December 8, 2013
MAYBE a long season finally caught up with Sky Lantern as Ben Keswick's grey filly, four times successful in G1 company, failed to fire on her final run of 2013, trailing in last under Richard Hughes in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin this morning.
Richard Hannon jnr said:"It was always going to be tough for a three-year-old, but we felt it was worth a try and Hughesie sensibly looked after Sky Lantern when it was clear that she was beaten, and he allowed her to coast home.
"The great thing is that she stays in training next year, and I am sure that there are plenty of more good days in front of her as a four-year-old."
One could well be at Royal Ascot in June, when Sky Lantern could tackle either the Queen Anne or the St James's Palace Stakes, and Hughes believes that she will again be a force to be reckoned with at the top level next year.
He said:"This was not her day, but it was a messy race which caused Sky Lantern to run too keen, so she was doing too much in the early stages.
"I had a great position as I was following Moonlight Cloud, and the winner (Glorious Days) was behind me, but when we turned into the straight she was empty. She'll now enjoy a well-deserved holiday, but she'll be back for more next year and I would think Royal Ascot would be her main target for the first half of the season."
December 6, 2013
RICHARD HANNON might well throw in a Buck's Fizz with his round of toast on Sunday morning if Sky Lantern has provided him with one last Group 1 victory for his CV by capturing the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
The boss, who will be watching in on ATR, said:"It would be terrific if Sky Lantern could put the icing on the cake, though she has already won us four G1's and is a filly who owes us nothing.
"Win or lose on Sunday, it's great to know that she will be with us again next season, and as her owner (Ben Keswick) lives in Hong Kong I suppose there is a fair chance that she will finish her racing career back at Sha Tin in 12 months time.
"Obviously, it is always tough for a three-year-old taking on older horses in these international races, and we know that Moonlight Cloud will be hard to beat, but maybe our filly will enjoy the fast ground better than the favourite, and Richard tells me that Sky Lantern has settled down these last few days and is looking more like her old self.
"Sure, Sky Lantern has had a long season - she started off in the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket in April - but she has the constitution of a colt and weighs in just short of 500kg, so if anybody can pull it off she could be the one.
December 5, 2013
ALL the fast work was done at home, but Sky Lantern opened her lungs for the first time when breezing a circuit of the Sha Tin track this morning as Richard Hannon jnr put the finishing touches to the filly's preparation for Sunday's Hong Kong Mile.
Connections expressed themselves "delighted" at Sky Lantern's exercise, and it will just be a case of keeping her ticking over now untll big-race time.
Hannon said: "Sky Lantern was much perkier this morning than when she arrived, and she looked more like her old self. We have had the results back from the tracheal washes and the blood tests, and they are all 100%, so it's all systems go."
Sky Lantern has been allotted the eight-stall, which for a hold-up filly is probably better than being drawn on the inside, and Hannon added: "She has plenty of speed and she likes to come with one long steady run, so we are probably better off out in the middle rather than the inside, where she could get involved in some bunching.
"With owner Ben Keswick living in Hong Kong, this race has been the plan since Sky Lantern won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, so, while it has been a long season for the Europeans, we are looking forward to the challenge.
"We always favoured the Mile over the Cup as she stays in training next year which leaves us plenty of time to try 10 furlongs again, and, while Moonlight Cloud is a worthy favourite, there are plenty of others in the race who command respect. We are just glad to be here, and the fast ground will suit her."
December 4, 2013
HONG KONG have always been quick to appreciate a superstar, so when Sky Lantern, Europe's champion three-year-old filly, finally broke quarantine and took her first steps on to the Sha Tin track this morning in preparation for Sunday's Mile she was greeted by a galaxy of interested observers, all anxious to get a glimpse of Ben Keswick's grey filly, who will be seeking her fifth G1 success.
Richard Hannon jnr, supervising matters in the Far East, said:"This is a long journey, even further than California, where Sky Lantern ran last year in the Breeders Cup, so we weren't surprised when she was a bit quiet when she arrived last weekend.
"However, we have given her plenty of time to acclimatise, and she is now eating and drinking plenty, and she is starting to settle down and relax.
