CRAIG'S RECENT TRACKER WINNERS: SHELDON 50/1 EW (PLACED), GEROLAMO CARDANO 13/2, FANTASTIC MS FOX 13/2 (FB), SHIMMERING 7/4, ARRIVISTE 3/1, DULAS 6/1, DELTA'S ROYALTY 4/6, PRINCE KAYF 40/1 (FB PAGE), ELEON 15/2, CELESTRAN 9/4, ORIENTAL MYSTIQUE 4/1, BYE BYE LADY 3/1, KING LEONIDA 13/8, DONNYBROOK 4/11, AL RUFAA 11/2, ALL YOU WISH 33/1, ANASTARSIA 3/1, CONVICT 6/4, GRAVITY FORCE 8/1, THEOTHERSIDE 33/1, NIGHT COLOURS 7/1, PLYMOUTH ROCK 11/4, POCKET SQUARE 9/4, PANIC ROOM 5/2, BAND PRACTICE 11/4, CAPE PALACE 4/11, PALACE PIER 11/8, IT'S GOOD TO LAUGH 8/13, ROMAN VISION 5/4, HURAIZ 2/1, ROYAL CRUSADE 5/6, VALKAN STAR 1/3, FESTIVE START 7/2, IMPRESSOR 13/8, SURF DANCER 4/7, MASTER MCGRATH 13/8, ESHAASY 13/8, PERSUASION 16/1, PASSION FOR FASHION 3/1, ANGEL OF DELIGHT 12/1, LAZULI 11/10, TAMMANI 9/2, COBRA EYE 15/8, MORISCO 6/1, ETHIC 4/6, ABSTEMIOUS 11/8, BOOMER 3/1, SEIZE THE TIME 2/1, TREBLE TREBLE 9/2, NASAIYM 6/4, DARK LADY 11/10, FLEETING PRINCE 11/10, WELL OF WISDOM 3/1, DR SIMPSOM 4/5, HOT TOUCH 7/2, MAN OF THE NIGHT 4/6, SO SHARP 11/10, IFFRAAZ 7/4, BILL NEIGH 13/8, DRAMATIC SANDS 6/4, DRAGON COMMAND 5/1, MIA DIVA 8/1, RAAHY 5/6, LINCOLN BLUE 7/2, HOMESPIN 6/4, FRED 10/1, PINATUBO 3/1, KING'S COMMAND 2/1, ETON COLLEGE 11/2, SHAMMAH 2/1, BIG CITY 5/1, THREAT 14/1, GOOD VIBES 11/1, MISTY GREY 14/1, ROSE OF KILDARE 6/5, RAYONG 7/2, LORD OF THE LODGE 8/1, WAR STORM 7/2, IFFRAAZ 4/1, OCASIO CORTEZ 7/4...

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Charlie Hills: 5 Horses to Follow in 2020


This season was always going to be a hard act to follow for Charlie Hills with his 2-year-old horses because 2-year-olds like Phoenix Of Spain don’t come around very often. 

Phoenix Of Spain had a special year in 2018 winning the Group 3 Acomb Stakes then finishing second in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Doncaster. 

As a three-year-old Phoenix Of Spain won the Irish 2000 Guineas at 16/1 on his reappearance. 

This season has seen a couple of nice 2-year-olds come from the Hills stable in Lambourne.

Flippa The Strippa made her debut in a Nottingham Stakes race at the end of April. It was a nice introduction by the Outstrip filly who stayed on nicely to finish third despite not being fancied in the betting. 

Flippa The Strippa went onto win her next race at Chepstow then contested the Listed National Stakes at Sandown. Even though it wasn’t the strongest field Flippa The Strippa won well and picked up some nice prize money too. Not bad considering she cost just £10,000 at the yearling sales. 


Persuasion was bought for 155,000 gns by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock as a foal and sold on to owner Susan Roy for 220,000 gns in 2018. 

The Acclamation bay colt won first timeout at 16/1 and showed the potential that Charlie Hills had seen on the gallops. Persuasion was given some fancy entries this season and ran a great race to finish second in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket when beaten by Wichita which was no disgrace. 

Persuasion has only had three races and will look to be challenging the big guns next season. 

