Menu

July 2019

It’s been all go at HTR HQ as we hit one of the busiest of times of the season. The two year olds are coming on tap and Thunderous gave his share owners a great thrill as he won impressively again and remains unbeaten. He looks as though he might well step up into black type company next time which is extremely exciting. Our annual National Hunt jumps parade took place last week at West Woodhay. 

This was the first time that we had held the parade away from Highclere Stud and the equestrian centre a mere hundred yards or so away from our office turned…

Read more…

This was the first time that we had held the parade away from Highclere Stud and the equestrian centre a mere hundred yards or so away from our office turned out to be a terrific venue. All of our jumps trainers were there and the horses paraded beautifully in the sunshine. We introduced three seriously exciting new recruits in Hijack (Nicky Henderson), Generation Text (Dan Skelton) and a cracking son of Stowaway with Ben Pauling. There are a few shares available so if you want some proper winter action then do get in touch as soon as possible. 

Dane Robinson

We had fabulous news from Australia on Saturday morning as we woke up to hear from Dane that Lord Belvedere had won impressively at Flemington adding another AU$75,000 to his Aussie prizemoney haul and taking a step closer to qualifying for a possible tilt at the Melbourne Cup in November.

Sadly this was Dane’s last race overseeing our Highclere Australia business before he heads off to his new role working for Magic Millions. He has done a terrific job over the last few years at Highclere and we will all miss him hugely.

Tess Drennan has joined the team to head up Highclere Australia and she spent the past week at our West Woodhay office getting to know everyone before taking up the reins from Dane. She starts at an exciting time with our horses down under as we also look forward to Edison and Contango making their three year old debuts. 

Tess Drennan

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

Things have really started to pick up since the last newsletter with the two year olds bursting on to the scene in the form of Thunderous (Mark Johnston) who looked a smart prospect when winning on his debut at Doncaster before going one better when following up in style at Redcar.

Having missed the break, Thunderous cruised up to the leader before moving to the front. He was challenged but showed a really impressive attitude to go clear and win with…

Read more…

Having missed the break, Thunderous cruised up to the leader before moving to the front. He was challenged but showed a really impressive attitude to go clear and win with plenty in hand. It will be very interesting to see what the master of Middleham will plan for this exciting two year old.

Byline is another from the North  who looks to be real prospect having finished second on his debut at Ayr and then winning impressively at Hamilton and collecting £25,000 bonus from the Tattersalls Book One sale and £10,000 as it was also a Plus 10 race, making the total prize money £40,000! Precocity finished third again on her second start, showing plenty of early speed and looks sure to get into the winner's enclosure before too long.

Nicklaus showed once again how consistent he is, finishing second at Salisbury where he came up against a the fast improving Power of Darkness. Nicklaus will head to the Goodwood festival for a race on the first day. 

Patience is without doubt a necessity in this game and Ed Walker has shown that in spades in his handling of Immoral, who finally got his head in front at Yarmouth. 

Pesto ran a very solid race at Ascot on ground that was probably lively enough for him, but it was a good performance in what was a very competitive handicap. He is sure to have his day again this season.

Nantucket continued on the upward curve when finishing third at Windsor and looks likely to get off the mark soon, particularly as she will now compete in handicaps.

The hot summer has meant that horses such as Durston have not been able to run on the very firm ground but knowing our weather there will be a change at some point!

Rolf's Ramblings

Midsummer and you could murder whoever scheduled the clash of “Super Saturday’s” glut of Group races at Newmarket, York and Ascot with some of the UK’s greatest sporting events. The…

Read more…

Midsummer and you could murder whoever scheduled the clash of “Super Saturday’s” glut of Group races at Newmarket, York and Ascot with some of the UK’s greatest sporting events. The sheer gluttony of four more meetings on that day led to acute overexposure - and mild embarrassment; at rollicking Salisbury on Saturday evening you could pick up a prize for the best dressed modern man; best dressed (if not quite haute couture) woman; and pick up several who stopped just shy of ‘best undressed’. 

On the Sunday, run of the mill jump cards at Perth and Stratford collided with melodramatic conclusions to World Cup Cricket Final; the Wimbledon tennis final; the British Formula One Grand Prix; and, let’s not forget, also ran, World Cup Netball.

