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May 2022

Watching Cachet win the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas was the greatest moment imaginable for me. I have dreamed of those pale blue silks winning a domestic Classic for thirty years and so when it happened in this our 30th Anniversary year I guess it wasn’t surprising that the tears of utter joy flowed!!

When John, Jake and I saw Cachet walking round the stables ring stripped we looked at one another and knew that she was in the form of her life. You…

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Harry congratulating James Doyle at the 1000 Guineas

When John, Jake and I saw Cachet walking round the stables ring stripped we looked at one another and knew that she was in the form of her life. You couldn’t see a more perfectly trained and conditioned racehorse and my brother in law’s smile said it all! “She’s the one they all have to beat” he said which made the nerves jangle even more. Our lunch with all her share owners who made it to Newmarket in the Jockey Club Rooms beforehand was brilliant to help settle the nerves slightly but I think that everyone knew that in Cachet we had a filly who could realise all of our dreams.

Congratulations all round for a terrific ride from James Doyle

Many of us watched the race from the paddock where we could get a good look at the big screen there. Opposition owners and trainers were all around us, eyes glued to that screen! And then the stalls opened and out flew Cachet with James Doyle allowing her to get into a wonderful rhythm. Her weapon at Newmarket where she has always run good races is that ability to quicken into and through the dip where others get unbalanced. As the opposition queued up behind her James asked Cachet for her ultimate effort and she stole a couple of lengths on her challengers. Ralph Beckett’s Prosperous Voyage was closing rapidly along with Aidan O’Brien’s Tuesday.

Cachet leading the charge at Newmarket

This was the moment when everyone started to properly scream her home willing that winning post to come and when it did and Cachet was still a neck in front her supporters in the parade ring went completely bonkers with joy!

"The last furlong seemed to take forever"

I broke down in tears (again!) just as Oli Bell with microphone in hand approached for an ITV immediate reaction to winning. I simply couldn’t get a word out as the emotion overcame me. Jake’s children dancing around and around, James Boughey hugging us all, James’s father and mother who I have known forever also in tears and her shareowners in rapture. 

Harry being interviewed by Oli Bell

Triumphant scenes for bright young trainer, George Boughey

I had dreamed of this when I set up Highclere in 1992 hoping beyond hope that we could bring sole ownership and multiple ownership as close as possible and that we could compete at the top table in the best races. Petrushka’s Irish Oaks in 2,000 was fabulous as she became the first syndicate owned Classic winner. Then Motivator for the Royal Ascot Racing Club that we bought and managed winning the 2005 Derby. These proved that we could compete in and win at this level and so Cachet’s victory realised a very special dream! To all of Cachet’s owners many many congratulations Jakie Warren take a big bow for buying her at the as a breeze up for 60,000 gns! To George Boughey and his lovely team especially Cachet’s lass Antonia Peck thank you for training her to perfection and for making all our dreams come true.

Antonia Peck leading in Cachet

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We all went through more nerves and excitement in Paris where she tried to complete the Guineas double, only failing by a neck to achieve that. Another phenomenal effort and now its on to Royal Ascot for the Coronation Stakes (Gr 1) where she will take on her conqueror in France Mangoustine as well as the hugely impressive Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs trained by Dermot Weld.

Meanwhile here all eyes are on Royal Patronage as he prepares to run in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on June 4th. He ran a terrific race in the Dante (Gr 2) to finish second to Desert Crown who currently heads the ante post betting at 2/1. We hope and believe that Royal Patronage will stay the mile and a half trip and of course he has experience of this very tricky race course having won impressively at Epsom on his third start. What a thrill to have him lining up at Epsom in the pale blue - Housemaster carried the silks into fourth place in 1999 and was only beaten three and a half lengths by Oath that year. What a shout we had!!

Royal Patronage heads to the Cazoo Derby Group 1 on 4th June

Wishing you all a very happy and fun filled Platinum Jubilee weekend and if you are watching the Derby do give Royal Patronage a huge shout as he begins to make ground around Tattenham Corner with the most famous winning post in racing in site! More 30th anniversary dreams!!

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Harry Herbert, Chairman

Eventful Year for the Scotts and London 52

By Rolf Johnson

Rolf Johnson

As we know, there’s only one Derby, at Epsom, for three-year-olds: and there’s only one Badminton Horse Trials, in Gloucestershire, for three-day eventers. There were though, a lot more contenders,…

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As we know, there’s only one Derby, at Epsom, for three-year-olds: and there’s only one Badminton Horse Trials, in Gloucestershire, for three-day eventers. There were though, a lot more contenders, eighty-four, for Badminton, May 8th than we’ll see at Epsom, June 4th, maximum field twenty.

For devotees of Badminton it is their Derby and Grand National (Cup Final even) rolled into one!

The £100,000 Badminton Horse Trials, inaugurated 1949, incorporate the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and showjumping, a fearsome test of horse and rider which ensures nobody monopolizes; not since the 1970s anyway when Lucinda Prior-Palmer won five times in seven years.

The prospect of more future triumphs there, and worldwide, is a realistic one for Keith and Louise Scott, their rider Laura Collett and their horse London 52. With a record (low) score London 52 has just added Badminton victory to his Tokyo Olympics team gold. At thirteen he’s in his prime and has the eventing world at his hooves.

“I didn’t think there could be a more emotional moment than when Laura rode him so superbly in Tokyo. But Badminton is our Derby,” said Keith.

Laura Collet and London 52 Lap of Honour after winning Badminton

Scott sold his company in 2000. He took up eventing but a riding accident cut short that new career. The Scott’s joined Highclere and have had twenty winners so far including shares in top handicappers Gothic and Glenard and multiple jumps winner Bury Parade.

