We look at the highlights of a fantastic year which saw 62 winners and some big race victories.
Mick Easterby and the team have enjoyed a vintage year in 2016. The winners have been flowing steadily throughout the flat season, with promising two year olds winning the first races of their careers combined with some stellar performances from our older horses, picking up 62 race wins and approximately £650,000 in prizemoney.
So what are the secrets of a successful yard? First of all, happy, healthy horses. Horses that are content and in fine fettle will always run best. And of course, add to that a dedicated, hard working team. Horses don't stay happy and healthy on their own, they need a lot of work. And therein lies the partnership that holds the keys to success, a success which has been seen throughout 2016 on the turf and the all weather tracks across the country.
On the flat we have sent out 478 runners, we've put countless gallons of diesel in the horseboxes, whilst our staff and jockeys have travelled north, south and west and to all the compass points in between. We'd have gone east too but there's no racecourses that side of Sheriff Hutton! This year we have taken our horses as far afield as Fontainebleau in France, the Curragh in Ireland, and on the mainland to Hamilton Park, Ayr and Musselburgh north of the border, Newton Abbot in Devon, Fakenham in deepest Norfolk and Goodwood on the Sussex downs as well and many trips to the new all weather track at Chelmsford City which has become a very happy hunting ground.
The year started with a sequence of wins from the new all-weather star, Bosham. In the space of five weeks he won four times at Chelmsford City, all in the hands of Nathan Evans. Bosham has never been a straightforward horse, preferring not to travel alone and also known to prefer turning up at the racecourse early! Bosh went on to record six wins in 2016, all ridden by Nathan.
February saw Ganbei and Roycano run out winners under the more traditional winter jumps code, the latter an unusual runner for us at Fakenham in Norfolk. Meanwhile Bowson Fred, Heart Locket and Hoofalong were winning on the all weather.
Perfect Peak became our first winner on turf for the 2016 season when she scored at Redcar in bottomless ground, followed by Felix de Vega at Ripon in April. Later that month Qaffaal started his winning streak at Wolverhampton on the all weather. Qaffaal's owner Michael Burrows is "new to the fold" in the words of Mr Easterby. "There's an interesting story as to how he got Qaffaal, but I can't tell it here" are his trainer's words to explain the deal.
On 20th April a midweek Catterick double saw Bajan Rebel and Black Grass score victories. Bajan Rebel went on to win three times in 2016 before she was retired to the paddocks, already in foal.
April and May were a time for our old favourites, as Kalk Bay, Hoofalong, Tamayuz Magic and Space War all won. The end of May saw a superb double at Musselburgh as Bowson Fred and Qaffaal ran out winners, also giving apprentice jockey Nathan Evans a double. Fred followed up at Chelmsford a few days later. Bowson Fred and Hoofalong reached marks of 102 and 100 respectively as a result of their successful runs.
June started with a fairytale at Hamilton. Ancient Cross had previously won the Gosforth Park and Ayr Silver Cups in his long career, and time was called on his career at the age of 12. His final race was to be at Hamilton Park, ridden by Joanna Mason. In a fitting end to his career he was first past the post. The same evening Bajan Rebel won her third and final race of the season to record another memorable double. A few days later Hoofalong astounded his trainer by winning the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.
The horses were in fine form throughout June, with Black Grass recording his fourth win of the season, whilst another fairytale was written at Doncaster as Itlaaq ran out a winner at the age of ten. After an absence from the track, Itlaaq's return saw him twice a winner for apprentice Danielle Mooney, a training performance that made us all very proud.
July started with another emotional victory as Hoof It returned to the winners enclosure at Doncaster, whilst better was to come at Goodwood later the same month where Nathan Evans steered the nine year old to win the Stewards Sprint, his eleventh career win. The same month saw Perfect Pasture convincingly win the evoke.ie Scurry at The Curragh ridden by Paul Mulrennan. The jumpers were showing a good level of form and Katie Midgley and Ben Lloyd-Slater made the 660 mile round trip to Newton Abbot with Banny's Lad as he recorded a long distance victory at the Devon track.
In same month we said goodbye to several horses who were sold at Tattersalls, including winners Bionic Indian, Atreus and Daylight. In addition Iggy, Oil Strike, Gold Patch and Hoofithully left the yard to resume their careers overseas. Heading north to Sheriff Hutton from the same sale came Kafoo, Swansway and Tafteesh to join Holiday Magic who had arrived a few weeks previously from Goffs at Doncaster.
August saw Bosham win his sixth race of 2016, this time on turf, whilst in September Tamayuz Magic won the Hambleton Cup at Thirsk. Back at the yard it was time to bring in the yearlings from the fields, and the job of breaking them in and turning them into racehorses began.
October started with old favourite Pivotman winning at Nottingham, before it was the turn of the two year olds to steal the limelight. The first juvenile winner was Carlton Frankie at York. She had been sidelined following a training set back but returned with a bang to lose her maiden tag on the Knavesmire ridden by Cam Hardie. The following day former Godolphin gelding Novelty Seeker won the finale on the Knavesmire where he came home first at 20-1 to win the Coldstream Guards Association Cup. Lous Diamond is a two year old that had captured the hearts of the staff. Given the stable name Martha after her dam Marthas Way, she was a winner later the same day at Newcastle.
