12/11/19: A nice drop of rain this week! It has allayed some fears that chosen opening races for some horses may have going too quick, so next Saturday Kilinakin and Brother Bennett should both be on their way to Stratford, and everyone who was thinking on Plumpton, Exeter or Fontwell just afterwards should be fine too.
13/9/19: Just a quick note that due to availability, the October owners' morning is now on the final Saturday of September, on the 28th. To inspire / console (depending on how this fits your response), have an art picture looking up the schooling gallop. Also, a belated addition to the horses in training list as GUSTAV is back with us, having seen dramatic improvement with his old leg injury.
27/7/19: The horses are back in light training (and quite happy for plenty of shade on the hot days). The August owners' morning has been postponed to 1pm on Sunday August 18th, with a parade of all the horses. Please let us know if you plan to attend to that catering can be scaled appropriately. Meanwhile, one of the most important roads in Ulster...
17/6/19: A quick update to add the final couple of new arrivals - RUACANA and YEATS BABY, both multiple winners so far.
27/5/19: One runner this week - GLORIOUS BORU. He was runner-up at Uttoxeter, behind the horse that won the previous race that he contested. It was a decent run all round, but he is a little young to have developed an arch-nemesis already. A revenge plan is being hatched. We also spent what seemed like a million hours going through the Doncaster Sales catalogue, and after another thousand or so hours of watching horses being auctioned, we came away with the couple - OUR DOT'S BABY and BLARNEY BATELEUR. The former came from Jeremy Scott, where she overcame early clumsiness to win over hurdles and be placed at Listed level. The latter won her only Irish point in a very big field - both in terms of the number of runners and the geographical location. We have also got CAGLIOSTRO from Tommie Dowling. The horse is named after an infamous medieval Italian alchemist and magician who unsurprisingly turned out to be an almighty conman. Hopefully the horse, who has had a injury setback or two, is not taking notes on this. There are a couple more to be revealed as well. Pictures to add to the Gallery soon.
12/5/19: We had two runners at Plumpton's final meeting, both in the novice hurdle. There was nothing much else local for O'RAHILLY so we had to run him in a shorter race than ideal. He got a bit outpaced but stayed on stoutly from the second last and Tom was very keen on his potential for next season. DEVIOUS DICK'S DAME was again her own worst enemy, pulling hard early and wasting too much energy. James Best confirmed what we thought about her - no lack of physical ability but she has a lot of mental catching up to do. He actually felt with half a lap remaining that she could challenge for a place, but the early silliness had taken too great a toll. Aside from the racing front, there have been a couple more mares' joining the retired roster. MAISY BELLE was an experimental purchase which has not succeeded and VENETIAN PROPOSAL has suffered a loss of appetite for the job.
22/4/19: A small catch-up after Easter. BROTHER BENNETT finished second at Plumpton. It had looked like a golden opportunity for him but one opponent whose performances are widely variable had a going day and got the better of him. On the same card DEVIOUS DICK'S DAME finished fourth in the juvenile hurdle. She was a bit of a handful at the start (where Andy was stationed in order to give her a stern talking to) but for the race itself Tom gave her no chance to indulge in silliness and she completed problem free. The other side of the coin had been a week earlier when WINDY BOTTOM was running a huge race at Stratford and had every chance of winning, only to suffer a serious tendon injury.
12/4/19: Back to Fontwell for FINNEGAN'S GARDEN and he was able to complete the hat trick. With two opponents wearing very similar colours to him, it was not always easy to keep track during the race but once he led three out Finn had the situation under control, although it was notably harder work than the last two. On the same day we had GLORIOUS BORU running. After his multiple moments of bad luck at Exeter, a bit of good fortune was due. Fighting his way into contention in the home straight, he then had the leader unseat at the last in front of him, and not only did that horse hamper him, the runner-up also did taking his own evasive action. Worse, the loose horse then badgered him for half of the run-in and he was only beaten byb two lengths. Everyone likes to say that these things even out over time - Glorious Boru is owed a massive favour somewhere. Follow the link at the end of the previous paragraph for replays on ATR.
