Focus Is Needed!

Welcome to my blog: And to start I want to say thank you to Emma Berry who wrote her last article for the Owner & Breeder in this month’s edition.  Emma – you have been a constant source of inspiration, ideas and knowledge.  Good luck for the future.

3 Key Parts

As racing jerks from one issue to another we must remember three areas that, in my view, must remain core for racing to survive:

  1. Planning of the Race Program

As I have written before, there are issues around the race program which need to be Capture2addressed.  In my earlier blogs I have written about prize money distribution and the lack of big fields.  I am firmly of the belief that less racing will mean more income from betting.  The BHA published figures show that the average number of runners in all races is 8.2 horses.  That means therefore that roughly 50% of races are below that figure, and as such do not offer a 3 place each-way betting market – a key to income as we have seen with large handicaps even at the lowest levels; generating punter interest.  Even Martin Cruddace of ARC agreed that 80% of rights and levy income is derived from Class 4-7 racing! Anyone in business will tell you that the big spender is always nice, but businesses survive on the regular, low level income provided by regular customers.  Reduce the number of races by a small amount, think about the distribution and timing of those races, and the income from small bets will boost any loss due to volume of races and maybe even lessen some of the FOBT impact. – after all if the FOBT stake has reduced we could see some of that money diverted back to core betting.

2. Preservation of the Race Program

In planning the race program better, we must not allow the introduction of a two or three tier system.  Whilst we may wish to see racing emulate football’s Premier League, we have a very different sport.  Horses need to be nurtured and for two year olds this can mean a Class 5 maiden – which is a spring board to greater things.  In my own case, a

15

A combined race program allows every horse & owner the chance to dream big!

horse I bred won just such a race and in so doing we were able to go to Royal Ascot and finish in the top half of the Windsor Castle Stakes a month later.  Likewise many group winning horses came up through what we term as “lower grade” races, but are in fact the nursery for most horses and an invaluable tool in allowing all owners to dream of the big win.  If we put up a barrier by introducing leagues or separate team competitions, that ability to dream will disappear and so might 80% of the owners and their horses.  If the argument is that this action would encourage more sponsorship and interest then are we seriously saying that the current program of world renown racing cannot?   After all it would be hard to find an improvement on Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, Champions Day, York, Aintree, Goodwood & & ………. (need I go on?)

3. It’s not ALL about the winning!

We hear about the levels of prize money and, for sure, it is not sufficient.  However, let us be serious for a moment and look at the facts.  There are around 17000 horses in training, competing in around 6500 races.  Even if there were a different winner for every race, over 10000 horses would never win sufficient prize money to cover their costs.  Therefore, whilst it would be nice to think all owners were able to race for nothing, even if we were to increase prize money ten-fold, only the top three or four placed horses would earn any money.  The others would still race for no return. It is a pipe-dream to think that we can run our sport as a profitable business as owners. It is therefore important to remember that the recent introduction of the extended prize fund down to 8th place is key.  Whilst I agree that the prize fund levels at the ARC tracks (and some others) are woeful, it was the fact that in cutting the prize money, ARC also lost the unlock threshold that really should be concerning us.  To be clear, a class 6 race at an ARC track has a prize fund of £3500 spread over 4 horses.  By unlocking the additional fund (ie. increasing the racecourse generated minimum to £4400), the total prize fund becomes just short of £6600 – divided by eight horses! (Thanks to Nicholas Cooper from the ROA for the figures)

Based on the figures already mentioned, whilst we can never realistically hope to cover our costs for racing, it would go a long way if every race were able to pay every entrant (remember average race fields are 8.2 horses) the cost of the entrance fee,  jockey, the transport and maybe even a pint at the races!  We must fight not only to preserve this excellent incentive, but to extend it across the majority of the program.

Happy (hopefully soon) Racing everyone.

 

Advertisements

Is the worm about to turn?

Looking at social media today, there seems a growing discontent around the levels of prize money paid out at the lower end of the racing calendar.  I say “lower end”, but in truth it is the end of the sport which actually supports the remainder, particularly in the Winter season where there is a choice of low runner NH racing or flood-lit all weather racing to see us (and the levy) over the dark months.

