MIXED news from Alan this week-end, with Wayne Hutchinson getting the green light to return to race-riding at Warwick on Thursday, though Choc Thornton's injury is taking longer to heal than was expected, and he does not expect to be back on the track for another month.
Alan said this morning:"Wayne rode two lots yesterday, and he could return on Uriah Heep at Warwick, while we have Hollow Penny and Kuda Huraa entered up at Fontwell on Friday.
"The plan is for both jockeys to share the rides again this season, and, while this latest setback is disappointing for Choc, who has been advised to stop riding out, we won't really be getting going for another three or four weeks, so he isn't going to miss too much.
"Choc was injured at Chepstow in April, and he found out last Wednesday that his T1 vertebra just below the neck has still to completely fuse.
"He has to go back to his consultant neurosurgeon, Peter Hamlyn, on October 25, and, hopefully, by then the bone will have fused and he can start riding out again."
WE have a couple of runners at Plumpton today - Fighter Jet and Prettyasapicture - while hat-trick seeking Hollow Penny, who has been making hay while the sun shone through the summer, has been given an entry at Worcester on Friday.
It will probably be October until Alan really gets going with his jumpers, but the tempo has certainly been stepped up in the mornings at Barbury recently, and I caught up with the boss for a brief update.
He said:"We are gradually increasing the horses work-rate, and they are going up the hill three times twice a week, and I am very happy with their progress.
"Another boost has been the extension of our all-weather gallop in the summer. We have added another furlong at the top, and I am delighted with it.
"Both Choc Thornton and Wayne Hutchinson, who missed the summer months through injury, are back riding out again, and I would like to think that they would be passed fit to resume riding on the racecourse in early October.
"However, we won't be in any hurry with the horses. We did not get on the grass for the first time until October 26 last year, so there is plenty of time."
WE can forgive Cahill his disappointing run on the Flat at Chepstow last week "he hated that soft ground," reflected Alan, but Hollow Penny won his second chase this month at Newton Abbot yesterday and is proving a real good summer money-spinner for owner David Sewell.
Alan said: "Hollow Penny's Fontwell win got a form boost when the second won last Thursday, and, though our fellow was 9lb higher at Newton Abbot, he could not have done it better.
"He is only six and still improving, and he jumped super again and had the race sewn up at the third last and then found enough up the straight to repel the challenge of the runner-up."
Alan tells me that he is "just beginning to step up the work-rate of the jumpers", though, apart from Uriah Heep, who would have a squeak at Worcester today, he envisages "a quiet week", though we have one or two possibles entered up on the Flat at Haydock on Thursday.
ALAN was delighted with our two runners at Fontwell last night, Uriah Heep running a cracker with his double penalty to finish second to the improved My Generation in the novice hurdle, while Hollow Penny, who disappointed at Market Rasen last time, showed that form to be all wrong when winning his handicap chase in style.
We are back Flat racing today, with two-year-old Paddy's Runner making his debut in the Balder Succes colours and Kuda Huraa going for the staying handicap.
The kids might be in the middle of their summer holidays, but the equine army are returning in their droves at Barbury, and Alan already has more than 100 of his team back from their summer break.
HEAVY rain scuppered our chances of getting amongst the winners at Market Rasen's big meeting on Saturday, though Montbazon ran his heart out to finish fourth while Chatez also picked up a bronze medal on the Flat at Newmarket, where the ground proved a bit lively.
However, we were in gold medal position at Stratford yesterday with Laser Blazer winning easing down by 12 lengths at Stratford, and Alan said: "He had been placed at Kempton and Newbury so was dropping in class, and that victory will have done his confidence good. We can build on that now."
We are at Windsor tonight with Nyanza in the finale, and Alan added: "She produced a career-best performance at Newbury last time in finishing third so, though she is now 3lb higher, she is still improving, so we hope that she will again be competitive."
