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Off to the breeze-ups as spring arrives

We've had mixed fortunes with our mares this year. With neither Villabella or Nut having had a foal last year I was looking forward to seeing what this spring would bring but early in the year we found Villabella had absorbed her foal, which was extremely disappointing after sending her all the way to Germany to be covered by Dabirsim.

Worse was to come, however, for poor Nut. She delivered a good strong colt by Rajsaman who seemed perfect in every way bar the fact that he had a wry nose. Over the years, Jenny and I have foaled hundreds of mares and neither of us have ever seen one with his rare condition. This colt's nose was so badly twisted that he was unable to suck and he was having difficulty breathing so the decision had to be take almost at once to have him put down. No matter how long you've worked with horses it never gets any easier to lose one and that was a pretty heartbreaking start to the season for us.

We have ended up with a Dabirsim foal as Stellar Rose, the mare William and I bought at Arqana in February foaled a filly by him in March in Normandy. That mare is now back in foal, this time to Rio De La Plata, who stands as Haras du Logis and whose foals Jenny and I really liked last December. Our other French-based mare Plebeya is in foal to Anodin, while Clutter made the trip to Germany this year and has tested positive to Dabirsim. Both Nut and Villabella will be going to Mickley Stud's new sire Heeraat.

The arrival of spring has of course brought with it the start of some really good Flat racing and we've been particularly pleased with a hugely exciting debut in France for Karar. An Invincible Spirit colt bed by James Wigan, William and I bought Karar as a foal and then sold him to the Channel Consignment as a yearling (he is pictured here with Rachael just before the yearling sales). He certainly looks an incredibly exciting prospect having won his maiden at St Cloud very easily and it surely won't be too long before we see him racing in Pattern company.

One of our old favourites, Hors De Combat, whom we bought as a yearling for Chris Van Hoorn, should be back on the track before too long. He ran placed in several Group races last year and is set to resume for James Fanshawe at the Craven meeting. He also holds an entry for the G1 Lockinge Stakes and it would be great to see him go up against the Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.

Talking of the Kentucky Derby, it will be really interesting to see how Mike De Kock's thrilling UAE Derby winner Mubtaahij fares in America. For me, he's one I'll always watch with slight regret as William and I were under-bidders on him at the Arqana August Sale two years ago. Obviously it would have been lovely to have been able to have bought him but when a horse you liked goes on to be a good one the one consolation is that it confirms your judgement was correct.

We'll be back at the sales before too long - Tattersalls' Craven breeze-up is looming in mid-April and I'll have to go back to Newmarket for the Guineas Sale to see the two-year-old colt by Equiano out of Villabella whom I bred and sold last year. In between those two sales, team Norris/Huntingdon will be heading back to France – our favourite sales stomping ground – for the Osarus breeze-up sale, which this year has moved from Pornichet to La Teste. As ever, we'd be delighted to help existing or new clients find a nice two-year-old to race, so please do get in touch if we can be of any help.

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