“Conquisto” back in the groove!

“Conquisto” ridden by yard conditional jockey Paul Bohan, powered to a fine win
in the Fakenham Silver Cup.
A notable victory for both horse and rider in what is Fakenham’s feature hurdle race of the year. It was also Paul Bohan’s first winner for Highfield House.
Judging by the amount of silverware, owner Phil Martin will have plenty of polishing to do!
S.G.

“First Day At School For Viscount Victor”

“Viscount Victor” owned by Richard and Christine Atterby made a pleasing start to his
jumping career this morning.
Showing a bold solid attitude “Vic” seemed to very much enjoy his schooling work.
He will progress to the main schooling ground in due course. With natural progression we should see this lad on the track in novice hurdles very soon.

“Viscount Victor” makes a nice shape during the early stages of his schooling.
He is ridden by our head girl Josie Harrison who does much of the early ground work with the young horses.

“Local Hero” Wins the 2011 Grade Two Finesse Hurdle – Blog (Jan 2011)

January 2011 brings a welcome change in the weather and its all systems go, its so good to see green rather than white!
Although dogged by early morning frosts, therefore delays in getting the string out, conditions are not perfect but hey for once I am not complaining. My ten year old Logic grit spreader is really getting some hammer, it may not look pretty nowadays but boy does it work.
Our staff are working seven days a week in order to catch up, they also seem glad to get going again. The sight of the horses back cantering inspires me, I start to dream again.
Mid January sees us back in the groove at Highfield, remarkably we appear to have picked up where we left off with winners and placed horses galore. Even so, I am sure that the horses will improve further. Could it be that the enforced rest may have been a blessing in disguise?
One of our juvenile hurdlers Local Hero wins twice at Wetherby and Doncaster ridden by 15 times champion jockey and Sports Personality of the Year A.P. McCoy.
A.P. (McCoy) is suitably impressed suggesting that we should step the horse up in class.
The drive home from Doncaster Racecourse is interrupted by a stop at Tesco for a well deserved bottle (or three) of wine! Jayne and I are nervously excited, could we have another potential Cheltenham Festival winner in the yard?
We are having a great run at present and the weather is relenting.
Local Hero is entered for The Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham on the 29th January, this race is a trial for The Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The race has a value of £100.000.
With Malcolm Hughes (MD of Logic South) living near Cheltenham it seems a great idea that he and his wife Rose should join us for this very important day.
It also gives us a chance to show our sponsors Logic a “work in progress” at a very high level.

The 29th of January seems to come very quickly.
There is an inspection arranged for 9.30 a.m. at the course due to forecast severe frost. The horse however is already at the track and we are on the way from Lincolnshire!
It is 1c all the way there and when we arrive at the track it suddenly drops to 0c, my feelings are that the meeting may well be abandoned.
Remarkably after the 9.30 inspection it is announced that it is on.

Jayne and I, with our daughter Nadia meet Phil Martin the owner of Local Hero for lunch.
Malcolm & Rose (Hughes) along with their daughter Nikki also join us, blimey Malcolm owns a tie!!!!!!
After a pleasant lunch it is time to saddle Local Hero. There is a big crowd for this Saturday televised meeting the tension and excitement is palpable. I collect the saddle from A.P. (McCoy) and discuss riding plans.
Local Hero saddled up and in the parade ring, we meet owner Phil Martin and his good friend Jim.
There is a noticeable silence and nervousness. A.P is given a leg up on Local Hero who looks fabulous, his two handlers also look great sporting the smart Logic livery.
We are in the stands together, Jayne is sporting a hat which she wore when In Truth won the Kim Muir at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival.

They are ready to line up and Local Hero is made the 15/8 favorite, I don’t mind admitting that I am bloody nervous.
They’re off!
A.P. has Local Hero in around fifth place and travels very well although pulling quite hard.
He makes a mistake on the far side but gets away with it. The race unfolds and things get serious. Traveling down the hill towards the second last hurdle A.P. and Local Hero cruise through strongly to challenge, the crowd sense another McCoy Cheltenham winner.
Approaching the last hurdle Local Hero looks to have the measure of his nearest rival Third Intention. Both horses meet the final hurdle wrong and make mistakes, however Local Hero is headed on the run in up that famous Cheltenham hill, we look in trouble. Local Hero joins Third Intention half way up the run in to the line, A.P. galvanizes Local Hero for that final effort. Showing wonderful tenacity Local Hero forges two lengths clear lifting the roof off the stands!!!!!!  Local Hero completes his hat trick over hurdles and books himself a place in The Triumph Hurdle in March.