Much of the discontent comes with Arena Racing Company or ARC as it is better known.  This racecourse owner’s decision to cut prize money in response to the yet to happen FOBT stake cap has figured prominently in my own pages and those of many others.  This evening (Monday) every race at ARC owned Newcastle will pay winning connections less than £3000.  At Sedgefield (another ARC track) Thursday’s Class 5 handicap hurdle will pay just £2274 to winning connections.  Due to the woefully low prize money, the appearance money which is unlocked for horses after prize money exceeds a certain level will not be available either.

Prize Money Distribution

Recent letters to the BHA, TBA and ROA have resulted in replies from all three organisations.  I will go into detail in another post, but I would like to share one piece of data sent from the BHA.

The table below shows the ratio of prize money distributed by class of race.  What it does not show is the number of races in each category.  This of course means that whilst the table shows the percentage, the per race prize fund is massively higher at the top end than the table suggests.  By numbers, around 80% of the race program is for class 4 and below races.  With 1500 fixtures this year, at an average of 6 races per meeting, that equates to 7200 of the total 9000 races planned.

prize money distribution

Figures courtesy of the BHA Jan 2019

As you will see from the table, these races are allocated just 35% of the prize fund in 2019.  Nick Rust points out that this is “boosted” to this level by the introduction of the appearance money scheme by around 5%.    £165million was paid out from all sources in prize money in 2018  meaning 7200 races received around £57.75million, whilst 1800 races received £107.25million.  Of course this is somewhat skewed as in reality, the prize fund includes entry stakes and sponsorship funding – the highest of which will be at the highest levels of the sport, further boosting funds at this level.    Obviously with ARC courses rarely paying appearance money by falling short of the unlock figure, the true distribution at ARC courses is far worse – and is to the further detriment of class 4 to 7 horses due to these being the races which attract the appearance money.

What can we do?

The National Trainers Federation were the first of the Horseman groups to communicate their dissatisfaction with ARC, and I know there is similar sentiment at the TBA and ROA.  From Nick Rust at the BHA, I am also aware that they are far from happy either.  The issue is of course that the racing fixtures have been agreed and therefore ARC cannot be dispossessed of the races.  Neither can these Horseman groups be seen to launch a boycott against ARC, as this would cause a likely court case and is not something these organisations could recommend given their role in the industry.  However, there is nothing stopping their members failing to enter horses at ARC tracks. It is not just owners who go inadequately rewarded after all, but also those who share a percentage of any purse – trainers, stable staff, jockeys and ultimately breeders all rely on a healthy and fair system of prize money; many of them as a matter of business survival.  One meeting, with a horse entered in each race (after all we would not want ARC to save the prize money altogether), and the BHA denying any future right for ARC races to be divided due to numbers, would send the right message.  If individuals work together, then the Horseman groups can support this action without fear of legal reprisal, and perhaps ARC will see that to survive they need horses and owners.

Back to the drawing board

What is apparent from the various communications I have received and seen elsewhere is that the number of races in the calendar exceed any form of sustainable level.  With total prize money at its highest level, we are seeing connections paid less than they were 10 years ago in many cases.  Simple long division will show that the numbers of races are madness.  Add to this the quality of coverage on Racing TV since the beginning of the year.  I am fully aware that they also show Irish racing, with the argument being that TV coverage pays for the levy through TV rights and betting income.  However, the numbers of races means that this channel cannot hope to cover all the races at once, and when they do, it is with no depth around the horses or the people – a dimension  which has paid dividends for ITV coverage; attracting new viewers – and maybe even new owners as a result.  My hope is that we see a cut in races in the next round of scheduling in order to ensure larger fields (and therefore a bigger each way betting market) and better returns for connections.  Less is more!

 

2018 – Our Biggest Year

NY2018Happy New Year!  And Happy Birthday to all the thoroughbreds out there.  Our foals of 2017 are now yearlings and join an ever increasing band of horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock, who are at various stages of their careers.

Quite apart from the five yearlings however, this year will see the most horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock racing in the UK.  These range from 2 year olds through to our eldest horses aged 5 this year.  Our first homebred racer, the famous Pancake Day is 6 this year but more of him later.