One horse that has been pretty frustrating this season is DULAS who am pretty sure has ability but also has a few issues. The Raven’s Pass colt was bought for 60,000 gns at the 2018 October Yearling Sale and is owned by Julie Martin & David R Martin & Partn. A big price on debut at Newmarket in a pretty hot race, Dulas was far to green to make any impact and finished down the field. He was entered in the Convivial Stakes at York but was unruly before the start and withdrawn. 

After a long lay off I was pretty sure Dulas would be spot on but again ran to free and blew his chance but having said that the winner that day Highest Ground could be a bit special and has an early entry for the Irish 2000 Guineas next season. Dulas did look to be getting the hang of things late on and I won’t be giving up on the bay colt just yet. 

One more Charlie Hills 2-year-old that looks to be held in high regard is the Mr. Hamdan Al Maktoum filly SHURAFFA. The Shamardal filly was also keen on debut at Salisbury in a Class 2 race. Charlie had given Shuraffa two significant entries before her debut and hopefully, she will improve next season and break her maiden tag. 


Thanks for reading and look out for my next horses to follow.




Sunday, 12 January 2020

Brough Scott: A Man of Many Talents


Born John Brough Scott on the 12th December 1942. Brough was the presenter of Channel 4 Racing for thirty years. 

Personally, I always remember when I got the racing bug that would be my Saturday in front of the television sorted watching him talk with such passion about horse racing. 

That’s just one of the many things he’s done in an amazing career which has seen him honoured with an MBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list in 2009 and front other racing programmes including the ITV Seven and a brief spell presenting football on Channel 5. Brough has also been a journalist for newspapers including the Sunday Times, Independent On Sunday and Sunday Telegraph in which he won Sports Feature Writer Of The Year three times. 

Let’s not forget the many books he has written over the years including Henry Cecil Trainer Of Genius, Galloper Jack and an updated version of his Grandfather's book Warrior: The Amazing Story Of a Real War Horse.

If that wasn’t enough in one career, I haven't even mentioned he was a jockey who rode over a 100 winners!

Brough, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

When I was a kid my Dad had a magazine at the beginning of the year “Racehorses of 1950” (or a date around then.) That got me interested and I have. 

If you weren't involved in horse racing what would you have done? 

Probably started with Whitbreads where my Dad worked. 

As a jockey you rode over a 100 winners do you have any standout wins? 

My greatest moment was winning the Imperial Cup on my third day back from a broken arm which was still in a special cast. 

As a presenter of Channel 4 racing for over 30 years, you must have had some great times?

The two best days were Lester Piggott’s Breeders Cup and Desert Orchid’s Whitbread. 

Has racing changed much over the years and if so do you think it's for the better? 

Many things are much better. Fitness of horses and jockeys, safety and medical arrangements for jockeys and veterinary support, communication on the track and off it; but at the same time racing has slid a long way down.

Naturally, you have met many legends of the racing world over the years who was a real character that you always enjoyed interviewing? 

When Steve Cauthen first arrived he was an absolute revelation. 

Your all-time top three horses? 

Arkle, Nijinsky and Desert Orchid.

You was appointed an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in 2009 has this been the highlight of your career? 

It was a great honour but the highlights have been the big days on TV and in print – like Dancing Brave’s Arc and Barry McGuigan’s defeat in Las Vegas which I covered for The Sunday Times.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Go exploring with my grandchildren. 

Any horses you are looking forward to seeing this season?  

Tiger Roll in The National.

Favourite racecourse and why? 

Cheltenham – because it was I started out as a jockey at Frenchy Nicholson right next to the course. 

Thanks to Brough Scott for taking the time to answer a few questions for my blog.

Visit Brough Scott's Website

Twitter: @broughscott


Vintage Footage of Brough Scott 
(GREAT VIDEO)


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Micky Hammond from Stable Lad to Top Trainer

Micky Hammond horse trainer
Based at Oakwood Stables, East Witton Road, Middleham, Micky Hammond has a wealth of experience within thoroughbred horses racing. A top jockey in the 1980s and established horse trainer who knows how to get the best out of his horses. Not bad from a young man who didn't come from a racing background! 

With an eye for spotting a good horse and known as one of the best-dressed trainers in the game, he's one of those people you just can't help but like. 

