Back to reality……

Posted July 19, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

We all need a break sometimes, to unwind and recharge the batteries and prepare for he rigours of the season ahead. The horses have all had about six weeks but their trainer is not quite as fortunate ! Nevertheless we have just returned from a brilliant week in Portugal, 19 members of the family from 3 generations and no rows or fallouts !

Terrified Trainer !

The above was taken at a nearby water park, which the children loved and I succeeded in burning my bald patch ! My first round of Golf in several years was great fun and even prompted me to dust off my set of clubs here on my return, quite when I will find time to play is anyones guess !

Team Photo....

 All the horses were in good form when we got home and the winter string have just started cantering again. The recent sales purchases are coming on very well and will soon be looking for new owners ! They should certainly know their stuff by the Open Day on August 28th !

This morning Antonia and I were given a fascinating tour of the Loughborough University sports facilities (one of the top 5 sports development Universities in the World) by point to point enthusiast Tim Garfield who is also the Deputy Director of Sport. We were able to see some potential 2012 Olympians training in the amazing 110m long indoor athletics track, they have even laid one lane in the same surface that will be used at the games next year so that the athletes can get used to it (apparently it is firmer than a conventional training track) Perhaps an area in which equine trainers could experiment ?

The Cricket facilities are outstanding with bowling machines that can mimic the worlds top bowlers whilst showing videos of them in action, thus enabling (in theory at least !) the England batsmen to know what to expect. Apparently the Australians are still a little behind with the technology which is heartening to know.

There were many other areas of huge interest, all trying to eek out that final extra bit of performance that can make the difference between winning and losing or even Olympic Gold or nothing. We have a few ideas as to how to adapt some of these techniques for our equine friends here at North Lodge…interesting times ahead…..

We have our first runner for a while at Worcester tomorrow when Rebel Flag takes the stage in a 2m handicap hurdle, he has been working well and is reportedly in good physical shape by Antonia who has just given him a pre race massage….lucky chap !

Bye for now….



Success gives confidence… success…..

Posted July 7, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

The cynics amongst you are probably thinking that our current good run of form is due to the trainer spending more time training the horses than writing his blog ! You may well be right ! And as I have previously reported, with Travelling Head Girl Laura away in Australia my duties have increased somewhat.

I like to think that a lot of our success is down to confidence, which in itself comes from success, so a sort of “virtuous circle”.  Take Pollen Jock for example, after a good 4th in a novice hurdle at Southwell well over a year ago he was allocated a handicap mark of 105, which I complained vociferously about at the time, being only a little horse, he found it impossible to get competitive in handicaps until eventually his mark fell to 80. He still needed a weak race and small field to get his head in front (at Fakenham in May) but since then his confidence has grown and he completed the hat-trick of wins on Sunday at Market Rasen in a very competitive race, despite being a stone higher in the weights. No doubt he will be raised again by the handicapper and, ironically, it now looks increasingly possible that his initial assessment of 105 wasn’t too far wrong ! but he was never going to win off that mark until he had learned how to win and had the confidence to do so. 

Pollen Jock lands his Hat-Trick under Sam Twiston-Davies

With success, confidence spreads through the yard, from the Trainer downwards and I think that the horses feel the good atmosphere as well, it is though but a short step (and not that many letters either !)  from confidence to complacency ….. the hard work needs to continue !

Whilst some of the team are having their summer holidays and Antonia and I are pinching a few days here and there, the majority of the winter team have come back into work this week. They have all, without exception done very well in the field and I was hoping to post some weights this evening but after weighing Ifonlyalfie (576 kgs) the scales went on the blink so we will try again tomorrow. It is hard not to get excited by the increased quality of the string this year with some of our successful pointers from the spring graduating to the big stage…. Say No, Chac Du Cadran, Legendary Hop and recent purchases Ifonlyalfie and Dushy Lady…..

Enjoy the rest of the summer, I will be tweeting from Legoland soon !


Latest news and views….

