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Benji’s Blog – May 2015

The Godolphin blue is a familiar site around the roads in Newmarket
The Godolphin blue is a familiar site around the roads in Newmarket

My time at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket is coming to an end. I have had a great time and the weather has been improving every day. During my time at the stud I have had the opportunity of visiting a couple of studs in the area.

Visiting Stud Farms

My highlight had to be seeing champion racehorse Frankel, a very beautiful and professional looking horse, Frankel is the first horse in 60 years to be champion at two, three and four years of age, and the record holder for European consecutive Group 1 wins. He stands at a stud fee of 125,000 pounds. Also standing at Juddmonte Farm are top class horses Dansili, Oasis Dream and Kingman.

We've also had a walk out cover to Newsells Park Stud about 45 minutes away, the mare went to Nathaniel, a son of Galileo, world champion 3-year-old in 2011. Stud fee 20,000 pounds.

It was a very smart traditional set up, the covering shed was a good design, and the stallion boxes were also impressive with brass handles, and overlooking the parade area.

I was also very lucky to have been given the grand tour, of Shadwell Stud in Thetford by assistant manager Mark Dean. This was a massive farm of over 6000 acres and is owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. I got to see the champion Green Desert still looking amazing at the age of 32, he lives out all the time and looks very happy.

I had a tour of the stallion barn, that too was very traditionally finished with brass fittings in and around the horse boxes. Shadwell have a very influential part in New Zealand thoroughbred industry having bred super sire Zabeel also Mahaasin, Istidaad, Ekraar, Nadeem and Makfi. Of course Green Desert playing his part in Sunline and Black Caviar.

I have been on foal watch for a couple nights and I finally got a foal!! The mare Cape Elisabeth by Invincible Spirit started foaling around 1 o'clock. The main difference with foaling here is of course foaling in boxes. Apart from that everything is very similar. As soon as the mare starts to foal you call the head man Dale Clements, and get the foaling kit ready: in the foaling kit are gloves, ropes, enema, vetwrap & lube. As soon as Dale Clement's arrives he checks the presentation of the foal and once he was happy with it all we then waited for her to get on with the job.

After a little while we realised that she wasn't going to lie down. When she started to push, Dale assisted and I cradled the foal out. After he was out the colt foal by Dandy Man didn't take long to stand. We checked the mares milk for quality, the foal got didn't take too long before he was up and suckling. After the mare passed the placenta, this is then checked to make sure that it is all there, so ensuring that none of it is left in the mare. When Dale is happy with everything he heads off and I continue foal watch and monitor the newborn.
Benji trotting on the heath
Benji trotting on the heath

Craven Breeze Up Sales at Tattersalls

Europe's leading breeze up horse sale - The Craven Sale for the two-year-olds was on the 14-16 of April at the Tattersalls sales complex. There were 145 two-year-olds cataloged with a lot of horses coming from Ireland for the sale. The horses are housed at the Tattersalls sales complex. The horses are galloped for 2 furlongs (400 metres) on the nearby Newmarket racecourse. I got in contact with bloodstock agent Larry Stratton, former New Zealander, he was happy for me to tag along with him to watch the breeze ups. He also had a part share of a horse in the sale, a Canford Cliffs filly that Church View Stables prepared, unfortunately she was passed in for 18,000 pounds, but her breeze was very professional and I'm sure she will have no problem selling.

The horses are transported from Tattersalls to the race track where they are saddled up and then breezed in a particular order, everything is recorded and timed, very similar to the New Zealand Bloodstock two-year-old Breeze up sale held in November. They are then taken back to Tattersalls where they can be inspected, the horses then go up for auction on the following day after the races at Newmarket, it is very well organised and works well.

The race meeting is named after William Craven, 6th Baron Craven, a member of the Jockey Club in the 18th century. His support for racing at Newmarket led to the introduction of the Craven Meeting in 1771! The Craven Stakes is a Group 3 flat horse race open to three-year-old colts and geldings, running over a distance of one mile on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, originally established in 1878. Newmarket is a wonderful race course steeped in tradition and history.

