Category Archives: Sponsored Riders

Here’s to a wonderful 2018!

Good evening,

Well, I am making a slow start to my New Year’s Resolution’s already, as clearly my main one was to keep everyone a lot more regularly updated on here!! I have been completely useless over the holiday period, and upsettingly cannot even blame the consumption of too much mulled wine!! Unfortunately, what qualifies as holiday season for the rest of the normal world tends to be quite unbelievably busy in a racing yard, and it has been best foot forward for the last fortnight or so to keep the show up and running here. Luckily, we haven’t had many runners so have been focusing on keeping everyone at home fit and healthy. (Left, The Doorman overseeing a very wintery gallops!).

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year – the horses all had a lovely time eating Feedmark’s delicious treats and will be doing plenty of work this month to get rid of their slight Christmas paunch!

I am pleased to say that 2017 was a good year for the yard, and a good step forward in the right direction. We sent out 15 winners in total, and had the normal share of unlucky placed horses. They ran consistently well throughout the year, with multiple winners The Doorman (right), Castle Hill Cassie, Lord Caprio and Rey Loopy giving us plenty to smile about, as well as individuals Skellig Micheal, Cup Final, Epeius (below), Camanche Grey, Prancing Oscar and Funkadelic. However, as always, there is room for improvement and we look to have a really nice team for 2018, and I sincerely hope we can move onwards again on the winner’s ladder.

Our 2 year olds look an absolutely cracking bunch, and whilst they aren’t the earliest types, they are a big, strong bunch of horses. I am looking forward to their fast work I must say! Amongst the older horses, Castle Hill Cassie, Eponina and Rey Loopy should be improving four year olds, and there is definitely plenty more to come from Lord Caprio and Elysee Star. I am going to keep quiet about who I am most looking forward to, as I don’t want to jinx her, but we have a very nice grey filly here who should build on her 2-year-old run nicely – hooves crossed!

Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to all our owners for their massive support in 2017. We are incredibly lucky to have some truly wonderful people behind us, and there is no better feeling than getting a winner for any one of them. We are indebted to the syndicates Middleham Park Racing, Ontoawinner, Excel Racing and the Champagne Charlies, all of whom are truly excellent and it is a privilege to be able to wear their colours. We were also very proud to be able to give Lynn Douglas, Gary Walker, James Pak, Daniel Shapiro and David Clifford first winners this season in their respective colours, and hope there are plenty more days to crack open the champagne with them all this year! And of course, any day we visit the winner’s enclosure in the green and gold of J.P. McManus is a proud day for all the team.

2018 was so close to getting off to the perfect start, when the delightfully mini Cherry Oak went to Newcastle for her first run of the year over 5 furlongs. She has the heart of a lion, and after being slightly slow out of the stalls ran her heart out to take 2nd. She was closing on the winner all the time, and may run there again on Friday over 6 furlongs. Slightly heart-breaking but it was a positive start to the year!

Here’s to a wonderful 2018!

Preparing horses for the 2018 season

Is it just me or this damp, wet, dreary weather, getting a bit boring now?

We are very lucky where I live in West Sussex – beautiful views, great hacking, never too much snow. However, I really wish we were not on the deep, heavy clay ground, that just turns to sludge at this time of the year!

Luckily, we are not too far from the sandy soil, so we have been travelling Layla and Magdy up there once a week to do some faster fitness work. They have really enjoyed this and are definitely feeling well ahead of the 2018 endurance season! I am really pleased that post exercise their recoveries have been really promising, with both horses having heart rates of sub-60bpm before untacking.

Alongside this exercise, both horses have one schooling session, one lunging session and three slower training rides from home. I think it is so important to include schooling and lunging into any horses’ training, whatever their discipline, as it’s vital to have a supple horse, that’s working from behind and not on their forehand. This enables each horse to be as energy efficient as possible, which is especially important for endurance. As we get closer to the start of the season, the length of our training rides will increase to enable the horses to be fully prepared ahead of their competitions.

The plan for both Layla and Magdy is that they will both go to early 80km competitions in March. Mandy Yarnold’s Marley, will also be joining them, so fingers crossed for a positive start for the season. This will hopefully be Magdy’s second 80km qualifier for his CEI 1* qualification. We are lucky this year, as there are some new FEI compeititons on the calendar which will give us more choice and ensure we can get to a competition at the peak of their fitness.