Micky, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

I've been in racing over 40 yrs, having never ridden before leaving school! I actually wrote a letter to Epsom horse trainer Brian Swift about becoming an apprentice jockey but started working weekends for local trainer TM Jones while in my final year at school in preparation. When I left school, Mr. Jones asked if I would like to work with him, the bonus being I could still live at home.

If you weren't a jockey or a trainer what would you have done?

I would have gone into the building trade. 

What memories do you have about riding Hardy Lad to victory in the Scottish National? 

He jumped well throughout the race, taking it up in the home straight. It was a brilliant feeling and one I will never forget. 

Do you feel a lot of pressure training horses or is it a relaxed career that you enjoy all the time? 

A lot of situations are beyond our control when dealing with animals, staff, and jockeys.

It's good when its good but can be very lonely when it's not. 

What race would you love to win before you retire? 

The Champion Hurdle.

What do you do to relax when you get the time? 

I love eating and drinking in nice places. Also, attending football matches.

Cornerstone Lad looks an absolute star and after winning the Fighting Fifth what plans do you have for him next? 

Cornerstone's gutsy win will see him next at Haydock 18th March.

How is the old fella Alderbrook Lad? 

It looks like he’s still enjoying racing at the ripe old age of 13.  Alderbrook Lad is in fine form, he is going to have his final season contending (and enjoying himself) around Cartmel.

Do you have any dark horses for my readers to follow this season? 

Rory And Me and an unnamed Mahler gelding.

Visit Micky Hammond Website

Facebook Page

Related post: Hammond priming Fighting Fifth winner Cornerstone Lad for Champion Hurdle trial


MORE ABOUT MICKY 


Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Sue Smith Only the Third Female Trainer to Win the Grand National

Midnight Shadow wins at Cheltenham
Based at Craiglands Farm near Bingley Moor, In West Yorkshire, Sue Smith was only the third female trainer to win the Grand National when the 66/1 outsider Auroras Encore won the famous Aintree race in 2013 putting her alongside the great Jenny Pitman and Venetia Williams. The one time top class show-jumper clearly loves horses and her first win came in 1990 when African Safari won at Ascot. Her first Cheltenham winner came in the name of Mister McGoldrick in 2008 and plenty of big winners have followed. A big thanks to Sue Smith for answering a few questions for my blog and good luck for the rest of the season.

Sue, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 


I got my full licence in 1990 but my dad owned racehorses and I used to ride out for a local trainer when I was still at home. If you weren't a trainer what would you have done? It would have been something with horses, I was a show jumper and I liked bringing on the younger horses so I probably would have carried on in something like that. 

Do you feel a lot of pressure training horses? 

There can be a lot of pressure and it’s non-stop, every day no matter what the weather is doing but I love doing it and when the horses run well and we get winners it is worth all the hard work. 

If you could train any horse in history who would it be and why? 

To be honest we’ve been very lucky with what we have trained and had some really special horses like The Last Fling, Auroras Encore and Mister Mcgoldrick. 

Winning the Grand National with Auroras Encore must be up with the highlights of your career, what others stand out for you? 

Beecher Chase – Ardent Scout and Kildimo, Mister Mcgoldrick at Cheltenham, Royal Emperor 2nd in The RSA. 

A typical Christmas at the Smith household?

Starts the same as most other days with getting the horses out and making sure everyone is ready for racing on boxing day. Harvey cooks a lovely Christmas dinner and some of the lads will join us. 

What do you do to relax when you get the time? 

We don’t really get a chance to relax at home, we try to go to our place in Spain a few times a year and that is when we get to relax and not do a great deal other than a bit of swimming and sunbathing! 

Tell us something we don't know about Sue Smith? 

Erm… I don’t know what to say. I still ride out when the horses first come in, I like Never Up – do people know that? 

The old fella Vintage Clouds looked in fine shape in the Tommy Whittle last time out and kept on nicely, will he be taking another shot at the Grand National?

No, he doesn’t like the fences there so we will be looking for something else for him. Do you have any dark horses for my readers to follow this season? We have plenty of young horses that we are looking forward to like Aire Valley Lad and Jayaaah as well as Flamboyant Joyaux and Frimeur de Lancray.

