September 2018

It’s so hard to win three races in a season but both Nicklaus and Knighted notched up their trebles this week which was a great credit to their trainers, William Haggas and Kevin Ryan. Knighted remarkably has won three on the trot showing a fabulous attitude to the game and hopefully there is more to come with both horses before the end of the season.

 It was also good to see Luxor win on his second start and other two-year-olds such as Grandstand looking as though they are winners waiting to happen after his excellent…

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 It was also good to see Luxor win on his second start and other two-year-olds such as Grandstand looking as though they are winners waiting to happen after his excellent second at Windsor. Of seven two year olds to run this season five have won, which is extremely exciting.

I am also really thrilled to welcome Jason Fildes to the Highclere team.  Jason was Managing Director of Haydock and now joins us to head up our three new Northern based Syndicates with horses trained by Mark Johnston, Richard Fahey and Tom Dascombe. With share prices all under £10,000 hopefully there is something that appeals if you are based in the North or if you want to try something a bit different!

Finally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Royal Ascot Racing Club that I helped to found back in 1998.  It is an amazing haven of luxury and comfort which also involves the fun of having five horses running for the Club. There have been many memorable days on the racecourse but none that beats Motivator winning the 2005 Derby. So happy anniversary RARC and here’s to the next 20 years!

Harry Herbert, Chairman

On The Track

As the long hot summer continued and the going remained fast, trainers tried to pick the best opportunities for our horses. This was not easy with trips far and wide to find winnable races including Carlisle, Ffos Las (where sadly the “Captain” is no longer there to welcome us) and Redcar. 

Not all proved to be fruitful although most finished in the frame during the period. On the two year old front Grandstand continued his excellent progression when finishing second at…

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Knighted winning at Redcar on Tuesday

Not all proved to be fruitful although most finished in the frame during the period. On the two year old front Grandstand continued his excellent progression when finishing second at Windsor, beaten by the progressive Dirty Rascal of Richard Hannon which was only just beaten in the £300,000 sales race at Doncaster next time. Grandstand is surely a winner waiting to happen. Another two year old to make a huge leap form the first to his second race was Luxor (The Highclere Syndicate) trained by William Haggas, who stuck on gamely to win at Wolverhampton from a well fancied Godolphin horse. This was a highly encouraging step up from his debut at Windsor where he was far too green to do himself justice, but just goes to show how much a two year old can improve with experience. Sibirica (Charlie Fellowes) appears to be struggling to do just that having run on four occasions to date but as yet not in the frame. Nonetheless Charlie remains convinced there is more to come from this daughter of Exceed And Excel as she has shown much better form at home. Tribal Commander made a very eye catching debut for the Tribe syndicate at Bath, finishing second and showing he too would come on for his first run.

Two three year olds have already shown winning form this year. Both Knighted and Nicklaus have now completed a hat trick of victories, the former sticking on really gamely to win at Redcar. He will now contest the very valuable (£28,000 to the winner) final series mile handicap back at the same course on Saturday October 6th. Nicklaus, having an impossible draw in a very hot handicap at the York festival meeting, bounced back to form at Yarmouth in very good style and showed that he is still progressing.

Nicklaus winning at Yarmouth on Wednesday

Definition made a very encouraging come back at Windsor having succumbed to a virus which seemed to put a number of Charlie Hill’s horses under the weather for a while. Along with a resurgence in form for Charlie’s string, Definition showed that he should be capable of reaching the winners enclosure before too long, having finished fourth in a decent looking maiden.


Mam’selle found the going at Haydock (very soft!!) to her liking on Sprint Cup day finishing a solid third in a competitive handicap. On a slightly less happy note, Luminate was retired after finishing down the field at Deauville. This high class filly has given the owners of the Victoria Pendleton syndicate a huge amount of fun, having won two Group 3 races as a two and three year old and was favourite for the Group 1 Criterium de St Cloud last season before the race was abandoned due to a protest by a group representing owners, trainers and breeders!! Luminate will head to the broodmare sale at Tattersalls in December where she is likely to be one of the star turns at Newmarket.

Rolf's Ramblings Part 1

I’m not a natural rambler – my ‘recreational’ walks round our racecourses are purely to test the going.

It’s lonely work; the only souls I habitually bump into are Punjabi ground staff forking divots; or Aidan O’Brien (not forked of course). And the latter is a very rare visitor to Chepstow or Salisbury - indeed as unlikely a presence say, as the current leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition at a Royal Garden Party.