All sports have their unforgettable days: youngsters dream of being the next Lewis Hamilton rather than the one and only Frankie Dettori even if Formula One racing is yawningly predictable (when was their last 33-1 winner?): the weeds on some decommissioned school and village cricket pitches might see a mower, in tribute to our World Cup winning team, but ‘flannelled fools’ are out of fashion: and when Andy Murray is out of Wimbledon the tennis nation, dejectedly, transfers affections to Federer; for the other fifty weeks of the year Wimbledon is nothing more than the last stop on the District Line.

And yet, despite the competition, racing just about held its own on ‘saturated Saturday’, there were ample crowds everywhere. If only it would dawn on the powers that be that all may not be lost if they concentrated on what’s best about the sport instead of sapping the energy (to say nothing of the will to live) of those who day in day out keep the show on the road (literally) flogging around the sport’s nether regions to forgotten fixtures. And all the while the life, the brio is sucked out the game.

The highlight of the Newmarket July meeting had to be the victory of Ten Sovereigns in the Darley July Cup, prompting Aidan O’Brien to dust off and upgrade his “special horse” encomium into “very special horse”.

We’re halfway through a season of stunners and stumers. So Paris last Sunday evening could have been a second seminal moment courtesy of Japan’s victory in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris. And yet in form terms the Investec Derby third achieved no more than at Royal Ascot, and not much more than he had at Epsom.  He went off 2-5 at Longchamp and Andre Fabre’s Slalom, as slowly away as he’d been in the Prix du Jockey Club, ran Japan to half a length. The French commentator almost invariably calls home winners with the exclamation “il s’impose”. You couldn’t say that about Japan. The Arc remains Enable’s to lose.

When a Derby winner finishes last behind a horse who had previously finished last, one has to wonder where the season is heading. Masar, a Derby first for Godolphin in 2018, looked, to my eye, unready at Royal Ascot where a stumble at the start of the Hardwicke was no help. Masar beat a couple there – one of them, Communique, finished last, sixteen lengths adrift. In the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket it was Masar’s turn to finish last - and Communique’s to be first.

Masar was retired. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. The week previous Communique’s trainer Mark Johnston had three winners in five days which bounced back from finishing last on their previous outings: after Communique’s heroics, on the final day of the July meeting Vale of Kent maintained the Middleham maestro’s sequence – an abject failure at Newcastle, a successful gamble in the Bunbury Cup. Mark part of the difference down to irresistible Dettori. 

History’s leading trainer of winners when he, Johnston, reached 4194 last year (by the end of this season that will have risen to around four thousand four hundred – unless he accelerates!). The trainer has never achieved a sweeter coup (though he would doubtless deny it was nothing of the sort) than with King and Queen at Hamilton last week. The Racing Post and the handicapper were obliging: the Post said the three-year-old colt had run three times in Germany – actually he’d raced in France and though he’d beaten but four horses in three races, without any evidence of ability, the handicapper was sufficiently conceited to award a mark (52) - seized on by the Kingsley Park team. King and Queen, short-priced favourite, won by seven lengths. Who does the trainer think he is, Sir Mark Prescott? (Incidentally normal service was resumed by the doyen of Newmarket, kicking off his season a trifle tardily, with a clutch of recent winners).

This last weekend the Open Golf, Tour de France – and the netball - provided lesser competition. Next Saturday we have the most telling race of the season so far – the Qipco King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in which Enable tries for her eleventh win in a row, against Crystal Ocean whom she beat at Kempton last autumn. The presence of the Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck ought to be far more intimidating than the betting suggests it will.

Ascot, can surely withstand competition next Saturday - from a darts championship at Blackpool and England v Ireland - at cricket.

Royal Ascot 2019

A wet Royal Ascot did not dampen the spirits at the Highclere picnic.

National Hunt Parade 2019 on Camera

Distinction in Retirement

Distinction (Big D) at 20 years old enjoying retirement life in Ireland.

Read more…

Distinction (Big D) at 20 years old enjoying retirement life in Ireland.

Out and About with the Highclere Camera

Stay up to date

Sign-up to our email newsletter