Jane and I had an excellent day out on Monday when we had a tour of a couple of stud farms in the Newbury area.
We dropped the children off early and I gave the dog a quick walk. I’d ordered a driver for the day and we left home at around 9:30 – an hour later we met up with Guy Sangster at the Carnarvon Arms on the road into Highclere.
Highclere stud (www.highclerestud.co.uk) is laid out over 300 acres, and is run by John and Carolyn Warren. Carolyn (Lady Carolyn) is the daughter of Lord Porchester who became the 7th Earl of Carnarvon – her brother is now the 8th Earl and he lives in Highclere Castle which is up the road. The Warrens live in an really beautiful house next to a large lake on the Highclere estate – the stud is only a short distance away.
The stud, as can be seen on the website, is set in a quiet valley. The whole place was green and serene – the Warrens were excellent hosts and they gave us the full tour. It made a big impression.
Next stop was Watership Down (www.watershipdownstud.com). We had lunch outside with the Lloyds-Webbers, which was a real privilege – he talked about show business and she talked about horses. They have a large and ancient chapel in their garden, and also two polo pitches. They have Dar Re Mi running in the Musidora today, and she could easily turn out to be their first classic winner.
Later we were given a tour of the stud by Simon Marsh and Terry Doherty – general manager and stud manager. Again all very beautiful and seemingly very well run.
Max One Two Three will not be running tomorrow as she was not 100% this morning. Big Paddy is out for 3-6 months with a minor tendon problem. Maxwell Hawke, who was down to debut on Friday, has been withdrawn as he has sore shins. I have decided to call my Kyllachy Looby Loo, which has not been universally well received.
Two runners at Fontwell today – Prince Ary (in his first chase) and Ours. I don’t have a lot of faith in Ours, who has shown himself to be unwilling, but Prince Ary may go well. I won’t be having anything other than a small bet.
In the Duke of Yorks today conditions look right for Assertive to score his first success at group level. A lot of the fancied horses here may find the ground too lively for them – amazingly none of US Ranger, Utmost Respect, Haatef, Soldier’s Tale, Balthazaar’s Gift or Garnica have ever won on G/F ground. Assertive has the desired low to middle draw, and by the assessment of the Racing Post he put in his best ever run last time. He feels like a solid selection, even if the price is a little cramped.
In the last Allied Powers goes for a three timer, and he could not have been more impressive last time. He’s coming out quickly to cash in before his mark goes up, and the ground may not be what he would want – it’s too easy to back him and my gut is to oppose. Indian Days looks a good alternative – his only win came on G/F ground and his form is solid enough (he finished ahead of Allied Powers last time and he has a 12lb swing). He’ll do for me.