The modern version of the Craven Stakes can serve as a trial for the 2000 Guineas. The first horse to win both races was Scot Free in 1884. The most recent was Haafhd in 2004.

The Lanwardes Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes is the fillies trial for the 1000 Guineas, it was won by Osaila by Danehill Dancer and trained by Richard Hannon. She is now currently 16/1 for the 1000 Guineas. The next day was Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Group 3, the race was won by Kool Kompany by Jeremy and is now 20/1.

Kool Kompany will become a lot more familiar to the southern hemsphere since he will be heading to the stables of champion trainer Chris Waller after the running of the 2000 Guineas.

After watching all the races and having a very unlucky day punting we went for a quick bite to eat then off up to the sales ground where the sales had just started, with the top lot a War Front colt sold for 850,000 guineas to Alex Elliot. The Craven breeze up sale has produced 58 Group/Listed performers since 2012, one of them been Contributer sold for 130,000 guineas now with John O'Shea who subsequently went on and won the Chipping Norton Stakes Gr1 in Australia.

It was a good sale there were 121 Offered, Sold 96, Aggregate 9,893,500, Average 103,057, Median 71,000, Top lot 850,000

I was introduced to Newmarket trainer John Berry through Larry Stratton after we watched the horses breeze that morning. Talking to John he was kind enough to offer me a morning out with him at the gallops and get to see how a morning in Newmarket is done. I was amazed at how many horses there were working in the one area and it all flowed without a problem.

John had a few horses working that morning, I got to see three horses gallop: two two-year-olds and a three-year-old, all are yet to have a start with a possible start in the next month they galloped very well and John seemed to be happy.

When the horses returned John asked if I would like to take one out for a trot around the heath!! I was well up for the challenge, it really is a different view from the back of a horse, I got to see over the brick walls in to the yards of all the top trainers. I had a great time with John and very thankful for letting me see a side of the industry I have very little experience.

I also spent a day with one of Newmarket's best farriers Dermot Barry we went to a stud just outside of Newmarket to check foals for confirmation. I found it very interesting how much a bit of confirmation timing and constantly checking the foals for progress throughout the foals maturing stages, can really make a difference to the end result. If the foal needs little more than just a trim they will consider using extension as we do in New Zealand. Was a great day, I learnt a lot about horse confirmation also not to panic as the foals grow and develop they will change and it is more of a matter of just moderating the foals.
Lovely day at the Newmarket races
Lovely day at the Newmarket races

Racefit Gym

I have got involved in a great idea Racefit based in the town of Newmarket. A gym designed for people involved in horses and especially the younger generation to get fit and well and to develop a better knowledge in a heathier diet. The gym is where you can meet people in the same sort of work at a discounted rate. The gym is able to cater for everyone's needs from losing weight to getting fit for your next race ride or marathon it's really a great idea and I think every town that has a strong horse influence should be getting behind the idea to try and get the younger generation in to a fit and heathy mind frame. All the equipment in the gym has all been kindly donated by the people in the industry from the studs to the racing yards.

I have had a great time in Newmarket meeting a lot of wonderful people and very grateful to Cheveley Park Stud for having me to stay and be involved in their stud for the past couple of months. I'm a bit sad to be leaving now the weather has really improved too.

I am heading to Coolmore Stud in a few weeks and looking forward to getting to Ireland I hear the weather is also very good! My last weekend in Newmarket will be the 1000- 2000 Guineas, the first Group 1 races in Newmarket, everyone around the town is very excited for the weekend and there is a huge buzz.
My old mate Success Express
My old mate Success Express

As I write my blog I have just learnt that my old buddy in Australia, Success Express has passed away at the ripe of age of 30, I looked after him through his retirement at Vinery Stud over the last 4 years. Success Express was a sire of multiple Group 1 winners, and perhaps his biggest influence in New Zealand breeding was the fact that he was the broodmare sire of Champion Sire Savabeel. Success Express's last foal was in 2006 and was fittingly his last stakes winner in his truly amazing stud career.

I always had a big soft spot for 'Success' at Vinery Stud I only got to see him in his retirement he always had plenty of character bucking around his paddock at feed time or occasionally trying to catch him!!!