14/11/17: And off we go to Lingfield for THE GAME IS A FOOT to pick up his second win in eight days, despite having to race at somewhere that is not Plumpton. This was the flat jockeys hurdle race, and we managed to secure the right man for the job - Rob Hornby, who began his racing life with Henry Daly with a plan to be a jumps jockey. Slightly tapped for toe coming down the hill, stamina came into play from the last hurdle and The Game Is A Foot has plenty of that, so he won going away. A speculative entry for Plumpton next Monday has been made, but unless it looks like being an easy race, he will not do three races in two weeks - even though in his current mood the horse probably would volunteer to. Sadly heis yet to volunteer to muck out his own box. Our other runner on the day deserves an honourable mention. KILINAKIN jumped well on his chase debut and was eased when lack of match fitness cut in from the second last. Interestingly, Marc Goldstein's verdict was that two miles in testing ground would be fine for Kilinakin, which was not an option that we had thought of, and gives us a wider range of races to choose next. PS Apologies for the photo quality, but it is what happens on a gloomy November day when you leave the camera setting on 'sunny.' Dimwittery of the first order!


7/11/17: What a splendid day at Plumpton. It ended with Will Featherstone turning over the hotpot in the final race with flying assistance from THE GAME IS A FOOT. Check out what a brilliant record the horse has at Plumpton. Half an hour earlier FRANK N FAIR had finished second in the handicap chase, jumping well and finishing strongly. We have waited with some patience for the horses to come right and the ground to follow suit, or vice versa, and it paid off here. There should be plenty more racing activity in the next few weeks, at a variety of locations around the country. For good measure at Plumpton FRANK N FAIR won best turned out (again). To see THE GAME IS A FOOT delivering, the replay is on ATR at http://www.attheraces.com/racecard/Plumpton/6-November-2017/1610 


6/9/17: Bulletin from all the owners - Congratulations and good luck to Andy and Zoe for the wedding on Thursday!


5/9/17: A small update to report that BOLD MAX has been retired, and he has found a home where all that is required is a horse to a) ride and b) wipe his uncontrollable tongue over people's clothes. He was a perfect fit. The horses back in are coming along nicely and the plan is for the bulk of the jumpers to be ready to race by late October - as ever the ground will dictate whether that plan can be adhered to.


2/8/17: And VENETIAN PROPOSAL acquits herself with honour again. This time it was over 1m 2f, but she enjoyed good to soft at Lingfield and finished third. At a key stage in the race she did get disrupted by some general jostling, but having finished a couple of lengths behind the runner-up, it did not necessarily cost her a place, just made ensuring third that little bit trickier. She has had a good summer so far.


16/8/17: Another good Lingfield run from VENETIAN PROPOSAL. She found the standard of competition a bit easier than Sandown, but the extra furlong and softer going meant that she did not quite power home as strongly as she did when winning there. There was enough to be going away from the bulk of the field, but two horses showed just a little bit more stamina where it mattered and she was beaten a length or so - hardly crisis time. Earlier in the day it was nice to see so many people at the August owner's morning, and with the rain having gone away, the horses were terribly sociable as well.


12/7/17: It has been quite quiet recently with most horses on holiday, but VENETIAN PROPOSAL livened us all up with her first ever win, totally at home with 1m 1f on good to soft at Lingfield. When she arrived last year, she was just a sweet natured litttle thing, but with threat of being boxed in hovering, she had a right old snarl at the fourth, who wisely let her out and have her way. And from then on, it was plain sailing. Earlier in the race, at the foot of the hill, Venetian Proposal was unpromisingly under pressure, but relished every yard of this - see the bad screen shot of her going away from the rest. View the race on ATR at http://www.attheraces.com/racecard/Lingfield/12-July-2017/1500


1/6/17: Back to form for VENETIAN PROPOSAL, who finished third at Lingfield. She had improved during the winter, but hit a bit of a performance flat spot when spring came, so it is nice to see progress restored. In particular she knuckled down and refused to let third place be stolen from her.


14/5/17: As you will have noticed, there has been a dearth of runners lately. Mostly this has been due to the ground, and how it has ensured the dry spell that has also not gone unnoticed. We had a stab at Plumpton, where it was fast but very fair. THE GAME IS A FOOT did not get the race run to suit in the three mile hurdle. He would want it to be solid pace, then try to quicken. Instead they went very slowly and added a sharp injection of pace with a mile and a quarter to go. Staying on fourth was the outcome. FRANK N FAIR did not like the ground as a surface for fast run three mile chases, but she did win best turned out.


4/4/17: Second place for KILINAKIN at Kempton. By only half a length. Well clear of the rest, but the leader proved exceptionally persistent. These are the sort of things that make you shout out random syllables, so that people nearby think that you maybe a weirdo. However, it did show that the horse is getting back towards what we thought he could do before the muscle injury picked up on his autumn return.


