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Jamie's Blog - March 2012

Jamie Richards
Jamie Richards

Cheverly Park Bound…

Firstly I think I should briefly introduce myself, my name is Jamie Richards and I'm twenty-two years old from Dunedin in the South Island. Prior to being awarded this scholarship I had worked mainly in racing stables, with my dad Paul having his own stables on the family farm (where I would much rather be than at school), as well spending the summer holiday periods with Mark Walker, Mark Kavanagh, Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie, all of which were great learning opportunities and really furthered my knowledge about the different ways thoroughbreds can be trained.
Cheveley Park Stud
Cheveley Park Stud

Upon completing school I went to the University of Otago, although hesitant at first as I wanted to work in the stables, it has provided me with some of my fondest memories and I think in this modern day it is important to have some form of qualification behind you. Upon being awarded this scholarship Michael Martin suggested that I further my knowledge by going to work at The Oaks in Cambridge and complete a yearling preparation to Karaka 2012 before I take off on this wonderful opportunity. It was a great experience and provided me with an understanding from the other side of the fence at sales time, and a base to further my understanding of the mares and stallions.

The Travel
Monday the 21st of February marked the first day on tour. After an immense couple of weeks saying goodbye to family and friends it was finally time to get on the plane, full of excitement but also somewhat nervous at what was awaiting me at the other end. I left Dunedin late that night, bound for Auckland, and with the old girl shedding a few tears it was only then that I realized the magnitude of what I was about to embark on, not only representing your family and your country but most importantly yourself on this amazing opportunity to experience the working life of three of the most renowned thoroughbred studs in the world. It really is a wonderful scholarship and a big thank you to Michael, Sally, Shannon and everyone associated with the Sunline Scholarship for giving me this opportunity.
Boarding my midnight Air New Zealand flight bound for Heathrow via Hong Kong I was bouncing of the walls with anticipation at getting over there and stuck into seeing how Cheverly Park operated. To say the trip was long was at an understatement, but with Air NZ's delicious food and wide selection of movies and television programs it made the trip stress free and very relaxing. After eleven hours to Hong Kong, it was time for a two hour rest, enough time to give the teeth a quick brush, change the tee shirt and grab a quick bite to eat before I boarded the last leg of the journey, final destination Heathrow, London. After landing and clearing customs it was on to the National Coach Express bound for Newmarket, 'the historic headquarters of horse racing'. I was greeted by the very welcoming Stud Manager Andrew Snell, who showed me my home for the next ten weeks at 21 Pivotal Court, Cheveley, on the outskirts of Newmarket.

Welcome to Cheveley
The next morning I was brought into the office and introduced to Sharon the office manager who provided me with the essentials before Matt Sigsworth showed me the important health and safety video, the accommodation contract and terms of employment, in a nut shell the boring stuff but it had to be done and now it was time to get out there and meet the rest of the team. The stud groom Dale Clements and the whole crew have been very welcoming at the main yard at Cheveley, and Dale has already agreed to let me have a day off for the Cheltenham festival, I cannot wait!!
After getting the essential food, internet and phone all sorted out, it was time to meet up with a friend that lives in Newmarket, Mark Marris, who had come out to New Zealand and spent time riding jumpers the previous winter. I have been so lucky to have his family welcome me into their home and to have Mark be my own personal tour guide, pointing out the different yards, showing me around the gallops and Cambridge University as well as giving me the opportunity to ride out for his boss Sarah Humphreys just outside of Newmarket (photos to come and more in the next blog on 'the gallops').