"Obviously, we now await the draw tomorrow, and depending what stall we get will determine how Hughesie rides her. Everyone wants to be drawn near the inside, but we will have to take what we get and plan our race accordingly."
November 29, 2013
SHEIKH JOAAN (Al Thani) enjoyed a brilliant summer last year, not only with Arc heroine Trev but also our very own Toronado and Olympic Glory, and it looks as if he will increase he amount of horses he has in training with Richard Hannon at Herridge next season
The Qatar sheikh does not do things in halves – he chose the Park Suite in the Dorchester Hotel in London this morning to announce a long-term commitment to European racing through Al Shaqab Racing, under whose umbrella his horses will race in 2014.
The new appointment of Harry Herbert as racing advisor has got to be a positive move too, and the Newbury director, who is already heavily involved in Richard Hannon's stable via Highclere Thoroughbreds and the Royal Ascot Racing Club, joked that "Herridge looks like becoming my second home.”
Herbert said: "It is a huge privilege being asked to join Sheikh Joaan's team, and I am very excited about the year ahead. There is a real feeling of ambition right through the Qatar camp, and we are hoping for big things for next season and hopefully we won't suffer too many bouts of second-itis
"Al Shaqab Racing are already working on their own set of silks, and we expect to start next season with a British squad of at least 40 two-year-olds."
Herbert, impressed with the superb pedigrees of the yearlings that Sheikh Joaan has bought so far, added: "Obviously, Toronado and Olympic Glory will lead the charge next year for the Hannons, and with Royal Ascot being one of Sheikh Joaan's favourite fixtures of the year, we will be focussing closely on the Royal meeting, so I would think that one or the other would start off in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May."
November 28, 2013
NOBODY wants to lose a good horse, so, while Richard Hannon quite understood owner-breeder Bob McCreery's decision to accept an offer from Godolphin for his unbeaten youngster Piping Rock he was "absolutely delighted" to get a call from Simon Crisford, racing manager to the boys in blue, asking if we would be prepared to train the colt again next year.
Hannon said:"It's our first horse for Godolphin, and we are very pleased to have them come on board. Piping Rock barely come off the bridle when winning all his three races last season, and he showed in the G3 Horris Hill Stakes that he is a genuine 2000 Guineas contender.
"Piping Rock loves the soft ground, which is always a bonus, but he is certainly not a 'one-trick pony', and we have always felt that he would be a proper horse next year, so I could not be happier that he is staying with us."
November 22, 2013
SKY LANTERN, who would be Richard Hannon's final Group 1 winner in an illustrious career if she can capture the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on December 8, looked in top order out at exercise this morning, and she will leave for the Far East next week.
Richard jnr, who takes over the reins at Herridge on New Year's Day, said:"Sky Lantern leaves for Hong Kong next Thursday, so, following a couple of days in quarantine, she will have the full week out there to acclimatise. It is a long old journey and we want to give her every chance, but she coped with the trip to California no problem last year, so there are no worries about the travelling.
"I will be flying out on December 3, the day after the HWPA awards lunch, for which dad has been nominated as one of the four trainers of the year, so I will be in Hong Kong in time for the International Jockeys Championship at Happy Valley on the Wednesday night, in which Hughesie is riding.
"Hughesie is coming on from Japan, where he rides Simenon in the Cup this weekend, and he is in great form as he picked up the individual award for winning-most jockey at a South Africa v Rest of the World challenge in Johannesburg last Sunday.
"Fingers crossed his hot streak will continue through to Sha Tin. We are really looking forward to running Sky Lantern as her owner, Ben Keswick, lives in Hong Kong, and this race has been the plan since she won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May.
"Obviously, the draw is very important over the tight track, and there is also a certain Moonlight Cloud that we have to beat, but Sky Lantern has already clocked up three G1's this season, so a fourth would be a real bonus, and, better still, we will have her back with us in training next season."
Despite monopolising the racing pages this morning with news of the January 1 change-over of the trainer's licence, it was business as usual at Herridge, with the boss joining Richard jnr on the gallops.