Chepstow’s last meeting was abandoned after two races; Salisbury didn’t even get started. I couldn’t see what the fuss was all about. And when Salisbury was rescheduled, forty eight hours…

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Chepstow’s last meeting was abandoned after two races; Salisbury didn’t even get started. I couldn’t see what the fuss was all about. And when Salisbury was rescheduled, forty eight hours later, I yomped around with an old friend, the chief inspector of racecourses, Richard Linley, a fine stable jockey at Toby Balding’s where my role was less well-defined; let’s say head bottle washer - and opener.

The Salisbury ‘panhandle’, on which the longer races are not being run, was an eye-opener. I’ve never seen anything like it, a ploughed field – what an optimistic Clerk of the Course might call ‘heavy patches’. The root cause of the disturbance was the chafer grub and, much to my companion’s disgust, I broke into ‘The Boll Weevil Song’ followed by (our Yorkshire anthem) ‘On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at’ (translation: baht’ at’ – without a hat).

The boll weevil, which lives off cotton buds, was scourge of the American Cotton Belt and in the Country & Western song the pest choruses, to the enraged farmer, “Just lookin’ for a home, lookin’ for a home”. The message of ‘On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at’ warns the unwary of the risks of tackling the bleak Yorkshire moors without a hat (or balaclava). If you are heedless of the advice, so it goes, when you are buried you will be eaten by worms. “Then ducks’ll come and eat up worms, then we’ll come and eat up ducks, then we shall all have etten thee.” concluding pithily, “That’s where we get us own back”.

And chafer grubs could get into our food chain in similar fashion. Churlish as it may be to suggest they are a staple ingredient in Far Eastern street food, here they may arrive on our plates by a more circuitous route. They (the grubs) ‘eat up’ grass roots (lawns, golf courses and tennis courts as well as racecourses); and then badgers come along and eat up grubs; and then – well I’ve never knowingly tasted badger and have no immediate desire to do so though science insists that they are the cause of TB in cows: fancy a burger?

I was astonished at the damage badgers and grubs cause, between them. Badgers have an exceptional sense of smell. Having sniffed out the chafer larvae nothing stops ‘Mr Brock’ digging, like a miner on piece work, to get at the white, wriggling, bloated morsels – and gorging himself. Together Richard and I lifted strips of the Salisbury turf as though it were limp lino. In the same week almost the same scenario took place on the identical alkaline chalk subsoil of Epsom Downs, though there undermining the surface was all the grubs’ own work. That meeting was cancelled too. Bath and Goodwood have had their problems and the mystery is why more courses haven’t (yet) been affected.

Our pests prosper from a combination of over-racing, over-watering, under-strength pesticides (blame the EU some say) – until they meet their furry black and white nemesis. Novichok would do the job too. Had a couple of Russian tourists to Salisbury in the Spring booked in a month later – in time for the first meeting of the season – their alibi’s might have held more water. From the racecourse you get a good view of the cathedral that they admired so much. They might even have discarded their surplus Novichok up on the racecourse loop and done everybody a favour - bar the chafers.

So, had events unfolded differently I might have baulked at walking Salisbury that fine late summer day. American dirt tracks obviously aren’t in similar jeopardy and our saving grace might be the growing number in Britain laid out on sand: Wolverhampton cockles anyone?

Rolf's Ramblings Part 2; The Arc

The only winner of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe since the 1920 inauguration of Europe’s all-aged championship, who ‘trialled’ in the Yorkshire Oaks, was, until last year, Enable. Sea of Class could, this year, be the second – if she can overcome Enable. The careers of these fillies are joined at the hip.

One of the more remarkable Arcs is coming up. Last year when prize money for the 10th Qatar sponsored Arc topped five million euros Enable had to be supplemented –…

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One of the more remarkable Arcs is coming up. Last year when prize money for the 10th Qatar sponsored Arc topped five million euros Enable had to be supplemented – she hadn’t run before the entries closed and didn’t look as though she might run at all this year, ‘in recovery’ from injury until her glorious return at Kempton this month.

Sea of Class ‘recovered’ from debut defeat in the spring - just as Enable had done in 2017. And she too has to be supplemented. Their careers collide at ParisLongchamp on the first Sunday in October. It has certainly been an unorthodox journey for both.