2/4/17: The best recent run was BOLD MAX late on Friday night at Chelmsford. Staying handy in 7f race, he finished third, as all of the runners were trumped by a winner that suddenly flourished. A very decent effort by Max anyway.


8/3/17: Monday at Plumpton again. We went with three runners in chases, hoping that the fields would cut up a fair bit. Initially it worked, with only two against FRANK N FAIR. She was only third, but from out of the handicap in a race that began with an extended dawdle and ended in a sprint. That did not suit at all, and the raw speed of the other pair was decisive. After that, the ground was changed officially to good to firm, which BROTHER BENNETT hated, especially going up and down the hills. So if he was not functional on it, there was little hope for Finnegan's Garden, and he was withdrawn. The best laid plans of Franks, Bennetts and Finnegans.


25/3/17: And another winner comes. The race at Stratford was a bit of a farce - missing out seven of the fifteen fences should gives us a case for not losing novice status - but GUSTAV (with regular jockey Trevor Whelan in the plate) finally put it all together properly and developed his recent good runs into a win. Note that when the course accidentally gave us some fences to jump, Gustav gained ground on the opposition, and he finished it all off very strongly, going clear in the home straight. Earlier in the week, ART HISTORY finally showed signs of also assembling the pieces of the jigsaw together ast Kempton. Fingers crossed for next time.


13/3/17: Not sure if we have ever had two unseats in three minutes at two different racecourses before. It can be reported to be "really, really annoying." See the Secret Circle page for the agonising  details, especially as FRANK N FAIR was effectively brought down and BROTHER BENNETT'S error was 100% out of character. In fact to prove it, he did two laps loose, jumping every fence, including the dolled off one. He knows how to prove a point.


10/3/17: After 50% of recent runners being placed, we went one better as FINNEGAN'S GARDEN opened his account. It appears that all the 2016 fuss about Leicester being the centre of the sporting universe did make an impression on him and he likes the place. Kenny probably does now, as the tribulations of his pair of horses leading into 2017 will endear the winning venue to anyone. What also seemed to work was the the space of a small field in combination with no phaffing about and a good solid pace from end to end. Catch a re-run on ATR here:  http://www.attheraces.com/racecard/Leicester/10-March-2017/1605


8/3/17: Another week, another run down to Exeter. This time it was witH GUSTAV, who unfortunately had cause for a Song Of Lament. He ran a good race until tying up from the second last and dropping back to be third. We had to give it a go as the handicapper would likely raise him a pound or two for Leicester, and then maybe a bit more after Ardmayle won again on Monday. In hindsight it was two races too close together, but at least he came away with some prize money.


6/3/17: A triple header of runners at Lingfield. From best to worse they were as follows. BROTHER BENNETT finished third in a two mile handicap chase, which was a very acceptable outcome on ground a bit worse than he prefers. Nevertheless, the horse seemed to have enjoyed himself. Again he jumped well, and hopefully there will be a conflux of ideal circumstances for his next race. THE GOLDEN HOUR needed a third race to get handicapped, and ran really well in the maiden hurdle. We need to remind the handicapper that the pair in front of her did not run up to their best - hopefully that was apparent enough without having to start an internet petition. The disappointment of the day was GEORGIESHORE, who pulled up. As a bit of a repeat of Exeter, Will's verdict was that he "hung like a bas**** all the way" which also affected Georgieshore's jumping. People who know their medieval history will see Will's simile as meaning that he besieged the town, captured it and then executed the population for not surrendering soon enough. No, I don't get it either.


28/2/17: Three runners today, and all of them were placed. GUSTAV got things underway at Leicester, finishing second in a novices handicap chase. The winner was a bit unexposed on chase debut, and just had too much in hand, but our lad ran well, his only wobble being taking off about five strides too early at one of the early fences. It taught him a lesson, as he was very steady at the obstacles after that. Later on the same card FINNEGANS GARDEN picked up third place. Again, the winner was red hot on the day, but he was competing for second until the last few yards. And at about the same time BOLD MAX was also finishing third, at his new favourite place, Lingfield. The race was his first at a mile for a long time, and he relished it. In fact, he finished like a train, but that is to be expected when you book a jockey named Hornby to ride.


22/2/17: This our Trip Advisor entry on Yorkshire. "It is nice, but a bit misty. Our horse was supposed to scare the oppo away a bit, but they all declared en masse just to annoy us. And then another one got tripped up by some sticks that had just been left lying in his way. 4/10." That was the big day out - BOHERNAGORE got the race going his way (clear lead) and daftly fell, FRANK N FAIR ran well to be fourth, annoyingly close to nicking third, and THE GAME IS A FOOT never got into the serious part of his race. BOLD MAX ran well at Lingfield the next day. And was home in time for Pointless as well.


