Paul Webber Racing Report – 8
The day dawns after weeks of preparation, planning and praying. It is a seriously important day for everybody and so much work goes into getting everything precisely right.
For 19 out of the last 20 years the ‘Weather Gods’ have smiled on us, but as we are increasingly and presently witnessing, these Gods can be both deaf, spiteful and horrifically destructive.
At least we only had to cope with a squalls rather than Hurricane Irma, an appalling behaved horse and the coldest Owners Day In memory, which sadly sent our owners home too soon. The fear of there being no such thing as a ‘free lunch’, sent a few folk home far too early and therefore able to resist the temptation of investing in further bloodstock!
Despite the weather the day was a triumph for Our Team who produced the horses looking absolutely amazing and Suzanne and Ku had everything else organised to perfection. However you do not need to listen to my bias words on the day as owner Gordon Simpson has written his own account and I think his “View from the paddock rail” will be far more accurate and intuitive than mine.
A Sunday sermon to beat them all at Cropredy Lawn!
by Gordon Simpson
As the Caribbean and the eastern seaboard of the United States battened down the hatches to ward off the unwelcome advances of Hurricane Irma, it took a mere two minutes of drizzle to disrupt proceedings at Cropredy Lawn on Sunday.
The eagerly-awaited annual tradition of Owners Day has habitually been accompanied by unbroken sunshine, with refreshments served al fresco as the new crop of potential winners (and losers) are paraded in front of an attentive audience.
Clearly, on this occasion, the Trainer’s ‘Hotline to Heaven’ suffered a malfunction as Paul Webber and his ‘congregation’ dodged the autumnal shower by heading to the Indoor School to conduct his yearly Sunday sermon.
That said, it was another exceptionally enjoyable day for the dozens of owners, part-owners, potential owners, friends, neighbours and family who huddled in the warmth as half a dozen different ‘lots’ were led up with characteristic efficiency and professionalism.
Under the watchful eye of Trevor Heath and the diligent Cropredy Team, the horses (almost) behaved themselves impeccably. The exception was STARJAC, a particularly frisky three-year-old grey gelding who took a decidedly dim view of the assembled guests in the outdoor parade ring just before the elements turned sour.
“Never work with animals and children,” muttered the Trainer with disdain. Sorry, Paul. Too late on both counts!
Over the years, visitors to Cropredy Lawn have experienced endless kindness and generous hospitality from the Trainer and The Power Behind The Throne, a.k.a. Mrs Ku Webber, and a lady of infinite patience. Owners Day 2017 was no exception.
The gleaming coats confirmed the well-being of the Webber string for 2017-18, and it never fails to stir the blood when Paul divulges the “brilliant campaign strategy” for each and every one of the horses being paraded in front of us. At least, that’s what the Trainer likes to tell his highly gullible owners!
Still, optimism always takes precedence over pessimism at the start of every Jumps Season. This is a practice which does not come easily to a cynical Scot, whose glass is not so much half empty, but that he has difficulty in even finding the glass.
There is a great truism in sport which states that ‘there is no ‘I’ in team’. This is very much the case with the Paul Webber Racing team. The Trainer and the Power are a truly genuine couple who treated every visitor to their home equally, whether an owner of several horses or someone with a small interest. That’s the fun of this game. It’s a team effort to put syndicates in place and for the stable staff to prepare the horses fit to run for their lives, and our money!
Rain might have stopped play temporarily, but once the Trainer had his karaoke machine set up indoors, Owners Day was up and running again after that false start.
The good news is that Paul didn’t find time to break into song, but instead he provided an absorbing and erudite insight into the plans for the yard throughout the coming months. It’s the highlight of the day when the prospects for each and every horse is clinically dissected and analysed by the Trainer.
Top jump jockey, Richie McLernon, who has ridden regularly for the Paul Webber yard, was among the assembled throng who listened attentively as Paul barely paused for breath to discuss the prospects of his charges. If ever anyone doubted the immense racing knowledge of the man at the top of the operation, they should have been at Cropredy Lawn for this Sunday morning sermon.
It was fascinating for everyone present to hear about the stirring exploits of some of the leading lights such as GWAFA, TINDARO, MISS TONGABEZI and the desperately unlucky COPPERFACEJACK; to discover who might be the new J P McManus hot-pot in our midst and – most importantly of all – to be reassured that OUR horse was going to be the stable star in 2017-18. Straight from the horse’s mouth, you might say.