We sold all of the horses who will race as 2 year olds this year, and they include the following:

  • The only colt by Albaasil from his first crop – now owned by Richie Fiddes

    harry 17

    Colt by Mazameer – 2yo for 2018

  • A colt by Mazameer and last foal of Los Organos- now in training with Nikki Evans in Wales
  • A colt by Mawatheeq from a mare related to Golden Horn and in pre-training in the North (trainer yet to be decided)

All colts and all early looking types so we wish them and their new owners all the luck in the world.

Of the 3 year olds, two have raced as 2 yo’s – Elegant Joan (owned by Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club & trained by David Griffiths)

moses on gallop

Tin Fandango – ready to run with Mark Usher and team

and Little Aub (trained by Mark Usher), and will now pursue exciting handicap careers.  Both showed great potential but with a handicap mark they will undoubtedly do well amongst horses of similar capabilities.  Tin Fandango (trained by Mark Usher) has grown into a beautiful looking 3 year old and we should see him on the turf around May.  We have no news of the other 2015 crop yet but we will update the website once we do.

Of the older horses, Roll on Rory (trained by Jason Ward) continues to lead the way from a ratings viewpoint.  He won a smart mile race at Newmarket at the end of the 2017 turf season, and has to be a good prospect off a good mark in 2018.  That is unless he is sold overseas as he nearly was last year – to Hong Kong.

Finally Pancake Day – at six he is the oldest of our bred horses still racing.  Following a successful pre-Christmas campaign in Europe, he ran at Neuss over the New Year period and has shown signs of a growing weakness in his knee.  He has raced over 60 times in a short career and never gives anything but 100%.  He is perfectly sound normally but at the level of professional racing it is likely the weakness will play a vital role.  Owned now by the Berg family in Germany, they have asked us to have him back for his retirement.  We will assess him when he gets back to us, and then, if possible, he will compete in RoR and other non-racing classes as a much loved pet.  We will of course share his exploits in the future.

So with the decorations taken down for another year, we wish all the horses a safe and successful racing year, and to all the owners and trainers we give our thanks for having the faith in owning and  racing our horses.  Good luck to all!

Abacus Review 2017

We have now completed our second year at Lower Linbrook Farm and what a year!

20170714_111350_resized

2017’s foals are a lovely bunch

Whenever you move it is of course an upheaval, but when you have nearly 20 horses of various ages to take with you, it can be a real challenge.  Not only that, but it is getting used to the new grazing; the soil conditions, growth rates, weed control and local weather.  Then there is getting the best suppliers to support the operation and building a new team of staff to make it happen.  They are the things you have to hope work out and then there are the things you can control like investing in fencing, new stables and equipment.  So at the end of 2017 we can safely say  we have settled in and that we are now all systems go for the future.

First though, a look back at 2017.  The year started well when Pancake Day once again delivered a win at his favourite track Southwell for new trainer David Griffiths.  Pancake has consistently delivered for his owners and this year was to be the same again.  He was our first winner as breeders and, when he was sold overseas in March he was to go on to be our first winner overseas too.  A real fighter, he will race until April 2018 and hopefully retire sound after about 60 runs in competition – almost 30% of which have earned prize money!  He has won at least once EVERY year he has raced.

Roll on Rory had a slow start to the season.  He must have been a real challenge for trainer Jason Ward and his owners as he went to his races fit and well, only to run into traffic or a few horses in better mood for racing.  His 2016 season resulted in a high mark of 93, but it was not until he dropped to a mark in the 80’s that he made an impression this season.  With a number of placings in some hot races, he finally shone with a very impressive win on the Rowley Mile at the back end of the turf season, beating some top horses and showing he was just playing in his previous races.  All look well for next season when he should be a black-type horse in all honesty.