“All the horses we were involved in won at least once,” said Keith. “We are committed horse lovers. Like everybody in Highclere we appreciate what the horses give us. In eventing the horse is actually ‘ours’ but he competes for the nation too. At Highclere we are made to feel that we are THE owners. The social side is done so well.”

Keith continued: “We plunged into eventing. At one time we were involved in seven competition horses. Mr Bass was second at Blenheim (second only to Badminton) in 2018. Believe it or not the costs are higher than racing. Purchase prices are mad too. We went to Germany to see Chef d’Equipe of the German team, Peter Thompson and did a deal over ‘Dan’ – London 52 - who had done little at the time. We got lucky, very lucky.”

Thoroughbreds do compete in three-day eventing and through the Scott’s obvious affinity with horses, when Highclere’s The Last Euro jumping career stalled in 2015 they took him on as a potential eventer, to give him a new purpose in life. It was the kind of gesture characteristic of Highclere owners for whom horses are so much more than vehicles.

“He was a lovely, lovely individual,” said Keith. “You couldn’t find a better-looking horse but he’d only risen to pre-novice level when he went out for his summer holidays, tripped in the paddock and broke his neck. What was it Sir Mark Prescott said? ‘My job is to thwart every horse’s intentions to kill themselves from the moment they arrive’.”

The Last Euro ridden by Kitty King in his second career

The Scott’s next connection may be with Ollie Murphy, high on Highclere’s list of prospective jumps trainers. Rising star Murphy is based near Stratford-upon-Avon and he has gone to the expense of building an arena for Laura Collett to school his jumpers.

Any manifestation of the horse world is bound to excite Keith: though he sports a ‘mane’ of steel grey hair there is nothing ‘grey’ about him. A shot of a Highclere owner throwing a bucket of refreshing, cooling water over an Olympic champion would be treasured. That was Keith’s role in Tokyo.

“I get so involved, yes there are tears when we survive the cross-country and I washed the horse down myself when he came back in Tokyo. I sing the National Anthem when we’re on the winner’s rostrum. The World Games are at Pratoni in Italy in September, then the dream, the Paris Olympics in 2024 by which time London 52 will be fifteen - the upper limit for an eventer’s peak. He’s thankfully always been very sound and has such a strong mind I’m confident he will take us there.”

Laura Collett was asked: “Would she ever swap her horse?”

“No, I’d swap the rider,” was her humble reply.

If he could let us know London 52, I guess he wouldn’t swap rider or owners.

“We’ve got the next in line, Creggan Quality, he’s only six,” said Keith enthusiastically.

Creggan is ‘stoney ground’ in Gaelic: with his current connections the horse has ‘fallen on his feet’. And with the Scott’s record the sooner they are back in the Highclere fold the better – with their luck, not least for the horses fortunes!

Top Marks For Emily Upjohn

By Rolf Johnson

Rolf Johnson

Groucho Marx devotees cheered Emily Upjohn home at Sandown, and then at York after her consummate victory in the Musidora Stakes.

Emily Upjohn (played by Margaret Dumont) was the butt…

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Groucho Marx devotees cheered Emily Upjohn home at Sandown, and then at York after her consummate victory in the Musidora Stakes.

Emily Upjohn (played by Margaret Dumont) was the butt of Groucho’s wit and the foil for his best lines in Marx Brother’s comedies, not least ‘A Day at the Races’, filmed at Santa Anita in 1937.

Dumont was a ‘large’ lady who, in ‘Duck Soup’, lauded Groucho as “the most able statesman in all Freedonia”. In that film Marx played President Rufus T Firefly – for whom a winning racehorse of the 1980s was named, as was found for another Groucho role, J Cheever Loophole.

Using familiar racing terminology, Groucho responds to Mrs Upjohn’s compliment with: “That covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground yourself.”

And that’s certainly the first characteristic which grabs you when confronted by the Gosden’s ‘Amazonian’ filly!

In another scene Groucho woos Emily Upjohn with the line: “I could dance with you til the cows come home. On second thoughts I’d rather dance with the cows til you come home.”

Groucho isn’t finished there. “Remember men, we’re fighting for this woman’s honour – which is probably more than she ever did.”

Emily Upjohn’s form is so good it looks as though her Oaks rivals will be fighting for places.

Frankie Dettori winning on Emily Upjohn

A Day at the Races features a scene in which Emily, a wealthy sanatorium patient and hypochondriac, is treated by Groucho’s character, Dr Hugo Z Hackenbush, who is a horse doctor in disguise.

Whitmore (the officious sanatorium director): “Just a minute Mrs Upjohn. That looks like a horse pill to me.”

Hackenbush: “Oh, you’ve taken them before.”

Mrs Upjohn: “Are you sure Doctor, you haven’t made a mistake?”

Hackenbush: “You have nothing to worry about. The last patient I gave one of those to won the Kentucky Derby.”

The only ‘outside assistance’ the four-legged Emily Upjohn is that of her irresistible jockey. The next Enable? Frankie mentioned his filly in the same breath as his Prix de l’Arc and Oaks winner, after their Musidora romp at York.

You could mention Frankie Dettori in the same breath as the Marx Brothers – he could have stepped out of (or into) one of their movies. Their madcap comedies earned critical acclaim as “zany”: is there a better description of Frankie whose quirky ebullience captivates audiences worldwide?

Films featuring horseracing tend to be saccharine romances or slushy tearjerkers. One starring Dettori with a touch of his anarchic levity wouldn’t come amiss. Last year he was in the wings until the late call came from Coolmore for Musidora winner Snowfall in the Oaks. Of course he only went and won by the outrageous margin of sixteen lengths!

Emily Upjohn and her mercurial partner look booked for starring roles in the fillies’ classic at Epsom on June 3rd.

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