In some ways, it's an odd time to be updating on the progress of our racehorse syndicates. Why? Because currently they're all National Hunt horses and most of them are on summer holidays! Most, but not all, as we'll get to. And there is one share available in one horse, as we'll also get to, if that might be of interest. Either way, here's the latest...
The team is split between runners with Anthony Honeyball, whose Dorset yard is sponsored by geegeez.co.uk, and Olly Murphy, who is based in Wilmcote, near Stratford-upon-Avon. Let's catch up with them.
Coquelicot (click for form)
Bought as a yearling in 2017, 'Cookie' as she's known has been a star. She made her debut in a junior bumper (for three-year-olds) in November 2019, finishing second to a stablemate. She was also second on her follow up at Newbury before rattling off a hat-trick of bumper victories culminating in success in a Listed event at Kempton in March 2020.
The following season, 2020/21, was her first over hurdles and it's fair to say she took her time to get the hang of it. It's not unfair to say she was far from a natural! In spite of her leaping inexperience, she managed to finish 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and 4th and, starting last season (2021/22) she was ready to go handicapping.
Her handicap debut was at Chepstow over three miles on soft ground and she made all to win easily. A few coughs and splutters kept her off the track until February at which point she went to Hereford for a small field, but high quality, handicap with a prize fund of £20,000. She and a mare called Bellatrixsa had a duel throughout the three and a quarter miles on soft ground, so much so that the favourite was pulled up, unable to live with the searing tempo. In the end, Cookie gave best but still collected over £5,000 for running second. The winner has gone on to score in the Chester Plate (consolation race for the Chester Cup) on the flat, securing another £26,000 for her owners.
Cookie only ran twice last season and we're looking forward to getting her on the track plenty more in the 2022/23 season, probably starting in November.
Konigin Isabella (click for form)
'Isabella' is a German bred mare, Konigin meaning 'Queen'. She started out in the same junior bumper at Warwick as Cookie did, and she finished third. She then went to the same Newbury bumper and finished third. After that, she had two further spins in similar races, finishing with promise (fifth, fourth) but didn't quite match our expectations. She's thriving in the field this summer and, as a young filly with another summer on her back, is very much entitled to progress in her novice hurdle campaign starting in the autumn. Isabella has already schooled nicely over hurdles and we're excited to see how she goes this coming season.
Makthecat (click for form)
I'm sure you know this. Sometimes in racing, things don't go to plan. And Makthecat has been a case in point. We bought him at Tattersalls in Newmarket in the summer of 2020 and, for a variety of reasons, he failed to make the track for us until... yesterday. He'd had a decent flat career, winning and running well on a few occasions; but the thing we loved was his bumper run on career debut, when he was second to a horse called Ocean Wind (now rated a mighty 112 on the flat). He had a Listed bumper winner in third and loads of winners further back in the field that day.
Alas, Mak suffered an injury which kept him away from the racecourse for a good while. Yesterday, myself and a couple of the syndicate (Pete and Den) made the trip to Southwell to see him blow away some of the cobwebs. Olly had left plenty to work on so this was never intended to be his 'cup final' after such a long layoff. Very excited to be racing again, and expending plenty of nervous energy beforehand, Mak was a little clumsy at his hurdles, too. [At home, he'd schooled brilliantly, but the fixed brush hurdles at Southwell are a different obstacle altogether].
We were a little disappointed with the distance he was beaten but expected him to run fourth or fifth - he finished fifth - so it was a reasonable first step. The truth of it is that we were delighted to be back on track with him and, as he seems fine so far this morning (if a little stiff, a bit like me on Sundays after playing footy on Saturday mornings!), we'll look for a good step forward in a fortnight or three weeks' time. After that second run, he'll be two-thirds of the way to a handicap mark, we'll have had another great day at the races, and it'll be all to play for.
Sure Touch (click for form)
And so to the newest recruit, brand new in fact!
A really nicely bred horse - he's by multiple Gold Cup (Ascot) and Goodwood Cup hero, Yeats, out a Festival Plate and Topham Chase-winning mare, Liberthine, who was also fifth in the Grand National - he was owned by this year's National-winning owner, Robert Waley-Cohen, who also bred him (Liberthine raced in the Waley-Cohen colours, too).
Sure Touch has had six races to date, with form figures of 102432. He won on his debut, in a heavy ground bumper in January last year. He was then massively upped in class for the Grade 2 Aintree Bumper won by Knappers Hill, where he struggled. That race was one of the best in terms of upwardly mobile horses: the 77 subsequent runs from starters there have yielded 26 winners! Those 26 wins were shared between every single one of the 12 horses to have run since which finished in front of him.
After his summer break last year, he went hurdling and finished second and fourth over two miles. Upped to two and a half for his handicap debut, he found Fakenham too tight for him though was still beaten just a length and a half in third place having gone wide in the closing stages. Then, most recently, he was second on a softer surface and upped again, to 2m6f, at Hereford. He was again beaten a narrow margin (a length and a half) by a horse who ran a very good second next time out. The third horse from the Hereford race has won both his starts since.
Sure Touch had a wind op before his most recent start and my own research shows that, generally speaking, the benefit of wind surgery is delivered incrementally over four to six subsequent runs. So we're very much hoping there's more to come in the near future.
I say 'we' because I've agreed to syndicate half of him - Olly is keeping the other half. The syndicate is five 10% shares, and four are taken. I have one left. Sure Touch is ready to run, and everyone I've spoken to at Olly's is sweet on him - both for his demeanour in the yard but also because he might be progressive. My feeling is that perhaps his former owner, who tends to have Grade 1 and Grand National-winning horses in the main, has let him go a bit too soon. Respectfully, I certainly hope so!
Sure Touch will be running as soon as there is some rain. Knowing our climate, that will be no more than a fortnight from now 🙂
If you are interested in joining us as the fifth and final syndicateer, please do let me know - click here to email me directly.