Posted June 15, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

I can’t believe that this is my first blog for June ! How time flies and we are meant to be having a “quiet time” ! With most of the NH string now out in the field having a well earned summer break it is time to catch up on all the jobs that just don’t get done during the hurly burly of the winter season. We have 6 horses left in to run , and Pollen Jock maintained our good start to the season with a gutsy all the way win at Market Rasen last Friday. Our tally is now 9 from 24 with 3 seconds and 5 thirds, very satisfactory ! Interestingly, whilst lengthy whip bans are being handed out at Royal Ascot our last two winners have prevailed without recourse to the “persuader”. Marie De Laufon was the game winner of a “Hands & Heels” race at Towcester under amateur Matt Stanley and Gina Andrews drove Pollen Jock home without hitting him behind the saddle. Both horses have taken their races well and whilst I am not in favour of an outright whip ban I am sure that moderation is the way forward, for both the horse and our sport.

It is currently Sales Season for the NH sector and we have been active at both Doncaster & Cheltenham in May and last week in Ireland at Goffs. We purchased Ifonlyalfie for an existing syndicate at Cheltenham, this Irish point winner will debut for us in September and there are a few 5 % shares still available. At DBS , leading Irish Point to Point mare Dushy Lady became an addition to our string and will race in the Bennynthejets & Glorybe colours of the Payplan Partnership, she looks to be an exciting prospect, especially for mares races. We also bought a 3 yo store by Grape Tree Road who is a lovely mover and has just been broken in.

Antonia and I have just had an eventful and very enjoyable 2 days at Goffs in Ireland where we bought a stunning Definite Article 3 yo who is currently being backed. He was early on the first day (Lot 8) and looking at some of the prices achieved later in the sale I am hopeful we (with the help of Highflyer Bloodstock)  may have found a bargain ! Though of course the proof of the pudding etc……!

Thanks to the Gestapo like security at Stansted Airport (is civility too much to expect ?) I managed to make “Tweet of The Day” in the Racing Post, having been asked to sample my own toothpaste ! I am going back to the Derby Sale next week but this time will buy my necessities “air side”. I do accept that they have a difficult and very important job to do but it costs nothing to be polite ! there…rant over….!

Rebel Flag & Mass Hysteria

We had a good work morning today with those left in work galloping over a mile on the “left hand side” rotovated ground. Mass Hysteria led Rebel Flag, both may go to Market Rasen on 24th and Tango In The Night (Rasen 3rd July) led Dream Garden (Summer National Uttoxeter 26th June) , all four seem to be in good form.

Dream Garden & Tango In The Night

 I am currently involved in a Royal Ascot tipping competition , via Twitter, and after a good first day with 2 winners from 4 selections I drew a blank today….time to study the form or perhaps change my pin !

Bye for now….



Satisfactory start to the season !

Posted May 31, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

It is difficult to know quite where to begin this blog in what has been our best ever start to a NH season ! Six of our last seven runners have won, the latest being Marie De Laufon at Towcester yesterday under a fine “never say die” ride from Matt Stanley, having his first ride over hurdles for the yard.

I touched briefly on the reasons for our recent success in a short article in todays Racing Post and will now attempt to put some flesh on the bones…

The winter was a dark and deeply depressing time when we had little luck and the season never really got going, Antonia and I realised that changes needed to be made, the benefits of which are now beginning to shine through. Those of you who are drivers will know that if a wheel is out of balance, the car will handle erratically, and is more prone to hanging sideways than going forward. It is also true that in such cases the tyres will wear in an uneven way. I think this is an apt analogy for the racehorse, everything needs to be in full working order and in balance for the equine athlete to perform at his or her maximum genetic capability. So we decided to start at the bottom and work up ! Our new farrier, Richard Speck has worked very hard on balancing the horses feet and getting their shape correct and this has helped enormously higher up in the horses anatomy.

Last year Antonia qualified under the tutelage of renowned equine Physio Mary Bromily where she met Hannah Booker who also qualified (as an Equine Sports Massage Therapist) on the same course and together they now form our formidable team of in house Equine therapists. All our runners are manipulated and massaged in the build up to a race, in fact they are treated like any top class athlete should be and this is clearly reaping big rewards, a supple, happy and pain free horse will always perform to the best of its ability.

Nutrition is also a hugely important cog in the wheel, and as a matter of routine we have our hay tested for mineral content and spores on a regular basis. A week before this years Grand National we discovered that our hay was not keeping well so at considerable expense we sourced a new batch which I am sure has had a very positive effect on the overall health of the string. Our hay is also steamed before feeding which eliminates dust and spores which can effect a horses breathing.