Whilst all this training is going on, my 4-year-old youngster, Omar el Nazeer, or Arnie as he’s known at home, is enjoying having time out in the field. Eating, growing and playing consumes his days! At nearly 16hh already, I am giving him lots of time to grow and mature before starting the backing process. Over the next few weeks I plan to start some ground work with him, so by the time the summer comes, hopefully I will be able to get on board. He will probably be turned away again through the Autumn to allow for more growing time as Arabs are renown for taking extra time, and are also not usually this big!

Roll on the spring!

Advent calendars for horses!

I cannot believe that Christmas is almost upon us.  Is the Joppe household ready for the festivities and the guests and parties that go with it?  Not a chance!  I do, however, have an Advent calendar for the horses and some wonderful Herbalicious treats which I am afraid they have already started on.

The last few weeks have been spent working with the three horses in work.  Fantom has gradually been brought back into work with the customary weeks of walking progressing to trotting and schooling.  He has been doing some polework to check his straightness and his flexibility on circles.  This he finds really easy and he has now moved onto slightly more complicated exercises and is walking and trotting slowly up and down gentle gradients and over more varied terrain.

Wizard was initially going to do a bit of low key dressage but I found him to be a little stiff on circles so he is now on Opti Muscle and we will see how he improves.  He is, of course, fine on straight lines and is so full of life and energy that he makes me smile.  We have had a couple of canter sessions in the stubble fields which have been fun with Wizard trying out the odd exuberant buck (above)!

Chiara has been coming on in leaps and bounds (literally too!).  She has calmed down a little and is now working fairly sensibly in walk and trot in the school and over the occasional pole on the ground.  I have started to work on her canter transitions using poles in the corner of the school but this needs more work!

It took me three tries before I managed to have a good canter session in the stubble fields with Chiara.  The first time was just too windy and, after hacking round before even reaching the field she was just so wound up.  The second time we had a lovely schooling session and decided to do half an hour gentle hack round the lanes before reaching the fields when, somewhat unexpectedly, we met the Hunt in its full glory around the bend in the road.  So, so exciting (at least that’s what Chiara evidently thought) we spent the next 20 minutes cantering sideways all the way home.  Still, third time lucky and we had a really good session with Chi listening to me and just gliding effortlessly over the ground.

Yesterday Wizard and Chiara went to the south west endurance Christmas ride around the magical Lanhydrock Estate (below).  I rode Chiara with my friend, Jo, riding Wizard.  It was good fun, despite the going being so heavy after the last few weeks of almost endless rain.  It was nice to ride around without pressure, walking over all the bad bits where we could have a natter, then a couple of glorious canters over the amazing parkland.  Both horses behaved impeccably until Wizard decided to stick his nose into one of the boxes of chocolates on offer around the course and throw all the chocolates into the mud (luckily they were wrapped ones) (above right).

A few weeks ago I went to the Endurance GB AGM and Gala dinner which was really great fun (below).  The AGM itself had such a good positive feeling and it is apparent that there is an exciting future ahead for endurance in this country.

Looking back over this year, although we had a really poor result at the European Championships, this was the only negative occurrence.  Every other competition that any of the horses went to had a successful result.  Wizard only did a pleasure ride, of course, but he enjoyed that and was successful; Dilmun successfully completed his last one day race ride in 4th place and enjoyed some lesser distance rides as well as being runner up in the veteran’s trophy at the SW awards; Chiara completed both her 1*s in fine style coming 5th in the best condition, and was runner up in the SW Glory trophy for the best horse in its first season of race rides; and Fantom came 3rd in the 1* at Windsor and got to meet the Queen.  Apart from that one blip, it has been a pretty good, solid season with much to build on for 2018.

Happy Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year and thank you Feedmark for supporting me so well!

Annie Joppe brings her horses back into work

Since my last blog work has recommenced with the horses.  Chiara and Wizard started work three weeks ago and Fantom about a week ago.  Dilmun, on the other hand, is destined to have a rather long holiday and won’t be brought back into work until February as it would be impossible for me to have four in work at one time, especially as the days are now so short.

