City Never Sleeps WINS!

What a great day at Uttoxeter and, today’s blog comes courtesy of the race report that Paul Davis, who runs our Racing Club (amongst other things!) and who is City Never Sleeps’ number 1 fan (stable name Roller) – he freely admits that the report was written last night after a glass, or two, of champagne and richly deserved! (Paul does a full report as brilliant as this for all racing club runners within hours, sometimes minutes of them running – although this would have been far more satisfying than most!).

From Paul: “I had hoped today would be the day. I had thought today would be the day. And for much of the past week, I even knew today would be the day. However, this glorious sport of ours has a habit of tripping us up when we least expect it and so, as the race got nearer, my confidence began to ebb. After all, why should anyone be confident that an 8 year old maiden win a 14 runner handicap chase on his 14th attempt? However, Roller did not let us down and finally got that first wonderful and cherished victory of his career. James and Martin agreed to have Roller just behind the leaders but not to be too far off the pace; to make good use of his jumping and to kick on in the home straight. James carried out these instructions to perfection and hugged the inside of the track giving up the rail to no-one. Roller jumped really well throughout, though was perhaps slightly less than perfect at the last fence in the back straight on both circuits. And coming into the straight the final time he was just behind the leader with the favourite, Joly Maker – who had so cruelly denied Digger a victory at Bangor – moving ominously well in behind the leading trio. At the 3rd last James kicked for home with 4 horses just a couple of lengths behind him. At the 2nd last he was still a length clear with three of his opponents in hot pursuit, including the favourite. At the last he was just a neck clear of his nearest opponent, with the other two just a length back in 3rd and 4th. But Roller was not for passing. He stuck his head out and galloped determinedly to the line and passed the post 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Joly Maker and 3 lengths ahead of Glorious Boru and Tis Fantastic.

Roller had many of his fan club in attendance today and the noise they made in the grandstand could clearly be heard on the television coverage – well done to Fi, Hilz, Caroline, Pat and Gordon for shouting the roof off. Meanwhile, in a different part of the track – segregated from owners due to the precautions that tracks have to put in place because of Covid – Martin, Deb, Vicki and I were cheering him on equally loudly, as well. No-one could be in doubt that today’s victory was so special for so many of us. 

But why did it mean so much ? Well, the answer to that lies on many different levels. For Martin and Belinda the victory was special because of all the near-misses that have been endured in recent months. For James, the victory was special because it signified the end of a dry spell where he had endured such wretched luck. For Vicki, it was special because it was just reward for all the hard work she has put into Roller for such a long time. But in addition to all of those elements, let’s remember that Roller has twice needed a year off due to tendon injuries, and has been nursed back to full fitness thanks to the professionalism and expertise of Martin and the team. Roller has been in the yard for over 4 years and was, in fact, the very first horse I bought with Gerry Hogan (who, incidentally, has been in touch to congratulate us) before syndicating him to a group of people that comprised the original Martin Keighley Racing Partnership (MKRP1). Those syndicate members loyally stuck by him but when he needed his second year off the decision was made to draw stumps.

We didn’t want to retire him, though and so, after his year off he then became a Racing Club horse and quickly gained an even larger fan club, partly due to the way he races, partly due to the fabulous nature of all the Racing Club members; but also because whenever they saw him in the stable they could see that he was the sweetest and kindest horse you could ever hope to meet.


I hope that all of you have derived as much pleasure from his victory as we all have. And, judging by the number of messages I have received tonight, I think we can safely say that this is definitely the case. I could go on and on about how special today was for all of us. But instead I think I’ll sign off so that I can go to bed and relive the race again in my dreams. And each and every time, the result will be the same. First place, number 4, City Never Sleeps. Roller, you beauty !!

A report, no doubt, from the heart and we are so pleased for Paul – he does so much for our Team and for his favourite horse to win is fabulous. His smile was as big as anyone’s this morning …. well apart from maybe Vicki! City Never Sleeps is A1 today.

Mozzaro ran a blinder too – given another educational ride by James although a furious end to end gallop meant he was flat out from early on. His attitude is fantastic though and he’s a real tryer, loved the ground and kept responding so genuinely to James’ urgings. Eventually he finished 5th but 1 3/4 lengths covered 2nd – 5th and we were all absolutely thrilled, not least Mike & Mella Wright and Pat Cornell who were all at Uttoxeter to watch along with joint owner Deb Butler who drove him there and led him up. Lucky boy. He too is A1 this morning and will be given time before he goes again but he’ll have once again learnt lots for the experience.

Winning jockey James Best kindly called in before 1st lot this morning to ride a youngster out with Belinda & Deb before 1st lot. He dashed off, as planned, to ride out elsewhere but we are very grateful he called in to us first. I’m not sure any jockey rides out for as many trainers as James does each week – he had a busy day at Newton Abbot in the week but still found time to ride out for a trainer local to there on his way home, just completing it in daylight. His hard work deserves for luck to swing his way more often.

Last night Matt & Shona Capp kindly took Belinda and myself out for supper at our local, the Coach & Horses in Longborough. Landlords Joe & Wendy McDonagh are part of our winning Racing Club and parents of Anna who works for us too. A really fun night and absolutely delicious food so a must visit if you are in the area. In these strange times they ensured we felt very safe and we had an absolutely brilliant evening in great company.

Matt & Shona were in this morning along with ex jockey turned Valet and Master Saddler, Allen Webb, who was based with The Duke in Condicote for much of his racing career. Webby’s family came today and his grandchildren were fascinated to see what he used to do and loved meeting and stroking the horses and watching them on the gallops. Great to see them all.

A wet and dull morning brightened up by the brilliant day yesterday and, in our toughest season ever, hopefully a sign of more brilliant days to come.