The very warm weather over the last couple of weeks has signalled a change in the going and therefore an early season change from horses that would be kept in training for the late Spring meetings to the true Summer horses who are more at home on the faster ground. Those which prefer easier conditions will be taking their well-earned summer holidays out in the paddocks.
Nevertheless, all conditions come the same for “Team Skelton” – trainer Dan and his jockey brother Harry – making their usual flying start to the new season. Harry has ridden 25 winners already whilst I share second spot with Aidan Coleman on 13. This gives myself, and all the other riders in the weighing room, something to aim at over the summer months.
As well as riding horses for a living, my great passion is breeding them. This week the Goffs UK Spring sales have been taking place at Doncaster Racecourse where several hundred horses have been offered for sale which are either already jumpers in training, or young untried “store horses” which will form part of the new stock for trainers over the next few seasons. Prices vary widely and everybody is trying to find the next Native River or Cue Card.
I offered a very nice home-bred three year old filly by popular sire Kayf Tara which was bought by former weighing room colleague Nigel Hawke who does very well with his small team of jumpers. We wish Nigel and his connections the very best of luck with her. The top lot (most expensive horse) sold on Wednesday was a four year old son of Group 1 winning flat horse Fame And Glory called Ask For Glory. He was the impressive winner of an Irish point-to-point early this month which had earned him plenty of admirers and was finally knocked down to bloodstock agent Tom Malone for £280,000 acting on behalf of multiple champion trainer, Paul Nicholls.
Epsom Racecourse on the first Saturday in June, as always, plays host to the most famous flat race of the year, The Derby. I always take a keen interest in the race as quite often it throws up a winner which goes on to be a successful jumps stallion rather than the flat racing speed influence it is designed to be! Having said that, this year’s favourite and Newmarket 2000 Guineas winner, Saxon Warrior, is my fancy for the race and, if he goes on to glory, is more likely to follow in the footsteps of super sires Galileo and Sea The Stars. He will be well out of my price range if that is the case!
Looking ahead to this weekend I am due to go to Worcester on Friday and either Ffos Las or Cartmel on Saturday. Keith Ottesen, Clerk of the Course at Ffos Las, informs me that there could be some rain there – which is usually the case – in the run up to their meeting. If the rain comes and the ground remains decent there is a possibility that Warren Greatrex’s highly rated novice hurdler, Portrush Ted, could take part in the 7.35 race which is something to look forward to.