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Jamie's Blog - March (wk4) 2012

The Biggest Jumping Festival in the World

Cheltenham Festival
To say I was a little excited about attending the second day of the Cheltenham Festival was a long shot; an underestimation with only one word that could describe what is truly an exceptional days racing, AMAZING. Mark Marris and I headed away on the two and a half hour trip to Cheltenham on Tuesday night and had booked accommodation at The Bull at Fairford, roughly thirty miles away from Cheltenham where we met Andre Klein, the CEO of the Otago Racing Club and NZ Jumps Inc.

After a few ales, a meal and a bit of banter about who was and who wasn't winning the next day it was time for some shuteye before we headed off bright and early to Cheltenham. Although we arrived in good time, there were already large queues before the gates opened at 10:30am, as sixty five thousand jumping enthusiasts embarked onto the course.

After a guided tour from Andre through the National Hunt Sales Ring, the Parade Area, Guinness Village and even a quick look at some of the cross country fences, it was time for racing to get under way. I watched in awe as Nicky Henderson became the all time greatest trainer at Cheltenham, bagging four wins from the seven race-card in utter style. This success took his grand total of wins to forty three and also resulted in Nicky and stable rider Barry Geraghty achieving leading trainer and jockey respectively for the festival.
A bumper crowd at Cheltenham
A bumper crowd at Cheltenham

With the thrills and spills of every race, the astonishing horses, the super star like jockeys and a crowd that is absolutely deafening, it is quite simply the most exciting day of racing I have ever attended. I can't say that I have attended a Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate or even an Auckland Cup, but I have been to several other key dates around New Zealand and Australia, and apart from the slight drop in temperature it left me thinking, this is what horse racing is really about. It may have lacked the flair of Royal Ascot or Flemington on the first Tuesday in November, but what may have lacked in was made up by the roar of tens of thousands of everyday racing enthusiasts, not there for the glitz and glamour that surrounds other summer meetings, but to truly watch and take in the best jumping spectacle in the world.

The festival highlights included Big Bucks winning his fourth World Hurdle, in the process stretching his unbeaten record to sixteen. Trained by Paul Nichols, the champion-jumping trainer in England and ridden by Ruby Walsh, Big Bucks was too tough for his opposition. When looking like he was in trouble at the last, he dug deep as true champions do and found another gear to get the business done. AP McCoy the sixteen time champion jockey won his second Gold Cup on the Jonjo O'Neill trained and J P McManus owned 'Substitute'.

Unfortunately the race was tinged with sadness when the champ Kauto Star, the first horse to win over £2 million in jumping prize money, had to be withdrawn from the event after making a mistake at the water jump.

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to attend this amazing festival, it really is an event you can't miss. Even if you don't particularly enjoy jump racing, this carnival has the ability to change your view. I am truly envious of how well they do it over here, particularly in light of the way jump racing is heading in New Zealand.

The Road Trips

Dansili
by Danehill is standing for a fee of £75,000 at Juddmonte Farms, which is only a short drive from where I am based at Cheveley Park. Standing at a touch over sixteen hands, Dansili is a stunning individual and typical of his sire, with a good deep girth and plenty behind the saddle and a great shine about his coat, even though it is only early Spring over here. As the Racing Post reported, like the best sons of Danehill he has all bases covered leaving precocious two year olds, classic three year olds, stayers and sprinters. Dansili is the leading Black Type Sire for 2011.

He is out of arguably one of the best broodmares in the world in Hasili (IRE), who has left five Group One winners and was crowned Broodmare of the Year in England in 2006. Hasili has also left Raise The Flag, who stands at White Robe Lodge in the South Island. By the immortal Sadler's Wells, Raise the Flag is a slightly more compact version of his older brother, with a great walk and a strong hind quarter. He looks to be a great cross to shorten up some of the strong staying mares that White Robe are renowned for. I was fortunate to inspect both the stallion and some of his first crop foals before I left for the UK and with tremendous support from not only White Robe but also outside breeders, he has some immaculate foals on the ground and his future does certainly look very strong. I was particularly taken with a colt out of Perceptible, herself a stakes winning mare and one of the very best three year olds of her year, winning the Dunedin, Southland and Gore Guineas. I would suspect it will be worth watching out for this colt at Karaka 2013.

New Approach
is by the world's best stallion Galileo and stands at a fee of £22,500. Nannina, a homebred Cheveley mare by Medicean and a two-time Group One winner, visited New Approach at Dalham Hall Stud, an arm of the Darley empire. As a two year old, she won the Meon Valley Stud Fillies Mile at Newmarket over eight furlongs and then trained on at three to win the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

I really can't believe that I get to handle this sort of horse flesh day in and day out, it truly is a wonderful feeling knowing that you are leading a great racehorse that has the potential to leave a future champion. Racing in the green and black silks of Princess Haya, Sheik Mohammad's wife, New Approach was an absolutely outstanding racehorse, winning on eight occasions, and unbeaten as a juvenile, winning twice at Group One level, making him the champion two-year-old in Europe. He won the Derby at three and ran Henrythenavigator to a nose in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas before running the fastest ever ten furlongs at Newmarket in the Champion Stakes. With this sort of cross it isn't hard to understand why Cheveley have built up a reputation for breeding exceptional racehorses.

