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Bruce's Blog – March (wk 2) 2008

That's me leading the '08 Dansili x Fantasize(Groom Dancer) colt foal.  Do you like my new jacket!
That's me leading the '08 Dansili x Fantasize(Groom Dancer) colt foal. Do you like my new jacket!

Foaling at Cheveley & visiting Shadwell

Cheveley Park Stud

WEEK 2: 9-16 March 2008

Into week two and I really am finding my groove. I feel as though I am getting on well with all of the staff, but it is the 'honeymoon period' so I am not taking much for granted, however everybody seems very genuine. I suppose they are very used to seasonal staff coming and going, and thus they are very good at making people feel welcome, and carrying on as they usually would... I enjoy their genuineness.My House, in the middle of the...Dairy!! I am shacked up by myself in a house connected to the dairy yard. It is great because it is close to the main yard (in which I am stationed), the office, and the stallion yard, which makes me close at hand to all the action.

My house is lengthy with a central hallway stretching 40 metres connecting my kitchen to my TV room, through to my bedroom and bathroom, and finally a sunny lounge area. It is unique in style, but very functional, and most importantly warm. Living alone is very new to me as previously I have lived in six-person all boy flats at Uni in Otago, or at least with a couple flatmates when spending the season at studs during summer yearling preps. So it is fair to say I do get lonely at times, especially when I want to share the new things I am experiencing with another person who understands the difference of the experience, in comparison to New Zealand.

On the other side of the coin though I do enjoy that 'alone time' (or thinking time), and also the fact that I don't have to share my living space with other living things (namely bacteria etc) which are, on the whole, definitely not invited. It is a lot easier to keep things clean when you know you are wholly responsible for the mess, or clutter.The Main YardHaving not done a lot of foaling and young foal care, I decided to gain more experience in these areas. Thankfully the Scholarship allows you to focus on areas in which you would like to specialise, or just improve upon, in relation to your management ambitions.

Hence I am based in the main yard of Cheveley Park, where half of the Cheveley broodmares are foaled (the other half are foaled at Ashley Heath, another part of Cheveley Park Stud), and then our yard takes care of the mare and foal for about a month or so, until the foal is strong enough to be moved to another yard (usually done in groups of five mares and foals). The yard comprises around twenty mares, and three staff (including me) attend to these daily.

I am really enjoying working with the young foals. They are led off the head collar from day one here, and we pick their feet out etc every second day usually. Of course, this is possible because all horses here are boxed every night to escape the weather conditions at this time of the year. So far I have helped foal two mares, full sisters in fact, Regal Rose (Danehill G1 winner, Pivotal filly) and Regency Rose(Danehill, Group producer, Medicean Filly). Both I am pleased to say went according to Mother Nature, and both I wouldn't mind in my own back paddock or stable.

As I've said earlier, the horseflesh here is some of the best in the world. To be honest, I would not be surprised if Cheveley Park had the best broodmare band in the world, in terms of the percentage of stakes winners or dams of stakes winners(30 mares or more, I will do a full analysis in a later posting). Here is a sample from the yard in which I work at this point in time (21 mares):
  • Russian Rhythm (Kingmambo, Pivotal filly at foot) - 4 x G1 wins including the 1000 Guineas. Family of Cape Cross and Ifraaj
  • Red Bloom (Selkirk, Sadler's Wells colt) G1 winner at 2, Meon Valley Stud Fillies Mile. Placed in 4 x Gr1s at 3, 4 and 5. Family of Ouija Board
  • Exclusive (Polar Falcon, due to Montjeu) G1 winner of the Coronation Stakes. 2x G1-placed. Dam of G1 winner Echelon (Danehill, in 2007), and G2 winner and G1 placed Chic (Machiavellian)
  • Danehurst (Danehill, Iceman colt) G2 winner, G1-placed in the July Cup. Family of Dazzle, Dance Sequence, Doneraile Court etc
  • Regal Rose (Danehill, Pivotal filly) G1 winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes. Family of Shaadi, full to G1 placed Generalist.
  • Dance a Dream (Sadler's Wells, Kingsalsa colt) Listed winner, 2nd in the Oaks G1. Dam of stakes winner Elusive Dream (Rainbow Quest). Family of Exclusive, Entrepreneur, Beckett, Iceman, Echelon etc.
  • Dazzle (Gone West, Pivotal colt) G2 winner and G11 placed 1000 Guineas. Family of Danehurst, Dance Sequence etc.
Add to that another four individual stakes-winning mares, four mares full/half to G1 winners and a dam of a stakes winner... you can see what I mean. This kind of quality thoroughbred is not only a privilege to work with, but it's rewarding too.So, as you can see it is very easy to get to work bright and chirpy every morning; rain, hail, or... wind. Ha-ha, no jokes, I have actually been surprised at how mild it is at this time of the year here. Shadwell StudStud Groom Dale Clements has been fantastic to me here at Cheveley Park. Dale has visited New Zealand before as the handler of shuttle stallion Groom Dancer, so I constantly remind him about the great bone we grow in our "super sound" thoroughbreds, and he constantly reminds me/voices his opinion on how bad our beer is (namely Lion Red stubbies, quotes Dale: "Less than a mouthful").

