All winners are so satisfying but some I feel bring more joy to even more people than normal and yesterday’s win at Southwell was one of those. Debden Bank failed to scale the heights we originally hoped he would and he therefore was destined for the Sales at the end of March which were cancelled due to Lockdown. I was adamant he was a winner waiting to happen and was desperate not to let him go so we set about finding him an owner at the worst possible time – when no-one knew whether their jobs were safe, what was happening with the economy and when we would be allowed to even welcome visitors to our yard again. Not the greatest time to sell a racehorse!
A few ideas fell through and we arrived at the middle of the summer without an owner but he needed to come in from his summer holiday and into training. Some things happen for a reason and Black Prince, who we’d hoped to run on the flat as soon as racing resumed and then over hurdles gave us so much entertainment but every time he was declared to run he found a reason to not run! Very frustrating and when we eventually got him to the course we found out he had a wind problem so the kindest thing was to retire him. He now has a wonderful home out of retirement and thankfully lots of his owners decided to join team Debden in addition to a few more lovely people – led by Paul Davis, who runs lots of our partnerships and our Racing Club, so we secured the sale and no doubt remembered I’d promised he was a winner!
Fast forward to Stratford on 8 November and Debden Bank finished a good 3rd at Stratford over fences beaten under 3 lengths at 33-1. The excitement mounted and with the winner that day winning well at Hereford on Saturday Team Debden were confident yesterday!
So onto Southwell yesterday and James Best again in the saddle. Only three owners were allowed to go so it was down to Neil Clifton, Gordon Bendall and Granville Styler to fly the flag and that they did, with Paul Davis allowed to go as a member of our staff to help out in the Southwell Stables, reporting that the loudest cheers of the day were thanks to at least two of the above from the stands! Mick Fitzgerald also mentioned on Sky Sports Racing that Belinda & the boys would be shouting Debden home from our sitting room…..they were!! James gave him a brilliant ride and they both didn’t miss a beat, settling in 2nd/3rd all the way and jumping for fun. They took up the running before the 2nd last and went clear approaching the last to eventually win by 11 lengths, 14 lengths and 13 lengths much to the delight of all of his owners.
Debden’s number one fan, Ernie, rides him out every day and looks after him and she absolutely adores him too so he’s a lucky boy to be adored by so many people. So many yesterday were celebrating their first winner as an owner and the messages we received made us all so proud.
After that excitement Ten Past Midnight went to post in his 3rd hurdle race having not shown much on the racecourse to date and making us think about possibly drawing stumps with him. James Best was on board and we just needed him to run an encouraging race. That he did and turning for home in 3rd with the rest of the field quite some way behind, I can tell you that lots of our team who were on at 200-1 were nearly counting their each way money! Another horse eventually did come by so he finished 4th and just out of the money for the team, but it didn’t matter as we were all thrilled he showed enough to continue and I was delighted how excited his breeder and part owner Michael Chitty sounded when I called him. It’s sometimes not about winning on the day but giving hope for the future.
Yesterday was one of those days where quite a few glasses of fizz were had!! Well done Team.