Visit Sue Smith's Website

Twitter: @Suesmithracing

Instagram: Suesmithracing

I would like to thank Sue for taking the time to answer these questions and wish the stable a successful season. 

Thanks for reading. 

Photo: Midnight Shadow winning at Cheltenham 

Saturday, 4 January 2020

12:40 Lingfield Racing Tips (4th January)


This looks a weak race. 

Mainly, I will review this race from a statistical point of view. 

In general, these races go to form horses. Stats for debutantes indicate very few horses win over 20/1 so the winning chances of Runcible, Beggarman, Crazy Love, and Misty Girl are slim (unless seriously backed).

Mickey Dripping, cheap purchase. Wide draw on debut. Slow start and looked very inexperienced if not awkward. Pushed along, outpaced, still holding head high and looking difficult to ride. Ran on at the line. [Doesn't inspire confidence and needs to show a lot more].

Glorious Return cost 40,000 guineas at the yearling sales. Johnny Portman often sends his better horses to run at Newbury on debut. This chestnut colt is a fair-looking horse and backed on debut. Showed some pace, but tired out of contention and struggling a long way out over 6 1/2f. Not seen for a long time. Interesting to see if stepping up in distance helps. Portman can win at bigger odds second time out although he has few winners. In fact, his win stats for 13/2 & less sp are very poor. His place stats are fair. One of the more likelier types at speculative odds but needs to improve. 

Stately Home is well trained by James Tate in the familiar silks of Saeed Manana. This grey son of Colodvil cost 20,000 guineas at the yearling sales. The mare looked pretty hopeless. The betting is key for this horse. Tate has very few debut winners over 13/2. If in this best betting guide has decent place claims. However, unless priced 11/4 & less sp they struggle to win. 

Even though the two favourites are no world beaters they most likely set the standard. 

Richard Hughes' Mazikeen looks a professional type of horse. Looks likely to lead. Has to shoulder a win penalty which isn't ideal. Ran out an easy winner last time and has pace to sit handy and most likely try to slip the field on the final bend. The form of her last win hasn't been franked but she did beat them well. Could run a race and may well lead into the final furlong. 

Cable Speed wasn't unfancied on debut and hampered early which wasn't ideal. This 30,000 guinea yearling ran on in half-willing fashion in a Novis Stakes, so this is a drop in class by race type. From a statistical point of view, it has fair win and place claims. The odds aren't giving much away but a horse with the right profile. 

Conclusion: The betting will tell the story for most, especially Stately Home. The betting exchanges suggest he isn't fancied but it is worth noting market moves. Glorious Return may have half a hope if looking for a horse to run a race at a price but needs to improve from his debut effort. The two favourites are professional-looking horses and even though short odds are likely to play a major role. Mazikeen, even with a penalty, is likely to set the pace and may well hold a lead into the final furlong. Cable Speed will improve for his debut and be primed. This is a drop in class. A poor race where most look unlikely to figure. If pressed I would back Cable Speed to win but not a race I would be betting as there is little value.    

Guest post: Jason Coote

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Charlie Appleby's 5 To Follow


If you read the blog regularly you will know I gave the Charlie Appleby Dubawi colt Eastern World as a horse to follow. Eastern World made his long-awaited debut this month and was backed like defeat was out of the question. The 10/11 favourite managed to finish second despite looking a bit awkward and green through-out the race. I will be keeping with Eastern World next season as I am sure he will be winning his maiden soon enough. Charlie Appleby has plenty of firepower and these five are worth following next season.

I'm sure MAN OF PROMISE went into many notebooks and if he doesn't get him in now. The Into Mischief Colt was born on 10th February 2017 in the United States and is owned by Godolphin. The bay colt has only had one run to date in what was a pretty hot Ascot Maiden Stakes race back in July. Man Of Promise traveled well but looked a little green towards the business end of the race when making his challenge and lost nothing in defeat coming third. The winner Mums Tipple and second place Molatham both franked the form and even though Man Of Promise will be short next time out I am keen to see how good this Charlie Appleby colt is. 