The Luder who won at Southwell last week

Last but not least, none of our recent success would have been achieved without the great team that we have behind the scenes at North Lodge, Barnsley Edgar is a very conscientious Head Lad who promotes a hard working and happy atmosphere which definitely rubs off on the horses. Tom Messenger is riding with great confidence and has pipped AP McCoy in two of his last three wins ! and we have also had excellent support from our amateur jockeys, Matt Stanley, Olly Murphy and Hugh McKenna. 

Of the recent winners, most are now having a well earned summer break so with the point to point season also over (for us) things will get a bit more relaxed for a month or so. Time to paint stables, do some weeding and break in the next crop of youngsters, though there will be half a dozen or so kept on the go for the summer. We are also off to the sales in Ireland next week where we hope to pick up a couple of smart youngsters and also have a couple of nights of pampering at the very comfortable Killashee House Hotel !

Talking of Sales, last week at Doncaster was successful on both the buying and selling front. Benjamin Bittern was bought by Donald McCain who will no doubt get the best out of this talented youngster. It is sad to have to sell horses of his calibre but it is part of our business plan, hopefully if the winners keep coming we might attract an owner who will keep them in the yard ! We bought a lovely three time winning Irish point to point mare on behalf of the Glorybe, Bennynthejets team who will be an exciting addition to our autumn campaign.

The Luder is our next entry over the weekend and Dream Garden is being trained for a possible run in the Summer National, a race we know well having won it with the wonderful Surface To Air in 2008.

Finally I was so pleased to read that Isabel Tomsett seems to be making good progress after her horror fall at Fakenham last weekend, a lovely girl, talented Jockey and top class vet…get well soon , from all of us at North Lodge.

I have bored you for long enough ! bye for now.

Garthorpe four timer for George Henderson…..

Posted May 20, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

Firstly, big apologies for the rather infrequent blogs ! Since our travelling head girl, Laura went to Australia at the beginning of May on a 3 month scholarship, I have added another task to my already extended list of duties, that of Box driver. This means that I am home quite late from racing (12.30 am for example on Wednesday) so the tired brain does not feel too inclined to spout forth words of wisdom or otherwise !

The undoubted highlight of the last couple of weeks was a terrific 4 timer at The Melton Hunt Club point to point at Garthorpe on 8th of May. In the first race we ran Dream Garden who was home bred by George’s father James, he was a useful horse for us under rules a couple of seasons ago and has gradually been finding his form in points, George kicked on 4 from home and from then on , never looked like being headed. Dream Garden will stay in training for a month or two over the summer and may run in a hunter chase next week.

Dream Garden wins at Garthorpe

 Dream Garden’s half Brother Say No then had a walk over in the prestigious Marie Curie Novice Championship, this was a great shame as it would have been interesting to see just how good Say No is ! We will find out in the autumn when he will be going novice hurdling. The admirably consistent Aztec Warrior then put up one of his best performances to win the Mens Open, beating an odds on shot in the process, he has now won 7 races from 16 runs in the last two seasons and only been out of the first 3 on one occasion.

Aztec Warrior

 Despite the perfect conditions there looked like being only 4 runners for the penultimate race, a Club Members, so we (or rather Georges Mum !) dashed back to the yard and collected The Luder who’s  Sunday afternoon snooze was rudely interrupted ! This formerly useful chaser for Paul Nicholls had been showing signs at home of returning to form and he duly belied odds of 20-1 to make all the running and complete a memorable day for us all.

The Luder

The rules horses have also been running well and we have enjoyed our best start to the season since 2008 (when Surface To Air won 3) with 3 winners and 6 placings from 16 runners to date. Foxinthecots made an excellent bumper debut at Market Rasen finishing 2nd, he is having a short holiday before going novice hurdling in the Autumn. He is looking for a new owner and will be on display at our Open Day at the end of August. Persian Gates ran another solid race at Southwell last Tuesday, but just found a better handicapped horse on the day. He has been very consistent and given us all a lot of fun, he is also now on holiday. L’Eldorado made his chasing debut on the same card and ran a blinder against horses rated 12 & 15 lbs higher than him over hurdles to finish a close 3rd over an inadequate 2 miles. His jumping was impeccable and on softer ground over 2m 4f in the Autumn he should be hard to beat (providing the handicapper doesn’t over-react !) The race was also run in a course record time ! Theredballoon would also have gone very close had he not whipped round at the start when the tape went back, losing about 25 lengths, very frustrating for all concerned but I am confident we will get there soon !

