I make no apologies for this blog being incredibly long! We have so much to celebrate today so grab yourself a coffee and be prepared for a long read!
Well what a day we had yesterday and I’m sorry that we had such a busy morning that I didn’t do a blog – however I know I wouldn’t have been tipping Thady Quil to win as although I hoped he’d pick up a race over the summer sometime, I couldn’t have been convinced that it would be yesterday!
The day started well and with it being Racing Staff Week Luke Harvey from At The Races came across before we saddled Thady to interview us and Issy who rides tonight at Newbury (more about that later). Thady looked fantastic in the Paddock and was represented by one of his three owners Stefan Hibbert, wife Gwyn (celebrating her Birthday), son Matthew and Gwyn’s sister Marion. I’ll leave it to Paul Davis, who is one of the three owners of Thady, to explain it all via another of his wonderful post-race analysis emails to his co-partners….
Wow ! Wow ! Wow ! This sport of ours can be incredible, sometimes. It’s full of hopes, dreams, joy, frustration and disappointment with the latter two usually being more evident than the others. But today was a day of joy verging on the disbelief.
With two entries to choose from at Worcester the decision was taken to go for the ‘Chase, the first race on the card. The feeling had been that he was a better hurdler but the Worcester fences aren’t very big and besides, he never touches a twig when jumping so, with fewer declared runners then the decision was taken to go for the race over the bigger obstacles. Tinks was adamant that he wanted someone to give him a lead this time, following his run at Newton Abbot when he suddenly grabbed hold of the bit when the loose horse went past him. So, today he jumped off in a share of 3rd place on the inside just behind the leading pair. He continued in the same position throughout the first circuit and into the back straight, jumping cleanly and travelling smoothly. Coming round the home bend, Tinks moved Thady up into a share of the lead still travelling well with many of the others beginning to be hard ridden. He was disputing the lead at the first of the four fences in the home straight and, from the appearance of the head on camera at Worcester, seemed to be running on at the same pace. But then something strange happened because, without any apparent change of pace, he jumped the 3rd last a couple of lengths clear. We were all keeping our fingers crossed and willing him not to fold, which has happened in the past. But then, at the second last he was suddenly 5 lengths clear and still not stopping. Between the last two, Belinda was spotted quietly praying in the parade ring and Stefan and Martin were spotted getting increasingly more animated and jumping up and down. As he approached the last he was 8 lengths clear and with only one fence between him and certain victory. He cleared it majestically and further extended his lead on the run in, galloping past Martin and Stefan who could clearly be seen on the TV screens punching the air in delight. At the post he was 12 lengths clear of the runner-up and a further 20 lengths clear of the 3rd horse.
Did we really see what we just saw ?!
I’m still dazed and in a state of shock. My own personal story was that I had to attend important meetings at work which meant I was unable to watch the race live and so I cut myself off from the outside world until I got home and watched the replay (as if live) several hours later. Pat couldn’t attend, unfortunately, having only recently come out of hospital a few days ago. We’re so pleased for you, Pat and hope it all continues to go well! But he was able to watch the race at home on the sofa, but hopefully not jumping up and down too much despite it being his first winner. However, Stefan was there in person to celebrate his first winner as well – together with Gwyn, their son Matthew, and Stefan’s sister Marion. It is Gwyn’s birthday today and what an absolutely super way to make a special day even more special. Simply wonderful!
The first to get on the phone to Martin to congratulate the winning connections were Jon and Jack, which was absolutely super of them bearing in mind that the change in partnership only occurred a little over a month ago. I’m sure that the other previous partners – Michael, Simon, Geoff and Caroline were also delighted for Thady – this win was for them as much as it was for the current partners.
Thady is a lovely animal. He’s had a journey of ups and downs over the past couple of years with three breathing operations, a few places but more pulled ups. This was the first victory of his career and when he did it, he did it in style. What a delightful horse and what an easy victory. Wow ! Wow ! Wow !
Doesn’t Paul once again sum up what racing is all about. Any of you who watched Stefan’s interview on ATR yesterday could also see how much that special first winner meant to him and his family too and he freely admitted that he’s enjoyed every second of Thady’s ‘non-win’ days too.
In Stefan’s words and I didn’t mind you leaping over me one bit Stefan!: Martin and Belinda, great job: as always TQ looked fantastically well. Martin, I’m sure your enjoyment of the race wasn’t enhanced by me leaping all over you at the end but what can you do. Belinda, thanks for showing me the ropes on the very unfamiliar process of being a “winning connection”. Please also repeat the thanks to Tinks, Issy, Kieran and anyone else in the team who contributed to yesterday.
And Jon, Jack, and Paul, the effort that you all put in to running the partnerships and making it easy for novices like myself is extraordinary and should be the template for all partnerships. Thanks so much.
So onto Spice Girl who had a 7lb penalty to overcome courtesy of her first bumper win. Harry Stock was therefore on board hoping his 7lb claim would counteract that and he gave her a great ride and showed how he is worth that claim and didn’t panic turning for home when a gap didn’t look to be opening. I thought Worcester would suit her better than Stratford and she impressed me yesterday looking tough and geniune and delighting her vocal part/owner breeder Richard Davies although Worcester racegoers were baffled who the Sammy he was shouting for was (her stable name!). Other part owner Mark Holland sadly couldn’t be there but he was equally delighted afterwards and it keeps his ownership strike rate at 100% for the season – Spice Girl x 2 and Ballymountain Boy x 1! Fantastic.
Onto today and it is Issy’s big day today. Her racecourse debut and she is lucky enough to be riding at Newbury and on the lovely Jazzy. She rides him out a lot at home so knows him well and I’m very grateful to his owners for letting her have this special day on him. Although she’s competitive and putting plenty of pressure on herself, we hope she goes out there and thoroughly enjoys herself. She deserves it and, as well as her mother Jules and sister Melissa who are coming to support, her father who was jockey Roy Mangan will be proudly looking down on her I’m sure.
Still time to donate to Issy and you can do so HERE.
I’m so proud that we’ve been able to give Issy this chance so thank you to whomever came up with the Racing Staff Week initiative. It’s Kieran’s big day tomorrow at Doncaster so an equally exciting day for him and I’m delighted to support the races and reward members of my team for the fabulous job they do. Not forgetting the team at home who are covering for them whilst they are having their rides – they are all as important as each other and I hope this initiative is repeated again at least annually as I can guarantee we’ll be supporting it.
Thanks to Adam, Brian and Lizzie from Racing Welfare as the Team had a fabulous box of cakes dropped in for them yesterday – very much appreciated.