Friday, 5th March | Cloudy | 3°

Good morning!

The first blog post for a little while as we haven’t had large amounts of runners. Last week ended in the worst possible way and it’s been quite a tough week for the team at Martins Hill.

On Sunday we lost Exploiteur at Hereford. It’s the toughest part of our sport and it never gets easier, but you have to be positive where possible. ‘Dessie’ was adored by everyone who looked after him and was given the life of a king.

He arrived to us from Ireland where he was trained by Aidan Fitzgerald, he pulled up and finished 6th in two Irish p2p’s. He was a big frame that had not filled out but you could see potential from day one. He was a kind horse and was always described as a gentle giant. He enjoyed his work and would be keen, especially when on the round gallop!

Shaw Racing purchased him and they put together a wonderful group of owners. Our first outing was a beautiful day at Stratford, in the early stages it was about getting some experience into him and he learned with every run. His final run last season was a good run at Doncaster. Doncaster would be the course where he would finish 4th in the River Don hurdle this season and showed what a trier he was. He won at both Ffos Las and Chepstow in heavy ground. He didn’t know when to give up and he was everything you’d dream of having in a racehorse.

This season he was looked after firstly by Eilish, her and Dessie struck up a real friendship. Every day Eilish would be checking the board to make sure she would be riding Dessie and the pair were inseparable. When Eilish moved back to Ireland Mel looked after Dessie. She also adored him and really believed in his ability.

It’s always heartbreaking to lose a horse, for our staff and Dessies owners it’s been a sad week. But one thing is for sure, he was given the best home and looked after by people who loved him to bits.

As mentioned in terms of runners, it has been quiet, although more entries now that the ground is drying…

Of our recent runners, Thundersockssundae ran a very pleasing race on handicap debut to finish 2nd, another 2nd for Dawn Treader at Lingfield… both horses were beaten by well handicapped horses. Alfoski made some positive progress yesterday with an improved effort. He still has plenty to learn but he’s getting there.

Today certainly isn’t quiet! We run five horses, four at Doncaster and one at Newbury…

Doncaster

2:50 – Phil Healy – she runs in the Novices Hurdle. A mare that we really like, she had impressed us in her bumper runs. She school’s well at home. She finished 9th on her hurdles debut, but showed plenty of promise in a strong looking race. Another strong novices hurdle here, hopefully she can run a nice race and finish in the top half of the field.

5:05 – Passing Shadow & Phantomoftheoscar – in the Handicap Hurdle we run two horses. It’s never something we like doing, but both of these horses enjoy good ground and this race looks ideal for both. Passing Shadow has been ultra consistent in handicaps for us this season. A lovely homebred who was bred by his owner Liz Prowting. He has had a little break while the ground went against him, hopefully he can run a nice race on his reappearance.

We also run Phantomoftheoscar, a horse with a proper NH pedigree. He was a little slower to see the track then some of our youngsters but came back this season looking far stronger. He will be one that will improve again next year and will hopefully go chasing one day. He shows us plenty of ability and has ran some good races in defeat in Novice hurdles. A handicap debut today and we hope that his mark is workable. Lilly rides Passing Shadow and Kielan rides Phantomoftheoscar.

5:35 – Lord Scoundrel – he runs in the conditional jockeys veterans chase. A really improved run from him at Fakenham last time, a track and ground that wouldn’t of been ideal. A gorgeous horse who we won a point to point with last year when Lilly Pinchin rode him at Cottenham. She rides again today, fingers crossed for a nice run on ground that will definitely help him.

Newbury

4:40 – Pop The Champagne – A well named horse owned by Jill Phillips, who after the bumper run at Lingfield, was definitely popping Champagne! ‘Poppy’ won on her debut in an AW bumper and showed an electric turn of foot. Max Kendrick gave her a great ride and we were delighted with the result. She surprised a few of us but not Gwyn who looks after her at home, he loves ‘Poppy’. This is a nice looking bumper on paper, Newbury bumpers usually are, Poppy carries a 7lb penalty today for her win at Lingfield so it’s not an easy task. We hope she can once again show promise, Max Kendrick rides her again. Best of luck to Jill!

We are moving closer to the Cheltenham Festival and last night was the At The Races preview night… a really enjoyable watch, Matt Chapman was on top form as always. Have a great weekend, we will be releasing a Mercury this weekend so keep an eye out for that!

Jill and Gwyn with Poppy
Lord Scoundrel
Phantomoftheoscar
Passing Shadow
Lord Scoundrel
Phantomoftheoscar
Phil Healy
Passing Shadow
Pop The Champagne
Phil Healy
Exploiteur
Kielan tacking up Phil Healy
Bradley riding Phantomoftheoscar