7/4/19: Well this is shaping like a good spring. We took five runners to Plumpton and bookended the quintet with wins, a double also for Page. Firstly we cunningly managed the entries and got FINNEGAN'S GARDEN and BROTHER BENNETT in very suitable six runner chases. Finnegan's Garden has really flourished since his Fontwell win and turned out looking in A1+ shape - could not find the infinity symbol on this font to upgrade him from that. The oppo worked hard at him but there was no stopping Finn on the day. Brother Bennett is a bit more dependent on things falling into place as he would demand it and this time it did, although a day earlier Rory gave him a veterinary once over and was certain that Benny was in good a shape as he had seen him. From the other three, O'RAHILLY came on a bundle for his comeback and finished fourth. Unless the weather remains bad, it is probably too late in the season to bring him into winning form but this gave us something to look forward to. HARRY HAZARD made his handicap debut stepping up to two and a half miles and finished fifth. His inexperience showed when he made a very untimely blunder three out, just as the pace quickened. In contrast to O'Rahilly, the benefit should for him is more likely to be a mental advance. The only disappointing run was MAISY BELLE but it was not her fault. She was less wound up than previously before the race but hated the rain loosened going and could not put her best foot forward. So if we do not have the bad weather to keep O'Rahilly on the go, she will be getting what she wants. The ying must balance the yang, the good must balance the bad and the fruit cake must balance the broccoli. Watch reruns on ATR.
22/3/19: A couple of places to report on this week. Firstly we were very pleased to see KING OF THE SHARKS start to show his true merits at Exeter. He finished third to a couple of horses already rated in the mid-130s, and was well clear of the rest. Hopefully he will sustain this momentum. A day later BROTHER BENNETT was also third, at Huntingdon. Things never looked good when the leader flew off at a mad pace (Benny hates that) but he got caught up in an odd incident when every horse bar the first two made a mess of fence eight. Maybe they were collectively startled by the ghost of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia? It probably cost us second place. Finally a word of consolation for GLORIOUS BORU from Exeter. He found one of those races where everything went wrong. If a horse was going to hesitate approaching a hurdle or go off at an angle, they did it front of him. If a horse was suddenly going to veer off in search of a gap, they did it into a gap that he was looking to take. In the end he just ran out of evasive manouvres - better luck next time.
17/3/19: WINNER! At last. Good old FINNEGAN'S GARDEN does the trick for us at Fontwell under a good ride from Page. Thanks to Kenny for his patience through various inconveniences this season and his unrelenting optimism that only deserts him for the five minutes or so that Finn is actually racing. Watch a replay here.
15/3/19: Three runners this week, which might have been four but Page was claimed to ride at Cheltenham so we gave the lady riders' race at Huntingdon a miss. On Monday we had BRANDY CROSS at Plumpton, where he ran his race sensibly rather than than a touch hysterically. Now that he gets how the job works we can progress more aggressively with him. Meanwhile at Taunton, VENETIAN PROPOSAL also settled better than she has been and ran better as a consequence. Unfortunately she was badly hampered with half a lap to go and could not chase down the main quartet. Definitely a better performance than the result shows. At the end of the card BROTHER BENNETT got a very encouraging third. Turning for home we were entertaining thoughts of a win but he is a stuffy horse who had been off for eight weeks, and that found him after the second last. Dare we hope that he will decided to come good in spring, just like last year? And in "not this week" news, HARRY HAZARD went to Sandown on Grand Military Gold Cup day, running very well in the novice hurdle, despite a rather rude racecard comment regarding his prospects.
3/3/19: We had a busy day at Plumpton, but not a successful one. WINDY BOTTOM ran OK in a frantic handicap hurdle in which she was unable to quite get with the leaders. Other races will be easier. BRANDY CROSS and HARRY HAZARD both did all expected in the novice hurdle, which was all part of bringing them along sensibly. MAISY BELLE approached her racing much more sensibly in a new bit, but now her mindset is more functional we probably need to put her up in trip and DEVIOUS DICKS DAME again showed promise in the bumper but with the whole field well bunched, she got the worst of some serious scrimmaging on the final bend. Now we have the update from A&E. PETE'S CHOICE made his chase debut at Plumpton but picked up a tendon injury. At first we thought it was a serious one, but when scanned there was no hole, tear or bowing, so it appears that he just bruised it - he will need some time off, so that is his season finished. DYLANSEOGHAN, in one of those acts of zero self preservation instinct that horses love to get involved in, was out in the field and decided to have a roll. This led to his injured leg getting caught in the fencing. At first it appeared that he had aggravated his injury quite badly, but when the cold light of day shone upon us, it has not turned out to be as bad as the first impression implied. Finally, with suspicion that his splint injury is still niggling away and the ground turned against him, THE GAME IS A FOOT will not run again this season.
8/2/19: Fortunately for all the horses at Shovelstrode Racing Stables none have come into contact with any horses that could potentially be carrying the Influenza virus, by that we mean we had no runners at Wolverhampton, Ayr or Ludlow.
In light of the current situation we have decided to give every horse in the yard a Flu Booster jab to boost their immunity. We take the horses temperatures on a daily basis and keep this information recorded and haven’t had any symptoms and don’t expect to have any going forward.
We will keep everyone updated accordingly.
