Leading ownership syndicate Middleham Park Racing are on course for their best ever year after Nelson Rocks registered their 100th winner of 2021 at Taunton.
Trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Harry Kimber, the evens favourite won the Summerfield Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle by three-quarters of a length.
The now famous blue and orange colours are becoming a more familiar sight in the National Hunt game and with the all-weather scene continuing apace, the Middleham Park team should get the four winners they need to pass their previous best.
“We have had 100 winners once before in the calendar year but this is just the second time. We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Tim Palin, director of racing for the syndicate.
“Our best total is 103, so hopefully we can get to 104 or 105 in December and that will be a new record. Last December we had five winners I think, so hopefully we will again.”
While there were initial worries about how the business would continue to function when racing shut down during the pandemic last year, a slight readjustment in strategy has seen them flourish.
“Lockdown, like for any business, was a testing time but as people weren’t able to get out and about and they had a bit of disposable income, they decided to put it into one or two new ventures,” said Palin.
“I think what actually happened was it focussed everyone’s minds on enjoying themselves and doing something to brighten up your day. That was my reading of the situation. And those who were with us were fantastically loyal.
“Strangely, not only did we survive the last 18 months, we actually expanded.
“While we might not have had a Group One horse this year, we’ve sort of gone back to basics to make sure we didn’t over-expose. We might not have spent as much as in the past, we’ve worn sensible shoes.”
Looking ahead to 2022, Palin has high hopes for a new addition to the string.
“We’ve bought Atalis Bay out of Marco Botti’s who is rated 103,” he said.
“He’s now with Robert Cowell and could go to Dubai, we purchased him in a partnership with Tom Morley.
“Other than our 18 two-year-olds, he’d be our most exciting horse. It wouldn’t be a huge shock if he won a Group Two or even a Group One.”