News has filtered through from Wayne Hutchinson that, following his hip operation during Royal Ascot week, progress is going well, though he envisages that it will be mid-September before he is back in the saddle.
If a jump jockey was told that he would be off games for 12 weeks, it's a fair bet that he would request June, July and August as the months he would prefer to miss, so Wayne is not exactly "walking his box" at the latest news.
He said: "The injury goes back to Stratford in the spring, and I suffered two tears in a capsule that runs around the outside of the hip joint.
"However, the scan also showed excess bone on the top of the femur, which limited the range of movement I was getting, plus the surgeon discovered that I shredded the meniscus as well.
"However, the operation went well, and then it was a just of regaining the lost muscle tissue.
"I could not put on any weight on the hip for the first three weeks so was on crutches, but we are now on to the next stage and I have made regular visits to Oaksey House, doing physio, and, while I was restricted to five minutes a day at the start, I have built that up to an hour a session for the last couple of weeks.
"The people and facilities at Oaksey House have been brilliant, and everything seems to be coming on well, and gradually we are increasing the exercise, doing squats and lunges.
"So if all goes well I will return to see the surgeon early next month and, while you have to do things by the book in these situations, I would like to think that come mid-September I will be back on a horse."
CAN'T quite imagine Alan being an avid fan of Uriah Heep, the rock band from the 70's, but the boss is certainly getting a soft spot for his horse of that name.
The equine Uriah Heep seems to like Stratford, and he clocked up his second success over the track when scoring comfortably there yesterday.
Though 9lb higher than for his previous visit, Uriah Heep, confidently ridden by Dickie Johnson, always travelled best and won with plenty in hand.
THINGS move up a gear at Barbury on the jumping front tomorrow morning with a dozen of the winter-performers returning from their summer holidays, but, meanwhile, Alan reports his small Flat team are "ticking away nicely".
He said: "I was really pleased how well King's Bayonet won at Chester on Friday night, beating two in-form horses in Xinbama and English Summer.
"Hayley Turner gets on particularly well with King's Bayonet, so, hopefully, she will be able to ride him again if we go to Glorious Goodwood at the end of the month.
"The Chester race was over a mile and a half, but he is versatile enough to go up or down in distance, so I am going to enter him for two races at Goodwood on the opening day (July 29), the £50,000 10-furlong handicap and the £80,000 handicap over a mile and six furlongs."
NO SUBSTUTE was the first winner Richard Johnson has ridden for us for five years when he scored at Uttoxeter on Sunday, but the jockey was not long in bagging another for Barbury, courtesy of Uriah Heep at Stratford last night.
One-time smart Flat-racer Uriah Heep was belatedly opening his account over jumps, and Alan said:"He chipped a hock at Taunton last year, and it took a while to get him back, but that victory will do a lot for his confidence and we will keep him going through the summer and maybe look to jump a fence in the autumn."
As for the reunion with Johnson, Alan added: "With Choc (Thornton) and Wayne (Hutchinson) both still on the sidelines, I needed a jockey, and who better to deputise than Dickie.
"We were together with The Duke (David Nicholson), so we go back an awful long time, and it is always good to team up with him again."
Alan hopes Montbazon and Ridgeway Storm will have each-way chances at tonight's Polytrack meeting at Kempton - "Montbazon ran really well to finish third at Haydock last time, especially as the ground would have been plenty soft enough for him, while Ridgeway Storm was another who does not enjoy soft ground and conditions went against him at Salisbury, though his Windsor third to Arod (fourth in the Derby) does not look too bad now, does it ?" - while we are also focussing on the level on Friday, when Ronaldinho runs in the finale at Sandown.
"Hughesie knows him well from Ronaldinho's days at the Hannons, and he rode him for us at Windsor last time, when they bumped into one (Jupiter Storm)," said Alan.
"The longer distance here should help Ronaldinho, but the ground at present is probably as quick as he would want, so a drop of rain would not go amiss," he said, looking disconsolately at the clearless blue skies.