The Rotation Policy (works better than Graham Henry's did)
Cheverly Park itself consists of not only the main yard, but also a number of different stabling areas, where mares at different stages of their cycle and foaling date are boxed at night before going out into the fields during the day. I will try and explain how this amazing farm has put in place the most beneficial procedures to ensure the utmost care of their very valuable broodmares and foals. Every mare foals down in a box in the main yard that is monitored by cameras every hour of the day, but there is also another five yards namely The Dairy, 24's, 12's, Top Mansion and Benson's. These different yards each have their own roll in the care and nurturing of half of the broodmare band at Cheveley, with the other half being at Warren Hill and Ashley Heath Studs (more to come on this).
24's is where the barren or dry mares that are not currently in foal reside, they are often teased and scanned by the vet to ensure that they visit the stallion at exactly the right moment. The Dairy is for the mares that are close to foaling where they are monitored closely, also via camera, going out into their paddock for the day and coming inside to their lovely warm straw boxes at night. When they are close to their foal date or they are showing signs that foaling is near they are moved to the main yard. 12's and top mansion are currently for the mares that have foaling dates between the middle of March and May and they will be moved to the dairy when there time is near. 12's as the name suggests is 12 boxes that at this stage contains mares in foal, but with mares returning from Ireland after visiting the stallion this is used as somewhat of a quarantine area. Lastly Bensons is where the oldest mares and foals will go in the coming weeks from the main yard to make room for those mares that are close to foaling. Although hard to explain in words, it really ensures the best care for both mum and foal and works extraordinarily well with the team of staff as well (photos to come).

A sneak peak at the first foaling's at Cheveley
Barynya (GB) by the champion resident sire at Cheveley in Pivotal is out of Russian Rhythm, who holds a special place at Cheveley with a statue at the Thompsons home on the stud. She was the winner of seven races in total, with her biggest successes being the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket as well as the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. In total she won four group ones, an amazing effort for any horse and currently has a striking bay filly by Makfi at foot, who is well known in NZ having shuttled to Westbury Stud and Barynya is due to visit Dutch Art here at Cheveley. He is the son of resident sire Medicean and the leading first season sire in Europe in 2011 (more to come in the next blog about this lad).
This is a cracking Oasis Dream - Canda (Storm Cat) colt at 14 days.
This is a cracking Oasis Dream - Canda (Storm Cat) colt at 14 days.

Canda (USA) by the almighty Storm Cat, as Matt reported last year was purchased by Cheveley for $2,400,000 and has left the group three winner Evasive and Cheveley currently have Cantal (Pivotal) in training with Sir Micheal Stoute. Chris said she had plenty of scope and thought she would work her way through the grades, with black type well within her reach. She has an Oasis Dream yearling filly that has been retained by the stud, and an outstanding foal at foot also by Oasis Dream and has already visited Dubawi, the son of Dubai Millenium who stands at Dalham Hall for a fee of £75,000.

Irresistible (GB) is another mare that has recently foaled, having a handsome chestnut Pivotal colt and is set to travel to Ireland to visit Starspangledbanner. He of course needs no introduction, winning the Caulfield Guineas and Oakleigh Plate in his three year old year, before being bought by Coolmore and winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket for Aidan O'Brien. I am really looking forward to seeing this bloke in the flesh when my journey continues to Coolmore in early May, and the word from the Andrew (stud manager) is he has left some wonderful foals. Irrestiable (GB) a listed winner herself at three years is the dam of Infalliable (GB) who was a group three winner and group one placed in the Coronation Stakes over eight furlongs at Royal Ascot, this mares future certainly does look bright.

This only a sneak peak to the amazing time that I have had, soaking up everything that is going on around the stud is never ending and I really am enjoying every minute of it. It's all happening over here with "football" on a Monday night and lectures at the National Stud on Tuesdays and Thursdays (more to come on this). The second blog will include the Cheltenham Festival, a piece on the Newmarket Gallops as well as the amazing stallions at Cheveley Park and the stallions I have been lucky enough to visit with Cheveley mares.

I'm also going to try something new this year by running a photo blog, with the old saying that a picture tells a thousand words this should save me hours slaving over the keyboard and anyway pictures are much more interesting to look at. If you follow this link http://www.sunlinescholarship.blogspot.com it should lead you right to it. I will try and post not only what is happening around the stud but also what else I see on my travels as often as possible.

Look after yourself everyone.

Jamie

P.S My first gallop on the famous Cambridge Road gallop in Newmarket for Sarah Humphreys on a mare called Lady Karabaya has resulted in a winner in a class four handicap hurdle at Folkestone by a whopping sixteen lengths with a nice return in the back pocket as well, very exciting.