Goodbye to a Grand Dam!
The co-founder of the Aramis dynasty has sadly passed away at the age of 29. Ara, a chestnut mare, was bought when a three-year-old for £1000 and for a while was Isobel's riding companion around North London before she was moved to Gloucestershire, where she eventually became a champion broodmare. Ara came from good racing stock but had not raced. The other half of the partnership was provided by Kayf Tara, winner of the Ascot Gold Cup (twice), the Irish St Leger (twice), the Goodwood Cup and the Yorkshire Cup. The recurrence of an old injury, however, brought Kayf Tara's racing career to an end. That's where Isobel got lucky. She found out that Kayf Tara was standing for his first year in retirement at the Overbury Stud in Gloucestershire, just a few miles away. An assignation was duly arranged and the rest, as they say, is history. The first of the new Aramis dynasty was born in April 2002 - Kayf Aramis (Kayf from his Sire, Ara from his Dam and Mis from Misty (the pony stabled in the back garden of a house in North London) – who went on to win four races on the flat, including three at the York Dante Festival and three over jumps, including the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham Festival in 2009. In 2005 the next addition to the Aramis family was Kaylifa, who sadly never raced, due to a throat problem. In 2007 the dynasty was increased by the arrival of the exciting Kaylif, who sadly met his death in a training yard accident before he could reach his full potential. The last of the 'Kayfs' is Kaylina. When she was born the vet said Ara had "saved her best till last!” Unfortunately it has not been possible to find out whether that is true as there has been no opportunity to put Kaylina into training. Kaylifa provided two 'grandchildren' for Ara - Zayfire Aramis who has already proved himself a winner, worthy of his sire, Zafeen and Berlief Aramis, a Bertolini colt, who started to make hs mark in the racing world but then had to retire due to an inoperable throat problem.
What a tremendous achievement for a mare who came from humble beginnings to produce such a marvellous family. Ara is already greatly missed by her offspring in the field.
26 February 2020
The favourite Andy Dufresne only managed third in a thrilling climax to the Paddy Power Betting Shop Novice Hurdle at Naas. The Gordon Elliott-trained Doyen gelding, who won the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last month, was the 6/5 market leader to double his Grade Two score, ridden by Mark Walsh. However, while he travelled well for much of the two-mile contest, his finishing effort was disappointing. Henry Bromhead's Jason The Militant led from the start under Rachael Blackmore, with Beacon Edge and Denis O'Regan always in hot pursuit. Beacon Edge made a mistake at the final hurdle and, although he tried hard to get back in the picture, even managing to join Jason The Militant as they crossed the line, the judge confirmed De Bromhead's runner had held on by a nose.
Resuming the fight
Richard Johnson is due to return to racing tomorrow at either Ludlow or Musselburgh. The four-time champion jockey has been out of action since breaking his right arm in a fall at Exeter on January 21. At that time he was just three winners behind Brian Hughes in the contest for the championship and that tally has risen to 19 in his absence, currently 111 for him and 130 for his rival. Richard Johnson was always confident he would be back in time for next month's Cheltenham Festival and has not given up hope of retaining the championship.
Off for Aspell!
Despite there being no fairytale farewell victory, Leighton Aspell still received a winner's send-off at Fontwell after coming second with his last ride on Itsnotwhatyouthink in the Watt Fences Ltd Maiden Open NH Flat Race. The dual Grand National-winning jockey had announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire for the second time, the last time in 2007. The Westerner gelding stayed on well in this extended two-mile-one bumper but even the retiring jockey could not get his mount past Jetaway Joey who won by three lengths.