Our two year olds all found some nice homes as yearlings and so far there have been a few runs from them.  No wins as yet but some very useful educational runs which will see them good for the coming season as 3 year olds.  We were also pleased to see the 2016

harry 17

Mazameer yearling now with Nikki Evans

crop go to some superb trainers and we will look forward to some very exciting appearances as 2 year olds in 2018.  There is a very exciting Mazameer colt with Nikki Evans and it will be interesting to see how the only colt from Albaasil’s first crop does for Richie Fiddes.  It is becoming a real challenge to keep up with all the horses nowadays, it is only six in total but will double next year – thank goodness for the BHA tracking service!

March was a really busy month for us as we had our foals born throughout the month.  Three colts (Mazameer, Telescope and Cityscape) and a filly (Fast Company).  We subsequently purchased another mare with a filly foal by Heeraat making it 5 foals.  All of them are doing well and growing like crazy.  The grazing here is great for growth and with an additional 20 acres recently acquired, we are able to offer turnout all year, although getting a rug on a stroppy weanling can be fun at times!

On a sad note we lost Los Organos this year.  She was not in foal and whilst she was not

lotty and 15 foal

Los Organos – a sad loss this year

an old horse, it became apparent that the recurrence of her back injury from racing would make life too uncomfortable for her.  She was a lovely mare and is sadly missed.

Happier times later this year as we completed the installation of our all-weather arena and gained planning permission for the horse walker (installing in January 18).  We also

IMG_20171202_105641

Elegant Joan – racing throughout winter & 2018

launched Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club in the autumn and have a number of members looking forward to the first run of Elegant Joan (Assertive x Fangfoss Girls) for the club at Wolverhampton on 27th December.  She ran twice on turf for the owner who leased her originally, but financial issues meant that she has come back to us.  She will eventually retire to stud with us, and so it is important we give her the very best chance of winning in the meantime.  To become a member of the club (just £80!) please visit our website.

More about the future in the new year, but all that remains for me to say is a big thank you to my wife Sarah, who works 7 days a week to make the place work.  Also to the staff, our professional support including Andy the farrier and Jenny the vet and to our suppliers who work with us to give the horses the best feed and care.

To the horses on the track, and those yet to run, we wish you and your connections success and a safe return.  To our clients and members of the Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club we say thank you for choosing us and may you all have a Merry Christmas and a successful, winning 2018.

 

Cheltenham or bust?

Those of you that follow my tweets (@stumat) will be aware that I have recently been

Capture

Top class racing but is Cheltenham the only real test of a horse?

twittering on about jump racing’s pre-occupation with all things Cheltenham.  There is no denying that the Cheltenham Festival, and indeed this weekend’s pre-Christmas meeting, offers a feast of some of the best National Hunt horses in training.  BUT not all – and to pretend this is the case would degrade the hard work of all the yards who have horses running elsewhere in the country, and all the horses who try their hardest to win.

In my comments, I have tried not to down play the importance of Cheltenham to the racing calendar – I am a fan of the place and the spectacle of racing there, but it seems

Capture2

My Tent Or Yours wins his first race at Cheltenham  – overcoming The New One

the yard stick used by the racing press and pundits is “but will the horse win at Cheltenham?”.  It was not until today that My Tent or Yours won at Cheltenham, despite having been at the top of the game for many years.  So does that mean he wasn’t a successful and highly rated horse until he succeeded today?  Does it mean that Red Rum was not arguably the best chaser over long distances because none of his wins came at Cheltenham?  Does it mean that the many prolific, hard working trainers yet to win on the Cheltenham stage are somehow “also rans”?

Capture3

Despite never winning at Cheltenham, Red Rum can hardly be seen as a second rate chaser

Importantly, if NH racing allows everything it does to be distilled down into two weeks of racing at one track in Gloucestershire, then the public will not be interested in the less exciting meetings throughout the rest of the year.  Last Saturday, Doncaster races included two Grade 2’s – and yet it was the under card on the day and had one news item

Capture4

Less known tracks offer racing as exciting and as good a test for a horse.

all  the preceding week included on the Racing Post app.  By contrast, as far back as last Thursday week, pundits were writing daily about the cold snap and the effect it may have on Cheltenham.  What about Ayr, Newcastle or Uttoxeter who did have meetings called off?  Attendances are low at many jump races, particularly mid-week and it does nothing to help when the impression is that the only way to see exciting racing is to go to Cheltenham – this is clearly not the case but is a perception being projected.   Go to Towcester or Wincanton and all you get is racing akin to non-league football?  Really?

