15 Mar Dancer’s Diary – Week 58
I have been simply terrible at keeping up my New Years Resolution and therefore have plenty to share with you all – though why I have decided to do it during Cheltenham week is beyond me! It has been a magnificent two days of the Festival so far, with Altior looking the real deal yesterday, though I am sure in my younger days I would have given him something to think about (if I had a rocket pack attached to my hooves!)
We have been having an interesting time here battling The Beast From The East (left), with our riders frantically trying to find the gallops under the snow on the odd occasion! We found fame in the New York Times, and it is a huge testament to our workforce here that everyone smiled through it. The work put in that week is more than paying off in our results though, so at least we have got warm jumping up and down with excitement!
Porrima (Princess Porrima as she insists on being called) (right) was extremely uncertain about the weather conditions, and was delighted to hear she was making the long journey south to Lingfield, where it was decidedly greener and warmer! A stunning grey Kodiac filly, her owner Daniel Shapiro spotted her at the Breeze-Up Sales last year, and bought her home with him whereupon the whole yard, particuarly the trainer’s wife, fell head over heels in love with her. As a two year old she made a promising debut in third, before suffering a small set back. However, we knew there was more to come when she was 2nd first time out this year at Newcastle, and we all were very hopeful going into the 6 furlong maiden here, albeit a trip probably short of her best. Under Luke Morris, who gave her a peach of a ride, she got a bit lonely once she hit the front (or maybe she was just laughing at them?!) but showed a nice injection of speed to take the race by 3/4 length. She has the most wonderful bunch of owners in Daniel, David and Jane Feeney and there was plenty of celebrating that night (until 7 a.m. for some!) She is now struggling to fit her inflated ego in the barn, and is insisting everyone bow down as she walks past – fillies!
Musbaq, Eponina and Displaying Amber all ran good races in defeat at Southwell and Newcastle, and all will improve for the outing. Elysee Star (Betty) was an extremely unlucky loser on her first start at the year – always on the lazy side, she made Paul Mulrennan work from nearly the moment they left the stalls, before bursting clear from the pack approaching the finishing line. She was unlucky to get collared, and there should be more to come from her this year up in trip for owners Go Alfresco.
Finally we unleashed our own Beasts From The North at Newcastle on Tuesday night, when the large in size and personality Rey Loopy (left) and Castle Hill Cassie headed off for their first starts of the season. Two late developers, we hoped this year would be their year, and were extremely pleased both managed to win two races apiece last year bearing this in mind. Loopy was up first, again in Daniel Shapiro’s colours, and he settled beautifully at the back under Paul Mulrennan. We were nervous watchers, as he really wants a fast pace to aim at which wasn’t happening, but he was happily on the bridle still as they approached the finishing line. Paul remained cool, found a gap between the leaders and won in what looked like a fast canter to Loopy! He was delighted with himself, and hardly knew he had had a race. Best fresh and well, there was a lot to like and hopefully he should have a good 2018. Well done to his regular rider Cathal Courtney, who keeps a good hold on this monster of a horse everyday at home, and meant he got to the races in the form the trainer wanted him in.
Cassie (right) was rather more enthusiastic out the gates for owners Ontoawinner, James Pak and Trojan Horse, but Graham Lee quickly got her settled towards the rear. Coming towards the finishing line, it looked like there was nowhere to go, but again heads were kept cool and, despite the eventual second getting a good run on her, they had no answer for her finishing speed once the gap came, and it was another very taking victory for Castle Hill Stables! A filly we have always liked, she also looks to be on the upward curve and should have some good days in her this year. A well done must be said to our new Head Girl Faye Bainbridge, who fell in love with this filly very quickly and has done an excellent job on her at home.
This was our first ever double, which caused a huge amount of excitement for us all! So often we have had a second on the day of a winner, so it was a huge relief to see it all go to plan, and plenty of champagne was toasting the result the next day – hopefully a good omen for the turf season that awaits!
Finally, Ben ‘Hitman’ Haslam, Cathal ‘Crafty’ Courtney and Dragos ‘Ibramovich’ Sava are all taking to the boxing ring this weekend for the Stable Lads Boxing Night in aid of Racing Welfare. This is a wonderful event that they have all worked extremely hard for, with some intense training leading to some stiff looking men in the mornings here! Please do support them, they all have GoFund me Pages and any help is hugely appreciated. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-haslam-boxing https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/courtney-cathal
Until next time