The boss said: "Nothing will change, and when Richard does celebrate his first winner in the New Year it will still read 'trained R Hannon' in the results pages'.
"I just hope he manages to keep hold of the colt or filly who happen to be his first winner. I'll never forget my first, Ampney Prince at Newbury's Greenham meeting in 1970. He was drawn one in a field of 20-plus, which I felt had scuppered any hopes we had, but Frankie Durr, who was a great fella, had ridden the colt in work and he told me 'don't worry guv'nor - it would not matter if he had been drawn in the Kennet Canal, this one won't get beat'.
"Frankie was right, too. He won alright, but he was backed from 33-1 to 8-1, and the owner, Mrs Wood (no relation to Julie) was not best pleased when she heard about the gamble and promptly sent a horsebox down on the Monday morning to pick him up. Great start, wasn't it - I hope Richard has better luck!"
November 21, 2013
WE all knew it would happen soon, but Richard Hannon this morning named the day – Jan 1 next year – when he would hand over the reins to his son and assistant, Richard jnr, who will take charge of the trainer's licence.
The boss, who has sent out more than 4,000 winners, including four British classics and five trainer's championships,, said: "The worst-kept secret is racing is finally out – I am standing down from New Year's Day.
"It was always going to happen, but Richard jnr has served his apprenticeship and you cannot keep him waiting forever. Ian Balding passed the baton to Andrew and Barry Hills did likewise to Charlie, and it is only right that Richard should now take over.
"We thought long and hard as to when to make the announcement, but I wanted to make sure all my owners knew first, especially The Queen, and now that all the yearlings are in for next season it is the appropriate moment to let everyone know. After all, it is Richard's 38th birthday today – what better present could he ask for?
"Inevitably, people will say that I have retired, but I will still be up and about at first lot and assisting Richard instead of him assisting me.
"It is not my style to lay in bed all morning – I love being with the horses, but these past couple of seasons I have started to wind-down and go racing less.
"I will still go to Newbury and Salisbury and also Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but I am now 68 and maybe it is time that I dropped down a gear.
"The quality of horses here has definitely improved these last two or three years, and that is down to Richard jnr. It was him who brought in Sheikh Hamdan (Al Maktoum) and Sheikh Joaan (Al Thani) amongst others, and we can now go to the bloodstock sales with fatter cheque books than we have done in the past.
"I have been lucky enough to have trained some great horses. The first classic winner is always special and I will never forget Mon Fils (1973) landing that Guineas, while Tirol and Don't Forget Me also have prominent places in the scrapbook, but there have been plenty of others in more recent years, like Canford Cliffs, Paco Boy, Toronado, Sky Lantern and Olympic Glory.
"However, we have one more roll of the dice this year, Sky Lantern in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on December 8. We have enjoyed another fabulous season, with seven Group 1 winners and £5.5m in prize money, but it would be nice to finish with one more biggie, and maybe Sky Lantern can make the dream become reality. She is very well and she will love the fast ground out there.
"Then who knows Richard might get off to a flying start by winning the 2000 Guineas with Toormore or one of the others. Now that would be the perfect lift-off, wouldn't it ?
November 10, 2013
THE champion trainer's trophy is back in Richard Hannon's kitchen this morning after a year with John Gosden in Newmarket, and, reflecting on what he described as "an amazing year" this morning, Richard jnr said that they will be doing everything in their power next season to ensure that the title remains at Herridge.
The Hannons record-breaking season makes impressive reading – 238 winners on the domestic front, of which 136 were from the juvenile division, and prize money of £4,552,524, but that tells only half the story.
We celebrated five Group 1 winners on home soil, three from Sky Lantern and one each from Toronado and Olympic Glory, but we also hit the jackpot on the top table at The Curragh with Toormore and in Chantilly with Havana Gold, and, with Producer earning almost £220,000 for his G2 success in Turkey and Olympic Glory weighing in with two lucrative second places in France, the stable's overall tally was just short of £5.25m.
Hannon added: "It was an incredible summer, and it might not be over yet as we still have Sky Lantern going to Sha Tin next month for the Hong Kong Mile.
