Flat season Review 2014
The 2014 flat season was our second at Whitcoombe House Stables, Upper Lambourn.
With a Royal Ascot winner and a Glorious Goodwood Group winner in our first year it was difficult to see how we could cap that this year, but we did have another Group 3 winner and more winners than in 2013.
Stable star Annecdote was unlucky not to have won the Group 3 Chartwell Stakes in May but had no luck in running and finished late and fast to take third place. She found the Group 2 Windsor Forest too tough for her at Royal Ascot and was subsequently sold to race in USA where she won a Grade 3 impressively first time out for her new connections.
It was not until May that the stable found winning form. That was with the 64 rated Balmoral Castle at Newbury under our 7lb claimer Ned Curtis. Balmoral Castle went from strength to strength this year winning four times and ending the season with a rating of 83. Not bad for an £800 purchase!
Our two year olds were not a strong point of 2013 but this season things were much better. Of the 12 or so we ran four of them won and another four were second. So hopefully our three year olds look more promising for next year.
It was hugely exciting to be back in the winner’s enclosure at Glorious Goodwood again. This time with David Joseph’s two year old filly Royal Razalma, winning the £20k maiden.
Royal Razalma went on to be our star turn of the year when winning the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket on Dewhurst Day. This was well deserved for her after a couple of unlucky previous attempts at Group level. She has done rather well for a £15k yearling purchase!
Partnership / syndicate news
The RWH partnership are the lucky owners of a great favourite of ours Pasaka Boy. He had been running very well in defeat, looking as though the handicapper had him in his grips, until romping home in a valuable 10f handicap at Newmarket on Cesarawitch day.
Berkeley Racing, run by ourselves, owned two two year olds this season, both cheaply bought and both won.
The Ladies Of The Manor own the late maturing Hallingham and they had their day in the sun when their homebred romped home in a Sandown handicap.
Other owner news
Cajoling’s maiden win caught the eye of Qatar Racing and we were thrilled to subsequently welcome their boss Sheikh Fahad as an owner. His contribution to global racing has been significant.
Professor Chris Green and his family have been owners with us for several years now and the highlight of their year was a winning double at Lingfield in August. It has been a truly well deserved season for them having had 6 winners along with several placed runners.
I even managed to train my wife a couple of winners with her semi retired 7 year old mare!
Having spent so long working as an assistant in France I have always wanted to train a winner there. We had three French bred horses in training this year but only one was sent over there. Jebril ran in a valuable claimer on French guineas day and Ioritz Mendizabal chose to ignore instructions but still finished fourth, picking up some nice prize money with owners premiums on top. For good measure, Jebril won his next start over here at Newbury by over 5 lengths! He has since been sold to go jumping.
Some low points
After the best part of two years nursing Mark Vandenberghe’s Cunning Act back from relatively mild tendon injury it was so upsetting to see him lost to a fractured shoulder on his first run back which was at Salisbury in May.
At Newmarket in July Kyleakin Lass, owned by messrs Forbes, Losse and Lambourne sadly fractured a pelvis and was unable to be saved. Like Cunning Act, she was a genuine favourite in the yard who’s loss was keenly felt.
Whilst resting on our laurels after Pasaka Boy’s emphatic win at Newmarket we were brought back with a bang when he fractured a pastern during a routine canter two weeks later. Mercifully, on this occasion he was only walking wounded and swiftly operated on so with a little luck ought to be racing again next year.
Nicky Studart has completed a year as our head girl. With our operation now being that much busier I do not know how I coped without her. Even my inability to delegate might have been stretched this year!
It was a shame to lose our apprentice Matthew Lawson to Godolphin but we wish him well there and have been well served by apprentices Ned Curtis and Jack Budge since.
James Harding was joint champion flat amateur in 2013 and this year came close in second, largely thanks to his wins on our Jebril and Balmoral Castle.
Reg Payne is in his fourteenth year with us as travelling lad and continues to drive our horsebox uncomplainingly up and down the country day in day out, often with a best turned out prize to return with if nothing else.
James Stewart is our current farrier. Formerly as part of the service provided to us by long serving farrier Andrew Charles James has now taken our yard on single handedly and his work is vital and appreciated. As was Andrew’s, who we wish well.
Ali Keen is responsible for matters fiscal so keeps the books straight and attends to invoicing. Not always a straightforward job but one Ali does most efficiently.
Anthony Boswood’s Uncle Pettit came good at last, having threatened to for some time, at Worcester in July under the very talented Gavin Sheehan.
We are less well represented with jumpers these days but will continue to train a few as we all enjoy it, as do a few of our very loyal owners.
Five To Follow Competition
Congratulations to Dr Mike Webley for winning the Whitcoombe Owners competition. Mike won decisively thanks to his wisdom in including Royal Razalma and indeed was joint winner last year too. He once again receives a magnum of champagne with our compliments. Tony Edwards came second with Jon Homan in third.
The staff competition was keenly contested and the winner will be revealed at their Christmas party!
We are already thinking 2015. The fresh crop of yearlings are assembling at Whitcoombe and there is a real feeling of hope and enthusiasm amongst the team. Hopefully there will be another Annecdote and Royal Razalma amongst them and hopefully the three year olds and up can do their bit too next year.
We hope to continue to provide some fun and a good service to our existing and long standing owners but also attract and welcome new owners to the stables. If you enjoy being an owner with us (as I hope you do!) then do please spread the word.
Many of the yearlings purchased this autumn are available for sale or syndication so please look for the details on www.jonathanportmanracing.com