Anyway, when one of Cheveley's recently retired race mares, Caressed (Medicean), was off to visit the 2000 Guineas winner Haafd (Alhaarth) at Shadwell Stud (owned by Sheikh Hamdan), Dale made sure I went along to see their set-up. What's more is that he organised for me to receive 5-star treatment on my arrival. Firstly, receiving a very flash Shadwell brochure and DVD, I watched Haafd's fellow stallions Nayef (Gulch) and Sakhee (Bahri) serve before Caressed went through her date with Haafd.

Very happy in what I had seen, I was ready to jump on the horse box and head back home... BUT of course Shadwell is also the home of Green Desert, and before I left, the stallion boys gave me a private parade of the old boy, the champion racehorse, sire, and sire of sires. 25 years old and still bouncing around, Green Desert must be the perfect example of the longevity that results from limiting a sire's book (Green Desert was limited to 80 per year and now serves around 40 per year at 40,000 pounds) whilst still producing high quality racing stock, and remaining commercial.

Shadwell Stud abide by this policy with all of its stallions and it seems to be paying dividends given the early progeny success of their young stallions, Sakhee (oldest are 4??), Nayef (3yos), and Haafhd (yearlings), at the races and in the sales ring.

Cheveley Park in fact has a filly called Spacious, who is by Nayef from a Green Desert mare in Palatial. She won a G22 at 2, and there are high hopes for her competing in the 1000 Guineas here in Newmarket in May. Very exciting!!Stallion comments:Green Desert - Looks great in his old age. Small at 15.2, but strongly built. Masculine head, a real character. A handful in his early days apparently. Full of spirit.Haafd - Also not very big. Very athletic though with lovely flowing work. Balanced, and very correct. Nayef - Big at 16.3. Great frame to him, superb shoulder, and powerful behind. Stands over a lot of ground and has a great length of reign. Lovely individual.Sakhee - Lovely proportioned... balance and athleticism. "Slopey" pasterns. Can walk.If I had to choose one to shuttle to NZ (not including Green Desert), I would probably say Haafd. I think he would neaten up some of our NZ mares, and he brings with him a superb turn of foot over a mile. His first foals are impressive by all accounts (now yearlings) and they sold accordingly. He is also an outcross for Danzig, being by very successful Unfuwain (Northern Dancer) son, Alhaarth, and from G1-winning mare Al Bahathri (Blushing Groom). Wouldn't mind Nayef either though.Rog's History Bits, Part 2During World War II, Cheveley Park was actually used as a base for infantry, army vehicles (including tanks), and weapons, for the British Army. Of course, back then a railway line crossed straight through the stud, which made sense for the movement of army resources, and thus Cheveley as a base. To this day you can see the rows of lime trees which used to line the side of the rail network.

Bunkers are also present around the place, as well as trees etched with the names of army officers who stayed at Cheveley during that time. Interestingly enough, once WWII concluded, Cheveley actually served as a P.O.W. (prisoner of war) camp for a few years. ConclusionI am having an absolute blast. I have been given a Cheveley Park management diary by Chris Richardson which lets me follow each mare's progress through foaling, oestrus, covering, and pregnancy during the season. A great tool, I will definitely be employing it on my return to NZ.

Cheltenham Jumps Festival (4 days) spells the end of jumps racing in England, and thus the beginning of the flat season. I am really looking forward to it, especially considering that Cheveley has 107 horses in training, so we will no doubt have a few runners, and hopefully winners. I am off to see Darley's Dalham Hall tomorrow, as well as Rossdales, the Newmarket Equine hospital so I will let you know how I get on next week.

Keep well all, Kind Regards,Bruce Slade