Emma Lavelle's first year training on the Marlborough Downs sees her nearly double her winners
Irish Prophecy - the horse they're talking about - with Emma Lavelle
It is less than a year since jumps trainer Emma Lavelle moved from Hampshire to the famous and now much renovated and enlarged Bonita Racing Stables near Marlborough. And Emma Lavelle Racing's first season there has been a resounding success: her tally of wins stands at 35 - against a total of 19 wins over the previous season at her Hampshire yard.
She says - modestly: "It's been a building year for us" - as in building up the yard's complement of horses. She has seventy boxes and 64 horses in training.
But, with her husband Barry Fenton and the team, there has also been a lot of real building work going on and Bonita now looks one hundred per cent cared for - with wide open yards and spacious, airy boxes.
"We worked like hell to get the place ready", she told Marlboroughequestrian.news. "Then we had to get down to training the horses. We've been able to enjoy this first season here. It's been a good first year. We're pretty confident we have a system in place for next year."
What lies behind this change in form? Back in the year Emma Lavelle told us her horses liked the Marlborough Downs air and responded to the wide open grass gallops. Earlier this month she told Racing Post: "...all the horses look so healthy and happy - it's as if they are kids in a sweet shop with all the room we now have."
There have been several high points over the twelve months - like the Saturday in December when she sent out four winners at three courses. And the season has ended with a flurry of winners and good performances - secure pointers for next season.
At Chepstow (April 17) five year-old mare Majestic Moll won on her third outing - winning a bumper by six lengths in a field of eight. With the ground hardening, she will be rested to come back novice hurdling in the autumn. From her comfortable win, the Racing Post judged: "She's progressed with each of her starts...so looks a useful mare in the making."
The four year-old mare Talent to Amuse kept her unbeaten record over hurdles with a close win at Kempton. She came from the flat - trained by Roger Varian, raced eight times and was rated 81: "She has the size and scope to make a nice jumps mare."
Casino Markets was third at Cheltenham last Wednesday (April 19): "He jumped superbly in the best race he has run in yet and stayed on all the way up the hill to finish a gallant third beaten by just over four lengths. He has just got better and better and is an absolute joy to have in the yard as he never stops trying."
Casino Markets, says Emma, "Looks just beautiful - he's known in the yard as George Clooney!" He is owned by Mighty Acorn Stables who are new to racing, but are taking the long view - as in 'little acorns to mighty oaks...'. He likes good ground and will go to the USA in August to race at Saratoga.
You might catch him at Sandown on the last day of the jumps season (Saturday, April 29.) After the summer, he will have time off when the ground is soft and may be aimed at next April's Topham.
Looking ahead, Emma Lavelle says they have "Lots of brilliant hopes". Among them is Gunfleet - a four year-old gelding who 'ran on well' to win his first 'bumper' at Stratford on April 1.
Another to watch is Enniscoffey Oscar - a five year-old who won a bumper at Lingfield in February and then came second in Aintree's bumper on April 7 - bringing home a cool £9,540.
However the horse in the yard that "Most people are talking about is Irish Prophecy". He is already a big horse - a 17-hand four year-old gelding who has some filling out to do.
He has had two starts in bumpers (National Hunt flat races) and won them both. In November at Doncaster Timmy Murphy rode him to a half-length victory and in February AP Heskin rode him to a two-and-a-quarter length victory at Kempton. Emma Lavelle: "He's definitely got untapped potential - he'll be a novice hurdler next season."
Emma Lavelle's owners include a couple of pub syndicates - the George Inn and the Hawk Inn loyal from her Hampshire days - and several racing clubs like the British Racing Club and Axom Owners Group.
She points to eight year-old bay gelding Demographic as an "...ideal syndicate horse - not necessarily top class, but he wins his races and they have good fun with him." He won a very contested hurdle race at Wincanton at the beginning of April - coming in by a head for his second win on the course.
Looking to the future, Emma believes "We are very lucky in that we have some proper National Hunt owners who understand that young horses take time to come good."