Our latest winner was yesterday evening at Wetherby, when under a fine patient ride from Tom Messenger, Glorybe broke her hurdling duck in cosy fashion, sprinting away from the last flight. She is a half sister to the very useful Paul Nicholls trained chaser Ghizao (ante post favourite for the Arkle) and will probably go to stud next spring. We are currently toying with the idea of sending her to Tiger Hill (sire of Ghizao) which would make the resulting offspring a 3/4 relative in blood of the aforementioned gelding. Such progeny , granted good conformation, would be well sought after at the sales !

We could have a couple of runners on Sunday, Pollen Jock goes to Fakenham with a good e/w chance in the Ladies H’cap Hurdle and More Than Hopeful may run at the final Garthorpe meeting of the season. We have a few entries next week when it is also the Doncaster Spring Sales (Tues, Weds, Thurs) Benjamin Bittern (recent Market Rasen Bumper winner) goes under the hammer on Wednesday (lot 409) and I hope I can find a new owner for him who will keep him in training at North Lodge !

Changing sports, as a Man Utd supporter for the last 44 years I was pleased to see them win the League for a record 19th time and 12th for their amazing current manager Sir Alex Ferguson, I am thankful that he is not a racehorse trainer as he would probably put us all out of a job ! I get a lot of stick for being a Man Utd fan, living in Lincolnshire (don’t all Man Utd fans live outside Manchester !) so a brief explanation as to why I started following them. When I first went to boarding school in 1967 all the “new boys” were invited to join the Subbuteo table football club and select a team. Of the new intake, I was top of the alphabet (there were no “A’s”) and thus given first choice. On the wall beside me was final league table of the 1966-67 season and top of the list was Manchester United so rather shrewdly (or so I thought !) I picked them. Little did I know at the time that I would have to wait another 25 years for their next League Title ! Since then it has been rather like London Buses !

Finally, we are still desperate for rain, we have plenty of grass for the recently turned out horses, but the farming side of my business will really struggle unless we have significant precipitation in the next couple of weeks and as it stands, straw and hay prices look set to rocket…. not good news.

Thats all for now !

Good start to new season……

Posted May 5, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

No sooner has one season ended than the next begins and on Easter Monday (day 2 of the new season) we started our campaign in great style with a double at Market Rasen.

Bennynthejets set the ball rolling with a game success in the 2m4f handicap chase, he made most of the running and jumped really well but going to the last it looked as though the burden of top weight was going to take its toll as there were four upsides, however a great leap gained Benny a 1/2 length advantage which proved enough as he bravely dug deep on the run in to hold on by a head.

Bennynthejets at Market Rasen


Benjamin Bittern crosses the line in front

 We also had 3 runners at Thorpe point to point on the same day, The Luder was 4th on his first run for nearly a year and More Than Hopeful was a good 2nd in the Intermediate. Chac Du Cadran however confirmed his promise by winning the maiden by the length of the run in ! (the 2nd horse had finished a good 2nd on it previous run and was joint favourite) . Chac had disappointed in his first 2 starts but a course of Gastrogard (to treat stomach ulcers) clearly helped him and he was a most impressive winner. He will now have the summer off before going under rules in the Autumn where he will contest staying novice hurdles.

Chac Du Cadran (nearside) winning at Thorpe

The yard continues in good form with Roi De Garde, Theredballoon, Leyte Gulf and Marie De Laufon all posting personal bests in recent days. Our next runners are at Garthorpe point to point on Sunday, Dream Garden, Say No and Aztec Warrior whilst Leyte Gulf returns to Wolverhampton on Monday .

I enjoyed the Royal Wedding last Friday, and whilst it is possibly cruel to label Princess Eugenie a “Moose” she did her best to confirm this impression by sporting a set of “Comedy Antlers” for the service !

Finally we had a surprise new arrival at North Lodge this morning when (2 weeks early) Ardeal gave birth to a big strong colt foal by Samraan (sire of Surface To Air) . He is a 1/2 brother to the late Runningwiththemoon  and current performers Ordelia and Foxinthecots….if he turns out as good as his paternal 1/2 bro STA…..?

bye for now !

Surface To Air does us proud at Aintree….