Local Hero and A.P enter the winners enclosure to rapturous and well deserved applause.
We de-brief A.P. as he unsaddles, photographs are taken and the presentation takes place.
I am mobbed by the press for a few minutes and do a couple of interviews for radio and television. Finally I get away to join the rest of the gang who are already quaffing champagne!
It is a emotional time for everyone involved, obviously the yard, Logic our sponsors, Jayne and I etc, etc. However it is Phil Martin our principle owner who deserves all the success that comes his way.

The Cheltenham Festival is in March, however that is a long time in racing, Local Hero may run again before the Festival, maybe at Haydock Park on Saturday the 19th February. Watch this space.

Local Hero is the stuff of dreams and we will dream them!!!

S.G.

PS I wonder if Jayne’s Cheltenham hat had a part to play?

 

Schooling But Steady Away!

Hi Everyone,

I am moaning more than usual at the moment. Why? Well it’s because it will not bloody rain!
We really do need the elusive rain, not only for the schooling grounds but for racecourses across the country in general.
A blustery morning, Keith Mercer arrived in plenty of time prior to schooling.
Jayne makes us all a cup of tea (no biscuits for Keith) and we sit down and discuss plans.
Little to do due to the prevailing conditions, however we will give “Laterly” a little pop on his own. After that we will let “Brunswick Gold” give a lead again to the German bred “Landesherr”.  The most interesting part of the morning will be seeing “Into Wain” making his debut on the main schooling ground. A lovely type with a temperament to match, this quality flat performer is a horse that stirs the emotion and motivates me!

“Brunswick Gold” (Shane McAuley) shows his contempt for the young pretender “Landesherr” (Keith Mercer) by showing him a clean pair of heels, literally!

Although a free sweater, “Landesherr” is looking a natural over hurdles –
German build quality at its best, “Vorsprung Durch Technik”!!!!


From any angle its hard to fault the progressive and quick learning “Landesherr”.

Flat bred “Into Wain” (nearest) and “Brunswick Gold” walk down to start their schooling.
Two exceptional looking horses.

“Into Wain” (Keith Mercer) makes the transition to the main schooling ground look easy.
Making lovely shapes in his slow paces, he impresses. Very happy and no longer moaning!

PS
I fitted a headcam to the hat of Keith Mercer, however due to a technical error (wasn’t switched on properly) we did not get any footage.
Next time we hope to go one better and share the experience with you all.
The photographs were courtesy of Jayne!

Steve Gollings.            

 

“Into Wain” progresses!

Talented flat performer “Into Wain” progresses over baby hurdles under Josie Harrison.
Josie is head girl at Highfield and as well as being experienced in racing, she is an accomplished event rider. “Into Wain” will now progress to the main schooling ground.
He is a very exciting prospect!

 

 

“Welcome Back Keith”

Warm sunshine and a warm welcome awaited jockey Keith Mercer when he arrived at Highfield this morning.
Keith has been out of action for some thirteen months with a bad break to a leg.
It has been a long painful haul for him, so it was a pleasant sight to see him back in the saddle again.
Without doubt there will be more news to report shortly regarding Keith’s association with Highfield!

“Brunswick Gold” (Shane McAuley) leads German bred “Landesherr” (Keith Mercer) for his first session on the main schooling ground!

“Brunswick Gold” gives a lead to the impressive debutant “Landesherr”

Keith Mercer schools the very keen “Laterly” over hurdles

Well done Keith, great to see you back in action!

Steve Gollings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Gollings blog….. Tribute

Hello and a warm welcome to the all new Steve Gollings blog…..

                                                        Tribute                                                   

It is on a somewhat somber note that my first blog begins.
Highfield House Racing Stables are proud to be sponsored by Logic who are a bespoke manufacturing company based in Cheltenham and Hexham.
The company specialises in the manufacture of ATV based machinery for all applications and export throughout europe.
The figurehead of Logic, Malcolm Hughes has been a friend of ours for many years.
When Malcolm and the team decided that Logic would become the yard sponsors, it just seemed right.
Logic was founded by Willie Rutherford who retired to New Zealand where he has lived for the past decade.  After a long hard fought battle with cancer, Willie has sadly died.

Now personally I never met Willie, however through many conversations with Malcolm and the boys at Logic, such as Simon Beniams and Stefan Gemski, it very much felt like I had.
Even though he had been retired a long time Willie was a major influence at Logic, still very much a major cog in the Logic wheel, such was the esteem in which Willie was held.

Finally on behalf of everyone at Highfield, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to Willie”s family and everyone at Logic.

Steve Gollings

 

“Remember Rocky” poignant winner at Chepstow

“Remember Rocky” owned by Richard Swift stormed to an impressive win at Chepstow.
The 2 year old son of Haafhd was running for the first time in a nursery and seemed to relished the soft ground.
This was a poignant winner for Richard who named “Remember Rocky” after his sister June who sadly died last year.  Although going up 10 pounds for his triumph, he is still considered well handicapped and should win again, rain permitting.
Richard is based in Canada.