2021-22 Season Preview

Introduction......writes a Stable Correspondent (beginning of October 2021) 

Early season gallop

There's change in the air.
The mornings are taking that little bit longer to break, there's an obvious nip in the air and owners other than Rob Bewley can be spotted on the gallops.

The second half of last season wasn't anywhere near what the yard had hoped for but with most of the horses returning a few weeks earlier than in previous years, Donald is delighted with the general health and condition of the string.

Optimism for the year ahead and anticipation adding that extra spring in the step, the excitement at Dodlands Steading is tangible.
Full details of the Stable Staff can be found on the dedicated page and we're delighted to welcome back Laura, Georgina, stable amateur Connor and Zoe as the weekday work riders alongside Callum and Garry while Cameron provides sterling support on the ground.
Relief pitchers at the weekend are Pinky, Shay, Ollie and Lewis.

Adding invaluable experience are jump jockeys Craig Nichol, Callum Bewley and Blair Campbell who although having commitments to other yards, do manage to pop down one day per week to ride out. Jockey profiles can be found here.

As strong a team as anyone could hope to muster and as you can read below Callum believes there is also a strong equine team who can maybe just finally breakthrough that double figure barrier of winners.

Lets begin with a statistical summary of the yard over the last 6 seasons.

National Hunt Seasons Runs & results (Percentage figures in brackets) win 2nd 3rd 4th other Placed
2020-21   3 (5%) 8 (13%) 7 (12%) 10 (16%) 33 (54%) 46%
2019-20   4 (9%) 9 (20%) 7 (15%) 6 (13%) 20 (43%) 57%
2018-19 6 (14%) 9 (21%) 4 (9%)    4 (9%)     20 (47%)    53%  
2017-18 8 (17%) 6 (13%) 5 (10%) 4 (8%) 25 (52%) 48%
2016-17 4 (7.6%) 5 (9.6%) 5 (9.6%) 3 (5.8) 35 (67.3) 32.7
2015-16   5 (11.4%) 4 (9%) 7 (15.9%) 5 (11.4%) 23 (52.3%) 47.7%

Following lunch after a busy morning, Callum sat down to discuss horses and hopes for NH Season 2021-22.

In preparation for this preview, I took a step back and considered the list of horses for this season and a thought struck me. Pre-training aside, all have spent their entire racing career at Dodlands Steading. Well, apart from Our Percy for a season with Charlie Longsdon.
So I don't have far to look when things go wrong........

Joking apart, I'm very grateful - it can be humbling at times - to be entrusted with the training of such a fine group of thoroughbreds by our owners.
Owner-breeders such as Bill Aitchison and Ron & Eileen Smith together with renowned sales-ring talent spotters such as Rob Bewley and Mouse Young. Last season it was uplifting to welcome several new owners to the yard - Simon Gillies, Kenny Lynn and several more as part of racing partnerships.
And if I've omitted to name check anyone,  don't worry as there's a whole season ahead!

Handicap hurdlers / possible novice chasers 

Realistically, I expect this is the group where the majority of our winning chances will come this season. There are a few old favourites and several novice types who'll be competitive once handicapped. And I'm not ruling out the opportunity of going novice chasing with some in this group either.

Bonny Houxty
As is the norm, Bonny Houxty will re-join the stable later in the year following some pre-training by a yard neighbouring owner-breeder Bill Aitchison.
The mare had some promising form over hurdles in the 2019-20 season when she was placed in each of her 3 hurdle outings, but her runs in the Spring of last season were not quite up to the same level.
In hindsight, she did look to have been affected by the general malaise that the yard was under during that period, as she ran well for a good deal of each race before fading quickly. A couple of minor places from 3 efforts but we know she can do better. But still, she has now been placed in 5 of her 6 races over hurdles. 

Bonny Houxty is a strong, good sized mare who should provide owner-breeders Bill & Carol Aitchison with lots of fun in the next few months, initially in mid-distance handicap hurdles.

