We received the saddest news yesterday when we heard that Jo Stainer had died after a long battle with cancer. He was a very special man and was our very first ‘outside’ owner when we started with a small handful of point to pointers. Belinda met him whilst working as a Secretary for Peter McNeile, Director of Sponsorship at Cheltenham Racecourse and after taking an interest in her point to pointing photos on her desk he asked for my phone number and promptly followed it up a couple of days later. The rest, as they say, is history. With the help of Gerry Hogan we purchased Palmers Peak who, not only gave Belinda some memorable wins in the saddle but also gave us our first chasing winner at Kelso under Warren Marston in May 2008.
Jo continued to support us by taking a share in Any Currency and thoroughly enjoyed the amazing journey we had with him and to give him Cheltenham winners was very special. Wherever you were, whatever you did with Jo you had fun. We have so many fabulous memories of such wonderful times with him which we will never, ever forget. Mark Allen, one of the many people Jo introduced us to and who then became not only an owner but a great friend too, summed him up perfectly when saying “Jo shone his own special light wherever he went. A life well lived, he had fun and brought so much fun to us all”.
Oh how we will miss you so much Jo.
Yesterday at Lingfield Breizh Alko, who had posted three ‘pulled ups’ in a row following his win last March, was on a recovery mission and, at aged 12, we were starting to wonder whether to keep him going. However, he had been fresh and well at home and certainly showed us all how much he is still enjoying the game running an absolute blinder to finish 2nd at 33-1 under a sympathetic Sean Bowen ride. So pleased for his owner David Parry and for Ernesta who does everything with him at home – one of the most satisfying 2nds we ‘ve ever had!
Ambassador gave young Harry Atkins his first ride as a Conditional Jockey later in the card and, despite running far too keen early on, Harry didn’t panic, switched him off and got him jumping to eventually finish 7th, giving Harry more vital experience. Both horses trotted up sound this morning which, especially with Breizh Alko and his fragile legs, is the most important thing.
Today we head to Market Rasen and Harry Atkins has his second ride as a Conditional Jockey on Forecast in the 2m 7f Handicap Hurdle. Forecast is another who has been quite fragile but he seems in good form and Harry rides him a lot at home. He’s the outsider of the field but will hopefully outrun his odds for our Racing Club who have their 2nd runner in two days.
Duke of Luckley is our other runner and is partnered by Sean Bowen and should appreciate the better ground today and will hopefully give his owners a big run.