13/2/17: More signs that the break had done the horses good. After a couple of not bad runs over the weekend, things took a livelier turn at Plumpton. THE GOLDEN HOUR returned from twenty months off to put up a novice hurdle show that was thoroughly acceptable in the circumstances. FINNEGAN'S GARDEN jumped round a trick course and just tied up in the latter stages to finish out of the money, and in the last race of the day THE GAME IS A FOOT won the two mile conditional jockeys hurdle. Frankie gave him a very composed ride, and in a shorter race than normal, he began to reel in the leader from the third last, and then picked of the leader on the run-in. Obviously we have to thank Gary Moore for sending him in our direction, but after solid efforts earlier this season, The Game Is A Foot had himself earned this moment of glory.


9/2/17: A very nice comeback run from BOLD MAX on a course that has not been his favourite in the past (but is very near to home), finishing strongly for third, after Liam declined to get involved in the strong pace up front at the very start. It augurs well in general for the benefits of the time off given to the whole team.


8/2/17: We have had a few runnerless weeks as the horses were not right. They seemed happy enough at home, but a couple scoped badly after running disappointingly, and others tested also came up a bit off. All is well now, and the entries have started flowing again.


8/1/17: By popular demand we will be organising another day out at Royal Ascot again. This year it will be on the Wednesday 21st June, tickets will again be for the Queen Anne enclosure. The ticket price for members of the Secret Circle Racing Club will be £109, non-members will be charged at £130. A slight increase due to a rise in ticket prices.

As we think that this will be a sell-out please get your applications for places in to Rosemarie as soon as possible to ensure we can provide a space for you.  It will be a full day again – departing by coach from Shovelstrode at around 8.30.  Drinks and snacks on arrival at the course, followed by a buffet lunch before racing begins and you will have plenty of time to get across the course to see the Royals arrive. After racing there will be a high tea back at the coach prior to departure.

So to ensure that you are not disappointed if you could transfer the funds for your ticket reservation into the Secret Circle Racing Club account – quoting ASCOT and your Name this will guarantee your tickets. Bank details are:-

The Secret Circle Racing Club: Weatherbys Bank sort code 60 93 03, Account No. 00477165

Please reply to Rosemarie Gray at rosemarie.gray@rsmuk.co.uk with how many tickets you require.


20/12/16: It is the flat horses that have done best since the last update. Today Rigsby showed a bit more improvement in his second race wearing a hood and is definitely going the right way. A week ago Venetian Proposal also put up her best performance so far, finishing fourth back in maiden company. She just needs to learn that whilst being sweet as pie at home is fine, on the track a little bit of ferocious competitiveness is not a bad thing! And finally

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL - see you at Fontwell on Boxing Day?


11/12/16: We had a nice day out at Lingfield in mid-December. Beaufort Boy needed an extra novice hurdle run to get handicapped, but Brother Bennett had a very solid spin for his chase debut. He jumped well and finished fourth in a race run less than a second outside the Racing Post standard time, which is extraordinary for a) a novice chase, b) a 0-120 handicap and c) December, when the going should be more testing.


7/12/16: WINNER!  What a very nice day we had at Fontwell. Firstly BOHERNAGORE won the opening race, with Frankie riding. As noted here before his past problem (Bo, not Frankie) was that he pulled ever so hard and struggled to get home. This time, it was done very briefly, but he was incredibly well settled making the running at a sensible pace, and leaving the back straight he had all of the others hard at work. Could he last home? Absolutely he could! There were two factors involved. Mainly it is down to Frankie, who has been doing a lot of individual work at home with Bo, and come race time it paid off as the horse was not trying to fight him and do the opposite of what was needed. Best supporting influence came from Fontwell. They move the second hurdle in the home straight about to prevent the take offs and landings getting too battered. Today it was about as near to the start as possible, and it is probably not a coincidence that having thought about charging off when the tape went back, Bohernagore was on the hurdle in no time at all, and was really quite calm after jumping it. Finally, a note to Frankie - the handicappers read the Racing Post, so telling the reporters "I was going so well I felt we could have gone round again" is not tactful. You are supposed to say, "It looked easy, but really we were flat out at the end and the line just came in time. And I think the runner-up was below his best."

In the very next race DYLANSEOGHAN finished third in a handicap chase, his best result for us so far. The Racing Post noted it as a very promising display, and also had a great picture of him going over the fence before the stands on Page 15 of today's edition. He did hit a bit of a flat spot after his one significant mistake in the race, but this was a nice step in the correct direction. Having not been able to get a quote on this effort from Simon Clare, a random internet quote provider gave us "Beware the Jabberwock, my son." Which seems to back up the Racing Post view that future opponents need to take him very seriously. Unfortunately we did not have any more runners on the day and Dylan wanted to be home in time to go out and terrorise some stereotypical medieval villagers.

ZoeDAVISON

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Racehorse Trainer at shovelstrode stud stables - NEAR EAST GRINSTEAD in the heart of Sussex