Posted April 20, 2011 by chrisbealby
Categories: Uncategorized

It has taken a few days to collect my thoughts and sit down to write about the epic day that Surface To Air gave us at Aintree in last weeks Grand National. It was a huge thrill just to have a runner in what is arguably the worlds most famous race, and I am sure that there were a few doubters out there who thought that we were just making up the numbers ! Well “Sammy” proved them all wrong with a magnificent and brave display of galloping and jumping under a marvellous ride from Tom Messenger (having his first ride in the race ! ). despite a slow start where he appeared to “freeze” for a second or two, he was up into 5th or 6th place by the time they jumped the Canal Turn for the first time, a position he maintained for virtually the whole of the rest of he race until lack of a competitive run in nearly 3 years saw him get understandably tired on the long run in.

Surface To Air at The Chair

 He was out on his feet after the race but quickly recovered once I was able to fight my way past some overzealous stewards and help Laura douse him with cold water. So now he is back home and being led out for a daily pick of grass, unfortunately he picked up minor strains on his fragile front legs which in a young horse would not be career threatening. However he is not getting any younger and Owner Breeders Tim & Bev Urry and I have decided that it would be unfair to ask him such a major question as Aintree again and risk a more serious injury. He is a wonderful horse to ride and should have many happy years ahead of him as a hunter/hack/riding horse. He has been a magnificent flag bearer for the yard and we can only speculate on what might have been had his legs been stronger, so thanks for the wonderful memories Sammy and enjoy your well earned retirement !

It was obviously very sad that two horses lost their lives in the Grand National and there has been lots of press debate about making the race safer, there was , surprisingly less comment a week later when two horses died at Ayr during the Scottish National over regulation fences. Statistics show that 5 out of every 1000 NH runners suffer a fatal injury whilst the figure for flat racing is 3 per 1000. These figures tally roughly with my own personal experience, from approximately 1000 runners since I started training, we have lost 4 on the track. It is worth pointing out however that during this time we have lost 6 at home from injuries sustained in the field or from natural causes (heart attack). There are risks attached to all forms of sport, equestrian or otherwise and in my opinion , the modifications to the Aintree course over the last 20 years or so make these risks an acceptable (but none the less distressing) part of the race.

Since Aintree the consistent Persian Gates won his 2nd race of the season under top weight at Southwell last Wednesday, he has also been place 5 times. He was given a great front running ride by Tom Messenger whose confidence was understandably high after such a thrilling spin round Aintree. Theredballoon also ran very well to be 3rd on his second hurdle start , beaten only 5 lengths, he has been allotted a handicap mark of 101 which looks reasonable, especially when we step him up in trip to 2m 4f.

We had a very busy day at Garthorpe on Sunday for the Quorn Point to Point with atotal of 8 runners ! Aztec Warrior and The Camerengo were 2nd & 3rd respectively in the 3m4f Quorn Gold Cup but were not match for the impressive winner Denvale, ridden by 54 yo Richard Hunnisett. Dream Garden  dead heated for 2nd in the Confined and is gradually getting back to the form that earned him a chase rating of 132 a couple of years ago. Ordelia lost her maiden tag in amazing fashion, failing to travel down the hill from 3 out she was fully 25 lengths down jumping the 2nd last but once the ground leveled out she fairly flew and got up on the line to win going away by a length, not surprisingly she will be campaigned on flat tracks from now on ! Say No a 5yo 1/2 brother to Dream Garden won the 2m4f maiden in very impressive style, forging clear throughout the final circuit to win by an unchallenged 20 lengths, whilst in the same race twitter account horse Tango In The Night unfortunately blundered and unseated his jockey at the first fence.

Ordelia flying at the finish !

The final race of the day was the 1m 6f charity flat race which is a great opportunity to give young horses some racecourse experience and in this years renewal we had two runners, Ordelia’s 5yo 1/2 brother Foxinthecots (by Beat All) and a Heron Island 4yo called Benjamin Bittern . They had the race between themselves for he final 3 furlongs or so before Benjamin Bittern quickened away to win by 3 lengths. Both are very promising youngsters who should do well under rules in due course…

Benjamin Bittern beats Foxinthecots

We have quite a few entries over the Easter weekend, both pointing at Dingley (Saturday) and Thorpe (Monday) and under rules at Market Rasen on Monday. A lot depends on the weather but there is no rain in sight….

Happy Easter !