My first task was to detangle manes and tails, scrape layers of mud off and endeavour to make them look as presentable as possible.  Once accomplished, although they didn’t really look like the athletes they can be, walking work started with 10 minutes each and gradually building up the time walking and the different terrain over which we walked.  To cut down the time spent in this activity, I thought that I might be able to ride and lead Wiz and Chiara.  The first time riding Wiz and leading Chiara worked moderately well but trying to swap the ride and lead horses over resulted in disaster with Wizard and Chiara trying to outdo each other in the walking stakes.  That was a no go, probably never to be repeated with two determined horses focussing on getting their nose in front!

I gradually introduced a little schooling, in walk initially, with a view to getting Chiara to listen to me by clocking onto the idea that walk, means walk and that a loose rein walk means longer strides and stretching down into the contact rather than an excuse to speed up.  So far this is marginally successful, possibly more so than Chiara’s interpretation of halt which is done, as with most things Chiara, with ultra enthusiasm resulting in complete cessation of movement at whatever point the aids are applied.

My next exercise for her was working over four poles on the ground arranged in a star shape where she could practice moving straight over the pole, taking care not to hit it, followed by smallish circles leading back to a straight line over the next one and so on.  That at least was the idea and to a great extent it did have the benefit of forcing her to concentrate so this will be an exercise that will be repeated.

Wizard, now that he has moved onto a little trot work, is doing some schooling too.  He has, I noticed, developed an annoying habit of jogging when out on the tracks which is DEFINITELY not allowed.  In the school we are working on walk, halt, walk transitions, improving the free rein walk and transitions walk, trot, walk.  Combined with a little leg yielding for suppleness this is designed to have him a little sharper on the aids.  Today I lunged him for the first time since coming back into work and confess I found him a little stiff so I kept the circle very large to help him maintain balance.  I am a little concerned at his stiffness at the beginning of winter but am confident that if I build him up slowly, he will benefit from the work.

Then there is Fantom.  Fantom has now begun his two weeks of walking and we are almost halfway through this.  I must admit that it isn’t a very interesting time in his conditioning programme as he can be somewhat lazy and switched off just walking around the lanes.  However, the dog usually comes and that can liven things up a bit with a little squirrel chasing and barking at unidentifiable bits of plastic!

We have just had the local endurance branch dinner and awards ceremony and Dilmun managed to become runner up in the veteran’s trophy which he truly deserves.

I am hoping to give Wizard and Chiara a little outing just before Christmas in the shape of a Christmas pleasure ride where we all get dressed up in something Christmassy and go for a wonderful ride around one of the local estates in Cornwall.  Just have to hope we get in to this popular event.

Much needed catch up with Dance

Good evening,

It really has been a while since you have heard from me, but we have been through some difficult times here at Castle Hill Stables and I wanted to wait a little while before putting hoof to paper. As I am sure you all know, racing and Castle Hill lost a monumental man in Patrick Haslam (left, back in his training days taking Pipe Major to get the paper!) recently. Ben’s father, and the first trainer of myself, was truly one of a kind and a genius with a horse. A lot of amazing things have been written, and it has been truly heartwarming to read the wonderful tributes. I won’t add too much more, other than to say that he handled my first ever win at the tender age of 3 years old, using all his expertise with handicappers to do so, on a monumental January day at Southwell, and was to oversee my return to the winner’s enclosure a further eight times before handing me over to Ben. Both Ben and I are going to miss him very much, every day, but if Ben continues to listen to what I learned from him, we will surely make him very proud.

Needless to say, the yard has been keeping us very busy, which is never a bad thing during such times. Castle Hill Cassie (right) was to provide Patrick with his last congratulatory call to Ben, when winning a decent fillies handicap at Newcastle for owners Ontoawinner, James Pak, Lynn Douglas and Gary Walker. Cassie was a very appropriate last winner, as she has plenty of class and should be doing plenty to make him cheer from the clouds as a four year old next year. She nearly gave us a small fairytale at Kempton just after in a hot fillies handicap, flying to the front with half a furlong to go however – however, the silly girl thought she had won, and slightly pulled herself up before just getting overtaken in the dying strides to take a tight 4th. However, we were delighted with her performance and cannot wait to see what she can do next Spring.

