New Venture

It’s a while since my last post, and a lot to blog about.  I’ve taken a 50% stake in Manor House Stables, going in as joint owner alongside Michael Owen who built the stable up from nothing.  Tom Dascombe comes in as trainer, although he still has to focus on his Lambourn stable for a while as there is work to be done at Manor House before he moves up.

It’s a bold and exciting move, and is the sort of investment I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  It fits well with my stud ambitions in a whole load of ways.  Most of all it should be good fun.

Goodwood was quiet and fairly profitable – I didn’t go this year.  I was reflective watching the various Betfair sponsored races on TV – in the old days I’d have been in the thick of it, but things have moved on.  It’s probably no bad thing as I need to get on now.

Brough Scott called me up on the Tuesday of Goodwood.  He’d got wind of the Michael Owen story and he wanted to cover it – we had a long chat.  Michael was still on tour but he was picking up emails.  Nigel Payne, former CEO of Sportingbet, was in the middle putting the deal together, but he was on holiday in Spain.  It was important to get a bit of press coverage – the others were happy to do it with the Post so I accepted Brough’s proposal.

I had a busy day on Thursday working through emails and legal documents.  At around 9 p.m. Robbie (our dog) escaped on to the adjacent common – I thought about leaving him to come back on his own, but decided to go in after him.  I went back and forth for three and a half hours with no luck – finally at 12:30 he wandered back to the house.  I got to bed very late.

I had a taxi booked for 6:30 but after my late night I didn’t wake up until 6:40.  I had a train to catch and no time to play with – I had a two minute shower and threw on the nearest clothes before jumping in the taxi.  I got to the station on time but still missed the train – I couldn’t find it.  I caught the next train to Crewe, which was only half an hour later.  I was pretty scruffy – I decided to buy a new shirt at Crewe but I never found the time.  I’d agreed to meet the others at 10 a.m. – I arrived at 10:30. 

We spent a while with Brough, Ed Whitaker and the Racing Post team doing interviews and photo shots.  After lunch we settled down to work through some unfinished details.  I left late and had a bad journey home – my train was cancelled and I had more delays later.  It was another very late night.

I had a bad day’s betting on Saturday – I couldn’t get anything right.  On Sunday I played four quite competitive sets of tennis – I can’t remember the last time I did that.  We went back to a friend’s house afterwards and I sat down – a couple of hours later it was time to go and I could barely get up.  My legs still ache.  When the Racing Post interviews came online I had a look – I was horrified how fat I was.  I really do need to lose some weight.

One runner tomorrow – Bea Menace goes at Folkestone.  When she won last time Jim Crowley got off her and said he thought she could win another – this time we have Frankie on board.  She doesn’t have a great draw but she may be good enough to go in again.  I’d made a note to back Marine Spirit when he next came out, but I’d expected him to go up in distance – he runs in the 6:35 at Folkestone.  I’ll oppose him with Hold Your Colour who was green last time but showed speed in the race and has had plenty of time to come on for that first run.