The next Godolphin owned horse to follow is the Irish born STATE CROWN who looked in need of the race on his debut at Chelmsford in August. The New Approach Chestnut colt drifted from 7/2 to his eventual starting price 5/1 before the off and it showed as State Crown fluffed the start and was slowly away. William Buick tracked the leaders and then switched to the inside but could only manage third behind the more experienced Surf Dancer. A step up to a mile should bring out more improvement next season and State Crown will hopefully be competing in a higher grade. 

No big surprise to see who my next Charlie Appleby horse to follow next season is. BOCCACCIO already has two wins to his name. Born in Ireland on the 22nd February 2017, the Dubawi Bay colt was an expensive purchase from the Tattersalls 2018 October Yearling Sale Book 1. Bought for a tidy 850.000 Guineas for owners Godolphin, Boccaccio had a big price tag and big home reputation after starting 5/4 favourite for his debut race at Yarmouth back in May. He wasn’t to disappoint as he won easily and looked like he would be taking it to the next level soon enough. Plenty of significant entries followed but no sign of the exciting Boccaccio until he finally made his second start at Kempton last month and it was the same story, as he won with plenty in hand. Boccaccio had been off the course a while since his debut and gone up 4 lb in weight. Really looking forward to seeing this Irish 2000 Guineas entry back out again next season. 

SACRED DANCE is another who will be hopefully competing in group races next season after winning a Doncaster Novice Stakes race back in June comfortably. Another who was bought from the Tattersalls 2018 October Yearling Sale Book 1, this time a 650.000 Guineas purchase. The Sea The Stars Filly looks a class act even though she didn’t beat much at Doncaster she was given a few significant entries including the Group 1 Fillies' Mile race but didn't run. Another worth following next season. 

Unraced RENAISSANCE QUEEN has a couple of nice entries next season and one to keep an eye out for. Thanks for reading and a very happy New Year also thanks for supporting the blog in 2019. 

Related post: Can Promising Colt Pinatubo Match The Might Of Frankel? 

Monday, 23 December 2019

Every Trainer Has Their Day...


I'm sure no thoroughbred horse trainer needs our pity. 

They may need our money to buy an expensive offspring sired by Frankel. By necessity, they make the most of their lot. That's why, for some, it's a long, cold winter, even on the hottest summer's day. 

Craig's recent trainer post, a handler said most trainers do it for the love of the game. Sure, some make huge sums of money. I guess it can seem so easy when the likes of John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Roger Varian et al field a blueblooded horse worth £1,000,000. Perhaps some have it easy. But that may be the perception of those who have not. 

My statement ''Every Trainer Has Their Day...''

That is true to a point because by definition they will have that one horse that makes their career or stays fondly in the memory. They probably remember their worst with hope and horror. But how satisfying it must be to train a winner who needed placing to perfection or a little bit of luck. As the saying goes ''Small fish taste sweetest''. 

The other thought is that if training for long enough (decades) a trainer will get a decent horse. It's a numbers game.

A dream come true to ''finally'' get a good horse. That two-year-old shows natural talent. It continues to shine until that smile of hope turns into the realisation of something quite magical. 

Can you imagine waiting for decades for that day?

I once wrote a post saying that Neville Bycroft was to train a horse for Godolphin. 

A few people commented wondering if I was on drugs, whether it was April fool's day or just wishful thinking. 

Wouldn't such a story make the racing headlines for all the right reasons? It would capture the imagination and build on hope which we can all appreciate. I guess logically, financially, it wouldn't happen. But when so many of these money owners are literally billionaires is it really an issue? That glimmer of hope has to be worth the pounds, shillings, and pence.  

If I had all the money in the world (a fraction would do) I would find ten small trainers who deserve a change of luck and give them a Frankel 2yo. Any winnings would be given to charity. No doubt a few smaller trainers will read this and wish I was rich!

A few years back a small trainer (I won't name them) had a winner. They come infrequently. Sadly, their success wasn't considered by the Racing Post to be worthy of much comment. I very much doubt they did it intentionally but how appreciating it would be to have these successes given just reward. A moment for others in a busy world to stop and think ''Well done''. To, perhaps, consider if they buy a horse they may be the trainer who gets a chance to be considered. 

