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Keyflow Stage1v3

Horse in the Spotlight: Fidelity

Fidelity with trainer Jonathan GeakeFidelity with trainer Jonathan Geake


Fidelity is a five-year-old gelding who last month came second in two handicap hurdle races - and is certainly a jumps horse to watch.


Trained at East Kennett by Jonathan Geake, Fidelity is owned by Marlborough resident Mrs Ann Leftley. 


On May 16 at Warwick, ridden by Ian Popham, he came home second of a field of sixteen, three-and-three-quarter lengths behind Paloma's Prince.  Two weeks later, again under Ian Popham, he was second by three-quarters of a length in a two mile handicap hurdle at Huntingdon.


Fidelity - looking in grreat condition, very spry and interested when we visited the yard - may race again at Worcester on June 28 and will then be turned out into the fields for a rest.


Right now he is 'the star' of the East Kennett yard - all the more a stand-out horse because he was 'home bred'.  Mrs Leftley still owns his dam - Sir Kyffin's Folly - who was also trained by Jonathan Geake.


Bought by Dr Peter and Mrs Leftley, Sir Kyffin's Folly is now 12-years-old.  She did not have a successful racing career.  She was unplaced in her nine races - recording her best performance in her first race - at Newbury in April 2008 when she came fifth. 


Still at Jonathan Geake's yard, Sir Kyffin's Folly has had four foals and is now pregnant again.  Fidelity is her second foal - her first did not do well, her third died very young after an accident and the fourth is now a yearling.


Fidelity's sire was Halling - a chestnut best known for completing the double-double of winning both the Eclipse Stakes (Sandown) and the International Stakes (York) in 1995 and 1996.


Bred in the United States and trained in Britain first by John Gosden and later by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin Racing, Halling won 12 of the 18 races he ran - earning $1,332.651.  He went to stud in 1997 - and died in Dubai in February 2016 'of old age'.


When Mrs Leftley and her late husband, Dr Peter Leftley, started owning horses one of their principles was that none of their racehorses should ever be sold.  It is a principle Mrs Leftley still holds to.   So after racing they are either kept as brood mares or are loaned on free leases to be team chasers or show horses - like Beware Chalk Pit who has become a prize winning show horse under the auspices of the Retraining of Racehorses organisation.

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Belgian Bill

Horse in the spotlight

Belgian Bill, still with his ears backBelgian Bill, still with his ears backHere's a locally trained horse who started 2017 with three races in Dubai - chalking up two third places and a fourth place.  Now the 2017 flat season awaits him:

Belgian Bill is a nine year-old bay horse trained at Manton by George Baker: "He's been a superstar for us - taking us round the world and across the seven seas.  Just wonderful."  George Baker - and Bill - have been at the Manton yard since December 2013.

He has raced in Dubai, Turkey, Germany, the USA, France - and at Britain's premier flat racing venues of Newmarket, Ascot and Goodwood.  George Baker reckons his winnings and his travels make him a unique British racehorse.

He is a mile specialist.  Last September at Turkey's Veliefendi racecourse, ridden by Fergus Sweeney, he won the International Anatolia Trophy by two lengths.  It was his fourth appearance in the race:  he had come second in 2011, fourth in 2012 and sixth in 2014.

In August 2015, his trip to the United States for the Arlington Million saw him facing 'unsuitably soft ground'.  He came home seventh of the thirteen runners:  "He was not", says his trainer, "at all disgraced."

Belgian Bill wins in Turkey on 3rd September 2016Belgian Bill wins in Turkey on 3rd September 2016In August 2014 in the Betfred Mile at Goodwood he had come fifth of the seventeen runners - under jockey George Baker. He was separated from the £81,000 first prize by just three-quarters of a length.

Trainer George Baker: "Bill has been with us every step of the way and provided us with an unforgettable win at Ascot in the 2013 Royal Hunt Cup."  In June (2017) he will be back at Ascot for another run at the Royal Hunt Cup.

This mile handicap for three year-olds and up is the highlight of day two of Royal Ascot and with up to thirty runners, usually provides an exciting finish. However, he will have to beat the wisdom of the 'experts' who say the race favours four to five year-olds.