"We are already building for next year. The yearlings have been flooding in, and it's also great news that we have so many quality horses staying in training as four-year-olds.
"Sky Lantern is coming back, as are Toronado and Olympic Glory. It was a shame that things did not work out for Olympic Glory in California, but the ground was quicker than it was in Deauville, and with the leaders going off at such fast fractions he was not able to hang on to their coat-tails.
"However, Olympic Glory ran much better than his finishing position of ninth might suggest – he was not that far behind the fourth horse – and either he or Toronado could go to Dubai on World Cup night. Sheikh Joaan (Al Thani) is very much up for the challenge of these big races, and he is all for sending one or the other to Dubai.
"We have four nominations for Tuesday's Cartier Awards, which is great. Sky Lantern has been short-listed for both Horse of the Year and Three-Year-Old Filly, with Toronado nominated for the Three-Year-Old Colt and Toormore for the Two-Year-Old Colt, and even if we come home with nothing it is an honour and a privilege that we have four short-listed and testimony to how the quality has improved in the yard.
"We are obviously also hoping that Toormore is crowned champion two-year-old, but from a personal view I am so pleased that dad has got his trainers title back.
"We are very much a team effort, but at the end of the day he skippered the ship, and, though we were a bit worried when Ruler of the World looked dangerous in the closing stages of the Champion Stakes at Ascot, we managed to beat off Aidan O'Brien's challenge.
"Next year we will have four or five possibles for the 2000 Guineas. Toormore is obviously our number one, but there is also Night of Thunder, Barley Mow, Anjaal and Piping Rock, so we look strong in that department, and fingers crossed we will have another powerful squad of two-year-olds.
"It was also great that Hughesie retained the champion jockey crown, so there is plenty to celebrate, and we always make sure that we enjoy the big days as you never know what is around the corner."
November 10, 2013
RICHARD HANNON has revealed that Sky Lantern, a triple Group 1 winner this season, will run in the Hong Kong Mile at the big international meeting in Sha Tin on December 8 rather than the 10-furlong Hong Kong Cup.
Hannon, who already has seven Group 1's in the bag this season, has one more roll of the dice at the top table, and, while Sky Lantern is entered for both races at Sha Tin, he said that "it was 99% certain that she will go for the Mile."
He explained:"Hughesie was keen to consider the mile and a quarter as he feels there could be too much traffic congestion in the shorter race, but Sky Lantern has proved herself a champion over the mile so, having weighed up all the pros and cons, we are virtually certain to leave the mile and a quarter races until next season.
"We know that Sky Lantern stays the longer distance as granted the rub of the green she would have won the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, so next year we will have that extra option. She remains in great form at home, and we are all looking forward to Hong Kong, as is the filly's owner, Ben Keswick, who lives out there.
"Obviously, we will be hoping for a decent draw as Sha Tin is such a tight track, but we will have to take what we get and pray that the filly enjoys a clear run."
November 8, 2013
THE reflections can wait, but Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes will officially be crowned champions of their respective professions at Doncaster tomorrow, when the curtain comes down on what has been another unforgettable Flat season for Herridge and Everleigh.
Only Hong Kong remains, so the major players have been put away for the winter and the yearlings are all starting to settle in, but there is one more roll of the dice on Town Moor and, while some would say that we are only firing peashooters on the final day, it would be nice to seal the celebrations with a winner.
The boss said: "Black Caesar would look to have a solid chance in the nursery. He is down 2lb and drops a furlong from his last race, both of which should help.
"We run two in the seven furlong handicap, and with the stalls on the stands side Kyllachy Rise would seem to have the perfect draw in 21, right under the rail. If you forget his run here a fortnight ago, he would have definite claims, and he will relish the soft ground, though Rhamnus, our other runner, is coming back after a long lay-off and will benefit from the run.
"Roman Royal is our only other runner in the opening maiden. She has been off since the summer, but Kieren O'Neill has done a lot of work with her, so deservedly keeps the ride, though she will need to improve plenty on that debut to be a contender."
November 7, 2013
CLASS will always prevail, and Pether's Moon, who enjoyed a great summer on the turf, showed his versatility when winning the Listed race on the Polytrack at Kempton on Wednesday.