Eternally Yours
After going heart-breakingly close (a nose!) on seasonal debut at Aintree in December, nothing then seemed to go right for Eternally Yours.
Hopes of quickly following up were thwarted when a couple of planned outings were aborted due to frosty ground, then she obviously wasn't right when pulled up at Carlisle in February.
As you may have read elsewhere, the yard was impacted by an outbreak of ringworm and Eternally Yours was clearly not well a few days after that run. I decided against running her again last season and looking at her now, she has benefitted from the time off.
She's been here at Dodlands for 5 years now and her race record is impressive - 3 wins, 3 second and 2 third places from 12 runs.

'Thimble' is a lovely, athletic filly just that little bit long in the back and has matured into an attractive 16.1hh frame. Lightly raced for an 8 year old, suited by 2½ miles, this fairly useful hurdler will again be aimed at good class handicap hurdles (starts the season off OR125) with mares-only novice chases not ruled out!

Honda Fifty
I picked up Honda Fifty at the Tatts Ireland Store Sale in August 2017 so I've obviously got a soft spot for him but that didn't stop me managing to get him beat by a nose in bumpers - twice - a couple of seasons back. So just quite how Honda Fifty remains a maiden after 3 seasons of racing does cause me some sleepless nights.
Sticking to facts though, his three runner-up slots in bumpers did represent fairly useful form. These were followed last season by three placed efforts (out of 4 runs) in 2 mile hurdle races. The last of these he came up against the well-handicapped Foster'sisland at Carlisle in February and could only again fill the runners-up position.

Now rated OR100 he'll being trying for handicap hurdles around 2 miles, with some give in the ground. Surely some time soon...........

Lady Villanelle
A 2018 Sales purchase by TD9 Racing (John, Davie, Greg & Ian), she had a promising bumper season in 2019-20. We schooled Lady Villanelle over hurdles in the Spring of 2020, so prior to last season I knew she jumped well.
And that was certainly the case on hurdles debut at Hexham in November '20 only needing to be pushed out by Callum Bewley for a comfortable success. She was not quite up to the same level a couple of months later at Musselburgh when finishing 3rd but a solid enough run nonetheless.
Unfortunately Lady Villanelle was pulled up next time and post-race was clearly showing the effects of ringworm which ravaged the yard in the second part of the season.
She's had a good summer break and has come back into yard looking healthy and fresh. On close analysis of her form you could come to the conclusion that her opening BHA mark of OR106 may be a little high, but sometimes you just play with the hand your dealt. To begin with at any rate.
Just the type for the 'Go North' mares hurdle series through the winter.

Our Percy
Our Percy arrived at Dodlands Steading during February 2021. His owner acquired the gelding out of Charlie Longsdon's yard at the Goffs Doncaster Sales of September 2020 with a view to training him for a Point to Point campaign. Of course this was severely disrupted by the COVID19 pandemic, so Kenny Lynn sent Our Percy along to Dodlands.
Every cloud has a silver lining though and after an initial hurdles run in mid March last season, Our Percy then ran a couple of excellent races to be placed in novice hurdles. The first of these was at Carlisle a month later over 2m 3f then he ran well to finish 3rd over 2 miles at Hexham in May on good to soft ground each time.

Our Percy is in pre-training prior to joining the yard in October for the 2021-22 campaign. He's a very nice type and starts the season with a BHA mark of 102. A fine jumper who will benefit for a trip in excess of 2½ miles, he'll start off in handicap hurdles with the option of going chasing later on.

Shoeshine Boy
Without setting the heather on fire, Shoeshine Boy acquitted himself quite well in his two bumper outings in season 2020-21. We managed to squeeze in a hurdles debut in early May before the ground dried up too much and again it was a low key run but quite promising nonetheless.
As last summer, Shoeshine Boy spend his time at grass in the company of fellow Dodlands inmate Nights in Venice and both horses returned to the yard in mid July so we'll waste no time in sending this lad to the races this season.
His three winning siblings all needed trips in excess of 2m 4f, so as the year progresses Shoeshine Boy will be aimed at small Northern handicap hurdles over 2m 4f plus. He'll need another couple of novice hurdle runs to get handicapped so we're looking for him to be competitive from mid November onwards.