I guess so many people root for the underdog. I'm not sure if it is just the poor who understand what it means. I like to think it is everyone because we have all had our days. There is something wonderful about a trainer finding that diamond in the sand. 

It happens. 

Thank God for all those trainers who get up at the crack of dawn with the hope it will last another day - perhaps a lifetime (if they are lucky). Keep believing, because one day your dream ma come true.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Roger Varian: Its Been An Exceptional Season (Part Two)


The first part of my Roger Varian 2-year-old review I mentioned an unraced 2-year-old filly who I thought would be making a name for herself in the future. Delta’s Royalty made her long-awaited debut at the beginning of the month and if you were quick off the mark a tasty 7/2 was available the night before, the Galileo filly ended up 4/5 favourite at the off and made a winning debut despite surviving a steward’s enquiry after running green the final furlong and hanging left. Delta’s Royalty will come on plenty for that and should be one to follow next season. 

Roger Varian unleashed three nice 2-year-olds towards the end of July. 

The first a Dansili filly called Stylistique who made her debut in a Maiden Stakes race at Newbury. Stylistique was well-supported on debut and backed into 5/2 favourite for her debut and despite running green it was a promising debut, I thought it was only a matter of time before she got her head in front. 

The phrase always the bridesmaid and never the bride springs to mind with Stylistique after she filled the runners-up spot three times in her next five races. That said, it’s fair to say she has bumped into a few nice types. A superb second in the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket when running on late and only beaten by her stablemate Daahyeh her best effort in a promising first season.

I hope she can get the win she deserves next season and I won’t be giving up on her just yet. 

The July Ascot meeting saw Roger unleash a couple of his big guns. Queen Daenerys is a superbly bred Frankel filly who is owned by H H SH Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and bred by Coolmore. Ryan Moore was on board the 6/1 shot for her debut and despite running green she ran a race full of promise. (For all of you who don't watch Game of Thrones (me included) Queen Daenerys is a major character is this acclaimed production).

The second start saw William Buick take over and Queen Daenerys won a shade cosy from the nice John Gosden filly Wasaayef. 

The Group 1 Fillies Mile was Queen Daenerys next stop and ran a great race to finish sixth. 

One who will also improve next season and not to be taken lightly.

William Buick said: ''Queen Daenerys did it nicely and is a nice prospect for next year. The trainer will decide if she runs again this year - Oliver St Lawrence, spokesman for owner Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.''

The second race on the card saw a Night Of Thunder colt make his debut. How Molatham was allowed to go off a 14/1 shot in a seven runner race is beyond me, I imagine it was thought he needed the run but that wasn’t the case as Molatham ran a tremendous race to just get beat by the Richard Hannon colt Mums Tipple. 

He confirmed the promise of his debut run when winning the Class 2 Convivial Stakes at York and picking up the cool £43,000 prize money to go with it. 

A win in the Flying Scotsman Listed Stakes followed before a fourth in the Dubai Autumn Stakes in what was an amazing first season for the Roger Varian colt. 

Molatham will be contesting at a high-level next season. 

The last Roger Varian two-year-old horse I want to mention is an unexposed Kingman colt who made a promising debut at Sandown at the end of August.


Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum

LORD CAMPARI was bought by Roger Varian for owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum at the Tattersalls sales from the 2018 October Yearling Sale Book 1. The Bay colt was born 20 March 2017 and cost a cool 350.000 Guineas. Lord Campari was priced 11/2 for his debut after attracting some late support. 

A smart break and up with the pace although pulling in the early stages and pretty green, the Kingman colt was always in contention without given a hard time by jockey Andrea Atzeni. 

A pleasing debut but nothing spectacular in a decent little race. 

A couple of significant entries followed including the Group 1 Dewhurst makes me think Roger has a nice colt on his hands. 

Lord Campari hasn’t run since his promising debut and is one to look out for next season. 

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas to you all. 

Related post: Read Part 1: Roger Varian It's Been an Exceptional Year

Pictured: Daahyeh, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Robert Choc Thornton: Former NH Jockey and Apple Tree Stud


A big thank you to former NH jockey and now manager at Apple Tree Stud Robert Choc Thornton for answering questions for my blog.

Choc, have you always been involved in horse racing? 

No, I started at David Nicholson’s when I was 14, so probably about 27 years. 

