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Extraordinary skills on show as stables open up their doors
GARY WITHEFORD, whose work with ‘problem’ horses is well known and greatly admired by trainers throughout Britain and Ireland, and who is set to demonstrate his talents at the Malton Stables’ Open Day later this month, was deservedly in the spotlight at Glorious Goodwood on Saturday after being instrumental in the success of both the big-race winners.
Not only has Witheford worked closely with the hyper-active Winsili, winner of the Group 1 Nassau Stakes for John Gosden and William Buick, he was also recruited by Newmarket trainer William Haggas to take the highly-strung Rex Imperator, successful in the Stewards’ Cup at 12-1, under his wing earlier this year after the gelding had lost his confidence in Dubai during the winter.
Witheford, a ‘horse behaviourist’, describes Rex Imperator as the worst horse, I think, I’ve ever dealt with.
He explained: “He had just lost the plot completely. He didn’t even want to walk around the paddock.
“He was kicking the heck out of everything. He didn’t even like himself and, I would say, he was the nearest to a horse having a nervous breakdown.”
Gradually Witheford, who is based in Wiltshire, gained the trust of Rex Imperator and regained the horse’s confidence during an eight week spell of treatment. The reward was seeing the four-year-old romp home in one of the richest sprint handicaps in Europe.
Thirty-five minutes earlier, Winsili, whom Witheford has coached through the starting stalls throughout her career, had won one of the most prestigious fillies’ races of the season at odds of 20-1. “It was a fantastic day,” he said.
Come August 25, Witheford will be demonstrating his extraordinary skills as one of the star visiting attractions at the Malton Stables’ Open Day.
Based at Wold House, the training stables of his good friend Tim Etherington, he will, among other things, be giving a demonstration of breaking horses from scratch.
He drew a big crowd last year when making an appearance at Malton, where he also gave a spectacular exhibition with his magnificent Andalusian stallion.
Just one of the features of this not-to-be-missed event, Witheford’s display is a further good reason to ring the date on your calendar.
Entrance is £10 (accompanied under-12s free) and this includes entry to all the participating yards, a park and ride service around the Norton and Malton stables and car parking at outlying yards.
In the afternoon, visitors will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session in the Milton Rooms featuring Jack Berry, David Elsworth and John Francome.
The day’s proceeds will be divided between three charities close to hearts of many – Malton Hospital, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, and Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys’ Fund rehabilitation centre, to be built in Old Malton, starting this autumn.
• A TRIP to York’s Ebor Festival later this month is on the cards for Gallic Breeze, who made a really good impression at Chester on Sunday.
The John Quinn-trained two-year-old, having only his second start, ran out a comfortable winner in the hands of Mick O’Connell, justifying his 6-4 odds.
The Acomb Stakes at York is now under serious consideration for Gallic Breeze, who looks to be a horse with plenty of scope.
Although Kashmir Peak failed to provide Quinn with a double at Chester, the Highfield trainer had every reason to be well pleased with the gelding’s runner-up effort, beaten only half-a-length.
Not seen since finishing unplaced in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, Kashmir Peak, who proved a very useful addition to Quinn’s jumping squad last season is a horse worth following from now on – under both codes.
• OLLIE PEARS, surprised to see Noodles Blue Boy priced up as the outsider of the field in the feature race at Musselburgh on Friday evening, was thrilled to see his stable stalwart make a mockery of his odds by taking the top honours under Tom Eaves.
“I couldn’t believe that he was 40-1,” said Pears, who has trained Noodles Blue Boy, now a seven-year-old, throughout his career. “That’s ten races he’s won now. He’s been a tremendous horse for us and he’s a real favourite. I just wish that I had a few more like him,” added the Norton trainer, who is enjoying a very good season.
He has already trained 13 winners – two more than his total for the whole of 2012.
• PAUL HANAGAN followed his fine victory on Garswood in Goodwood’s Lennox Stakes with another win for his old boss Fahey on Majestic Moon at the Sussex track.
No decision has been made on whether Garswood will have a run in this country before his main objective, the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October.
“His main target is still the race in France,” said Fahey’s assistant, Robin O’Ryan. “We’ll just see what happens before then as to whether he’ll run again or not.”
Garswood holds entries in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, the six-furlong Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park and Doncaster’s Park Stakes.
Another Ryedale winner at Goodwood was Moviesta, trained at Hambleton by Bryan Smart. He won the Group 2 sprint, the King George V Stakes, over five furlongs ridden by Paul Mulrennan.
Mulrennan said: “He’s got bags of ability and loads of speed. This is the first race he’s been in where things have gone right for him.”
Next on the cards for Moviesta is likely to be the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, York’s Group 1 five furlong sprint.
Hawk Mountain, who is owned by Channel 4 Racing presenter Nick Luck, was winning on the flat for the first time since May 2011.
At Ripon on Monday wins came for Khalice (Richard Fahey), Edith Anne (Paul Midgley), Bondesire (David O’Meara) and Choisan (Tim Easterby) while at Carlisle’s unique evening meeting, exclusively for lady pro-am riders, Seattle Drive, ridden by Cathy Gannon, won for Brian Ellison.
This race saw Fahey’s promising apprentice, Laura Barry, get a four-day ban for having her whip above the correct level, on close runner-up Extraterrestrial.
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