He has jumped well in his schooling so this should stand him in good stead as the season progresses.

Stainsby Girl
Stainsby Girl is another mare who has been here at Dodlands since joining the yard as a newly educated 3 year old in 2017. A bumper winner as a 4 year old, she followed up several fine runs over hurdles by winning a novice hurdle - final career win for me in the saddle - in March 2020.
With her novice status extended by a couple of months, I took full advantage and won a mares' only novice hurdle with her first time out last season - carrying a winner's penalty - at Hexham in November. Below par next time but she ran well when later placed in a couple of good class handicaps before the ground dried up.
Stainsby Girl does need some give in the ground and has been effective at 2 miles but we may give her another go at 2½ miles before too long. Starts on a mark of 120, she is another of our mares who might possibly take in a novice chase.

A lovely, good-topped filly, and a fairly useful hurdler with an excellent NH pedigree full to the brim with winners.

Stolen Money
Another Tatts Ireland sales purchase, this time from August 2018, Stolen Money's pedigree has taken a significant upgrade with the exploits of his half brother Classic Ben who won a £50k added 3 mile chase at Sandown a couple of seasons back.
Pulled up on hurdling debut last season over 2½ miles, the lengthy Stolen Money then kept on doggedly to be placed on his next 3 runs in novice hurdles at 3 miles. Clearly this chasing-type, who stands at around 16.2hh, is true stayer. He starts the 2021-22 on a mark of 99 which seems quite fair to me!.
He may open his season in a handicap hurdle but look out for him in staying novice handicap chases when the going is testing. A likely improver.

Novice hurdlers

Whilst we have been known to have the odd novice hurdle winner per season in recent times, the competitive nature of this area means that the yard views such races more as a development sphere for the jumping and racing attitude of our runners.
Don't get me wrong though, for with a horse of natural ability and proven bumper form - Eternally Yours, for example - we can hit the target.

So generally, more about each performance showing progressive improvement. Very exciting for the yard just maybe not a viable betting medium.......

Enemy At The Gate
Enemy At The Gate had a couple of runs in bumpers last season and showed a fair level of form in each. After finishing 3rd of 4 on debut at Ayr in March where the ground was bottomless, the 5-year-old's next run was a month later at Hexham on good ground running a nice race to be 5th of 9.
We gave him a run over hurdles for experience in May at Hexham but he didn't jump fluently enough early on to keep in contention. However, that run will not have been wasted.

Being by the late Fame and Glory, it's almost taken as read that he is a good looking sort. Enemy At The Gate will be aimed at novice hurdles this season and he's fairly far forward so look for him to appear in October / early November.

Kinerton Hill
Kinerton Hill is a strong, chasing-type of gelding of Simon Gillies' who was sent straight over hurdles in the second half of last season.
He ran 4 times at distances around 2 miles but was quite backward in those early outings.
However, while never really threatening to get involved, he did show signs of improvement in those races as his confidence grew with experience.

This gelding starts the season with an official BHA Rating of 81, so we'll look for him to be more competitive in handicap hurdles/chases when stepped up in trip.

Maid of Houxty
I was delighted to receive this unraced mare from owner-breeder Bill Aitchison into the yard at the start of winter last season. Maid of Houxty is a well-made mare who will follow the usual pattern of Bill Aitchison horses as she will re-join the yard later on this year after undergoing some pre-training activity.
Following a bumper run for experience, her only race over hurdles last season came in February 2021 at Newcastle when she was a close third to a couple of Point winning mares. She certainly improved immensely for a flight of hurdles (much like her full sister Bonny Houxty) from her initial bumper outing and we'll look to build on that this season when she will again start off in mares' only novice hurdles.

