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Lance Forbes 2nd Blog – Scotland and Back!

Welcome to my second blog from the 2017 Sunline Trust International Scholarship. Its fair to say in the last month I have been all over the UK, from Scotland to Liverpool, from Doncaster to Ascot you name it, I have been there or driven past it! It all started with getting picked up on a Friday by Tony Williams also better known as "Tubba" who is the Managing Director at Goffs UK. Tubba was nice enough to let me shadow with him for a couple weeks and also let me work for Goffs UK for the Aintree National Hunt sale and the record breaking Doncaster breeze up sale.

First stop was the Doncaster race where we attended the first flat meeting of the season where Ryan Moore rode three winners in the first three races. From there it was a six hour drive to Scotland where the Goffs UK office is based, I found the landscape of Scotland very beautiful and reminded me a lot of home however as soon as I had arrived, I was off again.

The first stop on the road was in Middleham in North Yorkshire where I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet G1 winning trainer Mark Johnston, who is well known for training the champion two year old Shamardal, now a champion sire in his own right. I was able to have a look around the yard while I was there and was able to watch a few horses work on his private training track. Whilst I was there Mr Johnston had 221 horses in work and they are all trained on his private tracks. There were two all weather tracks and three grass gallops on the farm. I was like a kid in a chocolate factory seeing this amazing operation and how it is all managed and would have loved to have stayed longer but we had to get on the road again.

With Tony "Tubba" Williams - Managing Director of Goffs UK

With Tony "Tubba" Williams - Managing Director of Goffs UK
The next stop was Royal Ascot where the Ascot breeze up sale was held. Even though there was no racing on at the time, to be able to see the world famous racecourse and get the chance to walk the track was something special. I was only in Ascot for the day but while I was there I was able to watch all of the horses breeze up, The breeze ups are done a lot different from in New Zealand. One of the big differences was that every horse was breezed on its own and was fully pushed out during the breeze.

The next stop was Liverpool and in my time in Liverpool I was staying in the hotel " A Hard Days Night" which is themed all around the Beatles and just around the corner there was a little bar call the Craven where the Beatles use to play before they were famous, but my time in Liverpool was for more than just seeing where the Beatles started up. I was there for the Aintree National Hunt sale.

Not really knowing much about National Hunt horses this was all very new to me, with a very selective catalogue of only 20 horses that range from 4 year olds to 10 year olds there was even " Just A Par" who was entered for the Aintree Grand National that was due to be run in three days time and even though Just a Par didn't do too well in the race, he still made it around and the person that bought him was able to say that he had a runner in the Grand National!

The sale average was just over 100k and the top lot was sold for 300k. Some of these horses had only had one point to point race, to see them going for these prices and seeing how strong jumps racing is over here was just mind blowing. Whilst I was working in Aintree I was also able to see the two time Olympic showjumping gold winning horse "Big Star" who was doing a retirement tour around the country with rider Nick Skelton.

Big Star - Gold Medal Winning Olympic Showjumper in Rio

Big Star - Gold Medal Winning Olympic Showjumper in Rio
I was lucky enough to stay in Liverpool a few extra nights and was able to attend the 2017 Grand National which has to be the highlight of my trip so far. It was the 40 year anniversary of Red Rum winning the race. With a sold out crowd of over 80,000 people the atmosphere around the place was like nothing I have experienced on a racecourse before.

The morning before the race I was able to walk the track with Tubba and to see these massive fences up close was amazing. On the landing side, most of the fences were taller than me and I am just over 6ft tall. To think 20 years ago these fences were even bigger just took my breath away. With a prime spot right in front of the winning post I was able to watch 'One For Arthur' cross the line to win the special race.

The next road stop was the Goffs Doncaster breeze up sale. I arrived in Doncaster on the Sunday and the horses breezed up on the Monday and sold on the Tuesday. The 2017 Doncaster breeze up sale was a record breaking sale with the highest lot they have ever sold, Lot 80, a Zodiac colt. A record breaking average of 45,000 pounds and a record clearance rate of 90%. To be a part of such a great team was something I will never forget and I can't thank the Goffs team enough for how welcoming they were and how much I was able to learn in the short time I was with them.
After my time with Tubba it was time to go back to Cheveley Park stud and finish off my last few weeks in the UK. With the flat season starting to pick up Newmarket it seemed like a different town and I couldn't think of a better way to finish my time in Newmarket by attending the 2,000 Guineas.

With the Guineas weekend been famous in Newmarket for the amount of people in the small town and the atmosphere it brings was something special. The 2,000 Guineas is well known for the sire potential after winning with the likes of Sea the Stars, Makfi, Camelot and also the champion Frankel all winners of this race. With the Champion 2yo Churchill being the favourite for the race, he was looking like he was going to add his name to the list, which he ended up doing and making it eight English 2,000 Guineas wins for Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien.

With the Guineas over and done with, it was time to say goodbye to my friends and work mates I have met over the last few months. Coming to Newmarket was very daunting at the beginning not knowing anyone there, but a big thanks to everyone at Cheveley Park for making my time so enjoyable and there is no doubt I have made a few friends for life.

Stay tuned for my next adventure in Ireland.
Lance Forbes