Only the Trainer could tell us without pausing for breath whether a horse prefers a right handed track, good going as opposed to soft and heavy or would be more effective over two-and-a-half miles and needs Richie in the saddle to collar Nicky Henderson’s odds-on certainty on the line.
Watching the horses in the jumping lane, or equine pool, afterwards was another integral part of Owners Day. Paul remarked that his job is akin to being the headmaster of a big school, and that’s accurate to a point. Schooldays, though, didn’t include the chance to educate these wonderful and powerful thoroughbreds.
Appropriately, the Let Us Do Lunch Partnership made a bee-line for the marquee afterwards and did precisely that, along with the rest of the thirsty and hungry guests. As ever, the quality of the food and attentive service did the Webbers proud.
For the owners, it was a day to relax and enjoy the ambience as the season cranks up a few gears. David Higgins, who is involved in the partnership which runs THE HIKING VIKINGand VIKING QUEEN, explained: “We love being involved. Paul’s experience as a Bloodstock Agent shines through and knows where and when to find the right horses to maximise the results. He and Ku certainly deserve a big win some Saturday afternoon soon.”
Iain Watters, who owns potential chaser, CIRCUIT COURT, added: “You need a lot of luck in this game, but I’m still here 10 years on! Owners Day is a great social event and we are all here today as a gesture of support to the Cropredy Team.”
The final word should go to the Trainer who, straight to the point as ever, insisted that “there is no such thing as a free lunch!”
So, that being the case, anyone with even a small interest in becoming an owner should get in touch with Paul directly. This devotee of the turf can heartily recommend it.
A high-light at the end of the parade was what will no doubt be the first of many presentations to Jerry Walsh, who is retiring from his job of Travelling Head-Lad on 29th September, the day after his 65th birthday.
Jerry joined us on 19th September 1981, a mere 13,149 days ago! It will always be difficult for an amateur wordsmith of my calibre to find the best words to show our gratitude and thanks to Jerry, let alone put them in the correct order.
It is for this reason that this remarkable event and Jerry’s career will be dealt with in better detail after his retirement in our next Report (No.9). Sophie Webber is again organising our “Five horses to Follow” competition and many of you entered your selections on Owners’ Day for the bargain price of £5. This competition will close at the end of next week, so please send your selections by e-mail or post as soon as you can. If you need £5 credit until we see you, this can be arranged!
Steve Smith of Wilderspin Marketing has again produced a magnificent Horses in Training brochure for us.
How Steve, Lewis and their team cope with the work-load of so many National Hunt Trainers demanding brochures at the same time of year is a mystery to me.
When you are in need of this type of publication or website creation, I recommend you look no further than Wilderspin Marketing.
If you would like a brochure, please e-mail me and we will put one in the post, or even better come and see the horses, have breakfast and collect one yourself.
This week: ”Golden Brown” – The Stranglers
We have had just five runners since the beginning of August and their finishing positions have been 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd and 3rd.
NEW AGENDA has run two cracking races to be beaten a head at Windsor and then stayed on very gamely when third at Sandown. It would appear that his stamina is increasing and with it looking as though he might be in the grip of the handicapper off 85, he’ll go back over hurdles at Market Rasen in a valuable handicap on 30th September. Right-handed and good ground would be ideal.
KERRERA ran another good race to be third at Kempton where things did not quite go right. She was trapped a bit wide and a few lengths further back than ideal which meant that 1 ½ miles around that track was too sharp in the circumstances. She will be our next runner on 21st September at Chelmsford over 1 ¾ miles and will go very close there.
LEMONS GENT will accompany NEW AGENDA to Market Rasen on 30th September and he has always run well around that track. The first week of October looks to be when the next jumpers will appear with BREATH OF BLIGHTY, COSMIC DIAMOND, FINGERS CROSSED, ROYAL DEBUTANTE and THECORRUPTOR all pencilled in to make their seasonal debuts.
3yo gelding by Winged Love… please buy me!
This horse was admired as much as any during the parade on Sunday. He is just learning to canter upsides and really enjoys his work. He is an excellent mover with a good temperament. His sire Winged Love has produced very good staying chasers inc. Some Plan, Boston’s Angel and Twist Magic and he is closely related to Galway Hurdle winner Clondaw Warrior and the legendary Night Nurse.
This horse can be aimed at The Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper at Newbury on 24th March 2018, for which only the graduates of that sale qualify.
25% share = £10,000, 50% share = £20,000, 100% = £38,000, all + VAT.
The Cropredy Festival has been held in the village for over forty years.
With cutbacks in the Police force, this year we had to provide the horses and the sniffer-dog!