At what age did you become a jockey? 

I was 16 when I received my first license. 

You have won so many big races including the Champion Hurdle, the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the Kim Muir to name just a few, which race sticks out in your mind? 

They are all important and very difficult to single one out. Champion chase was special and my 2 Arkles. I can tell you a race that I’m disappointed not to win and that is the National. A dream was unfulfilled. 

Did you have a favourite horse that was close to your heart? 

Again very difficult to pick. But if I had to I’d say My Way De Solzen. 

If you weren't a jockey what would you have done? 

Homeless! 

The day you retired due to injuries was a sad day for all involved in the racing game, did you have an idea what you would do next? 

Yes, I was fortunate to have direction Paul Dunkley and I had been planning the stud for quite some time. Although I was fortunate enough for the position to fall in my lap as when the initial injury struck I had no idea what the future held. 

You were dubbed the unluckiest jockey in racing after suffering countless injuries, now am a runner and injuries are the most depressing things ever, how did you come back each time?  

I hate that headline. It was the Daily Mail trying to sensationalise. I was very lucky and suffered no more than any other jockey that pursues what the loved. Sounds sadistic but I used to love pushing through pain barrier showing Doctors I could do what they said was not possible. I was told 12 months for a knee injury I got back in 5. So whatever I was told I’d half. 

Did you ever think about becoming a trainer am sure you would have been brilliant? 

No, I know I’m not sharp enough to be a trainer, I wouldn’t be good enough at the PR and as a jockey, I’d only seen the good side of training. All I had to do was get on and see how fast they could go.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Anything with my 2 boys William and Wolfie. Love taking them to Rugby. I love snowboarding, Whistler (Canada) is my fav destination. Also, I like to watch any sport played to a decent level.



You had a special relationship with the great Voy Por Ustedes, what was he like? 

He was actually a bit mad, but the best always are. At the time it felt like he was mine. 


Now you're a stud manager at Apple Tree Stud, what is a typical day? 

It depends on the time of year. Generally, I rise about 6am have an hour with my boys then go to work which is on my doorstep. I do all the office work and admin and spend a lot of time just watching the horses. You learn something new every day. I do all the tractor work, topping, hedge cutting, hay, etc and go racing if we have a runner. I spend plenty of time sifting through sales catalogues and attending sales both buying and selling, looking at pedigrees and allocating the right stallion to the broodmares we have. 

Can you give my readers a few horses to follow for the future? 

Yes, we have an unnamed colt at Archie Watsons Showcasing x Astonishing 17. He will hopefully be running over 6/7f in May June time. Gold Maze who was bred by AppleTree is entered in the Irish Derby you can get big prices for an each-way ante-post bet. 

Thanks again and good luck for the future.



Twitter: @Choc_Thornton

Apple Tree Stud

Friday, 13 December 2019

Oliver Sherwood: A Powerhouse in the National Hunt Game

Oliver Sherwood horse trainer
Based in Rhonehurst, Lambourn, Hungerford, Berkshire, Oliver Sherwood is a powerhouse in the National Hunt game and as experienced as they come. 

As with many trainers he was destined to be in the racing game with parents Nat and Heather, both successful point-to-point riders and his younger brother Simon a brilliant jockey himself who won nine times on one of my favourite horses of all time Desert Orchid including a brilliant win in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Oliver Sherwood was named Champion Amateur Jockey in the 1979/80 seasons in what was a great season. 

Oliver rode a total of 96 winners overall as a jockey including Cheltenham Festival winners. He won the Fox Hunters Chase with Rolls Rambler and Venture to Cognac and also the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle. 

Before venturing out as a trainer on his own Oliver learned his trade from the best, working for Arthur Moore and the great Fred Winter, so it was never in doubt he would make a great trainer and so it proved with over 1000 wins to his name including Eric's Charm, Puffin Billy and of course the 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds. 

Oliver, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

44 years 

If you weren't a trainer what would you have done? 

Unemployed! 

Do you feel a lot of pressure training horses or is it a relaxed career that you enjoy all the time? 

There are pressures but I do enjoy it. 

If you could train any horse in history who would it be and why? 

Bad enough training one's own racehorses but I would have loved to have Sprinter Sacre and Best Mate. 

