Sunday, 30 March 2014

Selling a couple of my horses and Dad takes out his licence as a racehorse trainer.

At the beginning of 1961, the Mozambique Army approached me with an offer to buy Kismet from me; we were not really getting on that well together and the offer was a good one, so I accepted it and thus the stable shrunk to three horses. 

Kismet on his way to a new country.
Only a few weeks later, our  stable number reverted to four horses, when my boss, Bill Wakefield, offered me his stallion National Anthem, who had unfortunately proved to be sterile. 
National Anthem
National Anthem had been imported from the United Kingdom to stand at Borrowdale Stud. He had been second in the Derby Trial Stakes in the UK and had an impressive blood line. With the Derby winner Straight Deal as his sire and his great grand sire being Gainsborough, he would have improved the Rhodesian blood line no end, but sadly this was not to be. He was a very grand looking dappled grey of 16.5 hands high, with an amazing temperament for a stallion. He had not been ridden for some years, so training meant starting again at square one and I spent many hours with him in basic dressage and over small fences. 

National Anthem and myself in mid air over a fence.
Rustler, meanwhile, was proving to be a real handful and although we had a few wins along the way, I was fairly certain that he was never going to become anything other than average, whilst also causing me some dramatic surprises!

We were entered in one cross country event, where having discussed the water jump into a dam with various riders, it was decided that the sensible thing to do was take the first fence very gently, then ride around the shallow edge of the dam to take the second fence, out of the dam on the other side. Rustler, unfortunately, had his own ideas and, with some enthusiastic fly jumping approached the first fence. While I was trying desperately to slow him down, he took off for the jump with a huge leap that carried us right into the middle of the dam at its deepest point!  He was unable to keep his footing with the speed we were travelling and the inevitable happened; we somersaulted in the water. I was unable to hold on to the reins, and when I surfaced, blowing out jets of water, I saw him back on dry land, in a flat gallop, disappearing into the distance!  Fortunately, neither of us suffered any serious damage, but it really was the beginning of the end!  

A few weeks later, we found a buyer who was convinced they could do better with Rustler than I could!  I don’t ever remember seeing Rustler in the show ring again from that day on!

By 1962, Dad’s interest in horse racing had developed to the extent that he was keen to take out a trainer’s licence and start training race horses himself. A property on the Dombashawa Road in Borrowdale (a suburb of Salisbury) was up for rent, and it had a training yard of twelve stables, a tack room and a feed room, plus plenty of accommodation for the stable hands. It also had a small but adequate size training track, so a deal was struck and we rented out our existing house on the Lomagundi Rd and made the move to Borrowdale. It certainly suited me much better, as my drive to work was cut by half the distance!

Hy-Li-Li and myself in a cross country event. This time we stayed together, not as I did with Rustler in my narrative above!
The first two horses to move into our new yard, besides Dusky, National Anthem and Hy-Li-Li were Lady Heath and Jewel’s Reward. Lady Heath was a seasoned hurdler and Jewel’s Reward was a two year old that had been home bred and was still owned by the breeder. 

In May that year, Lady Heath became my Dad’s first winner, when, with me riding, she won an amateur hurdle race at Marandellas, a small town not far away.   Dad then found owners who were prepared to give him a chance with their horses and so he filled the stables up with flat race horses; mainly ones, I might add, that had been rejected by other trainers as being unsuccessful!  Because he trained each horse as an individual and not using bulk training, he had a certain amount of unexpected success with these rejects.  Unexpected it was to other people, but not really to us, as my Dad was very committed to this new activity.  The stable expanded again and another 6 stables were built at the back,  soon to be filled with new prospects!

Myself leading Rear Guard into the winner's enclosure for my Dad (who is holding my handbag for me!).  The owner, Jack Quinton, was absent on that day, so the honour went to me!


My Life Before Charente to be continued :-) 

 
The section of my life story during our overland trip is published on Kindle if you should be interested:-
 THE GREAT 1953 TREK
See




12 comments:

  1. Is National Anthem the name of your horse? That is beautiful!

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    1. A beautiful name for a stunning horse :-) Have a good day Diane

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  2. It must have been an exhilarating sport and a scary one at times. Your Dad did well in all his pursuits it seems. You also had loads of talent in this area. While you were riding 4 legs I was riding 2 wheels.

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    1. diane you are right, 4 legs versus 2 wheels :-) Certainly riding has its scary moments but I loved it. Lots of broken bones along the way but..... Take care Diane

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  3. I love reading you. Changes in your life are always exciting. Gradually we have seen as the little girl has become a beautiful young woman. I think your father was a great entrepreneur. Best regards.

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    1. Araceli, thanks for your kind comment. There was always excitement in my life in those days. One never knew what each horse was going to get up to :-) Keep well and thanks for following my blog. Diane

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  4. What wonderful memories you have Diane, they must all come flooding back as you update the story.

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    1. Linda I feel a bit like I am reliving my childhood again. It is amazing the feelings that this has brought forth :-) Thanks for the comment Diane

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  5. Great photos. The horse on top is just gorgeous!

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    1. José he was good looking but not the best show jumper I have owned, He was very temperamental!! Thanks for the comment Diane

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks Louisette for the visit and the comment. I must find time to go through more photos which is what is holding up this blog!! Have a good week Diane

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