Meanwhile, Tom Bellamy, who rode 13 winners in a three-year spell with David Pipe, has joined us as a conditional jockey.
Tom is the son of Robert Bellamy, clerk of the course at Towcester who was also with Nicholson in the halcyon days at Condicote and Jackdaws Castle.
PERSEVERANCE paid off for No Substitute at Uttoxeter yesterday, when he finally broke the ice in the maiden hurdle.
Alan said:"That was thoroughly deserved. No Substitute has finished second in a bumper, been twice runner-up over hurdles and also found one too good over fences, so he was not winning out of turn. I am pleased for his owner, John Hales, who has been very patient."
BLACK clouds replaced the blue skies over Barbury this morning, following news that Tiger Cliff suffered a fatal heart-attack after finishing fourth in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
Tiger Cliff started favourite and literally ran his heart out, finally giving best at the two-furlong-pole, and Alan said: "He collapsed after passing the post, and everyone in the yard is absolutely devastated.
"We did not have him long, but he quickly became hugely popular in the yard, and we were all excited about his future. Our thoughts are with Henry Ponsonby and his syndicate, who were naturally distraught afterwards."
Tiger Cliff, who was always the apple of Henry Cecil's eye, won the Ebor Handicap at York last August for the trainer's widow Jane, and he joined Alan in the autumn with a view to going hurdling.
That plan was put on hold when sickness knocked the stable for six in December, but he finished third in the Yorkshire Cup on his first run for us, and after a satisfactory dress-rehearsal in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown the syndicate were all geared up for a toppers 'n tails celebration. Sadly, it was not to be, and we shall all miss him enormously.
BARBURY felt more like Millionaires Row on Wednesday morning, with Betfred boss Fred Done on hand to present a cheque for £1,342,599 to 39-year-old wheelie bin cleaner Craig Brazier as one of eight winners of last week's Scoop6.
Craig, 39, brought his wife Tracy and daughters Casey and Jessica down from Mansfield, and one of Craig's first requests on arriving at the yard was to be able to meet Chatez, the sixth and final leg of his £2 life-changing bet.
Alan is away on holiday, but assistant trainer Ollie Wardle showed Craig and his family around at second lot, and Fergus Sweeney, who rode Haydock winner Chatez, was also here to ensure that it was a special occasions for the Braziers.
Craig said: "I just loved being given the opportunity to pat Chatez, the horse that made me a millionaire, and my daughters wanted me to give him a J20 as they felt he would need it after that run."
First thing that Craig plans to do is swap his two-up and two-down terrace house for a five-bedroom detached in the Mansfield area, and then he will be off to Florida for a family holiday at Disneyworld.
However, having always been an Alan King fan, he has promised to return to Barbury in the summer to have a chat to the boss with a view of "maybe taking a share in a horse for starters".
Meanwhile, the stable's good fortune continues, with King's Bayonet scoring a bloodless win in a three-runner race in testing ground at Leicester yesterday, while Turn Over Sivola finally shrugged off his bout of second-itis over fences, which included a Grade 1 at Aintree, by landing the odds at Huntingdon.
GRUMETI did not have to break sweat to open his accout over fences at Bangor last week, but we also have plenty to look forward to on the Fat, with Chatez the star of the show at Haydock last Saturday, when he captured the valuable Silver Bowl.
Before leaving for his summer break with the family, Alan King said:"It looked like it might dry up too much for Chatez, but the rain returned in time, and by the time his race came up it was riding soft again.
"Chatez has done us proud this season, winning at Newbury and Epsom, and Fergus (Sweeney) blames himself for getting narrowly beaten at Haydock last time, being adamant that he got there too soon.
"However, I thought he rode a lovely race this time, and, as he says, Chatez is a decent horse when he gets his ground.
"He won that off 91 and it was a career-best performance, but he has gone up another 7lb to 98, which guarantees him a place in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot, though we would need it to be a wet June."
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