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The heat is on in Ireland and Spain

It’s been a hectic few weeks and it’s about to become even more so with yearlings starting to arrive for sales prep.

I’ve been on the road – or rather, in the air – quite a lot recently. A brief overnight trip to Ireland gave me the opportunity to take in not only some really nice bloodstock but also some amazing weather in Kildare and Meath. I can’t remember ever having to wear factor 30 in Ireland before but the two days visiting Castlefarm Stud then Rahinston Stud were both spent in glorious sunshine.

My first stop was to see Shalaa’s High Chaparral yearling half-sister, who Jenny and I will be consigning at October Book 1 for her breeders Aisling Kinane and Mark Gittins. She’s a lovely filly and obviously very well related and, having pinhooked her dual Group 1-winning brother from foal to yearling, it’s really nice for us to have a further involvement with the family. We’re honoured that Aisling and Mark have entrusted her to us and it was a great opportunity for me to see some of the work that they’ve been doing at their lovely farm just outside Kilcullen. If you’re interested in hearing more about what they’ve been up to, here’s a link to a recent TDN feature on Castlefarm Stud.

The early evening was spent wandering the hundreds of acres of Rahinston Stud with Harry and Emma, looking at a number of Harry and Lorna Fowler’s National Hunt stock – including the dams of Grade 1 winners Don Poli and Barters Hill – as well as a giant Schiaparelli yearling who is Emma’s pride and joy. She’s convinced he’s a future Grand National winner, but I have a feeling that the closest he’ll get to a G1 course is by pulling one of the Queen’s carriages at Royal Ascot!

We managed a few days at Royal Ascot which was a really enjoyable brief spell away from the farm after the foaling season had ended and before the serious

work begins. The wet weather gave William an excuse to turn up looking like a cross between a North Sea fisherman and Paddington Bear, much to the disgust of his beautifully turned out girlfriend Chris. Amazingly, though, he did later don a top hat and morning coat and managed not to moan too much about it.

After that it was off for another really hot weekend, this time to La Zarzuela racecourse for the Gran Premio de Madrid. It was great to arrive in time to get out on the track with Spain’s champion trainer Guillermo Arizkorreta on the morning of the big race to watch three of his four runners in the GP have an easy canter. Having seen them, and the other 60 members of his string at his stables at the racecourse, it was really special, after a good lunch with

Guillermo, jockey Ioritz Mendizabal and stud manager Jose Hormaeche, to watch Guillermo have the first two home in the Listed Gran Premio de Madrid with Madrileno and Cheko. A nicer trainer it would be hard to find, and though he’s been champion four times, it was the first time he’d won this key race in the Spanish calendar. Well done to him and his excellent team – it was a pleasure to see such a nice bunch of calm and relaxed horses.

Of our own equine interests, it was great to see one of our foal purchases, the very handsome Shadad, get off the mark for Ralph Beckett and Fran Berry. The only sad postscript is Fran’s subsequent back injury. We wish him a speedy return to racing.

Farther afield, the three-year-old Beama, a daughter of my High Chaparral mare High Will, won her first race in France, meaning that her dam now has two winners from her first three winners, with the two-year-old having made just one start to date.

Among the mares boarding with us at Granham is a lovely daughter of Galileo named Telescopic. She is the dam of the very useful Imperial Aviator (who is by Paco Boy and thus bred on the same cross as Galileo Gold). We’re pleased to have Telescopic back in foal to Paco Boy for Dan Hunt, who is a new client and a huge amount of fun. Watch out for his son, Hugo, who rides as an amateur for Nicky Henderson and previously worked at Kingsclere alongside Chris Hannaford, who reckons he could be the next AP McCoy.

We’re off to the July Sale in Newmarket next week to sell a mare for Paul Hearson and to look at horses-in-training for one of our regular clients, Geoff Price, for whom we’ve bought a number of winners, including Flying Fantasy. But, as I mentioned, the serious work is now beginning on the farm, with yearling prep already underway for the Goffs UK Premier Sale at the end of August and then the Tattersalls October Sale. We have select drafts for both, including what we believe to be some seriously nice horses, and it’s exciting to be operating under our own Norris Bloodstock banner.

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