Rey Loopy (left) was the one instead who bought as much cheer as he could back to the yard, when heading to Newcastle for a mile handicap, stepping up a furlong from his previous winning trip. A huge three year old, we were pleased to get a win with him early on in the year, but knew there was more to come so put him away after a couple of efforts that weren’t quite up to par. His owners Daniel Shapiro, David Clifford, Derek Barclay and the Wood family have been very patient with him, which is really paying off now. Jumping out the stalls, he was way out the back, but travelling like a steam train under Tom Eaves, before coming through in a matter of strides to take up the lead with a furlong to go. Tom kept him up to his work and he cruised to a cracking victory – I think the celebrations from us all were louder than any fireworks that night! He is an improving horse and another I think we are going to have a lot of fun with this winter and next year.

Finally, Ben has been busy at the sales once more, and we have recently set up the Ben Haslam Racing Syndicate (click here for more details) with two cracking colts bought from Tattersalls Ireland, as well as older horse Epeius, already a winner. This should be a lot of fun and gives a really affordable way to get into racehorse ownership. Both colts have been backed and started cantering, and are showing plenty of aptitude for their new job, whilst Epeius will be kept busy on the all weather this winter and could well prove to be a nice money earner in that sphere.

We also went down to Tattersalls and came home with two absolute belters – a filly by sire of the moment Nathanial (sire of Enable) and a gorgeous Gregorian colt (Gregorian above right, Nathanial below right). Both are quality horses with plenty of size, and more details about them can be found on the for sale pages. They are already backed and cantering and have taken to it like ducks to water.

Our yearlings have all been having lots of fun recently, with Ben letting them out to play in the fields (left). This is so good for them, as they can go and be horses and unwind from the intense lessons they are currently having. A few heart in your mouth moments, but they absolutely love it!

We are slowing down on the runners front, but have a few pencilled in for end of this week, including Loopy, Epeius and a couple of jumpers so keep your eyes peeled!

Until next time


Annie’s horses have a well-deserved break

Well I haven’t ridden now for about 5 weeks as I decided to give all the horses a break after a busy season.  All shoes have been removed and they are out 24/7 in the fields finishing up the last of the season’s grass before winter arrives. 

This is the time for all those jobs that you simply don’t have time for when the horses are in work.  This includes, to my delight, a revamping and extending of my tiny tack room.  Luckily just before the Europeans I went through all my equipment, sorting and dusting off the thick black cobwebs that seem to congregate in dark, hidden corners.  Now that the extension has been completed I am just waiting for the husband to put up some more hooks and shelves for me and to run the electricity in for my kettle and music.  I may even have the luxury of having an old washing machine plumbed in somewhere to save my poor household one from overuse and the dreaded horse hair!

The horses are very much in a state of ‘au natural’; their manes are wild and muddy, especially Dilmun’s, their tails keep gathering twigs and leaves and they are liberally coated in mud.  Dilmun, especially, has made it his mission to cover every available body part in thick, dark mud but even this doesn’t hide his ever-growing grass belly.  I think I will have some work to do before training recommences and the winter routine begins.

I must confess I felt a little pang of regret that I did not go to the Red Dragon ride this year as it is the last major ride of the endurance season in this country.  This year saw the hosting of the Endurance GB National Championships with the introduction of three other layers of Championships, at novice, open and advanced.  I understand, however, that the weather was dire on the Saturday and the going consequently deep and slippery on the Sunday so a true test of endurance.

I am looking forward to next week when Wizard and Chiara have their shoes put back on and work recommences.  The ancient Wizard will start his winter regime of light hacking and maybe a little dressage again (if he behaves!).  I feel it is important for him to do light work over the colder, damper months now that he is getting on a bit just to keep the old joints free and supple.  Ideally, he would live out all the time in the winter but he, unlike the other three, actually prefers to come in at night in the winter and be cuddled up in his stable.  To help keep him supple he has ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips daily and a little Opti Muscle as he has experienced some muscle tightness in the past.

Dilmun, much against his wishes, will come in at night too as he gets sensitive skin in the wet and muddy conditions of winter but generally it is easy enough to manage with a 50/50 in/out regime.  He, too, benefits from ExtraFlex as well as his Gastric Comfort to prevent the return of gastric issues which he is rather prone to.