Sea Of Class sailing to victory in the Yorkshire Oaks

The past two Arcs have taken place at Chantilly while Longchamp was renovated (the Americans ‘renovated’ it in 1943 when, by mistake, they bombed it. The meeting carried on!). Those two years at Chantilly will stand out because of Enable’s performance and, at least as memorable – and probably unrepeatable - Aidan O’Brien’s one-two-three the previous year. It was a privilege to be there…as much as to witness Treve’s victories in 2013-14: she was a mere fourth attempting a treble but still stole the show from the winner Golden Horn (he was supplemented too!).

A second filly doing the double in the same decade? Giving four and a half kg to the year younger Sea Of Class is going to be some task for Enable but it is difficult to see beyond the pair of them.

The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe started life as a minor claiming race but auspiciously it’s inauguration came in the year, 1920, that Joan of Arc (no relation) was canonized. In 1943 it was transferred to for two years to Le Tremblay, surely the most beautiful racecourse ever designed, in the woods outside Paris. Its closure in 1967 was vandalism. Everyone loves chic Chantilly but it was Longchamp where Edgar Degas painted his classic racecourse scenes in the 1870s: he wouldn’t recognize the place now: I wonder if he even had the new stands’ indeterminate shade of brown on his palette.

Teddy Becket, Enable’s owner Khalid Abdulla’s racing manager, observed in the winners’ enclosure at Kempton – an unlikely venue for her comeback, except she began her career on sand at Newcastle - that the spur to persevering with Enable was “to miss a year at stud with a filly you might be missing out on a foal; miss a year with a colt at stud and the business consequences may be awesome”.

Before Kempton Enable’s trainer John Gosden said: “She’s been pleasing me – nearly too much.” This wasn’t quite a challenge to Frankie Dettori for Enable’s ‘affections.’ If Mrs Dettori wished to cite Enable in marital proceedings she can point to the time the great jockey spends embracing the filly. Then again Treve was his darling too and with her he would have added to his record five Arcs but for a broken ankle - the only Arc he has missed in thirty years.

William Haggas is just as sweet on Sea of Class’s behalf: his concern is the ground. “The weather could break at any time and I suspect slow/soft ground will not see her at her best. Her form in the Yorkshire Oaks has been enhanced with victories for Eziyra and Laurens plus a neck second from Magic Wand in the Vermeille suggesting we are fully entitled to go to Paris with hope: exciting stuff.”

Weigh up all the trial sums – and not forgetting that Yorkshire Oaks where Sea of Class consummately despatched runner-up Coronet who had gone under by a nostril in the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud to leading French hope Waldgeist. Andre Fabre, Waldgeist’s trainer, is by far and away the most successful in the Arc with seven wins – the latest being twelve years ago though with Rail Link.

But who did Enable beat in her Yorkshire Oaks run to the Arc twelve months previous? Coronet by five lengths. It seems the destinies of these two fillies are indeed inextricably linked.

Five to Follow Competition - Oxford Private Travel

As we reach the final furlong in our five to follow competition, we would like to highlight those towards the top of the table and therefore edging ever closer to the chance of winning one of the fantastic holiday prizes, offered to us very kindly by Oxford Private Travel.

POINTS:            NAME:                                                   

215                     ALAN & SARAH SHERWOOD 3           
205                     BERNIE & ROSEMARIE SMYTHE 3     
185                     HELENE BONNEY                                 
185                     BERNIE SMYTHE                                  
185                     PETER ROBINSON 4                            
175                     VANDA BAKER 2                                    
175                     DAVID CROFT                                        
175                     DIANA DALTON 2                                   
175                     PHILIP DAVEY 3                                     
175                     ANNABEL ROSS                                     
175                     PETER DYSON                                       
165                    GILES & FELICITY IRWIN                       
165                    BERNIE SMYTHE 2                                 
165                    ANDREW BOUND                                 
165                    MARIANNE HOOLEY                              

Very best of luck for the remaining few weeks and just as a reminder, the hotel prizes on offer are: The Anam and Cliveden House.

Please click here for more information.

Taittinger Moment

Our Taittinger moment this month goes to our very own Mark Kershaw aka the Captain, who's birthday it is today.

A very happy birthday to Mark!

Out and about with the Highclere camera

Please click on the thumbnails below to see the pictures..

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