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  • Sorry for the ongoing issues that you may have been experiencing whilst using the forum lately

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A Racing Miscellany


I Like odd stuff and have a fair collection of racing stuff


constantly looking for me sources of background information - the info is not always overt but it is out there in many places and formats

add anything you feel might fit


I looked at that last 'article' regarding Gear Changes thinking......yes, it's important to know if a horse is able to change gear in running and quicken!!
Guess that's my own April fool on myself.....lol.

I have not come across that one before.....Winkers!......do we have those here? or are they all classed under 'Blinkers'?


I looked at that last 'article' regarding Gear Changes thinking......yes, it's important to know if a horse is able to change gear in running and quicken!!
Guess that's my own April fool on myself.....lol.

I have not come across that one before.....Winkers!......do we have those here? or are they all classed under 'Blinkers'?

half way house


Frank Berry the vital but invisible hand guiding McManus racing empire

Brian O'Connor

Ask any trainer about what the future holds for a JP McManus-owned horse and the response is almost invariably the same –“Talk to Frank.” It doesn’t matter if it’s Nicky Henderson or Joe Bloggs: if it’s a ‘JP’ horse, you talk to McManus’s racing manager, Frank Berry.

He’s the linchpin of jump racing’s biggest operation, the link with trainers on both sides of the Irish Sea nurturing those hundreds of horses which carry the legendary billionaire owner’s famous green and yellow colours.

Buveur D’Air’s Champion Hurdle success on Tuesday was the latest major winner to carry them and they will be the focus of attention again on Thursday when the hot favourite, Unowhatimeanharry, lines up in the Stayers Hurdle.

McManus’s fascination with the game is famous. But it’s a hobby. And whether he’s in Geneva, Limerick or Barbados, supervising a business empire doesn’t allow much time for the nuts and bolts of maintaining a well-oiled racing team. That’s where Berry comes in.
“There’s unbelievable trust between the two of them,” says trainer Enda Bolger. “It’s a big operation and Frank does it without hassle. He keeps it simple, tries to keep both horses and men happy. He’s the go-to man. I know I wouldn’t be able to operate without him.”

As well as communicating with scores of trainers every day, and talking to McManus most evenings, Berry’s brief extends to the purchase of new stock, organising the logistics of jockeys, poring over formbooks, teasing out future plans, even handling media enquiries.

It perhaps only adds to the public’s fascination with McManus’s vast wealth and influence that his public face on the racetrack is the antithesis of any exuberant, smooth purveyor of easily digestible PR-coated, 140-character bullshit.

Berry barely breaks out of a whisper, often responding to questions with the caution of someone filling out a passport application. Invariably courteous, he is nevertheless a polar opposite of McManus’s former jockey, Sir AP McCoy, who remains a determinedly ubiquitous media figure.

Mouths shut

McCoy likes to quote McManus as saying how many fish would still be alive if they’d learned to keep their mouths shut: Berry’s instinct is to hesitate at divulging even the tiniest titbit.

“You won’t fill a page with Frank!” jokes the Gold Cup-winning trainer, Tom Taaffe. “But JP couldn’t have a better man. He stays calm when those around him don’t. And it’s as if he’s able to see around corners in terms of what might be coming down the road. He also has the advantage of having been there and worn the T-shirt.”

That T-shirt primarily includes a luminous career as a rider. It’s almost half a century since Berry landed the 1968 Irish St Leger on Giolla Mear as a teenage apprentice not long after leaving home in Granard, Co Longford.

Just four years later, after switching codes, he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Glencarrig Lady. Berry was no stranger to the Festival winners enclosure subsequently, including a famous Arkle success on Bobsline in 1984 for the late Francis Flood.

In 1975 he tied for the Irish jockeys championship with Tommy Carberry. He won the title on his own seven more times and tied twice more. That pedigree was passed on to his children. Fran Berry is a leading rider on the flat. Another son, Alan, is a Festival-winning rider too.

Living up to such standards was always unlikely once Berry started training. His most notable moment was when saddling the McManus-owned Laura’s Beau to finish third in the 1992 Aintree Grand National.