Equally importantly is the perception which owners could mistakenly be given.  Many owners, despite being fans of racing, are increasingly coming from syndicates and, thankfully, newer avenues of introduction into racing.  But if they they are repeatedly told their success is measured in having a Cheltenham horse, then their passion for the game will soon be exhausted by a mid-week placing at Fontwell Park.

National Hunt racing is a great sport – heroic, tragic, exciting and enthralling.  Not just at Cheltenham but anywhere that well trained horses compete, supported by dedicated professionals and committed owners.  Don’t let them tell you it’s Cheltenham or nothing!

 

Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club Launched

Abacus Bloodstock has launched its new racing club, aimed at offering “full” ownership without the expense.  Many clubs offer low rates of membership, but in return members get a tiny percentage of prize money (more like a dividend), if indeed any is offered; a lottery entry into race day ticket draws; and a few extra perks – none of which constitute a true ownership experience.

IMG-20170909-WA0003

ABRC’s first horse – Elegant Joan (Treacle) is a daughter of winner Fangfoss Girls

Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club is different however in as much as it GUARANTEES a raceday ticket for all members with a 5% or greater stake, prize money is not a dividend but paid out in direct proportion to the shareholding, and members can choose shares from 1% and upwards in 5% share allotments.  Prices start from £25 per month with 5% costing just £80.  There are no hidden fees and nothing more to pay.

Stuart Matheson, club manager and co-owner of Abacus Bloodstock, says “As breeders we wanted to offer a way for people to enjoy racing without blowing the bank, and to also benefit from being part of the experience from the birth of a foal, into racing and through to retirement and potentially into the breeding sheds. We will predominantly race our fillies through the club, and with the ‘This Filly Can’ scheme currently in place, the potential prize money is excellent.”

Members can enjoy the full raceday experience as well as additional benefits like social events, regular visits to the stud in Staffordshire, updates on all the horses, and of course trainer visits.  The horses will be leased to the club, meaning costs are low as there are no purchase prices to recoup, and options will be offered on horses upon retirement to the stud as broodmares or stallions.

Stuart went on to say, “So whilst members do not physically own the  race horses, we want to offer members the chance to invest in longer term breeding options once the horses have shown their potential.  It’s a bit like ‘try before you buy’, and it also means that by investing in a horse at an early stage, there is the potential to benefit in the longer term and reap the rewards so often denied club members elsewhere.  A fact we believe is fair and innovative in the world of racing clubs.”

The first horse to run in the club colours is the homebred filly Elegant Joan (known as Treacle), a daughter of Assertive and of Abacus Bloodstock mare Fangfoss Girls.  She is half sister to two multiple winners in Pancake Day (a recent winner in Belgium – The Prix

dcg

Group winning trainer David Griffiths

Strasbourg) and Roll on Rory who contested the Windsor Castle Stakes as a 2 year old and has gone on to achieve a rating as high as 93.  Both brothers have won in every year they have raced and been in the money places in more than 60% of their races.  With the mare having a 100% strike rate for producing winners, Treacle is poised to add another winner to the family and will race throughout Winter 2017 and through 2018.  She is in training with group winning trainer David Griffiths.

 

To become a member please visit the Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club website, or contact us at racing@abacus-bloodstock.co.uk

 

 

A Tale of Two Jockeys – Davy & Frankie

It was the best of times, it is the worst of times – so wrote Dickens and it is this

Capture

Frankie – a case of “premature jock-elation”

description we could apply to Frankie Dettori’s journey from elation to despair as the photo finish in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes at York this week.  An easy mistake to make when your mount is flying, you are riding a furious finish, and you are mugged by another horse on the blind side.  No fault – just a mistaken belief he had crossed the line first.   This is a man who is one of the best judges of pace, a man who has almost single-handedly dragged racing into the entertainment business it needs to be in order to survive.  His signature flying dismounts; his constant smile, even on bad days; his ability to entertain and communicate with the public – all things we love to see and racing needs to make it more attractive to a new or more diverted audience.  Many people have no interest in racing, but many of them know Dettori – if only from his spell on A Question of Sport, or a regularly heard name when the “once a year” fashionistas attend Royal Ascot.