Two wins and a neck second is Pether's Moon't record on this surface, and under a fine front-running ride from Sean Levey he quickened away from Gatewood, the favourite, up the straight for another convincing success.
Richard Hannon said: "We have always loved Pether's Moon. He is a proper horse now, but he will be an even better one next season. He stays and he has a turn of foot, and those qualities will stand him in good stead next year. Whether we run again on the all-weather or not, I don't know, but we will have a chat with John Manley (owner) and formulate a plan."
November 6, 2013
WITH all this rain about, the all-weather meetings come into their own, and it makes sense to run the horses on the Polytrack rather than subject them to a slog in bottomless ground on the turf tracks.
We take a team to Kempton this evening, headed by Pether's Moon, who runs in the Listed race. Richard Hannon said:"He is a lovely horse, and he'll be an even better one next year. He is already a Glorious Goodwood winner, and he broke his maiden on this course, so the surface is not a problem, nor is the drop in trip."
The boss is also keen to give the youngsters education before they are put away for the winter, and we run two nice fillies in the mile maiden.
He added: "Orayda, who is owned by Sheikh Joaan (Al Thani), makes her debut in the first, and she is a gorgeous New Approach filly, who we have been very patient with. Her dam finished second in the Italian Oaks, so she should stay well next year and could even be one for Epsom. There are a few in there who are more experienced, but we hope our filly will run well, though Sean (Levey) will have to drop her out from his wide draw, and whatever she does here she will improve on next season.
"We run Broadway Musical in the second division. She did everything right here three weeks ago, and Hughesie was not hard on her when he saw she could not win, but the race will have brought her on. She is well drawn and, though she is another for next year, she would also have a squeak."
November 3, 2013
THERE is nothing quite like American speed, and Olympic Glory was always being taken off his legs in last night's Breeders Cup Mile at Santa Anita, eventually finishing a never dangerous ninth behind last season's US Horse of the Year, Wise Dan.
Richard Hughes said: "I could never fill up the tanks when the leaders quickened, and we were flat out right from the start. Maybe, on this fast ground Olympic Glory does need a mile and a quarter as he was running on at the end but, in hindsight, it was probably a bit quick."
November 1, 2013
HOWEVER well the dress-rehearsal goes, there are sadly no guarantees that everything will go right on the night, but Richard Hannon jnr and Richard Hughes were "well pleased" how well Olympic Glory took to his first experience of the sharp Santa Anita turns when he had a spin on the track yesterday in readiness for tomorrow's Breeders Cup Mile.
"He went around the bends like a Scalextric car, and I think he has a terrific chance," said Hughes as he digested the exercise, and, while Hannon is not getting carried away he, too, admits that he cannot wait for post time.
He said: "I have been trying for some time now to make our operation more international, and now that we are getting the better quality horses we have the chance to make our presence felt on the big stage, and I am loving every minute of it.
"Olympic Glory has done everything right since he arrived here, and we don't see either the ground or the make-up of the track being a problem.
"Obviously, you never know until you go racing pace, but the omens looked good in that breeze on the turf course, so we are hopeful.
"Paco Boy came to America and had a job negotiating the first bend, so we realise it is going to be tough, especially taking on a horse of the calibre of Wise Dan, but we have a lot of faith in Olympic Glory and when Sheikh Joaan (Al Thani) expressed the wish to come here we were all for it.
"We are not using Lasix because we feel that there is no need to. Olympic Glory has never ever bled, so why fix it if it ain't broken. In any event, first-time Lasix can have a detrimental effect, so we are happy to leave things as they are."
Remarkably, we have just the one runner at home tomorrow, Remember in the Montrose Fillies Stakes at Newmarket, and Richard Hannon snr, who will be rooted to his ATR screen tonight and tomorrow, said:"Remember is a decent filly, and, though it is her first time on soft ground, she is by Selkirk, and they usually love a bit of juice. She was unlucky when going for the hat-trick at Newmarket last time, and, though she is now stepping up in grade, she has earned a crack at Listed status."