But rarely can a trainer have handed in their licence and simultaneously fallen on their feet as Berry did almost two decades ago.

The logistics of organising McManus’s rapidly expanding team required someone both knowledgeable and trustworthy. Berry fit the bill then and still does.

“He’s a good judge of a horse and is involved in all those discussions about what gets bought, like Unowhatimeanharry last year. He also buys for JP at those Derby Sales. I think he might have even bought the Grand National winner [Don’t Push It] as a foal,” Bolger says.

“But Frank is on top of everything, dealing with vets, dealers, running plans, the whole shebang. He takes a lot of weight on his shoulders when it doesn’t go well too,” he adds.

Even for an owner like McManus, disappointments are plentiful. However, whether it’s inside the winners enclosure or out of it, Berry is next to him, happy to blend into the background as attention focuses on the boss and whoever the winning trainer or jockey might be.

Everyone involved, however, recognises the vital role he plays, especially the boss man himself.

“Even JP always says ‘talk to Frank,” Bolger says. “Actually it would be a good name for a horse, wouldn’t it?”

Just so long as it gets the nod from the go-to man.


I have used a lot of trainers comments to try and crack this game and have some good days mixed with a lot of bad ones. I think it’s the trainer who ultimately knows how their horse will run. I think the most informative is what’s said after the race. Before the race, they are not 100% certain how the horse will run, can be too optimistic/pessimistic or simply want to throw people off the scent.

I followed Roger Teal for some time, I can always remember the day he put me off one of his running at 8-1, saying it would need the run and possibly wouldn’t act on the going. After it won he said, we really fancied it today, what are you to do ?



The Hannons and Newbury’s foremost test of speed: At least you can rely on some things these days​

Graham Dench | JULY 15, 2020
Happy Romance: “She is probably as good a filly as we’ve run in the Super Sprint since Tiggy Wiggy,” says her trainer. Photo: Mark Cranham
In a year like no other before it, at least some things stay the same.
Newbury’s Weatherbys Super Sprint might have moved temporarily to a Sunday slot, but the famous juvenile contest could yet again have a runner from the Richard Hannon stable at the head of the market this weekend, when Queen Mary fifth Happy Romance leads a team of eight possibles bidding to provide the family a remarkable tenth win in a pioneering race that Richard senior was instrumental in devising.
The yard had to settle for third when Paris House took the inaugural running for Jack Berry in 1991, but the ‘Pocket Rocket’ Lyric Fantasy was a runaway six-length winner for Hannon senior only 12 months later and then, in 1992, the year the Super Sprint first came under Weatherbys sponsorship, her similarly talented stablemate Risky led a stable 1-2.
Hannon senior went on to saddle seven winners of Newbury’s foremost test of pure and unadulterated speed, while his successor has already added another two.
Lyric Fantasy, who later the same year beat the stable’s July Cup and Abbaye winner Mr Brooks in the Nunthorpe, won the Queen Mary by a whopping five lengths, and so did Risky.

Royal Ascot, and specifically the Queen Mary, was also a springboard to Super Sprint success for Presto Vento and the brilliant Tiggy Wiggy, whose six-length Newbury win in 2014 following a narrow Royal Ascot defeat came in the first season following the handover from Richard senior to his son.
Reflecting on the foundation of the Super Sprint and its enduring appeal, Richard senior said, “Lord Carnarvon and I thought the race up together. We both felt that a nice prize was needed for horses who hadn’t cost a fortune at the sales, and the idea was to find a concept that would attract a lot of people, which it did.
“The sales companies were all in favour of it, and it’s been a great success. We’ve been lucky enough to have the right sort of horse for it quite a few times over the years.”
He added, “Lyric Fantasy [who was owned by Lord Carnarvon] was a very fast filly and had been an easy winner of the Queen Mary, but she didn’t cost a lot of money and so got into the Super Sprint well. Risky had won the Queen Mary too, and she also got into the race very well, so they were both ideal types for it.
“We were buying a lot of the right sort of horses for the race in those days, and so we usually had a few who were well qualified for it.”

