The 2019/2020 has been a frustrating one for us at the Old Manor Stables. The winter months were pleasant for ducks and big strong racehorses who can perform on bottomless ground but an absolute nightmare for the rest of us. We have always managed to get our horses to outperform their purchase prices by buying an athlete first and foremost, and the lack of any reasonable ground to run them on made it a long and difficult winter.
Our real soft ground stalwarts Flintham and Hayley Belle were both out of action and so it was all down to Jaisalmer who won at Warwick and was placed on his other runs. From the point to point part of the yard, Southfield Theatre never lets us down. Although he wants the better ground, he managed some thrilling efforts beating the odds on favourite at Larkhill first time out, before running a blinder when just failing to catch Virak (who carried 3lb less than us). He then won, un-extended, at Higham before getting stuck in the gluey ground at Cheltenham. A lot of the younger horses fell foul of the virus that was circulating the yards during the winter and my overriding regret about the season is that they, and those who had not run because of the ground, were all coming good and we were very much looking forward to a successful Spring when racing had to be abandoned. But hey ho, and our thoughts go out to the very many people whose lives have been much worse affected by the Corona outbreak than us.
We have turned the horses who want soft ground out for a good long summer to put the bugs of the winter well behind them, and the ones who have been waiting patiently for some better ground have had a short three week break and are now back to be ready for the resumption of NH racing in July ( I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed for that, anyway!). I’m Here is a lovely young horse who won a point to point in Ireland and has taken a very long time to come right since he came to England, but he has been nursed back to peak form so we are looking forward to running him, and Bendy Bow, who got stuck in the winter ground, in the summer months. Step Back’s main aim of last season was the Irish National so he will be ready to get a prep race in the summer in the hope that Fairyhouse may be able to reschedule the National, and we have Southfield Megan to run in a bumper. Peddler who won a point to point last Spring and sustained an injury in his next run at Warwick, loves the fast ground and is back in good form, so he will also run through the summer.
Fingers crossed for a better 20/21!