Bill's sire was Exceed and Excel (AUS) and his dam Gay Romance (GB).  He was bred by the Wickfield Stud and Hartshill Stud.  His earnings have recently tipped over the half million mark.

One word of warning: he does like to take a nibble out of his admirers.  Hence the ears back.  But his trainer has a way with him - Bill likes to have his tongue rubbed.


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Lets Hope So

Lets Hope SoLets Hope SoHorse in the spotlight

Here's one to watch this summer - a newcomer to the Marlborough area:  

Trainer Emma Lavelle has moved from her Hampshire stables to the Bonita Stables at Ogbourne Maizey.  Most of her horses are out to grass for their summer break.

By the time they're back, the new stable blocks will be finished and it will no longer be a case of "It looks like a building site!"

Twenty-five of the carefully reconditioned boxes are already in use.  One is occupied by the six year-old bay mare Lets Hope So who has a summer campaign ahead of her.

Lets Hope So with trainer Emma LavelleLets Hope So with trainer Emma LavelleShe is owned by the Cottage Stables Racing Club.

Whereas the famous and now retired hurdler Big Buck's sported an infuriatingly unnecessary apostrophe, Lets Hope So seems to be a sub-editor's nightmare with her dropped apostrophe.  Let's hope she puts any nightmares behind her.

She has had three outings - winning one and coming second in another. Then at Southwell on May 18 she ran in the Connolly's Red Mills Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices Hurdle - just under the two miles, with Daryl Jacob aboard and the going  'Good (good to soft in places)'.

The race comments read: "Tracked leaders, headway to dispute second - every chance when fell two out."  Or in Emma Lavelle's words, when strong for a victory "She tipped her jockey off."  Leaving the Alan King favourite Avispa to win.

But there's a summer ahead for her...keep watching.




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Mandy's Boy

Brodie Hampson with Mandy's Boy at LambournBrodie Hampson with Mandy's Boy at LambournMandy's Boy

Mandy's Boy is a five-year old, Irish-bred bay gelding.  He is spending the winter at Sally Randell's yard at Broad Hinton in the ownership of the 'Keeping the Dream Alive' syndicate.

In May last year he won over hurdles on good ground at Ludlow for trainer Ian Willams - just ahead of Don Padeja and Sunblazer (who was ridden by AP McCoy.)

This year he was placed in two late summer handicaps over hurdles - at Uttoxeter and Huntingdon, but had no form in two recent runs on the flat.  

James Banks takes Mandy's Boy over the hurdles at LambournJames Banks takes Mandy's Boy over the hurdles at LambournOn December 3 he returned to hurdling at Market Rasen - his debut outing from Sally Randell's yard.  But in heavy going over two miles he came home last of the eight runners.

Then at Catterick on December 15 he was ridden into fourth place by stable jockey James Banks in a fifteen furlong handicap chase.  On soft ground, he led two fences out, but soon lost his place to the eventual winner.  He was overtaken by the second placed horse on the flat and then weakened to take fourth place.  However, his connections were well pleased with his performance.

He now has a good handicap and has been jumping well both at Sally Randell's yard and on the Lambourn gallops.  Watch out for further outings in the New Year.



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Alyce and Dominico - October '15


Climbing up the dressage ladder: Dominico and Alyce need sponsors

Dominico is a 16.2 hands, twelve year-old gelding.  His last owner tried to train him up for eventing.  Although he got round, it became clear he did not like the jumping - so eventing was out

Twenty-two year-old Alyce King has owned Dom for just over a year and she is bringing him on in competitive dressage.  They compete twice a month in Wiltshire and they recently qualified for the West Wilts Pet Plan Area Dressage Festival on Saturday, September 26.

Much to Alyce'e delight they came in the top fifteen out of a class of forty plus.

Alyce has ridden since she was two and is qualified to stage three of the British Horse Society's horse knowledge, care and management  programme and also as a BHS instructor.

Now she wants to move Dominico up from the elementary to medium dressage level (they have already started the training work) and find another horse to produce from a lower level.

To do this she needs sponsorship - and is willing to showcase a sponsor in all the usual ways.  She has been selected to join the Leg Up for Talent scheme - a social media programme that puts up-and-coming riders in touch with possible sponsors.  But her needs are quite urgent.