Fantom and Chiara are much happier with 24/7 access to the field and they will share the largest field with a good field shelter over the winter.  Chiara will come into work too after her holiday and I plan to work on her schooling with regard to rhythm and balance especially in canter.  She also needs to experience more natural and manmade hazards so we will be out and about.

Already both the FEI and Endurance GB calendars for next year are filling up with events.  Plans are now starting to be formed for all the horses.  My main focus next year will be on Chiara’s progression to, hopefully, the elusive 3* 160kms qualification with a view to the Europeans in 2019.  I would like Fantom to do another 3* too and, without selection pressure, be as competitive as possible, now this would be nice if it could be combined with the national championships…

The perfect end to a great season

The event season has now come to an end and what a year it has been. The highlight definitely has to be winning the U25 National Championships at Bramham, other memorable moments

Collien P 2 enjoying the mud and relaxing in her field.

including making my Nations Cup debut earlier in the year at Houghton International. Although the horses don’t have long term holidays they will have some time off in the field to reflect and regroup both mentally and physically ahead of their winter training.





Collien P 2 is now qualified for the 4* and will hopefully head to Badminton next year which is all rather exciting. Although it is still a long way away, things will come around quickly after Christmas so she will have to be super fit and ready for action come the start of the

Livingstone at Little Downham.

season next March. She was super at Blenheim, finishing up 6th in our first Senior CCI3* together. By far our best test together for a 39 which was good enough for 2nd after the first day of dressage. It was a shame that so many of the lower scores came on the afternoon of the second day but unfortunately these things happen! We were early to go XC on Saturday morning so I didn’t have chance to watch any go before me, but I stuck to my plan and we sailed round just 5 seconds over the optimum time. She was a little strong and I felt like I wasted time in the first few minutes setting up for fences. Nevertheless, the cross country caused its fair share of problems and we moved up a place to 5th overnight. She

Elstar flying at litte Downham.

jumped super on Sunday afternoon, just having one rail down at the first part of the influential treble. She has improved massively over the course of this season and we are all very excited about her future!


Livingstone finished off his season with a win in the competitive OI section at Little Downham, on what might have been our last run together. He hasn’t taken to 3* as well as we’d hoped and we feel he may be better suited with a Junior or Young Rider to go and

Will with his number one fan, his Mum!

win some more medals. Elstar picked up a couple of smart placings in her last two events and is starting to become a bit more established at Intermediate level now. She is a big horse at 17.1hh and has taken a long time to catch up physically, having only started eventing as a 6-year-old. We still have very high hopes of her and we will aim for her Blenheim 8/9 year olds next year.



We will now have some quieter time on the yard; doing some cleaning and sorting out the winter rugs. We will get the babies out to some local hunter trials before having a holiday in preparation for the start of their eventing careers next year!

September endurance update from Annie Joppe

Well the European Championships has now been and gone and a lesson learned.  Unfortunately, despite all the meticulous preparation, it did not go according to plan.  Fantom refused to eat and drink on the journey, including the overnight stop and arrived at the venue pretty dehydrated.  This was easily corrected and he began to eat and drink well.  He was, however, much quieter than usual which I was actually quite glad about at the time but in hindsight I should have been warned all was not well.

We had a lovely opening ceremony where we all looked very smart in our new Fairfax & Favor boots and the following day the pre-ride vetting went without a hitch with all horses passing with flying colours.  The crew had spent two days looking for and at crew points.  This was made pretty difficult by the heavy traffic and constant road works in Brussels which had to be driven through to access almost every crew point.

The start was at the edge of a large park which gave access to miles and miles of forest.  Fantom didn’t warm up well, being very quiet but, after consulting with the team vet, we started with the rest of the squad near the back of the field.  After about 100 metres we had two main roads to cross before plunging into the deep, dark beech forest.  We only got to about 3 kms when Fantom applied the brakes and it became apparent that our race was over: he had tied up.

Fantom is absolutely fine now and it was a relatively minor episode with no lasting damage but at the time it was pretty devastating.  In retrospect, I feel we should have had regular blood tests leading up to our departure to ensure everything was OK and, perhaps, we should have left home at the last possible minute, even sending the crew on ahead to do the preparation.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

OK, onto the next competition two weeks after returning from Brussels.  This was originally going to be Chiara’s first 2* at Euston Park but, with all the work and preparation needed for Fantom and losing that crucial week training whilst we were away, I decided to consolidate at 1* and to aim for a faster speed at that level.

