Daily Blog

Rebecca Menzies Stable Visit 25th September 2018

27-September-2018
27-September-2018 11:25
in General
by Admin

The gods smiled on me on Tuesday and blessed me with glorious weather on my three-hour journey north to County Durham. Not even Nine sets of roadwork’s (only two workman and a shovel were seen) on the M6, M62 and A1M could spoil the day, not that they didn’t give it a good try, but the welcome at the stables of Rebecca Menzies at her stables just outside the Village of Morden, a stone’s throw from Sedgefield Racecourse, made it all worthwhile.

 

I had not realised before my visit that this was the former base of John Wade, whose colours round the north, a lot of readers will be familiar with. When you walk into a lot of yards, they are exactly that, yards.

Make no mistake, this is more than a yard, it’s a complex in nature, set in 300 acres of land (part of which was the old South Durham p2pcourse) with every facility you could wish for your horse if you’re lucky enough to have a horse in training here.

What struck me more than usual, when I walk on to yards, is the attention to detail that has gone into the planning of the training of horses here. 

We hop in to the 4x4 and Rebecca gives us a tour 

Just a few yards from the main yard is a deep sand round gallop, Rebecca explained to me how essential this has been. 

Serving as a warm up canter for horses ready to take on their main work of the morning, the deep sand helps them to gently work, stretch out, ease into the task ahead reducing the risk of injury. It also serves as a re-introduction to work for horses coming back into training after injury, horses that won’t be/ not ready to be working on the main gallop. The deep sand works the legs, builds muscle, gets the heart rate up so it feels like they are working without putting any strain on the horse as it builds its recovery. 

The grass gallops are extensive and can suit any type of horse from a 5f sprinter to a staying chaser. The schooling grounds are really well prepared and brush hurdles positioned so as to present the horse at the obstacle in the best possible way.

 There is an 10f AW gallop, which I believe is laid on the cut out of an old railway line and is unique in the sense that at the foot of the gallop it actually runs under a bridge, I’ve never seen that before and it doesn’t seem to bother the horses at all. There is a gentle rise all the way up to the top. In some ways it reminded me of Warren Hill in Newmarket, with its length and incline, although not a steep as Warren Hill, it was obvious from watching work that horses work well on the surface, looking happy and comfortable. It’s as if they are worked hard on the gallop without knowing it.  

Heading back to the yard Rebecca tells me one of the most pleasing aspects since she started is that there is not a high turnover of staff, she did jokingly refer to it being like a holiday camp, and the atmosphere round the yard is relaxed and happy. 

It is of course anything but a holiday camp, this is a seriously impressive operation with a determined trainer going places. Rebecca has big plans for the yard, having only been in situ at Morden for two years. It will be very interesting to see how the Yard develops over the next couple of years.

On arriving back in the yard, before we have look at the horses in the stables, I must comment on something which again reflects the attention to detail. 

In the middle of the yard there is a huge covered pen and Rebecca explains how some horses, box walkers, horses who get caste in their box or just more nervous types, thrive in the space around them, allows them to relax and really calm down. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s simple, it works and its striking for someone like me how the trainers mind works with regard to the care of the horses.

 

We Move on to the yard now and the horses. It always amazes me how a trainer can go from box to box and talk about each horse in such detail in terms of form and Character.

 

Here are a number of horses that I’ve picked out to watch going forward.

Captain Mowbray

A really nice looking 7yo son of Shami. A bit too high in the handicap at the moment off 115, mark starting to fall and one to note round Wetherby, Hexham or Sedgefield off 110 or less over 3m in ground with cut up to soft (not heavy)

Champagne to go

A hurdle mark of 105 should be well within the compass of this daughter of Beneficial having run an absolute cracker at Kelso in May of that mark over 2m6f.  I doubt if Cartmel or Perth would have suited her subsequently and a return to Kelso or a galloping track like Wetherby over 2m6f off 105 or less would be ideal I think

Stormbay Bomber

An incredibly well handicapped horse over fences. Now has a mark 91 having won off 100, 97 and 94 and Southwell and Bangor on dee. It’s easy to deduce the track requirements from that and all wins was on good ground. 

Pain Au Chocolat

On a fair mark at the moment and needs to drop a little, seems to have been around forever but still only a 7yo, had is issues over the years but that’s not stopped him winning some nice races. 

 Nortonthorpelegend

This 8yo son of Midnight Legend is a seriously well handicapped horse over fences, currently off mark of 98 Rebecca would hoping to exploit that this season with the horse having won off 113, 96 and 99 in C4 over 3m to 3m2f, cut in the ground would seem preferable. 

Halcyon Days

Seems to prefer still galloping tracks with uphill finish, Carlisle, Hexham, Newcastle. 16f on soft or heavy is the order of the day. Now on a mark of 108 which is his highest winning mark, but it should be noted he has run well at Ayr in a C4 race off 113, only beaten a length in a 5-runner race. So, there may be some leeway here anyway. 

Ronn The Conn

A very interesting horse owned by John Wade, very lightly raced. The form of his last race is really the key to the future here. Only going down by less than two lengths to a fantastic yardstick in Plus Jamais at Newcastle over 24f in soft ground off a mark of 111 was so encouraging. Closing the winner down all the way to line

Only a 6yo now and off a mark of 114, surely will be able to defy that. Been off course since that race last December, I think his trainer Is looking forward to seeing back on the track in a staying handicap chase round the North.

Return Flight

A very interesting horse, a son of Kayf Tara who is currently on a mark over fences of 117 and fairly handicapped on the face of it, has been running on good ground this summer but his best performances have been with cut in the ground, so it may well be there is something to exploit in the autumn when the ground turns.

All Hail Caesar 

This for me was a highlight of my visit. I love the NHF race at Ayr on Scottish Grand National day. Its invariably a very good race, the form is often worth following. The first and second in the race, Sebastopol and Black Pirate, I have discussed in other blogs. 

5f  out All hail Caesar was travelling well within himself having been held up at the back all the way round, a patient ride in good race such as this is no problem, he had started to make good progress rounding the home turn but somewhere between the 4f and 3f pole as battle was joined up front he was just caught out on his heels and with experience. It’s too his riders credit his gathered him in and although the winner et al had long gone he finished the race really well to finish 8/15. It could have been a bit better than that but the twinkle in Rebecca’s eye when she talks about his horse as well as that look of a trainer who knows she has some serious ammunition to go to war with in this horse, is impossible for her disguise. 

I understand he has schooled well, very well in fact. Plans are a bit up in the air at the moment. I did ask if an NHF at Wetherby at the Charlie Hall Chase meeting would be on the agenda, and I think it crossed her mind, but she does not want him to be too highly tried first time out this season, so we may well see him in a bumper on a galloping track in the Autumn. After that I suspect a decision will be made on whether to stay in NHF or go Novice Hurdling. Either way, stable star for me and an immensely exciting horse for both Rebecca and his owner to look forward too.

 

What struck me after touring the yard is the number of well handicapped horses there is there, this could be a stellar season for Rebecca over jumps.

Rebecca gave me over 2 hours of her valuable time to show me round this fantastic training complex and anyone who has been in a racing yard will know 2 hours of a trainers is valuable, so I am immensely grateful to her for her and Kindness. 

 

Pete Ingram 27/09/2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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