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Holly's Blog - April 2013

Holly and her Aussie flatmate Kara (pictured above) with a statue of jumps legend and three times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate.
Holly and her Aussie flatmate Kara (pictured above) with a statue of jumps legend and three times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate.

I have now been in England for five weeks which means I am halfway through my time at Cheveley Park Stud. Everything on the stud is going well; haven't had many foals in the past couple of weeks (probably due to the cold weather) so we are expecting a few very soon! Each day I am learning something new and adjusting to the different way tasks are carried out in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are so many great places to see in Newmarket for a horse racing and breeding enthusiast. Running a few errands has allowed me to visit well-known trainers Sir Michael Stoutes two yards (Freemason Lodge and Beechhurst) as well as John Gosdens yard (Clarehaven stables). I have been to Juddmonte Farms; Banstead Manor (home of Frankel) with a mare to be covered by the great stallion Dansili, as well as Darley's Dalham Hall with a mare that was visiting Dubawi. I also accompanied a pregnant mare to the Rossdales Equine Hospital due to complications with foaling (both surviving).

Furthermore I spent a day with the two main Cheveley Park Stud vets Andrew McGladdery and Cat Mackenzie which allowed me to visit a few of their other clients in the Newmarket area including; Fittocks Stud, Lordship Stud, Gazeley Stud and The National Stud. The day included all the routine vet work the mares and foals, plasma transfusion for foals, bloods, scoping and coverings. A very interesting day and a good way to visit a few of the other farms in Newmarket.

Cheltenham Festival
I attended the Thursday of the week long Cheltenham festival. An annual event and very popular over here it was an occasion not to be missed.

I attended the event with my Australian flat mate Kara on the Thursday which was known as St Paddy's Thursday. We hired a car on the Wednesday night and set off on the two and a half hour journey to Cheltenham; where we stayed with some friends for the night.

The morning of the races we explored the lovely town of Cheltenham before getting ready and heading out to the racecourse. The weather was good, the Irish were out in force and the atmosphere was rather indescribable. One of the most impressive things was the crowd of around 65,000 people

A crowd of around 65,000 at Cheltenham
A crowd of around 65,000 at Cheltenham

We watched the racing; did a spot of shopping and I caught up with some extended family that had also ventured to the big event from Wales. It was an interesting day with lots of thrills and spills; including a particularly sad moment with the career ending fall of the great jockey JT McNamara, my thoughts and condolences go out to him and his family.

The day flew by and before we knew it we were in the car heading back to Newmarket. A great day racing that I would highly recommend to anyone who is in the area at the time.

Bedford House Stables and Fittocks Stud
I was lucky enough one Saturday morning to go to Bedford House Stables home of very successful trainer Luca Cumani.

Luca checking the horses after their first canter up Warren Hill.
Luca checking the horses after their first canter up Warren Hill.

I arranged to head down to Bedford House Stables at 6.30am Saturday morning. It was snowing heavily even though it was supposed to be spring (apparently unheard of at this time of year). After meeting Luca and his wife Sarah, Luca and I headed out into the weather to watch the first lot of horses work. Luca trains around 90 horses which come out in three lots of about thirty.

The general routine for the horses in the morning was;
1) Warm up - The horses are first warmed up on a covered ride where they trot around for roughly a mile while Luca organises them into groups and his vet observes them all.
2) Train on gallops (Warren Hill). The horses complete their allocated work up the gallops. While I was there they weren't doing any hard work because of the weather (snowing) but just a steady canter.
3) Warm down – Horses trot a couple of times around the outside track to stretch/warm down.

After this they are taken back to stables to be brushed, rugged, fed etc and then the same process is repeated with the second and third lots, obviously with exceptions for those horses with different needs.

After I had observed the first two lots work Sarah Cumani took me out to Fittocks Stud, the stud owned by the Cumani's that looks after their breeding interests. The stud foals down around 40 mares, prepares about 6 or 7 yearlings for Tattersalls and is used for spelling and rehabilitation for the horses from the training yard. Sarah drove me around the farm, which being covered in snow looked absolutely beautiful. She then showed me the foals, which included some cracking types by; Fastnet Rock, Rock of Gibraltar, Oasis Dream, Dansili, Makfi, Exceed and Excel as well as a few others. Overall a very good morning!

National Horse Racing Museum
I went to the National Horse Racing Museum which is located in the centre of Newmarket. First museum I have been to in a long time. It was very interesting especially as Newmarket is the home and origin of horse racing. It filled in gaps in my knowledge of the classic races over here and what is required to win the Triple Crown. I also learnt about some champions of the past; horses, trainers and jockeys. There were some of the most amazing paintings of the past; of the Warren Hill gallop and days racing around Newmarket, as well as some beautiful prints of recent champions; Frankel, Black Caviar, Sea the Stars, Denman and jumps legend Kauto Star. To top it all off I rode a mechanical simulation racehorse (pictured) it was awesome (hence the big grin) not to mention the man who operated it said I rode very well.
Holly at the Racing Museum
Holly at the Racing Museum

Tattersalls
A contact kindly provided to me by Michael Martin was Jason Singh who is currently the marketing manager for Tattersalls, the second biggest thoroughbred sales company in the world (Keenland in America being the biggest).

I met Jason for lunch prior to which he gave me a tour of the Tattersalls sales complex and explained some of its history. An interesting point he mentioned was that the horses are still sold in 'guineas' that being 1 pound, 5pence. Traditionally every guineas the horse is sold for 1 pound goes to the vendor and 5 pence to the sales company; commission is slightly different these days but the horses are still sold in guineas. Jason also mentioned wind testing which was a relatively new concept to me, but apparently very popular over here for horses in training and yearlings. He showed me the lunge ring where the horses are tested and examined by a vet post sale; return of purchase allowed should the horse fail.

The complex is beautiful, being the only sales complex I have been to in this hemisphere it had a unique feel about it, the stables, sale ring and grounds were immaculate and being prepared for the upcoming breeze up sale in a couple of weeks.

After the tour Jason and I went for lunch discussing different areas of the industry and I probed him with questions about the marketing of the industry; having a strong interest in that area as I studied it at university. We discussed the differences and similarities between the Northern and Southern hemisphere covering a range of areas in the industry. A topic mentioned was that a huge percentage of buyers for the Tattersalls sales come from the overseas market and in recent years from Australia. Seemingly pushed by the strength of the Australian dollar and the desire for Australian trainers in sourcing European bred stayers. We discussed different stallions and the life cycle a stallion goes through with its progeny, as well as different people, places and sales in the industry. Everyone has a different opinion on where they think the industry is heading and what the current strengths and issues are so it was great to throw around some ideas with someone who has knowledge from both sides of the world.

Easter in London

Holly on one side of the Thames River with Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster bridge in the background.
Holly on one side of the Thames River with Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the Westminster bridge in the background.

On Good Friday I ventured into London to explore some of the sights for a couple of days. I enjoyed seeing some of the most iconic buildings and places that London is known for. On the Saturday I went on a pushbike tour which was a great way to see all the sights including; Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, St Pauls Cathedral etc

Bit on the side
What a fantastic result the Dubai World Cup was for Arrowfield Stud and the recently acquired horse Animal Kingdom; not to mention the extremely impressive performance by Kiwi bred It's a Dundeel in the Rosehill Guineas in Australia. Exciting times ahead!
In summary everything is going well. I have been in England for five weeks and am getting involved in everything I can; despite the cold weather, accent jokes and frequently being called an Australian I can't complain!

All the best
Holly