We had several good training sessions just after I got back.  A long trip to the woods with the short sharp hills to canter up went well giving Chiara a reminder of the stamina that would be required.  Euston Park is pretty flat so we did several sessions in the new stubble fields around here with her pulses improving all the time.  Work and feed tapered the week before although I kept up her Replenish (she is on this all summer as have been Fantom and Dilmun).  Chiara was shod with pads in front for the first time as, although she now has tough little feet thanks to Hardy Hoof, there are some wicked flints at Euston.

Although Chi was a little reluctant to load, she travelled well and regularly took mouthfuls of her special fibre beet tea with carrots and ate loads and loads of hay.  As this was a smaller competition at Euston than the previous ones, the pre-ride vetting was on the morning of the ride and the start time was very civilised.  This meant that we had plenty of time to sort everything out the day before and even take Chi out for a little wander round to get her used to all the flags and markers.

Ride day was great.  It was a relaxed yet competitive atmosphere and the start was perfect with everyone trotting out across the parkland rather than the gallop that I remember from some previous occasions.  However, as the pace built up Chiara got more and more excited and after a while I decided to turn her off course for a few minutes so that the leading pack could go past giving us some space.  After that I had a much better race with Chi being responsive and much more focussed on where she was going.  We still have to work on presentation times but generally her behaviour in the vet gate and vetting was much better.  Eating and drinking could still do with improvement too but at least she seems to be able to drink with the bit in now.

It was a good result, 6th out of 17 starters and a good speed of over 18 kph.  Chi also came 5th in the best condition and finished feeling keen so it all looks good for the future.

My season has now finished but endurance in the UK goes on until the middle of October so perhaps some crewing and helping opportunities will come my way.

Exciting times for Annie Joppe and Fantom!

Fantom is quite the most difficult horse to train.  At home, he seems to have the mentality of a riding school hack where all the motivation is kept for the return journey.  However, this is coupled with almost miraculous transformations into the flying horse.  How to read these extremely exciting moments?  A case in point today was a lunging session over raised poles where, to start off with, he was pretty indifferent then in the blink of an eye he transformed into a snorting, leaping monster.  They do say a good horse has to have attitude, don’t they?

It was Dilmun’s turn for a competition with the Inter-regional championships at Cirencester Park.  Despite Dilmun’s protests, bathing was a must and every conceivable part was washed and the very white parts, whitened.  We duly arrived at Cirencester, erected a good-sized corral for Dilmun with a fair covering of grass and went to check in.  I was gone all of 5 minutes and when I came back there was just the remains of one poo in the corral, the rest being stuck to at least half the side of Dilmun’s fly rug.  Obviously, this seeped through and turned my immaculate white/grey horse into a skewbald: just love this horse!

I would like to say the day of Dilmun’s race dawned fair but it was raining, not hard but in that annoyingly soaking way for most of the race, making the going slippery in places with mud in the woods.  Dilmun is such a professional, knowing his job inside out.  We started at the front because we could and trotted and cantered around the 80 kms presenting in less than two minutes at each vet gate.  We were in the veteran section and duly came 4th after I misread the markers and went off on a jolly of my own, letting two competitors from rival groups come in ahead of me (you’d think I wouldn’t make those mistakes after all these years!).  Despite this, however, our group, the south west, came second and hopefully my mistake didn’t rob us of first place.

Dilmun enjoyed his day I think but that is the last race ride he will do as he no longer has the appetite for the training necessary to compete at that distance.  After a long holiday, he will have a quieter time with shorter rides and ruling the roost at home.

Three days after getting back from Cirencester we were on the road again.  This time off to Euston Park on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders with Fantom for the final selection of the squad for the European Championships in Brussels.  After a super quick trip (7 hours) we arrived at leisure, walked Fantom about a bit and just chilled.

The following day when everyone had arrived we were required to go out together on the 20 kms loop which would be used as part of the weekend’s competitions.  This went smoothly and Fantom behaved well, enjoying the near perfect going.  Following this we had to do one-mile loops at set speeds with short resting periods in between.  Just after this we were told that we had been SELECTED FOR THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS!

