Local trainer Neil King's Open Day invitation - as he prepares for the new jump season
As the new jump racing season approaches, the horses at trainer Neil King's are all back from their summer in the fields - and looking wonderful on top of that spur of the Marlborough Downs that lies a handful of furlongs from Barbury Castle.
Neil King's Ridgeway Racing yard at Upper Herdswick Farm, Burderop is holding its annual Open Day on Sunday, September 10 - further details and RSVP address below.
King, as he admits, had a disappointing 2016-2017 season - his yard hit by a coughing virus. But he is full of optimism for the coming season.
Star of the Open Day will doubtless be Lil Rockerfeller - now six years-old: "He's looking the best I've seen him after a summer." He went out hunting last week - which he enjoys - to jolly him up a bit. Since he joined King's stables in January 2015 he has won over £275,000.
Lil Rockerfeller will go hurdling again - aiming for another try at Cheltenham's Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle (once known as the World Hurdle.) In the March 2017 running, Lil Rockerfeller came second - three-quarters of a length behind Nichols Canyon.
Then he had an uncomfy race at Punchestown in April. Perhaps he missed his usual rider, stable jockey Trevor Whelan, who was side-lined after a bicycle accident.
With a quiet summer ahead of him, Whelan decided to sustain his income riding on the flat. He has had over a hundred rides - including in good races at Newmarket and Goodwood. Now he will back with Neil King - as stable jockey and riding out three days a week.
The yard has also appointed a new conditional rider - Harry Teal, who already has nine wins to his name. He is the son of trainer Roger Teal.
Another strong hope for the coming season is ten year-old gelding Milansbar. Of twenty national hunt outings he has won five and been placed in another five. But last season he was hit by the cough and over the winter had to be pulled up in his last three consecutive races.
King has 35 horses in training - and several recent acquisitions for sale either to a single buyer or as shares. They will be on show at the Open Day: prime among them is Working Leather (pictured above.)
Working Leather is a four year-old gelding Neil King bought at the Doncaster sales. He stands at 16.3 and looks even taller: "He really is a striking horse - fantastic looking - very game and related to plenty of winners." By Teofilo (a son of Galileo and grandson of Sadler's Wells) - out of Masnada, who won nine races.
In only his second outing, he came second in a bumper at Market Rasen in June. He will get another bumper entry in the autumn before going hurdling.
Also for sale is Cubswin - a three year-old bay filly who was in training with Roger Charlton at Beckhampton and won a mile-and-a-half race at Bath in July under Andrea Atzeni. That was her sixth start for Charlton and the other three horses in the race all went on to win their next races - one over hurdles and two on the flat.
Another horse for sale is the six year-old bay gelding Sackett. Neil King is sure that he is "A winner waiting to happen." In May, he came second from a field of twelve in a three mile hurdle race at Uttoxeter.
The horse that beat him, Jonjo O'Neill trained Terry the Fish, went on to win three on the bounce. And the horse that finished six lengths behind him, Market Road, went on to win his next race. King believes he will be consistent and make an ideal racing club or syndicate horse.
Also for sale is an Unnamed three year-old filly by Stowaway - "One of my favourite sires". Neil bought her in Ireland at the Tattersalls August National Hunt Sale. She is currently being broken in. Neil is very excited about her: "She is a scopey filly with a genuine head on her."