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What a year!

Well, I have to admit, 2016 has been quite a whirlwind and that’s before we even start to think about Brexit and Donald Trump.

In our own small corner of the world, we rushed home from last year’s December Sales to start packing up our home at Clairemont Stud to move on to pastures new. Those pastures at Granham Farm have given us the most wonderful start to our new business and Jenny and I couldn’t be happier with our first year consigning under our own banner as Norris Bloodstock.

Of course Philippa Cooper’s Normandie Stud provided us with our headline act, her beautiful Dubawi colt out of Fallen For You who, at 2.6 million gns, was not only the joint-top lot of October Book 1 but also shared the billing as the most expensive yearling sold anywhere in the world this year.

We’re immensely grateful to Philippa and indeed to everyone who has supported us this year, whether with foals or yearling to sell, mares to foal, or horses in training to have a break at our farm. We’ve enjoyed having each and every horse who has graced the property and very much appreciate the support shown to us in our first year at Granham.

This year after selling our final mare at Tattersalls’ December Sale we were able to take a few days to visit some stock we own in France and to look for a couple of mares for ourselves at Arqana. After the excitement of being reunited with our former foal-to-yearling pinhook Shalaa (pictured), who was looking fabulous at his new home at Haras de Bouquetot, I’m happy to say we found two young beauties to add to our growing broodmare band, both from top-class established French breeders.

I’ve been lucky buying from Haras du Quesnay before when I purchased Villabella in foal to Dunkerque some years ago. The filly she was carrying, subsequently named Vallila, went on to win four races (one in my colours) including the Spanish 1,000 Guineas and so I was happy to find a young mare, Salome, from one of Quesnay’s best families and also in foal to Dunkerque. Incidentally, I also recently bought back Vallila from her Spanish owner so she is another mare for us to breed from next year. The second Arqana purchase was from the Wertheimer brothers and is a three-year-old daughter of More Than Ready, again from a really classy family.

With all these new additions, including Irrevocable, who was bought from Roger Charlton’s draft at the Horses-in-Training Sale, we’ve been devoting a lot of thought to mating plans and Jenny and I decided to buy a breeding right to Lanwades’ new stallion Bobby’s Kitten. I’ve also been a big fan of Dabirism since his racing days and have used him every year since he’s been at stud. Our Peintre Celebre mare Amami is booked to him for next year but the debate still goes on for some of our girls. Of the stock of the new stallions I’ve seen this year, I liked some of the Toronado foals and we have a few of them with us now to be sold as yearlings next season.

We’re hoping to have a few days in the sun before the foaling season is upon us once more, and we also have a number of winter boarders, including our old friend Blakeney Point, for Roger Charlton. It’s also been nice to welcome a number of new clients in recent weeks, among them the breeders of Blakeney Point, Victoria and Anthony Pakenham, for whom we have been spelling a filly by their stallion Sir Percy. She’s been turned out with another Sir Percy filly, Hope Is High, the apple of Emma Berry’s eye, while our old friends Grant and Tom Pritchard-Gordon at Badgers Bloodstock have been kind enough to send us a trio of fillies, too.

All in all, it’s been a busy year, and that’s sure to continue right through the winter months. Jenny and I would like to wish all our clients and friends a happy and relaxing Christmas, and a straightforward foaling season ahead to all fellow breeders.

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