Yes he has his faults.  He has freely owned up to being a “disappointment” and a “let down” to his family and to his supporters when he was found guilty of drug use, and served an 18 month ban – uncomplaining, making the best of his time off, still a major figure in racing.  He is human, he admits his faults, he knows what Frankie does reflects on racing and so even in adversity he ensures the sport he loves is not harmed.

Yet the vitriol we saw on social media, the ridicule that he suffered both from mainstream press and from some elements of the public when he suffered a nose length defeat this week was terrible.  He could not have fought harder – he lost to a better horse on the day and mistakenly thought he had won – but elements of the Twitterati went for the jugular and ridiculed him for no reason.   I dread to think the poison he received through private messages from punters who lost their bet on the favourite.  It is a poor show for a man who gives so much joy, who rides better now than ever, and who puts others, and his sport, before himself.

 

Contrast this then with Davy Russell and the infamous Tramore incident.  Thirty-eight year old Russell is a consummate rider, a great ambassador for jump racing both in Britain and Ireland. and a man for whom many of us have a soft spot since he was seemingly dumped by the O’Learys’ Gigginstown outfit as their retained jockey despite

Capture2

Davy Russell – “very remorseful” but no punishment

giving them some of their biggest wins to date – and at no cheap physical cost to himself.  He has fought back and is rightly revered by punters and by his fellow professionals.  It is for this very reason that his punching a horse deserves more than a warning, as handed out today by the Irish racing regulator.

Rightly there was a Twitter storm on the day, and once again today.  There was no comment from Russell, the stewards did not see the incident, the Irish Turf Club gave a non-committal response to the effect that they would “look into it”, and many racing figures jumped to his defence with the same lack of evidence used by people who were demanding immediate suspension and worse.  At the time, I voiced my concerns that irrespective of whether the horse was hurt or not, irrespective that many of us have been faced with a recalcitrant horse and have lashed out in defence or temper, the images seen on TV and spread across the internet can do nothing but harm the reputation of racing.

It looked ugly, it looked fairly damning, but it needed investigation and it needed action – not immediate but after due process and proportionate in ultimate punishment, if the evidence was indeed as we saw it.  Davy Russell has obviously said he did indeed punch the horse.  Why else would he be quoted by the ITC today as being “remorseful”?  There is no reason for remorse if you did not do something, and if you did then maybe you should make a statement to that effect instead of hiding behind your mates.  One has to ask if he is remorseful for the act or for doing it on TV and being found out.

I am not a wild-eyed animal rights activist.  I am a breeder of horses, a lover of racing and an admirer of those who choose to climb on an animal running as fast as a car – and then jumping a number of 5 foot fences in the case of Davy Russell’s career.  I work daily with these animals from the day they are born and through to when they, hopefully, retire.  I understand they can be thorough-going bastards if they want to be, but I also know that punching them is not the way to change that behaviour or that wrapping them in cotton wool and ignoring it will teach them either.   Firm but fair, tough love.

I have read comments by “horsemen” that it does not hurt a horse to punch it.  Tell that to the head shy horse that has been beaten around the nose and skull.  I have heard that Davy is a great ambassador for the sport and this is out of character – well fine but that if anything means he needs to be dealt with even more severely in order to dissuade those who look up to him that such behaviour is acceptable, or that being a “good guy” will place you above the rules set for others.  But of course, those rules, if they existed in the first place, no longer apply – a precedent is now set.  Worryingly, I had an interaction with a conditional jockey who said he agreed Russell “should have got off with a warning”.  When challenged, he said he knew it was wrong but “everyone makes mistakes.  Yes he was wrong but move on.”  So does that conditional jockey now think he can do the same?  Worse still, does he think he will have a career in racing when the public see this poor response from the industry and decide it is a sport they can no longer follow?