Since then I have been sorting and cleaning everything I will need to take with me (and there is a lot!)  I also decided to sort and clean everything in the tack room so busy, busy.  At the assessment, lactic tests were again made and Fantom’s fitness had come on in leaps and bounds (literally) and he was just about ready to rock!  This meant that since then we have had a couple of good training sessions but work has now reduced to more gentle exercise (also safer for both of us!).

In the meantime, I have been studying the information available about the course and the venue.  The venue is actually in Brussels, situated in a park surrounded by roads and the city and the course is apparently through the beautiful Foret de Soignes and surrounding area. This promises forest tracks which I am told are undulating with many twists and turns and the going encompassing areas of deep sand and also hard tracks.  In other words, expect everything!  As I have been planning for this Championship all year (actually planning started the day Fantom qualified last year), I have done my best to condition and prepare him for most eventualities so fingers crossed it all goes according to plan.

We’re now almost ready to go with Fantom being newly shod and me still debating whether to clip him as he has such a fine coat and feels the cold: shivering could be disastrous in the vet gate.  We leave on Sunday with the Championships now in a week’s time – yikes!

Recent success for Ben Haslam Racing


I must apologise as I have been particularly useless this month at getting my hooves to the keyboard! I have no excuses really, except that I have been terribly busy training one particular horse, but more on that later!
We got July off to a flyer from a rather suprising source, when the rather mysterious Camanche Grey (left) ran an absolute belter at Hamilton to come home in front in the 5 furlong handicap, recording his third career victory. Not an easy horse to predict, it was his first run on soft ground and he seemed to love it, demolishing the field by 2 and a half lengths. He was given an absolute peach of a ride by Robbie Fitzpatrick, who deserves plenty of credit as he wouldn’t be the easiest ride. He has proceeded to run well this month, finishing 3rd another twice, and is hopefully developing some consistency in his old age for owners Derek Barclay and Paul and Wilma Heseltine. He certainly looks a picture, and hopefully may be able to add to his tally again this year.
We have seen some other nice performances this month which probably went under the radar: Cup Final really pleased us at Market Rasen in the Listed Summer Plate Chase – his jumping stood up to this much sterner test than he had previously faced, taking his fences exceptionally well for a novice, and whilst he just lacked a bit of speed and experience he ran on nicely at the end. There should be a nice race in him down the line over a longer trip. Quiet Moment showed too much speed over 6 in first time blinkers last week and didn’t get home, but she runs on Monday over 5 furlongs and it would be nice to think she could go close for patient owners Ontoawinner and Trojan Horse. Cherry Oak has also had three outings for the same syndicate, along with Daniel Shapiro and David Clifford: still a little weak, she has shown us a really good, game attitude, finishing 3rd and 5th on her last two starts, and she should be a nice prospect for nurseries: you cannot fault a filly who tries!
Finally, the reason I have been so busy recently! I have been closely monitoring the progress of Percy (Prancing Oscar) (left), who has to be one of the best looking horses on the yard, and came to the conclusion that he has been showing enough in his races for me to lend him some of my precious time (I also thought Ben wasn’t doing a good enough job, but don’t tell him that!) I decided upon a suitable race – who doesn’t want to be at Wolverhampton at 9.00 on a Monday night?!) and swiftly set about training him to handle the bends. We went round and round the top field, doing some fairly serious exercise drills, until finally he got the hang of it and I could stand still and watch him from the middle (breathing a little hard, I must admit!). I made sure I accompanied him to the racecourse, and ensured he knew exactly what he was meant to do – and boy did he do it! Given a quite exceptional ride by Oisin Murphy, the pair set off meaning business and led pillar to post to prevail by a neck over the insufficent mile trip. We were over the moon for owners Middleham Park and Spee Fox-Andrews, and there should be loads more to come from this chap. He will get at least two furlongs further on the flat, and even more excitingly I see a few sets of hurdles in his future – and boy I can’t wait to teach him about those! Not the fastest son of Sir Prancealot ever born, it’s true, but definitely one who is going to be around giving his owners fun for a while to come!

Until next time,