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Tom Symonds’ diary: a winner and lots of liquor!


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  • Success with Liqueur means lots of liquor! Liqueur Rose’s success at Bangor recently was notable for so many reasons.

    First, she is a beautifully bred own-sister to Amaretto Rose who was the first horse I ever sat on at Nicky Henderson’s yard in July 2006. Amaretto was certainly no stunner but immensely talented. Her career was blighted by hard luck but also punctuated with displays of an untouchable talent, evident in the 2007 running of the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock.

    Second, although Amaretto was sold by her breeder – locally based former trainer Colin Jackson – for a meagre £11,000, Liqueur Rose is still owned by Colin, his wife Ann and daughter Sarah. She is the third generation of her family to use the Caradoc gallops as Colin would bring her mother Teenero and grandmother Miss Nero down here for their race preparations.

    Third, she was in pre-training with highly talented horseman Marcus Foley at Barbury Castle. Marcus and I are old friends from our days at Seven Barrows and he tipped the then-unnamed Liqueur Rose as one to note very early. He also got run away with on Amaretto Rose in her first ever run and confounded all by winning impressively; that takes some doing around Towcester!

    Fourth, it was jockey Denis O’Regan’s first success for the stable. He had said very early on that he wished to ride for me and has been a regular work and schooling jockey during the week. His ecstatic grin said it all. In addition, although she didn’t win by far in a weak sort of race, he said that next year over hurdles on softer ground she could be one to look forward to – always good to hear!

    Fifth, (apologies if you find number listing dull!), it was the first winner that wore the logo of our yard sponsors – Hereford Forklift Trucks.

    Lastly, and probably most importantly, it was the first winner in my mother’s colours. This filly is not owned but leased by her syndicate, which means when she is in training the “Mumbo Jumbos” pay and hopefully enjoy her, but as soon as she is out of training for some reason then she returns to the Jacksons at Cradley. Ultimately of course she will return to them for her breeding career. A good deal indeed and very much the same as Amaretto Rose – owned by Shade Oak Stud while being a first lease for the Weatherby’s Racing Club. Let us hope the first time is a charm!

    Jane Symonds (aka Mum) has owned and had shares in racehorses, pointers and even trotters (they wore her colours, anyway) and has never seen them come home in front. The colours were a family heirloom left to her by her great-grandfather. She has done so much for me – the free taxi service, the cooking, dealing with tantrums, not to mention expensive schooling! So I was absolutely delighted to be able to train a winner for her – racing’s ultimate thrill. Someone who selflessly gives so much to others certainly deserves that.

    Furthermore, her motley crew were all her close friends from her childhood to the present day. An insignificant race, but never has so little meant so much to so few – I hope Churchill won’t mind me adapting an appropriate phrase!

    Not so lucky this time

    Luck doesn’t always go the way you hope and nearly a week later saw another home-bred Alflora mare, Fleur De Vassy, lead all the way at Ffos Las before being cut down in true Crisp style by the Peter Bowen-trained Normally.

    They always say that you should back the first trainer you see at the racecourse and of course on arrival I greeted Peter and Karen Bowen with a polite wave and hello. I might have said something different on their departure!

    Fleur De Vassy is owned by a syndicate that includes Len Jakeman, who also raced her mother Royale De Vassy who sadly died last year. Len also owned horses in partnership with Mum at Venetia Williams’, so understood what the previous Friday had meant. Len has an intricate knowledge of racing and knows that Fleur is no star but that a chase win would help embellish her pedigree for imminent breeding purposes and, of cours,e the memory of her mother.

    Her brother – Royale’s Charter – is currently performing with credit under the care of shrewd trainer Nick Williams. Hopefully he can help endow the pedigree upon Fleur’s retirement. Although the result was annoying, she ran a cracker under a very good ride by the massively under rated Felix De Giles. Furthermore, we all enjoyed a great day under the guidance of racecourse supremo Dai Walters – what an entertainer!

    An exclusive showing of War Horse
    Thursday also saw the local premiere of War Horse at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford. One of the film’s executive producers, Revel Guest, sadly lost her young grandson Thomas to a brain tumor in December 2010. Dreamworks agreed to allow an exclusive early showing of her film in her local city and in aid of the Thomas Grahame Trust. It was a very well attended event and one that is close to my heart, having lost my school friend Patrick Lamb in the same way at the age of 16.

    As the stage show is so outstanding, Steven Spielberg certainly had a lot to live up to. It is a film littered with so many current themes and one that appropriately shows how “hope can be found in the extremes of adversity”.

    In her pre-film speech, Revel suggested how the film evokes emotions through people’s bond with animals, but also mankind’s bond with each other. Sadly, World War One cannot account for man’s injustice to man. In Afghanistan a son, daughter, brother, sister, spouse or friend are lost all too regularly and War Horse reminds us that the horrors of war are still evident.

    It will also serve as a memorial for Corisande, Angus, Iona and Lisabel of their son and brother who fought so valiantly against the most unjust adversity.

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