National Hunt string.

Starting at Ascot on Saturday when Crievehill (already successful on two occasions so far this season) lines up for the very valuable Dawes Silver Cup at Ascot. Two of our very promising Nicholls trained mares - Danse Idol and If You Say Run are likely to feature as well, both in novice chases but with conditions so unpredictable there is no plan set in stone for either. 

If You Say Run has been in very good form this season and her trainer believes she is capable of winning some big prizes.

If You Say Run - Worcester - 10.10.19

Danse Idol will be taking to fences for the first time and has been schooling very well down at Ditcheat.

Clondaw Anchor may take his chance at Chepstow on December 27th having won impressively last time at Lingfield.

Recent runners included Felony, who second time up showed much more promise to finish second at Warwick. He should hopefully continue to improve and show the promise which Nicky Henderson…

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Clondaw Anchor - Lingfield 19.11.19

Recent runners included Felony, who second time up showed much more promise to finish second at Warwick. He should hopefully continue to improve and show the promise which Nicky Henderson has seen at home. Conceal struggled to get home in very testing conditions (where aren’t there testing conditions at the moment!) at Chepstow, but showed enough to suggest that he will come on a great deal for his first run.

Hijack has always worked like a nice horse at home and had schooled very well over hurdles.  He’d been very green on his first outing in a bumper at Fakenham but hopes were high that he would have learnt from that when he made his first appearance over hurdles at Ludlow on 18th December.

Hijack's Win at ludlow - 18.12.19

Nicky Henderson’s charge faced a very hot odds-on favourite, yet he exceeded all expectations when running out an impressive 3 ½ length winner in the hands of Jerry McGrath.  He again showed signs of greenness but powered home on the run-in and the result was soon never in any doubt.  He looks a lovely prospect for the Fame Syndicate and can only improve with racing.

Rolf's Ramblings Part 1

David Elsworth’s 80th birthday was celebrated this month, appropriately at the Jockey Club which body has played many parts in his career.

Having delivered a purple eulogy, well enough received by the throng, the reaction of the doyen of British racehorse trainers, was unsurprising. He might have nodded “you were too kind” or even an avuncular “let me correct you Rolf on one or two facts.” His actual words were, “What a load of b***s.”

A kamikaze pilot (nobody else volunteered for doing the honours) might have cringed at my attempted empathy with a combustible man, surrounded by a good proportion of the steadfast supporters of his cause over the years - but then Elzee has never courted devotees.

Still, he was quickly into an orthodox tribute to his staff and loyal owners; others have fled (‘fled’ the operative word) from the Elzee ‘hair-dryer’. He made the point that…

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Still, he was quickly into an orthodox tribute to his staff and loyal owners; others have fled (‘fled’ the operative word) from the Elzee ‘hair-dryer’. He made the point that he likes going to Glorious Goodwood, “to Mick Channon’s and Richard Hannon’s picnics – I see my old owners there.” (Work it out).

Our paths had crossed in 1979, six years after Elzee’s first winner of the Hennessy Gold Cold Cup - Red Candle who beat Red Rum. Back in those days nobody was confused by the apparent contradiction that his name was not on the Newbury racecard or in The Sporting Life. The world and his wife knew who was the actual ‘trainer’. His co-conspirator Jimmy Fox rode Red Candle - and they won the Mackeson too: ‘blind eyes’ were part and parcel of racing in those days; Jimmy rode for many seasons missing one of his.

Then came the empty years: the Jockey Club Stewards cast an eye, baleful, on the performance of another ‘Elsworth horse’ (like Red Candle in the name of Col Valance) at Devon and Exeter. Coincidentally the same venue, and a steward, were again involved when he returned from exile after stints as nightwatchman at Stonehenge; ice cream seller; Dorset market trader – he was no ‘Del Boy’.

He needed a comeback winner in ‘79. One of his former bosses, the late Toby Balding, and the Jockey Club’s Senior Steward provided it, inadvertently.

‘Percy,’ Fortune Cookie, had broken down with the late Sir Henry Cecil and again with Toby. Percy’s owner, the aforesaid Jockey Club boss, was obliging when I proffered “a permanent retirement home in a Hampshire field.”

A year on and Percy reappears in another ‘field’, Devon and Exeter racecourse where the jockey, later to become a senior Jockey Club employee, was instructed “not today”. Nobody told Percy and he won regardless.

As like as not the original owner-breeder was unfamiliar with goings on at the bucolic West Country jumps track. But next time was Ascot and Percy stepped up again, ridden by Ray Cochrane. As Percy passed the post, the phone shook. “You said my horse would have a good home out in a field,” thundered the outraged former owner. The best I could muster was: “Well Ascot is a nice field, sir.”

A decade on and Elzee, established at Whitsbury and now a name to reckon with, launched Desert Orchid. Elzee won the jumps trainer’s championship the year, 1989, Rhyme ‘N Reason won his Grand National. But there was no temptation to run Dessie at Aintree – he was averse to going left-handed. Tentatively I suggested he became acquainted with that way round at humdrum Plumpton. (The cramped, creaking Sussex course, along with three others - Fontwell, Fakenham, Folkestone - begin with the letter ‘F’ - ‘effing’ Plumpton).

An incontestable measure of a trainer is one who can throw the Form Book out the window. Now Elzee threw the Form Book at me: I ducked; the window didn’t. Dessie never went near Plumpton but in 1989 he re-wrote the Form Book overcoming all obstacles to take the Gold Cup at left-handed Cheltenham; and crowned a national treasure.

Respect for his horses is fundamental to the trainer’s credo. Arabian Queen wasn’t just ignored, she was disdained by the media before the 2015 Juddmonte International at York. To be fair, her prospects against the Derby winner Golden Horn – and the rest of the field – looked scant.

Having publicly chastised the ignorant and unwashed of the media for their neglect of his filly, Elzee stormed out the York parade ring. I caught up with what was by now a blazing beacon of apoplexy. “Ignore them; don’t bother yourself, what do they know?” I implored.  His reply came like a whiplash. “It’s alright for them, I’ve got 100-1 and Coolmore pulling Gleneagles out will cost me 25p in the pound.” It did.

David Elsworth is the only trainer to have two of his horses commemorated with racecourse statues: there are bronze tributes to the great grey Desert Orchid at Kempton; indomitable Persian Punch at Newmarket. A statue of the man? Problematical; whoever made ‘Elzee’ (a matter of some conjecture) broke the mould.

Out and About with the Highclere Camera - Dec 2019

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