Winning War Chant

It was only a matter of time before War Chant returned to the winners enclosure as the three year old War Command gelding who is owned and bred by Vicky Markowiak had run well in his previous three starts this season. 

Vicky was in attendance at Nottingham on Sunday accompanied by her good friend Richard Climpson who also holds a share in War Chant. Ray Dawson was booked to ride in this Class 6 handicap over a mile but due to illness had to miss out on a second winner this week for us and James Doyle was able to step in. Drawn 1 of the 9 runners War Chant went off the 11-8 favourite. He broke smartly from the stalls and took the lead shortly after and at the three furlong marker was asked to quicken. He soon put daylight between himself and his rivals and won impressively going away by four and a quarter lengths.

Congratulations to Vicky and Richard and thank you to James Doyle for the ride. Let's hope the handicapper is not too harsh on War Chant for this victory !

A solid start for Divina Grace

It has been a slow start to the season this year but things have been heading in the right direction with the horses running well and yesterday Divina Grace confirmed her well being with a win on her seasonal re-appearance at Chepstow.

The daughter of Golden Horn owned by the Top Hat & Tails Syndicate had made a good start to her racing career last year, running five times with a win at Newmarket plus two placings. She was a big two year old and a winter under her belt was always going to be of benefit allowing her to strengthen up and fill her frame. She prefers fast ground and with the wet early spring we had she has had to wait for her first start of the year. Eventually the ground dried out and a mile and a quarter handicap at Chepstow was chosen to start her off. Ray Dawson was booked to ride but had to step down due to illness and an able substitute in Hector Crouch was found.

In the race itself she raced prominently from the start before settling in to third place. When they quickened up she was initially taken off her feet a fraction but stayed on well and finished strongly to win by three quarters of a length. She looks like a step up in distance will be appreciated and will more than likely be seen out next time over a mile and a half.

Thank you to the in form Hector Crouch for the ride (he rode a treble on the day !) and congratulations to Eamonn, Kevin, Scott and Marisa for their first winner of 2023.

Owners Morning

On Saturday we held our first Owners Morning of the year which was very well attended.

The weather was a little unpredictable with intermittent showers but for the most part was not too bad. Our visitors started to arrive shortly before 9.30 and it was wonderful to welcome some of our newer owners to their first yard event. These included Adam Speller of the Raffles Syndicate and Keith and Lesley Walton who own the two year old filly by Due Diligence out of Really Chic.

The food was provided by Newmarket Secret Kitchen and as usual was a great hit, especially the famous sausage rolls and a particularly delicious roulade ! Our owners enjoyed three trips out to the gallops to see their horses train on the farm canter, several of them had brought guests along so this was particularly thrilling for those who had never been on the gallops before.

Back in the yard we held a draw to decide whose silks the Raffles Syndicate horses would race in. Recently the members held a vote to choose from the available sets of colours and it came down to a tie between Alan Davies and Darren Lewitt. Vicky Markowiak drew the names from a hat and the lucky winner was Darren whose pale blue and pink checks will be used for the first time this year. Commiserations to Alan whose navy blue and pale blue silks will be the second colours for the syndicate. Let's hope Darren's silks are lucky ones !

Alan's journey with Rae

Recently Aramis Grey provided our owner Alan Davies with his 51st winner trained by Rae.

We thought you would like to hear Alan's story of how he first met Rae and about some of his horses throughout the years. Below is the tale in Alan's own words :


We first met Rae in 1990 when I answered an ad in one of the racing papers.  The horse was a colt (yes a colt!) called Indian Slave. He was placed a number of times at 2 and 3 and fortunately we carried on with him at 4. After an unsuccessful run when ridden by Lester Piggott,  I think it was Lester who recommended running him over shorter distances. He then went on to win 4 races under Pat Eddery, Jason Weaver (then an apprentice), a young Frankie Dettori and David Harrison.

 He gave us a run at Royal Ascot in the Hunt Cup, and only a couple of weeks ago I met two of the old partners and we were reminiscing about the good old days.