Away from the track, at the October Tattersalls Horses in Training Sales, Felix De Vega and Tafahom left the yard to race abroad, whilst Contendit was sold to Annick Gratz, with whom he will resume his career in Germany. In the opposite direction we were joined by Weld Al Emerat, Madroos, Quick Look, Swag and Roller.
A landmark victory came at Newcastle in November when Slingsby was first past the post in the colours of Steve Hull to bring up the half century of winners. November saw the team travel to Fontainebleau, France where Perfect Pasture and First Wheat represented the yard. Katie, Shane and Nathan took the horses on the long journey to France via Dover.
The horses continued to run well throughout the Autumn on the all weather tracks. Melgate Melody lost his maiden tag at Newcastle, and Heart Locket, Purple Rock and old favourite Kalk Bay were all winners. Curzon Line romped home at Chelmsford City to secure a first win for the Golden Ratio Partnership with only their second runner since joining us. Chelmsford City was also the venue for Qaffaal's fifth win of the year.
Babouska became our third two year old winner of the season at Newcastle on the 8th December, another win backed by a wonderful story, as she was co-owned by our loyal owner of over half a century, Alan Black. The red and blue silks had been carried by many winners over the years, the best known being Blessingindisguise and Middlethorpe. Babouska is a home bred filly and related to many successful horses over the years, including Middlethorpe, King's Square and Property Zone. She scored after being in front for the entire race to the delight of Alan Black and co-owner Michael Burrows. Burrows was already no stranger to the winners enclosure after Qaffaal's five wins.
December saw the gallant grey Holiday Magic return to form, recording back to back wins for James Sullivan, and in so doing he brought up the 60th winner of the year. A new partnership were in the winners enclosure at Newcastle later in the week as the ex-French trained Roller was Andrew Pollock's first ever runner as an owner. It was celebrations all round as Mr Pollock's ownership debut resulted in a winner and a fantastic early Christmas present. The sight of the lightly raced ex-French Roller winning over a mile rekindled memories of our star miler Blue Spinnaker, who incidentally is still at the yard, revelling in his role babysitting the yearlings. Spinnaker won the Thirsk Hunt Cup and Zetland Gold Cup in his illustrious career and he turns 18 years of age on New Years Day 2017. Following in his hoofprints, we should enjoy some good days out with Roller in the coming year.
The season wasn't finished yet, as Swansway recorded win number 62 at Newcastle on 30th December. Given a superb ride he went from last to first to win cosily, recording the first win of his career. Swansway's victory was also Nathan Evans' 34th winner of the year for the Easterby yard, which included the Stewards Sprint at Goodwood and the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.
Looking back at the seasonal statistics, we sent out a total of 476 runners on the flat. The star performers were our older horses, with 51 of the 62 wins coming from horses aged four and above. Bosham was our most prolific winner with six victories followed by Qaffaal with five wins. On Facebook, Perfect Pasture was voted our Horse of the Year, winning him a bag of carrots, for his emphatic win in Ireland. There was an equal split between turf and all weather success with 31 of the 62 wins coming on all weather tracks. The horses performed exceptionally well at the new all weather tracks of Chelmsford City and Newcastle, with 33% and 18% strike rates respectively. The 430 mile round trip to Chelmsford provided a remarkable 12 winners from 36 runners, whilst the 400 mile trip to Musselburgh and back also proved fruitful, with five of our 18 runners coming home first at the Edinburgh track. Hoof It was the top earner in total win and place prizemoney for 2016, with Hoofalong topping the winning prizemoney table. Bosham was our busiest horse running 19 times. Gulf Of Poets was the punters' friend, as our longest priced winner of 2016 he popped up at 33-1 at Beverley.
None of this could have happened without the dedicated hard work from our team and of course the loyal support shown to us by our fantastic owners. It has been a thrill to welcome new owners to the yard, who have interests for 2017 in horses of all ages from yearlings to two year olds and also ownership of some of our older, proven winners.
Amidst the excitement on the track in 2016 we should also take time to remember some of the friends we lost in 2016, including legendary former jockey and journalist Tom O'Ryan and of course Mark Birch who will be remembered for his association with Peter Easterby's Sea Pigeon.
We now look ahead to 2017, with some very nice prospects for the track in the coming year as our next cohort of two year olds will be entering training and of course some old favourites will be returning from their winter break.
If you would like to become a racehorse owner or join one of our syndicates or partnerships for the coming season please give us a call on 01347 878368 or contact us online here. We are always more than happy to welcome new owners to the yard to experience the thrills of owning winning racehorses!
Posted: Sunday 01 January 2017
Mick Easterby - 62 winners in 2016
Bosham was a six times winner in 2016
Hoofalong won the Scottish Sprint Cup
Perfect Pasture was a winner at the Curragh
Ancient Cross won his final race at Hamilton
Carlton Frankie was our first 2 year old winner
Five times winner in 2016, Qaffaal with Michael Burrows
Bajan Rebel won three times before she retired to stud in September
Babouska with Head Lad Mark Cobb and owners Alan Black and Michael Burrows
Roller was a debut success for owner Andrew Pollock
Lou's Diamond was a popular winner in October. A favourite of the staff, there was much heartbreak when she died in an accident in February 2017.