Stable Talk with Martin Keighley: A challenging summer
WE’VE had a challenging summer with the awful weather we’ve all be subjected to making life more difficult than usual.
Our soft ground horses were turned out enjoying their summer holidays and ridiculously needed rugs on most of the time.
We kept our good ground horses in training ready for the quicker ground that the summer usually brings.
It was therefore very frustrating to continually watch the ground become rain-softened and unsuitable. It’s also doubly disappointing for the owners who are desperate to see their horses running.
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However, we’ve still managed to get ten winners on the board and this total was helped last Saturday when we had a double at Fontwell with Always Bold and Creepy.
The latter is a nice young horse that we purchased during the Punchestown Festival in April and had already finished second in a point-to-point.
He will be a chaser in time but there should be a lot of fun to have with him before then too, with a bit of luck.
Undoubtedly our best day of the summer was at Southwell on July 15 when Ian Popham made his comeback ride following ten months off injured, a winning one on Sky Calling.
If that wasn’t emotional enough – his parents and girlfriend were there – it was a special win for me too as it was my 100th winner under Rules and, after giving up on the idea of trying to be present for our 100th winner following a few near misses, luckily my wife Belinda was enjoying a day’s racing while my parents were looking after my sons Freddie and Harry.
It will be particularly satisfying getting Havingotascoobydo back on the racecourse.
He sustained a severe back injury in January in a schooling incident which put paid to his Festival appearance and it also ruled him out for the rest of the season.
At one point we were concerned we may not get him back to the track at all.
The team have worked very hard on him during the summer and it is unbelievable now to see just how far we have come with him and it is down to the great support we have from our vet Jeremy Swan and physio Maggie Turner who have been involved in every step.
I am often being asked about our stable star Champion Court, who was second at the Festival in March.
He’s had a longer break than most and seems to have strengthened up over the summer.
He will make his seasonal reappearance on November 5 in a graduation chase at Kempton Park and then hopefully go on to run in the King George back there on Boxing Day.
We will then have a better idea of his ideal trip and which race we should be aiming him for at the Festival.
Any Currency, who missed out on a run in the Grand National in the spring by just one place, has had a wind operation during the summer and seems in great form.
I think there’s a big chase to be won with him, although he’s not the easiest of rides and makes sure his jockey earns his fee!
I have a nice bunch of youngsters too, some unnamed so I will mention those when they are nearer a run.
One new inmate that I am absolutely delighted to have is Faultless Feelings, who is owned by Liz Prowting.
I have known Liz since my early days with David Nicholson and it was on her horse Air Shot, trained by David Nicholson, that I rode my first winner, at Chepstow on March 19 1994.
He seems to have settled in well and I look forward to having some fun with him.
THANK CRUNCHIE FOR PLAYING HIS PART
WITH most horses out in the field over the summer months it gave me a chance to spend more time with the family.
My boys Freddie, four, and Harry, two, have made the most of whatever local shows beat the weather and had lots of fun competing on their ponies.
Although Freddie is enjoying doing the gymkhana games, Harry is a bit young for that so they have been teaming up in the fancy dress classes.
They’ve had most success dressed as Postman Pat and Jess the Cat, and Freddie’s also gone solo dressed as Tom Daley – his pony Crunchie has been seen wearing armbands and a rubber ring!
* For more information about Martin’s stable, visit Martinkeighley.com