End of year review

Fri 11 December 2020

Chindit winning the Champagne Stakes

In what has been an undeniably difficult and disrupted year for everyone we are extremely grateful to our supportive owners who have battled through tough times and allowed us to have such a successful year, despite the circumstances. 

The year started off well with URBAN ICON winning the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes – a fast track qualifier for the All-Weather Championships. It was a shame that the Championships were abandoned due to the pandemic as this consistently high class colt by Cityscape would surely not have been far away for Mr Michael Pescod.

VENTURA TORMENTA got us underway after the unprecedented halt in proceedings due to Coronavirus by winning the Group 2 Darley Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. Given a power packed ride by Christophe Soumillon he got up in emphatic fashion to get the better of The Lir Jet by a whisker for Middleham Park Racing.

“We’re already popping the champagne! The only way we were going to beat The Lir Jet was to drag the speed out of him and make it a test of stamina. Christophe gave him a super ride. Probably half a stride before and half a stride after the line he was beat, but right where it mattered, he was in front. It’s probably trainer and syndicate manager error that he’s ever been beaten, he hasn’t lost over six furlongs.” Tim Palin

Ventura Tormenta

Meanwhile closer to home it was the start of a phenomenal season for the McMurray Family and their Dandy Man filly HAPPY ROMANCE. Having got off the mark at Sandown she then went on to win one of our favourite races – the Weatherbys Super Sprint – and give first time owners the McMurray’s a taste of the big time.

“I can’t believe it. Richard Hannon has done a fantastic job and we are living the dream. My son dragged me into this as he phoned me last year saying he had seen a nice yearling through Richard Hannon and I said, ‘let’s go for it’. Ray McMurray.

She continued to flourish and landed another big pot at York when winning the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes in August – a race that we have won four times in the last five years and proved that she is “more than just a flash in the pan two year old”. She quickly followed this up with a Group 3 win in the Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes and then a solid fourth in the Cheveley Park – her first foray into Group 1 territory – again ridden by Sean Levey who has partnered her in all of her races to date. 

Happy Romance

CHINDIT and FANCY MAN flew the flag for Mr Michael Pescod winning five races between them. Chindit was unbeaten in his first three starts winning a listed race at Ascot followed by the Group 2 Champagne Stakes

“That’s probably the best two-year-old race of the season so far. To find a very good horse like him with a good temperament is something you don’t get every year. attitude and the way he behaves gives him every chance of being a horse for the 2000 Guineas – he does look a miler.” Richard Hannon

Fancy Man stamped his class on the field at Haydock when winning the Listed Ascendant Stakes by an impressive 3 ¼ lengths and looks sure to be a serious group prospect for next year. 

We were all over the moon to see ETONIAN land the Group 3 Solario Stakes in striking fashion for Julie Wood, one of our most loyal and longest standing owners. Having won his first two starts he failed to fire in soft ground in the Dewhurst, but a line can be drawn through that run and he will be an exciting prospect for next year on good ground.


It was great to see two of our most loved older fillies land listed races in September. The Everleigh based POSTED who has run consistently well throughout her racing career was well overdue a win when landing the Listed Fortune Stakes at Sandown under an inspired William Buick. The Herridge based five year old ANNA NERIUM recorded a sixth career win when scoring at Goodwood for Mrs R J McCreery. She relishes soft ground and the step up in trip saw her back to her brilliant best under Sean Levey. She has been a great servant over the years and is now enjoying a well earned retirement along with the talented BILLESDON BROOK who had another cracking season finishing runner up on four occasions including the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes where she finished strongest of all and just failed to get up. 

Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s CLOAK OF SPIRITS stamped her mark as a high class filly at the start of the year when finishing second in the 1000 guineas behind the impressive Love. A host of good runs culminated in a well deserved success in the Listed Rosemary Stakes at Newmarket. Returning to her favourite track she raced prominently and hit the front with three to run holding off all challengers to score gamely by half a length. A week later saw her run a career best to finish a close third in the Group 1 Sun Chariot.

Cloak Of Spirits

We now head into a quieter time for the yard whilst we bring on and educate our new bunch of yearlings. We have found owners for almost all our purchases and the majority of which have been ridden away and are enjoying being out in the string learning the ropes. 

We have backed off most of our older horses for the winter to give them time to rest and mature ahead of next years turf campaign. CHINDIT and ETONIAN are looking fantastic and will be left alone until the flat season starts in 2021. Our impeccably bred Frankel x Sky Lantern filly SNOW LANTERN will be coming back in soon and will be gradually brought back to full fitness over the next few months. HAPPY ROMANCE has filled out and turned into a very strong filly, she is fresh and well and will be kept ticking over until the turf. 

We have got a few that are still in full training and will be embarking on an All-Weather campaign. RAYMOND TUSK runs in a Marathon Fast Track Qualifier at Newcastle on the weekend with the aim of going to Lingfield for Finals Day on Good Friday. VENTURA TORMENTA will also be aimed for the AW Championships in the three year old sprint and BEAT LE BON has a couple of options to aim at over the coming months with a trip to Qatar potentially being on the cards.

It has been lovely to reflect on the successes we have enjoyed over the last year and now can look ahead to what is to come in the new year. All that remains is to wish all our owners, staff, jockeys, and supporters a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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