The normal costs of dressage are one thing - livery fees, farriery, vets and transport to competitions and all.  But Alyce lives in Marlborough, stables Dom quite a few miles outside Marlborough and works near Hungerford - so daily visits eat up the petrol.

Alyce's email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and you can find out more at her Facebook page.

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Al Kazeem

Roger Charlton with Al Kazeem after his victory at the Curragh in MayRoger Charlton with Al Kazeem after his victory at the Curragh in MayThe great Al Kazeem is retired from racing and leaves Beckhampton to go to stud again

Al Kazeem is leaving Roger Charlton's Beckhampton training yard - retired from racing and going to his owner's stud.  This will be the second time he has been retired and gone to stud.  The first time he proved sub-fertile and returned successfully to Beckampton and to racing.

But in May Al Kazeem suffered an injury when he won the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh - the second time he had won the race.  After a month off he got back to cantering and was sound.  But his owner John Deer thought it time to retire him.

He was bred at John Deer's Oakgrove Stud near Chepstow - and is now going back there to stand again in 2016.

Al Kazeem was one of the racing world's top middle distance racehorses.  

Before his first retirement, Al Kazeem had a string of wins.  From May 2012 to July 2013 he won five top-ranking races in a row.

When he returned from stud the seven-year old won two races - including that victory in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on 24 May 2015.

Roger Charlton said: "At Beckhampton we will miss him greatly. He strides out of his box with tremendous enthusiasm every day."
"He is so honest and never gives up, so much so, that John and I are worried that he may injure himself further in our attempt to bring him back for the Group One Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot."

"He was a pleasure to train, but one can't underestimate the care that goes into looking after a horse like Al Kazeem."
His earnings to date stand at £1,573,596.

You can watch Al Kazeem take his second Tattersalls Gold Cup here - a very thrilling race.

Photo: copyright WBY Horse Racing Photography - by kind permission of Daniel Heap


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Can Avebury set another record and win a fourth Burghley title?


Barbury cross country 2015:  Nicholson and Avebury take the Keyflow jump in the arenaBarbury cross country 2015: Nicholson and Avebury take the Keyflow jump in the arenaAchieving what many thought nigh on impossible, Andrew Nicholson and the fifteen- year-old gelding Avebury won their fourth CIC3* title at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials.  

No sooner had the horseboxes left the Marlborough Downs than thoughts turned to another possible four-in-a-row record.   Can the pair win the Land Rover Burghley CIC4* (3-6 September) again after winning in 2012, 2013 and 2014?

Finding that Avebury's height is 16.2 is as disconcerting as finding that Maria Sharapova is six feet two.  Leaving the tall tennis players to perfect her first serve, it can only be said that the less than tall Avebury is both remarkably tough and remarkably nimble.  

How unlike the 16.2 horse I rode as an early teenager - which dumped me on the far side of a very wee jump: "This will be your first jump - and he's only a pony really" - his owner had assured me.

Avebury missed this year's Badminton because of a minor chipped bone.  And he did not enjoy the Kentucky CIC4* in April 2014 - but then I don't much like air travel either.

Andrew Nicholson says Avebury has a special relationship with Barbury and with Burghley - and he should know.  Here's to another four times record!



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FULL THROTTLEFULL THROTTLENaughty Full Trottle proves his worth

When Laura Thomas' father, Norman, brought his latest purchase at the DBS Newbury Sale into her training yard, she was not impressed: "Where did you get that from?"  He certainly had a good Irish name!

Laura, who trains at Hackpen Farm just below Barbury Castle, described the Irish-bred gelding as "Properly nutty!  He's naughty to ride, and is very green and a bit hairy, but he's getting better.  He might almost be my favourite soon."

Now a six-year old, he has got so much better that he won the Maiden Hunters' Chase at Fontwell on May 14.  Amateur jockey Johnny Bailey brought him home to win by one and three-quarter lengths.  Full Trottle would have been ridden by Katy Lyons but she chose to ride the horse that came fourth in the Fontwell race: the Irish-bred nine year-old Carnglave Cat.

Photo of Full Trottle winning at Fontwell by kind permission of Julie Drewett (racehorsephotos.co.uk)


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