I've had the pleasure of visiting the Champion trainer's stables on many occasions and it is a most wonderful experience. The stunning surroundings and the mix of American Barns and traditional stable blocks give a sense of tranquility, amazing when you consider the 250+ horses in training here.
On this occasion it was the Champion trainer himself, Richard Snr, ably assisted and guided by his trusty Head Lads Tony and Steve, who guided our group of about 30 round the yard. Firstly we were able to go to the 'Parade Ring' where the 5 horses currently in training were trotted round with their number cloths for easy identification, and then brought in one by one for photos, Richard has never been one for telling you if your horse could win the Guineas or a seller but chatted about each horse, the phrase "a very nice horse" and his usual witty banter, belying the obvious genius of the man.
NOT BAD FOR A BOYMAYO LAD
It was then up to the gallops to see Esentepe, Guava, Mayo Lad (Canford Cliff's half brother) and Not Bad for a Boy do a nice piece of work. To my eye, the horse who seemed to have improved loads, was the filly Esentepe, who could well step up a class next year. My big hope Sir Lexington is back on the walker following an operation to remove a chip from his knee but he looked every inch the 3 year old miler, and remains my dream of owning a top class horse.
We were then treated to my first sight of the three 'Babies'. The three colts, were all bought at Doncaster's Premier Sales by a combination of the MPR buying team and Richard's extremely successful agents Peter and Ross Doyle, who have been responsible for the majority of the Hannon's recent superstars.
RED CLUBS COLT (Red Refraction)
COMPTON PLACE COLT (Douglas Pasha)
All three were brought into the barn and then long reigned for us to see them in action. The Red Clubs and Proclamation colts looked a lot more experienced than my Compton Place colt, but it transpired that he was only having his second go, as he had been brought in a bit later than the others.
This was a brilliant experience with Richard and Tim Palin talking through the horses, as both physical specimens and from a breeding/family perspective.
We then had time to visit the horses in their boxes, including Clare Island Boy, who is recovering from a fracture sustained in his last race. He appears to be making good progress and remains a very exciting 3 yr old prospect for his connections.
It was then down to the Shears Inn to chat through our hopes and dreams with the other owners, over a cuppa and a bacon roll, with the odd pint for the non drivers,, before making the journey home with those visions of success, reignited in my imagination. The chance to do this is a distant dream for most racing fans, but in MPR and the Hannon team, those dreams are within grasp and with shares still available in all three yearlings, I would beg you to have a go, if you can afford it.
Details of the syndicates are on the Middleham Park Racing Website www.middlehamparkracing.net and only a phone call away.