Home Boys

Dutch Art
(Medicean) is the whizz kid of the Cheveley boys, and was crowned the leading European First Crop Sire in 2011 with his progeny including Caspar Netscher and Miss Work of Art, both winning at Group Two level. Dutch Art himself was a multiple Group One winner over six furlongs and was also Group One placed behind July Cup winner, Sahkee's Secret, who now shuttles to The Oaks in Cambridge and also looks to have a bright future with his yearlings selling particularly well at Karaka 2012. Dutch Art is a great looking animal, only 15.3 but with a great shoulder and a strong hindquarter, he really is my type of horse; an outstanding looking individual, with a lovely walk and speed to burn. With his first crop performing so well on the track, Cheveley have increased their support with their quality broodmares and his future looks only to get better.

Kyllachy
is Mr. Reliable with a reputation for consistently producing winner's week in and week out. By the champ Pivotal he was the sire of over one hundred winners in 2011 and really does look a bargain for breeders at only £10,000. He has left the multiple Group One winner Dim Sum in Hong Kong who has won successive Chairman's Sprints. Regarded as a very intelligent horse by anyone who knows him well, he certainly does have his fair share of tricks in the breeding shed often doing his business outside rather than inside the covering barn.

Medicean
, a son of Machiavellian is the sire of six individual Group One winners over his career and the sire of twenty individual stakes performers alone in 2011. He won six races, two of these at Group One level being the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown over two thousand meters and the Lonkinge Stakes over eight furlongs at Newbury. The Eclipse has been a true sire producing race, with the likes of Sadler's Wells winning the race in 1984 and Giants Causeway and Oratorio winning the race for the Coolmore team before our very own NZ bred So You Think won the race last year. Machiavellian has also proved to be very popular in the Southern Hemisphere, with Street Cry leaving Shocking to win the Melbourne Cup in 2009 and another son of Machivellan in No Excuse Needed standing at Waikato Stud leaving Daffodil to win the AJC Oaks and 1000 Guineas when trained by Mr. Gray at Palmerston North.

Pivotal
needs no introduction, the sire of ninety-nine individual stakes winners and twenty Group One winners alone, he is the prized gem of Cheveley Park and was awarded the Barleythorpe Cup for a record sixth consecutive year for the leading British-based stallion by individual winners in Britain and Ireland in 2010. He has also made an impact on the New Zealand industry as well, with his sire son Captain Rio leaving the Group One winners Il Quello Veloce, Brazilian Pulse and the promising She Goes To Rio, who is heading toward the AJC Oaks after recently winning the Canberra Guineas.

Virtual
is a son of Pivotal and a three quarter brother to Iceman, who also stood at Cheveley Park but was lost to Colic when his oldest progeny were only foals. Like Medicean, Virtual was a Group One winner of the Lockinge Stakes, beating Paco Boy who has some outstanding foals up here in the Northern Hemisphere. He got his Group One and his oldest are now yearlings this year, and I will be able to tell more when I get to Sandwich Stud, the yearling division of Cheveley Park. A great looking horse himself, big and strong with a lot of stretch, he has been relatively quiet this year, but he only needs that one good horse from his first crop to hit the track and become popular again. As it can happen, he doesn't seem to be the most fashionable sire at this stage, but it only takes one flag bearer for all this to change.

The Lectures

The English National Stud, owned by the Jockey Club run an evening lecture program annually and I have been lucky enough to attend some of these prestigious lectures, taken by some of the very best industry professionals. Every Tuesday and Thursday nights, three of us from Cheveley Park head down to the National Stud lecture theatre for an hour-long session on a different equine related topic ranging from insurance of bloodstock and the role of a bloodstock agent to infectious diseases and equine fetal development. Last week the class got hands on, dissecting placentas to ensure that everything was intact and nothing had been left in the mare, with one poor girl getting a little light headed and subsequently hitting the deck, it wasn't the nicest experience I've had, but something that needs to be done to ensure that nothing is left inside the mare.

With my inexperience in the care of mares and foals and the mare's ovulation cycles, these lectures have really extended my knowledge on all facets of the bloodstock industry. With Andrew McGladdery coming to the stud every morning to perform the vet work for the day while also having Andrew and Dale there to answer my questions, they have made it possible to gain a handle on what methods to apply to specific horses should any problems with either ovulation or pregnancy occur.
Jamie tries out The Queen's silks at the the Horse Racing Museum
Jamie tries out The Queen's silks at the the Horse Racing Museum

There are also a couple of good lads from the National Stud that I have been down to the local "Wagon" for a couple of good nights out with to check out what's happening in Newmarket.The Cheveley lads have had a field day at Meydan in the lead up to the richest night of racing in the Dubai World Cup Meeting this week.

Capponi (Medicean) was outstanding when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge III (Group 1). It is the traditional lead up to the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, so lets hope he can continue this form into the big night. Kyllachy and Pivotal also had runners in the winner's enclosure when both had offspring win at Group Three level, marking a major milestone for Pivotal with it being his one hundredth international stakes-winner.

What a massive accomplishment and fitting that it be owned by Sheikh Mohammad after he showed his faith in the horse when investing in him several years ago.

Massive congratulations to the whole team at The Oaks, as two of the homebred fillies quinelled the New Zealand Oaks, with Darci Brahma getting his first Group One with Artistic. I am sure there are many more to come for the young blue blood sire. The next blog will take in the Craven Breeze Up Meeting and the Sale at Tattersalls as well as the Grand National Meeting at Aintree.

Lastly, get up the mighty Landers, the local lads have said the new stadium is outstanding, so here's hoping they can keep on winning!

Don't forget the photo's either at http://sunlinescholarship.blogspot.co.uk/

A pleasure never a chore,
Jamie