Frankie Dettori was found guilty of drug use – a charge he admitted – and because his reputation invariably meant he brought racing into disrepute, he served a suspension probably higher than average.  He has come back and more than made amends over and over.  Davy Russell punched a horse on live TV, he makes no public statement and admits nothing, he has made the pages of newspapers who long ago stopped printing racing stories and none of this warrants so much as a few days’ suspension?  Cruel? – even if the horse did not suffer it is indeed that.  Disrepute? – you bet!  We don’t want a lynching, we and the wider public just need to see justice and to send a message to others inside and outside racing.  We tell the public that racehorses are looked after better than any other animal.  If we allow even these pampered horses to be punched by professionals,  then what message does that send to the kid with a scraggy pony, or a petulant rider with an equally petulant sports horse?

So whilst the horse appears to have suffered no lasting damage, the same I fear cannot be said for the sport.  We do not help ourselves.  We laugh at heroes and support villains.  We do not understand that even if the horse is not hurt, the sport is.

 

Pancake Day – First out of the stalls

In the first of our look at the Abacus Bloodstock bred runners for 2017, it is only right that we start with our first runner and winner as breeders –  Pancake Day.  Born in February 2012, on Pancake Day, his name was almost assured from that day.  His dam is successful sprinter Fangfoss Girls, who as a double

cropped-finn-solo-lady-cats-029.jpg

Pancake with his dam as a foal

winning 2 year old was her father Monsieur Bond’s first winner.  She was always going to be a good choice to kick off our breeding program and so she has proven to be.

 

Pancake Day is the son of Mullionmileanhour and part of that sire’s first season crop.  He was to go on to copy his dam and deliver his father’s first winning 2 year old – and then to do the same as a three year old, a four year old, and earlier this year he did the same as a five year old!  That in itself is a massive feat and probably unique in the thoroughbred racing world.

DSCF4225

A day old – born on Pancake Day

As a foal, Pancake was a placid type.  He was very friendly and loved a fuss – something which was to prove a massive boost to his career as a racehorse.  Stable staff and trainers like nice horses with manners and indeed Pancake proved so easy to train that it was only when he reached the end of his fourth year that he was gelded – and then only because it made him easier to house next to fillies rather than for any behavioural reasons.

 

cropped-wsd-097_edited-11.jpg

Delivering another win at Southwell in the colours of Abacus Bloodstock owners Stuart & Sarah Matheson

Initially trained in Yorkshire by Jason Ward and running in the colours of our senior partners Stuart & Sarah Matheson, Pancake Day made his debut at Ripon coming last behind subsequent group 2 winner Toocoolforschool.  Not the most promising of starts but as it was to prove, Pancake would go on win his ninth race earler this year – scraping into his 2 year old season by just a few days with a first win at Southwell in December 2014 – and race in the UK a total of 42 times.  24 runs on the all weather have yielded 4 wins, 3 seconds and 3 third places – in the money 14 times in total.  His turf runs totalled 18 and led to one win at Leicester, one third and a further 4 runs in the prize money.  In total Pancake has won over £18000 in the UK and was the punters’ favourite due to his frequent placings and wins – particularly at his favoured track Southwell – returning each way dividends in over half his runs. Having moved to new trainer David Griffiths in November 2016, and winning yet again, he was sold at Doncaster sales in January of 2017 and travelled to Germany to join champion trainer Christian von der Recke, and owned by Mr. & Mrs. Berg.  Within 10 days he was to come third at Dortmund followed by a second place a few weeks later.  Another first for Pancake Day as his sire’s first overseas runner and also the first horse bred by Abacus Bloodstock to do so.

 

Pancake Day continues to be a great favourite with everyone who meets him.  He has proved

pferde_132

Enjoying his new German home

consistent, albeit not at the highest levels, but he has given his owners regular visits to the winners’ enclosure.  He has led the way for us at Abacus Bloodstock, and has remained the genuine, never-say-die racehorse he shows himself to be in all his races.  His tenacity and fight to the line, usually leading from the front, is a pleasure to watch and we are so proud of this little horse, with a massive heart.  Still going strong with 45 races in just three seasons, we await his return to the track after a well deserved rest in the last few months.

 

Good luck to him and to his owners and connections.  We will watch with pride and much love.