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  • Writer's pictureEmma Berry

Looking Ahead to the Start of the Flat

It seems as if it's been a long winter: not a cold one, but the rain has just kept coming.  However, with March on the horizon, spring can only be just around the corner.  The 'Start of the Flat' ain't what it used to be as there is now Flat racing pretty much every day of the year, and the opening fixture at Doncaster is no longer the first Flat meeting since early November but the first since the previous day. This stable, though, has very few runners in the winter, so we're looking forward to the Start of the Flat in roughly the same way as we did in 'the old days'.

We've had one runner in January (Little Peter at Kempton) and one in February (Hiccups at Lingfield).  Little Peter is pencilled in to run at Southwell on 5th March, but Hiccups won't run again until the turf season (possibly being aimed at Brighton on 12th April).  It may be the case that our first runner or runners after the Start of the Flat turn(s) out to be on the all-weather (at Chelmsford's programme of valuable races on Good Friday) but then it'll be April and I hope that thenceforth we'll be having regular runners on the turf all the way through to the autumn.

The team of horses is roughly the same as last year.  Beryl Burton has been retired to stud (which means living with Chris Murray not far from here at Hilborough Stud and, this spring, visiting Triple Time at Dalham Hall Stud) but otherwise most of the old troupers will be in action again this summer. 

There are 15 horses in the stable at present, with a two-year-old gelding by Sixties Icon out of Hope Is High set to join the team later in the spring.  Of those 15, eight are previous winners for the stable: Cloudy Rose, Das Kapital, Dereham, Eljaytee, Hidden Pearl, Litte Peter, Merrijig and Tarbat Ness.  Three are horses who have run without (yet!) winning: Duchess, Hiccups and Surooj.  Four are unraced horses: a slow-developing grey four-year-old filly called Flying Star; Tarbat Ness' three-year-old half-sister Moral Dilemma who was only broken in towards the end of last year as she seemed very immature as a younger horse; Mrs Maisel (who is the last foal of Roy Rocket's dam Minnie's Mystery and who seems to have at least as many little quirks as dear old Roy had); and Trumper, a five-year-old National Hunt store by Jack Hobbs (hence his name and his nickname 'Victor', being named after the great Victor Trumper who was Australia's best batsman at around the same time as Jack Hobbs was England's) out of former stable stalwart Indira.

As the saying goes, hope springs eternal in the human breast.  And hopes are generally high, in racing stables and elsewere, in the spring.  We're no exception, so let's look forward to an exciting season ahead.  We're very lucky to have some wonderfully supportive patrons as well as a great team working in the stable, so we'll do our best to enable these horses to repay everyone's kindness.


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