Wednesday, 20 June 2018

We have just got back from a lovely break in Skopelos, a beautiful Greek island. We did very little except swim, sunbathe, eat and explore the island on a little scooter, which was great fun.
Christina did a fabulous job looking after the animals while we were away and they all looked in fine fettle when we got back. Tik (Velvet Steel) and Bea (Burrows Spring) have both been scanned as in foal - Tik had triplets!! Two of which had to be squeezed - Knowing our luck the champion hurdler and the Gold cup winner would have been destroyed leaving us with the seaside donkey, but at least she is in foal. We have got seven days before Popaway is scanned as she was later going to the stallion.
We have got two fillies about to foal down - They were both too small to race but both have pretty good pedigrees, one is by Kayf Tara out of a winning mare and the other is a Whaley Cohen bred filly by Midnight Legend related to the grade one winning Katarino  We put them in a big field with Peter Taylors stallion (Blue Pimpernel) picked them up six weeks later and hey presto no bother at all they are about to foal - Very different from what the other three mares have had to go through with their fancy stallions, and an awful lot cheaper. We did the same with Velvet Dove and Velvet Dream this year and will be picking them up in about two weeks time. It will be very interesting to see the difference in the performance of the youngsters and how much influence the sire actually has or whether it is mainly down to the females genes.


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The office got struck by lightning during the big storm a few days ago and we have been without broadband hence the lack of posts - The big news is that Percy Mitchell (Last to Leave) won the side saddle dash at Edgcote races on Sunday!  Bless his cotton socks - He never really acted like a racehorse when he was in training, and then as soon as we give up with him he comes out and bolts home in the lead - They love to make fools of you! It was so lovely to see. He was SO happy the following day and kept on galloping round and round the field reliving his victory - Something he never used to do before the race.
We are winding down now and just have Cloud and Budge in who are going to Dingley on Saturday. Lily bled at Edgcote so will now be sold as a hunter/team chaser as she jumps like a bunny and sadly it is time to call it a day with Jess (We Never Give Up) who absolutely hates any sort of ground except firm but on the rare times she finds firm ground she is no longer quick enough to go on it. She has been a wonderful school mistress and an absolute super star in every way so deserves a nice retirement hunting and hacking.

Percy, Lucy and Di Mitchell his owner

Monday, 28 May 2018

A great days racing at Chaddesley Corbett - Murphy (Glory Hunter) did us proud by coming a fast finishing second in a really hot race, Claire Angus did a fabulous job on him and then really looked after Velvet Cloud in the restricted, who had tied up badly a couple of weeks ago and just needed a gentle run. Claire really looks after them and doesn't get after them with the whip unless she has to, as a lot of jockeys do even though she is very competitive. She gets the best out of them without bullying them, which is lovely as we want them to enjoy their racing and then they will give their all.
Hannah had a lovely spin on Beech yesterday and came around sixth, with Beech being difficult to pull up as she wanted to do another circuit...
The season is nearly at an end now and I am very much looking forward to turning everything out safely. We just have Edgcote on Sunday and then possibly Dingley the following week. We have  kept Budge, Jess and Lily for Claire to practise on and Percy is doing the side saddle with Lucy Burton.
Popaway. Velvet Steel and Burrows Spring are all going to be walked in to three respective stallions either on Thursday or Friday of this week. Popaway is going to Blue Bresil, Steel is going to Norse Dancer and Burrows Spring is going to Pether's Moon all at Yorton stud. We also dropped Velvet Dream and Velvet Dove with a registered thoroughbred stallion (Blue Pimpernel) who runs in a field with a small group of mares. It was amazing to see him herd them up and then protect them from the other horses. It will be so interesting to see how the cheap and cheerful stallion's progeny compare with the expensive 'better' stallions. My theory has always been that it is the mare's line that counts but I guess in four years time we will finds out if that theory is correct... We are awaiting two mares to foal by him in the next month. They are two fillies both out of winning mares and both beautifully bred but they didn't grow big enough for racing so they were put in the field with the stallion and both are in foal - No hassle and very little expense. I can't wait for my little horse herd to increase significantly!

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Toby  - The Usain Bolt of tortoises
Well would you believe it!!! Five years after Toby made his great escape from our garden, and with two thousand open acres of crops to explore I came across him on my evening walk with the dogs. I could not believe my eyes as he was sauntering along the footpath at least a mile from home.
We bought him for Jay when she was ten years old (nearly twenty years ago!) and he was the size of a fifty pence piece, he had used up his nine lives then as he was always getting lost so when he dug under the garden fence five years ago just before combining I thought his time was up, particularly as we have had some very hard winters since. I am sure he recognised me as he wriggled his bottom when I scratched his shell like old times, and knew exactly where he was when I put him down in the kitchen (straight to the dog bowls) Quite extraordinary. I am going to find a mate for him now and put a tracker on him, so that he can still wander around but we can find him if necessary.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Both Budge and Jess got home in their own time - The ground was so patchy that it was difficult for Claire to get them into any rhythm as they went really well on the firm ground and then floundered on the soft, She looked after them really well and both are fine today. It was a lovely day and very well attended. At this time of the year I can't wait to rough them off and put them in the field. Only two weeks to go...
We dashed off to the party straight after Budge's run and it was still in full swing 5 hours after it started!! It was more like a 21st than an OAP party (sorry Andy) Great fun though and lovely to catch up with everyone.
Popaway is in the process of being scanned to see where she is in her cycle - We are torn between Blue Bresil, Jack Hobbs or going to Ireland to see a Paddy stallion - They are quite keen to do a deal over there whereas the English studs are not. We have had some good recommendations from Tim Lane who is stud manager at the National Stud and he and Minty have been advising us.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

We have had fabulous weather this past week - The downside being that the ground has seriously dried up. The Grafton and team have done a great job of watering the track at Edgcote but it is a little patchy so we are just running Jess (We Never Give Up) as she loves firm ground and maybe Budge depending on how the ground is riding. It looks fabulous though and there will no doubt be a huge crowd. We have to whizz straight off after racing as we are going to Andy Mitchell's Birthday party so Roy and Carol (Popaway's other owners) are coming here for lunch first so that we can watch her Cheltenham DVD together and relive those incredibly happy memories......

Monday, 14 May 2018

I had my last ride on Popaway today and now she is officially retired. Her shoes were taken off and she will be off to the stud in the next few days. What a fabulous mare and what fun we have shared with Roy Hartop who was in with Popaway right at the start and more latterly Julie Gregory. Also, huge thanks to the team at home for making it all possible and for all the well wishers who have cheered her on through her twenty wins, and most of all the three times at Cheltenham.  Thank you Popaway for giving us those incredible memories that will remain with us forever.....

Our last ride together....