Maid of Houxty looks sure to be suited by 2m 4f plus and by give in the ground. She jumps well and I think she can go close in one of those mares' only contests given optimum conditions.
Oh, and she may well be aimed at fences after New Year

Nights In Venice
Bred by owner Al Duncan, and like his half-sisters (Eternally Yours and Our Elsie) is in training at Dodlands.
A tall, lengthy gelding, he possesses a good deal of scope and we're pleasantly surprised by just how nice a horse he has turned into in the early part of this season.
Unlike previous family members in the yard, Nights In Venice did prove to be a backward sort last season (more like progeny we've experienced of his sire Midnight Legend) so it was into Spring of 2021 before he made his racecourse debut. We were disappointed with his effort that day at Carlisle (9th of 10) but none of the Dodlands' horses ran very well around that time so we're inclined to forgive him that run.
Certainly his early work upon returning to Dodlands (from a summer at Ruth Jardine's) has been very pleasing and we have high hopes for this gelding.

Nights In Venice will start off in a bumper this season before tackling middle distance novice hurdles.

Undecided was a horse that we held particular high hopes for in 2020-21 as his home work was sparkling. And yet......
This Sageburg gelding made his bumper debut at Newcastle in early December '20 and there were stable expectations that he would run a big race. However, he finished 6th,  failing to pick up in the final 2 furlongs. That he followed this debut with couple of disappointing runs in the Spring could well have been due to the cloud that Dodlands Steading was under at the time but it can often be folly to search for excuses.

Anyway, Undecided had his summer break and is once again impressing the experienced work riders each morning!
He's a well-made gelding, not one to give up on and will improve for a step up in trip. Will go novice hurdling this season.


Unraced bumper horses

Seems an on-going theme as yet again this season a large proportion of the stable inhabitants are unraced sorts looking to make a debut in a bumper at some point during the season.
There are 9 at this stage (and maybe 1 or 2 more during the season) from an expected stable size of 23 which is 39% - and there's even a 3 year old!
Still, our team is full of experienced work riders and jockeys to ensure that these youngsters are in the very best of hands.

At this (very) every stage Jimmy's Jet and Neigh Botha are nice geldings who we are very much looking forward to taking to the races. But racehorses have varying rates of development so you never know what's round the corner.
We just love nurturing the innate talent of each individual.

Jimmy's Jet
Jimmy's Jet was one of the first of the winter string to arrive at Dodlands Steading - in mid July - for the forthcoming NH 2021-22 season.
'Tyson' did spend a fair amount of time at Dodlands last season and was actually in the yard in the Spring earlier this year but we delayed his debut run as we felt another summer at grass would be most beneficial.
That seems to have been a wise move, as this gelding has flourished at grass and has been impressing connections during morning exercise.

A bumper run won't be far way (ground dependent in October or November) for this nice gelding, a promising sort for the season.

5 year old gelding by Libertarian ex Be Donn
The oldest progeny of Libertarian, the sire of 'Carter', will be 5 years old in 2021. Libertarian is very much from a staying family, so it's not that surprising that he has had very few runners to date as his stock will improve with age.
That is probably true of this lad as well, from the 1st crop of the 2013 Dante winner, as he's a stout, chasing type who is the sort to improve with time.
This gelding suffered a leg injury which required several weeks of box rest and so didn't make the racecourse last season. He's come back to Dodlands after a good summer at grass though and is a regular each morning on the gallops making up for lost time.

Unsurprisingly, he's a little backward at this stage but we hope that he sees a bumper debut come January 2022.

5 year old gelding by Frammassone ex Ball Park 
'Marcus' was another of our 5 year olds who didn't make it to the racecourse last season, picking up a couple of minor issues here and there. Nothing serious though.
He's come back in from summer grass in splendid shape and is working away in the mornings with his stablemates, looking to make a bumper debut this side of the New Year.

I continue to like him!!

5 year old filly by Califet ex Rose Vic
This filly is a half sister to a couple of fine mares who raced for the yard in recent times - Paper Roses and her full sister Paper Promise. She was acquired at the 2019 Tatts Ireland August NH Store Sale. She was at Dodlands for a short spell last season.
'Emily' re-entered Dodlands Steading at the beginning of the summer along with the year younger So Many Roads.
This provided the opportunity to re-acquaint the filly with the morning exercise routine. The two horses have spent several weeks at grass before coming back in for the 2021-22 season at the end of September. 

