Sunday, 6 April 2014

Breeding future stars

Despite its name, our yard Harraton Stud has never had any foals grazing in the paddocks since we arrived nearly 10 years ago but over the last couple of years I've obviously lost my marbles and decided breeding horses would be fun too.
We had two cracking foals last year from the old stalwarts Bavarica and Bushy Dell and, even though the mares were rested this year, we were due another delivery from Emma's Gift. Her owners, Mr and Mrs Raffan, decided to breed from her after a successful racing career and on Thursday a little colt by Derby winning sire Sir Percy was born. You can already see he is a far better stamp of a horse than the two we bred last year and hopefully he'll have some of his parents' ability when hitting the track in two years' time!
They are currently at Northmore Stud across the village as we don't have facilities for foaling but they'll soon be back with us when strong enough.
Emma's Gift and her colt foal
Looking to the more immediate future, we have a trio of runners heading to the track this week.
Kicking off the action tomorrow is Luhaif at Windsor. He hasn't been able to get in front in his last few races on the all-weather and, if he doesn't lead, he tends to sulk a bit. He's rated a lot lower on the turf as well which will help as his recent races have been very competitive. It's hard to guess what will happen but he's in good order at home.
Then on Wednesday, Automotive makes his return to the races after a winter break. He has always had a lot of ability but it wasn't until the back end of last year that he started to show it. His handicap mark is still far below how good we think he is but he is likely to improve for the run as he is a big stuffy horse. Hopefully his run will be an encouraging one for the future.
Automotive (Shelley) & Luhaif (Ross)
Another who shows tonnes of ability at home is Attain. He finally managed to win a race in February and then bounced back from a poor run with a great second last time. He does need things to go right but he seems to like the way Wolverhampton is riding at the moment and it looks to be a weak race so hopefully he can get another win on the board.
Attain (Shelley) & Automotive (Ross)
We have never really had many sprinters to train over the years but I hope we have a couple of really nice ones to go to war with this season. Honeymoon Express ended last year on a high with two wins on the trot and she seems to have come back in just as great form. She loves firm ground so we will have to see what the weather does but she is only a couple of gallops short of a run so I'm excited by what she could do.
The other speedster I'm excited about is Tiger's Home. She thrived last autumn before getting an injury which ruled her out for a while. She's fully recovered now and looks like an absolute tank. Despite her success, she is still well handicapped so I'd be shocked if she doesn't get her head in front this season.
Honeymoon Express (Danny), Bushy Glade (Ryan) & Tiger's Home (Adam)
Yarmouth hosts its first meeting of the year in a couple of weeks and we'll be mob-handed at our lucky track. No horse likes it more there than The Ducking Stool and she'll be hoping to add to her five course success over the next few months. After a great time of it last year, she is pretty high in the weights but things will fall right for her again eventually and she'll make her fans happy.
Opus Too is an unraced three-year old who was too weak to run last year but he strengthened up over the winter and will be ready to run soon. He's still quite immature mentally so the experience will really bring him on.
The Ducking Stool (Reno) & Opus Too (Graham)
This time next Sunday Ross will be feeling pretty terrible after running the London Marathon for the first time. I must have dropped him on the head as a baby because he has decided to try and set a Guinness World Record by running the fastest marathon dressed as a jockey. He has been training hard but says he won't do any prep runs in the costume and just hopes the element of surprise gets him through it!
Special mention must go to one of our owners Len Cousens who has run every London Marathon since it started in 1981 and will be on the start line again this time. If Ross doesn't know the way, I'm sure Len does!

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