Very attractive proposition​

Times have changed since Hannon senior bowed out as champion trainer for a fourth time in 2013, and there has been less emphasis on speed and precocity under the new regime, which retained the trainers’ title in 2014.
Nevertheless, enough likely types are still bought on spec as yearlings every year, and with £150,000 on offer despite the ramifications of Covid-19, plus prize money down to tenth place, the Super Sprint remains a very attractive proposition. There is every chance therefore that the name R Hannon will be engraved upon the trophy yet again after Sunday’s race.
Now in his seventh season at the helm, the trainer formerly known as Richard Hannon junior clearly fancies his chances of a third success in the race that his father made his own, and Happy Romance understandably carries high hopes following an excellent effort in a red-hot Queen Mary.
Hannon said, “Happy Romance is probably as good a filly as we’ve run in the Super Sprint since Tiggy Wiggy, who looked like she joined in at halfway and bolted up by six lengths before going on to win the Lowther and the Cheveley Park.

“This is a massive chance for her to pick up a lot of prize money. She’s quick enough to do it, and she’s a strong filly with a very good temperament who takes her races well. I’ve no doubt it was a very good Queen Mary, and the two fillies who finished just in front of her are both winners since. We could have continued down the black-type route, but there’s plenty of time for that.
“What would please me especially if we can win with her is that she is a first horse for the people who own her [registered as The McMurray Family], and they are exactly the type of owners the race is framed for.
“I met them racing one day, and from my point of view the Weatherbys Super Sprint is a big carrot to dangle when I bring yearlings home to sell them on, as it’s a big pot and it’s only available to horses bought for up to around 60 grand.”
The Super Sprint’s appeal is such that it is invariably oversubscribed, but while the Hannons have traditionally been mob-handed this year’s team is likely to be relatively select. That said, while the final line-up from the stable’s eight five-day confirmations will not be decided until later in the week, Happy Romance is unlikely to be alone.
Hannon revealed, “I haven’t talked Harry [Herbert, of owners Highclere Thoroughbreds] into it yet, but I’d love to run Cirrus as I think she’s a good filly and she just didn’t get the trip when fourth over seven furlongs at Salisbury on Saturday. I’ll also probably run Kool Moe Dee, who is still a maiden but is very quick, and Julie Wood’s filly Risque, who would have a small chance off her very low weight.”
Happy Romance is clearly the stable’s number one, but we should not forget that Lady Livius was a 100/1 outsider when winning for Hannon senior in 2005. Clearly nothing can be ruled out where the Hannons and the Super Sprint are concerned.


A very good thread, this! Thanks markfinn markfinn and all.

I used to follow that Kool Moe Dee when it was under a previous owner - the one associated with that Billhilly that won today.

As for ringing up trainers, I remember ringing one based a few valleys over from trecelyn trecelyn. The horse in question was called Krazy Mental.
I got through to his wife, who said hang on a minute. The man came on and was friendly. What he told me was fair enough " if Richard can get through, he'll win". Richard, the jockey, couldn't get through and it didn't win, so no fairy tale ending. :)
It just shows that there is never any total certainty in life.
A Lambourghini can get baulked by an old Robin Reliant.

Others were not so helpful; the worse being the ones who gush out praise on some of their runners at a meeting, but, somehow, fail to mention the 11/1 only winner. The late Dandy Nicholls was one of those. Some just never reply.

Going to Wolverhampton, several times a week for several years taught us which ones were prepared to tell us something good. There weren't many.


I enjoyed these earlier

and while you are out and about - could do worse than listen to these podcast's



My good lady wife once booked me a morning with Kim Bailey, we got see his string working on his gallops, then a full English that included a Q&A with the trainer followed by a stable tour. It was so wet some of the party couldn’t make it up the gallops. He said it was so wet he would not risk ruining his horses all bar one who was going up to Musselburgh the following afternoon for a novice hurdle. The big man said if the going was as described it would win. It hosed up, pardon the pun, you can’t tell me the trainer doesn’t have the biggest hand in what goes on



Dean Valentine who also features in a Star Sports Vid



Perhaps we should all learn to Tic tac in these days of social distancing - I read the the Indian government in Kerala were using umbrellas to best advantage

Back to the point -