Do you have a favourite horse in the yard? 

I love Papagana she is a real trier. 

Winning the Hennessy Gold Cup with the legendary Many Clouds in 2014 must be up there with the highlights of your career, what others stand out for you? 

Obviously the Grand National and had 2 winners on the same day at the Cheltenham Festival with The Westawake and Rebel Song for the same owner in 1988. 

A typical day in the life of Oliver Sherwood? 

In the yard at 6am, 1st lot 7.30am, finish around midday. Go racing or if not then back in the yard by 3pm, going through entries, etc. 

What do you do to relax when you get the time? 

Sleep! 

Tell us something we don't know about Oliver Sherwood? 

Chelsea supported and love cricket. 

You have some lovely looking horses for the season ahead, how are Sammy Bill, Tarada, Southern Sam and Sevarano and whats the plans for them? 

Southern Sam won’t run this season. The other 3 are climbing the ladder but no plan at present will be talking to owners over the coming weeks regarding plans for the New Year.

Do you have any dark horses for the season ahead for my readers to follow? 

Don’t give up on Wheesht (early entry 17th December) and Makety on slightly better ground. 

A big thanks to Oliver Sherwood for kindly taking the time to answer some questions and good luck for the season.

Visit Oliver Sherwood Website
Twitter: @OliverSherwood
Oliver's Latest News

Monday, 9 December 2019

Charlie Appleby: Another Exceptional Season...


Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby has had another exceptional season with his 2-year-olds. 

This is the first part of his season review plus a couple of horses worth keeping an eye out for in the future. 

One horse stands out of course but I will get to him soon enough. Charlie started this season with a bang having five winners out of his first ten 2-year-old runners. 

Well Of Wisdom was his first win of the season at Newmarket. The Oasis Dream colt looked to be the second string of the Godolphin pair as they also had Full Verse in the race but Well Of Wisdom stayed on well to win on his debut. Well Of Wisdoms highlight of the season was winning the Listed Prix Roland De Chambure at Longchamp and gaining some black type to go with the 26,786 euro prize money. 

Pinatubo
Pinatubo superstar horse for Newmarket horse trainer Charlie Appleby

Charlie Appleby's next winner looked every bit a superstar and he’s a horse that got everybody talking. Pinatubo was born on the 11th March 2017. The Shamardal colt was made 3/1 second-favorite for his debut race at Wolverhampton's evening meeting back in May. Little did we know at this stage that he would be mentioned in the same breath as the great Frankel in months to come. It was a professional and easy victory for his first race of the season and his second race was just as easy when winning the Woodcote at Epsom, but could he produce the same effort when he moved up another level? Well, we found out when Pinatubo demolished a decent field in the Chesham Stakes at Ascot. After another easy win in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood I wrote a post about promising Pinatubo and the mighty Frankel: Can Pinatubo Match the Might of Frankel? 

I don’t think we will ever see another Frankel but at the time Pinatubo looked unbeatable and so it proved for the rest of the season when adding the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes to what was already an impressive first season. 

Can Pinatubo be as good next season? 

I really hope so and can't wait to see him out again. Saying that he still has to keep that level up to be in the same league as Frankel. 

That leads me on to my first two Charlie Appleby horses to follow. 

The first is the well-thought-of EASTERN WORLD. The Dubawi colt was given a Group 2 Champagne Stakes entry back in August but didn’t run and it’s interesting he has early entries for the Irish 2000 Guineas and the Irish Derby next season. He was declared to run on Wednesday at Kempton in what looks a decent field with some big yards in the mix.

Another 2-year-old who made a favorable impression on me is the Dubawi filly DECLARING LOVE.

It's been a while since we saw the Godolphin homebred in fact the Dubawi filly has not run since making her debut in a hot Novice race at Newmarket in May. 

That was a nice introduction without pushing Declaring Love, she was only beaten by the impressive Group winners Raffle Prize and Daahyea and the fact she was given plenty of significant entries since that race and also has early entries for the Irish Oaks and the Irish 1000 Guineas next season means she could be horse not to take lightly in 2020. 

Thanks for reading and look out for my next Charlie Appleby season review plus a couple more horses to follow.