 Soon after that I and a number of the same partners bought Nice Welcome who only won one race, but also finished third in the Lancashire Oaks.

 In 1994 Judy bought me a quarter share in Abbey House for my 40th birthday which was shared with Rae. She won two races and had the honour of being Rae's first and only two year old winner of that year - the race being won on New Year's Eve ! She nearly got me banned in 1995 though.

 In a claiming race with a big field at Bath, she was fairly well drawn in a claiming sprint race- but the lower numbered stalls opened fractionally late so all of the higher drawn horses got across . To my astonishment the race was not declared void as it seemed the authorities did not have a rule that covered this. I tried to withhold some fees to begin with until I eventually paid up. I remember Rae being quoted in the paper saying "my owner is taking legal advice". I think it was before they were married, but I know we had met Rachel by then although I don't recall asking her advice!

 Other winners followed in the late 90's including Roseum who won 4 in the colours of Chris Mills'  mum.

 The mid 2000's coincided with Sir Desmond who was a favourite of mine. He had won in someone else's  colours before being bought back and winning 3 races in my colours in partnership with Rae and MM (Mary McCabe if I remember rightly). He was a grey who liked to be held up and win close finishes over 6 furlongs. Now who does that remind me of ???

 It was 2004 when I got a share in Bahia Breeze (the best I have owned) and first met Lynn Lambert. It was the first horse she had owned, won 2 listed races as well as running in numerous group races including the 1000 Guineas. We kept telling Lynn it isn't  usually like this. Who would have thought  that she would be selling a Frankel foal in 2022 for 250 000 guineas !

 There was a memorable few days in October 2004. We bought back Sir Desmond on the Thursday or Friday of the HIT Sales at Tattersalls, then saw Bahia Breeze win the Listed Bosra Sham stakes at Newmarket on the Friday afternoon.  The following Monday, now running in my colours, Sir Desmond won at Redcar.

  I think it was the late 2000s when I first met Roger and Gwynneth Jennings. I think we have been racing partners ever since. I think Peter Sakal was already an owner with Rae, but I didn't really meet him until I took the plunge and went into the Reprobates 3 horse partnership (which also included Lynn as well as the Jennings). Things looked up with the Reprobates Too partnership that followed as it gave us Roman Spinner who won 5 and seemed as tough as old boots. Lovely to see Lulu's picture of her second foal the other day.

That brings us to the current partnerships with new friends/partners such as Sally and Andy, Jane, Jon Mitchell and of course Darren and Ann. I could never have imagined the success of the Musketeers partnership and let's  hope it still has further to go. I thought how lucky we were to have Roman Spinner winning 5 but then along comes Aramis Grey.

 Going over my lists has made me realise I have miscounted - Saturday was winner number 51 as Aramis' win at Kempton in November was actually number 50 . So right horse but wrong date !

Another win for Aramis !

The Musketeers wonderful grey mare provided us with our first winner of 2023 on Saturday afternoon.

This was Aramis Grey's tenth career victory and came in a Fillies' Conditions Stakes at Lingfield. Now in her sixth year she is showing no signs of losing her zest for racing and this was her third run this year having been runner up on her previous two starts. The race was a qualifier for the valuable All-Weather Championships Final at Newcastle so it is more than likely that will be her target.

Four of the Musketeers were able to make the trip to Lingfield on Saturday and these were Jon and Sophie Mitchell and Darren and Ann Lewitt, the others cheered on from home and our congratulations go to all of them. Aramis was piloted by regular jockey Callum Shepherd who rode a double on the day and it is great to see him back and fully recovered from his recent injury.

The race itself was a tricky affair with only four runners over seven furlongs. She travelled well on the rail throughout in third and coming round the bend she began her challenge on the outside and despite the chasing efforts of the runner up Vadream she held her by three quarters of a length.

We are so lucky to have Aramis Grey and everybody at Chestnut Tree Stables is immensely proud of her fantastic race record. Incidentally, this win provided Alan Davies with his fiftieth winner trained by Rae !