I received a text from John at around 8-50am to say he had arrived at Seven Barrows. The weather was set to improve but on arrival he had been greeted by a fog that it was hoped wold burn off before the fun began.
The time of the visit had been moved back to 9-15am and seven other shareholders in the horse had ventured down to see him on Nicky’s new Wexford sand gallop. I have actually seen that before when I visited Kim Bailey’s yard a good few years back and it’s designed to get horses tremendously fit so, if it has the impact on Nicky’s horses it is designed to have, then his will be mighty competitive over the winter.
Just after 1-00pm I got my second message from John….”what a visit!”. I suggested it sounded like he had been impressed and he responded, “very!”.
The thing that has impressed me most is the way Highclere does things. No stones are left unturned and the experience so far has been exceptional. We will get more involved with them, that’s for sure.
John sent me an e-mail that details the day he had:
“Not long back from a fabulous morning at NJH yard where we lucky to see so many of Nicky’s high profile string go through there paces including our Tower of Allen.
Tower of Allen was 2nd in string for this work (Bob’s Worth must alway be at the front) and worked 3 times anti clockwise around Nicky’s brand new Wexford Sand ‘gallop’ and then 3 times clockwise. This gallop is made up of very deep sand and its all about conditioning the horses. Apparently Barry Geraghty has been going on for an age for Nicky to invest in it – finally he has!
The intent of this surface as I said is all about conditioning of the horse. Horses can canter in it but raising to gallop is almost impossible due to the deepness of the sand. Nicky mentioned the keen horses (Simonsig) tried to gallop the first time he used it but the I’m told the sand quickly won and even he (as keen as he is and can be) now only canters.
I think I’ve said this before I’ve followed Nicky in depth since i care to remember and particularly i would say over the last 3 season many of his horses need genuine good ground. This new sandy gallop is also intended to help horses get through some of the soft stuff. It will be interesting to see if there is a turnaround this year following this investment.
Following watching the horses, Nicky gave us the treat of having ToA jump 4 very small nursery hurdles with Native Display as his lead horse.
Jerry McGrath was very complimentary of ToA and i can’t remember everything he said but i can remember a few things:
– He is very straight forward and professional
– He assumed ToA was a 5yr old already and when informed he was only 4 yrs he was pleasantly shocked
Finally, at a high-level we discussed running plans and timings. Again I got some insight into the maestro of Seven Barrows. One of the reason Nicky likes running his young horses (who have never had a run or seen a racecourse not even a P2P) is that in his view if we have an un-raced horse then asking them to a) go to a racecourse for the first time and then b) jump a hurdle for the first time then why ask them to do 2 new things at once? When you can run in him bumper first and then for 2nd run go novice hurdling. At least for the 2nd run the horse has seen a racecourse before.
So on to the running plans – Nicky believes he will be ready to run in a bumper before end of October (so 3-4 weeks). If all goes to plan he would then look to have him run in a novice hurdle around 3 weeks after that!
One final, final thing that Nicky said that stuck and resonated with me, was he said ‘well put it this way if i had the opportunity to buy him (ToA) i wouldn’t hesitate’.
Exciting times, lets hope he fulfils his potential and we have a lot of fun with him!”
John also made sure a few pictures and a couple of video’s were made available (I’m going to have to edit them on my return), and Highclere also sent through a link to a Youtube video clip showing Tower Of Allen strutting his stuff.
I’m still pinching myself that we are involved in such a horse this winter.