Weblog: The wife of leading all-weather trainer Alan McCabe with her weekly diary.
No wonder the turf takes a while to get going
So spring is sprung at Averham Park, the grass is growing,
the blossom is out and the dawn chorus wakes me up every morning at some ungodly hour.
The turf season has begun with its customary explosion at Doncaster, followed by a stuttering couple of weeks where
it has seemed all-weather racing is still in full swing while racing on grass plays a quiet second fiddle.
We sent a couple off to Folkestone yesterday, quite a trip from our Nottinghamshire base, only for the meeting to be abandoned due to torrential rain. Ah, the good old British weather strikes again - sunbathing weather in March with hail, sleet and snow a few days later - it's no wonder the turf takes a while to get going with all that to contend with. At least the Grand National this year won't be run in the kind of searing heat of last year.
The sight of attendants rushing onto the course with cooling buckets of water for the horses was a triumph of welfare being paramount to the racing fraternity, but a PR disaster as the hysterical non-racing media decided to take quite a different slant. Along with the rest of those for whom horseracing is their life, I am hoping this year for a safe race with no casualties and if Katie Walsh wants to oblige me and become the first woman to ride a Grand National winner, so much the better.
As for the flat season 2012, it has started very satisfactorily for us. We enjoyed our first Listed winner on Winter Derby day when Fratellino landed the Hever Sprint at Lingfield. He's a brilliant little horse to have who, like every other Auction House we have trained, tries his heart out every race. He may not be tall, but he's built like a weightlifter, short and solid. We paid just £2,200 for him as a yearling and he's given his small syndicate owners some great days out. He's due to give them another soon, as we have entered him for the Jagersro Sprint in Sweden on May 15th and at the initial entry stage he was the highest rated horse in the line up.
We have a few more big days before then however, with Caspar Netscher due to run in the Greenham stakes at Newbury on Saturday April 21st en route to a tilt at the 2000 Guineas. He has pleased us in his work and w took him to Nottingham for a spin on Wednesday to get a bit of the freshness out of him and to give him something to think about. He acquitted himself well without any drama, as was the plan. Martin Harley rode him and reported that had there been a stronger pace on, he could have pulled well clear, but the objectives of stretching his legs and encouraging him to settle in behind were achieved and we were all very pleased.
He's a cool dude though, and takes it all in his stride. His laid back temperament is a great asset to him and makes him relatively easy to handle, which is always a bonus when the stakes are high. The last thing any trainer wants is a prima donna stable star hell-bent on living dramatically.
Combining the talents of Fratellino and Caspar is a new recruit to the yard, an Auction House two-year-old that Alan bought for Fratellino's owners at the Kempton breeze-up sales. He has
been named 'Proventi' which is Italian for 'with proceeds' as he was bought with the proceeds of Fratellino's Hever win. He has been nicknamed 'Little Caspar' as he is not entirely physically dissimilar to our star, but them's big shoes to fill for a young upstart. He will be one of our early two-year-olds and seems a nice type. We don't have a huge amount of two-year-olds this year, but hope to be adding to their number through the breeze-up sales this spring and those we do have (along with the older horses) are something to look forward to in 2012.
I cannot close this blog without mentioning the fantastic exploits in Dubai this year of James Doyle. We have used James as a jockey since Alan started training and he has always been a great favourite of mine. He is a very polished and intelligent rider with a good work ethic and a refreshingly transparent honesty. He has been busy riding multiple winners in Dubai all winter and to finish the season in such effusive fashion on World Cup Night was a joy to behold.
His mother Jacquie has always been a great influence on him and he is a credit to her, as is his talented sister Sophie. I am pleased James is getting the recognition he deserves and have complete faith that he will prove himself to be one of our best jockeys in years to come. Well done lad, we raised you well.