Saturday 18th August 2018, a dream start and a day that will live very long in the memory.
To win a Deauville maiden, an hour before the hammer starts to fall on some of the best-bred yearlings in Europe would be a special moment for most trainers. I still need to pinch myself to be sure I'm not in a dream to have won the Prix Des Etalons Shadwell with my first runner.
Icefinger is a horse we have always thought might have a touch of class. We had given him Group entries before his race but we might opt for a Listed race to allow him grow up. His very relaxed manner at home just meant that it took him a bit of time to come to hand. Despite our belief in him, I never thought he would be able to beat nice horses who had experience in regarded maidens at the first time of asking. That day was a nice way to culminate the start-up phase of our yard.
I firmly believe that the authorization and licensing process in France is the best grounding one can get. That said, it still doesn't quite prepare me for what comes next. Establishing a company in France and getting all the necessary paperwork in place isn't the most straightforward and this is probably an area where France lags behind other neighbouring countries. Admittedly, through August most of Europe takes the month as a holiday which adds to the timeline to do anything. It probably doesn't help that I'm wired to prefer spending time outside with the horses.
I am fortunate that I have an excellent accounting firm in Equicer guiding me through everything step by step and now we're fully set up and running. Even my bank account got held up in the bureaucracy so I'm grateful to my suppliers for their patience.
I feel it is necessary to say that Olivier Delloye of France Galop is an exception and his help throughout has been nothing short of phenomenal given his busy schedule and without him, Icefinger probably would not have been able to run when he did.
My previous update had been written days before myself and my girlfriend, Alice moved into what had served as a lucky yard to Mr. Francois Doumen on the Chemin du Mont De Po. It boasts 25 of some of the newest stables to be built in Chantilly and direct access to Les Aigles and Les Lions training centres. We are very excited to be training from here, the horses love the bright, well circulated boxes and we have settled in well.
We're up and running with three horses in the yard so far, for three different owners, and they've all run already! I'm lucky to have three good owners to start with, who all are interested in doing more and having more horses in France. Icefinger is a dream, one that his owner BLC Horse Racing, agent Morten Buskop and I are hoping will take us to exciting places over the coming months. We'll take it step by step as he still needs to learn more about his job!
We tried to be adventurous with Repercussion, entering him in the Prix Quincey. He is a quirky horse, but he has a lot of ability and just needs things his own way a little bit. Maybe a confidence booster might be best for him!
Epic Challenge is a gent of a horse who has quite a bit of ability. He found instant fame in Chantilly helping to catch a loose filly and being very chivalrous about the whole encounter. Despite his gentle nature, his testicles appear to be causing him some pain and he is set to be gelded in the coming days. I see him having a bit in hand off his UK mark of 83 in time.
We've been working hard to get around the sales and meet people to try and strike up and build relationships with new owners and horses and all going well we've got a few things in the pipeline. It's very difficult at this stage as we have to balance between managing the horses we have in and picking up new ones. Currently it's only Alice and I in the yard which makes getting away that bit harder - Alice is doing a great job riding the horses as evidenced by Icefinger! We've managed to attract a couple of experienced exercise riders for the yard as well who all come on board in the coming weeks and we'll start to get into a more established routine on a bigger scale.
Understandably, our current model of training three horses is far from being a financially viable one. It is however, what I consider to be a key stage in presenting what we do to potential clients. Attracting support in this industry has never been easy, particularly if there aren't results to back it up and I felt that if we could show some results from limited numbers during the sales season, it might just tip some potential clients over our side of the fence and be worth the financial risk.
The moment the first horses arrived on to this yard, life took a significant turn and a commitment was made to give maximum effort in getting the best out of each and every individual that walked into the yard.
There are no hiding places on any racetrack and without an attention to detail that rivals the competition, 4.30 a.m. starts would be in vain and days like Saturday, 18th August 2018 would remain as dreams unfulfilled.