18/1/19: Four placed horses this week. On the one hand, at least they all ran well. On the other hand, GRRRRR!!! for the fact that none of them won. The first of the quartet was KILINAKIN. It looked like a good race for him but the weather meant that the ground at Lingfield was gluey and nasty, which is not for him at all. Loose and wet (oo-er!) would have been much better. In the amateur riders' hurdle, PETE'S CHOICE repeated the third place of Kilinakin, but in far more unusual style. He also disliked the ground but unhelpfully thumped the third hurdle, which caused a situation where going out for the final circuit he was miles off of the pace and ridden along. However, the race had been run at an unsustainable speed and he swept through to get in the frame, and do so surprisingly comfortably. A day later we were in the rain at Plumpton. BROTHER BENNETT enjoyed it and made his way to third place in the two mile chase, and later on the card DYLANSEOGHAN was runner-up in the staying veterans' chase.Really! It only seems like he has been here ten minutes and yet he is in with the old timers already.The open ditch was omitted in this race because of earlier damage, but Page reported that Dylan edged towards it on every lap - a proper chaser who wants to jump everything. Please park cars carefully when visiting the yard! Unfortunately we had VENETIAN PROPOSAL in the last race and the wet day begat soft going by then, although as it was run in the dark, we did hope that she would not see the mud. Apparently it does not work like that and she could not handle the ground. A greater carrot ration may be needed if all of her races are staged in bad light. There were two or three best turned outs along the way.
10/1/19: After a clump of runners at Lingfield we sent five more to Plumpton two days after that - all hands to the pump plus several other nautical cliches apply. The horses that stayed at home throughout must have wondered what was going on, but they had a chance to get up to all sorts of mischief without human interference. The best run at Plumpton was FINNEGAN'S GARDEN, who came second and might well have won had he not misjudged the third last. The horse looked after himself readily enough but left James Bowen to get himself out of trouble - which happened but only after a moment of great concern. Others there included HARRY HAZARD, debuting over hurdles and running much better than on his bumper run, and WINDY BOTTOM who showed great improvement for her wind surgery despite a bewilderingly high handicap mark. She will probably be heading back there for a mares only three miler. In midweek VENETIAN PROPOSAL was fourth at Taunton, a step forward from her disappointing autumn. Fingers crossed she will keep moving in that helpful direction.
4/1/19: A few runners in the last week or so. The notable efforts were a stable debut for KING OF THE SHARKS at Lingfield, where the ground was not soft enough (did not expect to be writing that!) and he was hampered at the third last. On the same card THE GAME IS A FOOT made his return from ten months off and nabbed a creditable third place.
20/12/18: Just when it seemed that the departure of Georgieshore meant that our traditional visit to Uttoxeter on the Friday before Christmas would lapse, WATAR ALLSTAR stuck a hoof up and volunteered to fill the gap. The word "hero" is greatly overused these days but...
18/12/18: A new experience for the yard - six runners at one meeting, including two instances of two in a race. No winners, unfortunately, but four of them ended up in the first four. Taking them in chronological order... PETE'S CHOICE only ran in the two mile novice race due to not being qualified for the longer race. He just about sidestepped a faller at the third last, and then stayed on for a fine third. In the same race new arrival MAISY BELLE was seventh, which was perfectly acceptable considering that we have only had her a week. CLONDAW ROBIN made his hurdles debut and whilst not ready to look to be placed, he learned a lot from a scrap for a best possible result with a few in a similar boat. Next up was DYLANSEOGHAN, who was fourth. Although it was a three mile chase, it was slowly run and did not play to his stamina strengths - a longer race and/or more demanding track is needed. And to end the day, FINNEGAN'S GARDEN and BROTHER BENNETT finished third and fourth in the two and a half mile chase. It looked for a while as if Finn might win it, but he bumped into one horse that got things right after a couple of near misses and one unexposed opponent on handicap chase debut. And then we all had a much needed rest. There was a best turned out somewhere along the way - Dylan?
10/12/18: The youngsters have been ticking over in the process of getting handicapped. There are some associated pictures just over on the right.
30/11/18: The last couple of weeks have been more in the same vein as the earlier weeks. The more experienced horses have done quite well, notably DYLANSEOGHAN finishing fourth at Uttoxeter on his return to action, but the youngsters who are still learning the job are taking it one small step at a time. The worst experience was a very disappointing effort from CLONDAW ROBIN, who seems like a nervous traveller at the best of times. On the way home from Market Rasen he had an attack of colic, and a diversion to the nearest vet was added to the agenda. As expected WATAR ALLSTAR was very green on his debut for us, at Ascot, but he will improve a bundle for it. Meanwhile, pending the mercy of the balloting system, Monday 3rd December should be a big day out for Shovelstrode, with plenty of Plumpton entries. There are a couple of nice new pics on the Gallery page.days later - clearly the pair of them found it a very stimulating day out!