Aim to make a debut in a bumper round about the turn of the year.

4 year old gelding by Multiplex ex Celine Message
'Derek' is a lovely athletic gelding by Multiplex who was actually in training here at Dodlands at the back end of last season. Then, he impressed the work riders with his attitude in and around the yard and no lack of ability on the gallops either.
This gelding is actually a half brother to Rob Bewley's former Dodlands trained bumper horse Bluefortytwo. Bluefortytwo finished second in an Ayr bumper in January '18 before being sold to a patron of James Ewart's yard and has gone on to win one hurdle race so far.

Mid September and 'Derek' has just returned to Dodlands and is doing some roadwork in preparation to build up the morning exercise. We would hope he will make a bumper debut before the end of the year.

4 year old gelding by Leading Light ex Mistress Pope
'Murphy' is another of Rob Bewley's unraced geldings for the forthcoming season and like Jimmy's Jet he's been in the yard for a couple of months here and there over the last 18 months.
A purchase at the delayed Tattersalls 2020 May Store Sale, he is the second foal out of the unraced Mistress Pope but she is a half sister to a couple of black type performers in Frascati Park and Fix The Rib.

He's working nicely upsides at this stage - to the delight of his owner - and is another who we'd like to give an initial bumper outing to round about the turn of the year.

Ellistrin Star
Ellistrin Star was in training here at Dodlands for a few months in the Spring of the 2020-21 season. She also had a spell in the yard the previous  year so she was well acquainted with the yard set up and morning routing.
A racecourse appearance was not planned last season but she was working upsides the string in regular exercise.
She returned to Dodlands in early August this year after a spell at summer grass with her owner-breeders Ron & Eileen Smith, who live not a stone's throw from Dodlands Steading.

Ellistrin Star is being prepared for a bumper debut around about the end of the year. A sturdy filly, Ellistrin Star has the scope to do well in the jumping game.

Neigh Botha
Neigh Botha was in training here at Dodlands for a few months at the back end of the 2020-21 season. Didn't make it to the racecourse but he did really well and was working upsides the string in morning exercise.
Roughed off towards the end of Spring '21 and after a couple of months enjoying summer grass, he came back into training at the end of July for a 2021-22 campaign. Early stages but he is working well.

Neigh Botha, a good looking gelding as befits a grandson of Sadler's Wells, is very promising - one to look forward to in 2021-22. His debut may not be too far away and really dependent upon the easing of ground towards the end of October.

So Many Roads
'Andy' returned to Dodlands at the end of September having had a break of around 10 weeks at grass.
And what a sight to behold, for he looks to have grown distinctively taller in the meantime, standing at over 16.1hh. A strong, chasing type in looks, we can't wait to get cracking with him again. Even at this stage though, he'll be one of the last of the string to re-appear at Dodlands although there are a handful to follow who have undergone pre-training.
So Many Roads will begin with a couple of weeks of walking and gentle trotting in nearby lanes prior to steady cantering each morning on the gallops, progressing to twice Up-the-Middle with his stablemates. The experience of being in the yard during the summer will not be lost on him however and when his work is stepped up this gelding will know what's required.

Everything going to plan, we'd hope to take in an initial outing in a bumper round about the turn of the year.

Both Barrels
A bit of a collector's piece at Dodlands - a 3 year old gelding in training aiming to make a bumper debut, maybe even as a 3 year old!
This Saddler's Rock gelding had been in pre-training prior to being sent to us by owner Anne Marshall so he'll be further forward than most 3 year olds joining the yard. 'Sid' has started off doing roadwork along 'Derek' (our Multiplex gelding) and we'd imagine their training pattern will mirror each other over the first few weeks of the season.

So keep those eyes peeled on the frequent gallop reports during the season

Up the Middle
A mid September gallop

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