horse racing

Owners Insight – Off to Aintree…

Today on the NTF Blog we have the return of Phil Boyle; the major shareholder in the BG Racing partnership and part-owner of the Nicky Henderson trained OSCARA DARA.

Long time readers of the NTF Blog will know exactly who Phil is but for any new readers let me just give you a quick insight.

Phil is a member of the NTF subscription service and when I found out he was also the owner of the exciting OSCARA DARA I asked if he would be kind enough to write a couple of articles for the site. Thankfully Phil said yes and we were able to follow OSCARA DARA’S novice hurdle season closely through the eyes of his owner.

If you want to catch up on all of these previous articles then just type ‘Phil Boyle‘ or ‘Oscara Dara‘ in the search box on the site and it will bring up the list of Phil’s previous Blog posts.

At the moment Phil is taking a rather different approach to his first few posts and is going for a sort of ‘in my shoe’s for a day’ angle.

He started this with his last post which gave us an insight into OSCARA DARA’S debut hurdle run at Sandown (which he won by a thumping 20 lengths!!). If you missed that post then you can read it here.

Today he takes us back to OSCARA’s 2nd hurdle run which was in against the big boys in the Grade 2 Top Novices Hurdle at Aintree.

Over to you Phil…

Owners Insight – Off to Aintree…

Hello all 

Thanks for the positive feedback on the race-day review that I published last time.  Sorry for the delay in getting another one out.  The time seems to go by so fast! 

Here’s a similar article from Oscara Dara’s run at Aintree. 

Friday 13th April – Aintree – Tangle Teaser Top Novices Hurdle – Grade 2 

“Where am I?” is the first thought as I drift into consciousness.  The hotel room comes into focus and I remember that I have travelled to Coventry yesterday evening to break up the long drive to Aintree.  That thought sets off the first butterflies of the day!  I check oddschecker on my phone; Oscara Dara is still listed as 3rd or 4th favourite behind Darlan and Prospect Wells, sharing that position with Captain Conan and Vulcanite.  The distance is too short and the ground is too quick, but as Nicky has said he showed plenty of speed at Sandown… 

As I stroll down for breakfast I cannot decide how I feel about our chances.  It is a balance of hope and daring to dream against a healthy dose of realism.  I check out Google Latitude to see that Tony (another of Oscara’s owners) is already on the M40, better get eating, he will be here in an hour or so. Browsing some email on my phone I go back over Ben’s preview of our race as part of his Narrowing the Field analysis.  Gee thanks mate – only horse in the race that on the dosage numbers has no chance at all is Oscara Dara!  That is one way to put a dampener on my spirits! (Sorry Phil! – Ben) 

Tony is here and is doing little to calm me down.  As we hit the M6 it is hard not to start dreaming of what might happen in a few hours and it is becoming difficult to keep the old feet on the ground. 

Is sure is easy getting into a major race meeting when you have an owners and trainers car park label in the windscreen.  What I cannot work out is how Peter Ashdown’s (one of the other shareholders in the Oscara Dara partnership) 4×4 is parked just in front of me in the car park.  A quick text message confirms that he has been very busy blagging his way in without a label! 

Rendezvous in the owners & trainers bar and a nice facility it is too up above the paddock.  Got to tear myself away from star spotting and take the opportunity to go and walk the track.  Not sure I will get many opportunities to go and check out the Grand National fences close up; I feel like a kid in a sweetshop! 

Walking down the home straight at Aintree Racecourse with Dave, Tony and Sarah!  This is the kind of experience that you get involved in ownership for.  Past Red Rum’s grave a quick stop at the Water Jump and on down to The Chair.  During the obligatory photos in the ditch on the takeoff side of the fence we are joined by three very jovial Irishmen in red and white scarves.  I recognise them from the TV as owners of Forpadydeplasterer and we exchange opinions on our respective chances.  Fair to say we are both hopeful rather than expectant, but both horses have just gained another few supporter’s amongst the Aintree crowd as we promise to cheer on each other’s pride and joy!  On serious note though, it does feel pretty firm out here and Oscara could be hard pushed to keep up with some of the quicker types. 

Photos from the owners and trainers viewing area at the top of the stand and supping in the Aintree atmosphere.  It is a pretty different atmosphere as well when you are used to watching your championship races at Cheltenham.  I am sure most of the young ladies piling through the gates are dressed for an evening wedding reception party as opposed to an afternoon at the races.  Tony is trying to take a picture of the most amazingly dressed girl that he can find.  He is currently up to about his 50th shot! 

First race of the day at least minimises that time to get really nervous and we are joined in the pre parade ring by Nicky, Sophie and Nicky’s daughter.  They need to be mob handed as they have three runners to saddle!  Nicky quickly dissuades me when I suggest that the bookies think Oscara Dara has the beating of Captain Conan, pointing out that he thinks Captain is a seriously good horse. 

Said hello to AP, Barry and David Bass, but to be honest this is passing in a blur.  Seems wrong to be standing in the paddock before a grade 2 race at Aintree, surely I should be back at home checking my bets on my spreadsheet.  Better take on the crowds or we won’t make it up to the viewing area in time for the race. 

Race time – David (Bass) has been shuffled back there.  I would have hoped that he would have been able to keep that position, but he has been shunted back four or five places as they take the turn in front of the stands.  He is still in there pitching however and as they start the swing towards home, he is lined up to have a crack at the leaders. 

That’s not good.  Just as soon as I thought we had a chance, they quickened away and now Oscara is floundering.  To be fair to him, he is plugging on, but the leaders have gone.  Actually there is half a chance here that he could retake Vulcanite for fourth on the run in here.  I don’t care if everyone thinks we are mad and the race is over “Come on Oscara!”  The difference between 4th place prizemoney and 5th is significant for small time owners like me! (Oscara Dara did indeed finish 4th

Sophie greets us and is delighted.  I must admit that I am actually feeling a bit deflated.  I wanted to be dreaming of the 2013 Champion Hurdle right now and I am not sure what this means or where we can go from here.  Alex leads Oscara in with a huge smile on his face and Nicky arrives and tells us that we should be thrilled with the way he has run.  Always the planner, I am already wondering if we can get another run in this season.  Nicky thinks Punchestown will come too soon and vows to find him another race.  I don’t want to rule out Punchestown yet.  Two weeks to recover, if he comes back OK, surely we should be thinking about it, if only to repeat the experience of today! 

Watched a couple more races now and decide to head home before the last to beat the crowds.  Meet Alex over at the owners viewing steps after race four and chat again about where we might go in the future.  With the benefit of a couple of hours to contemplate, perhaps we might still have something here.  This was 2 miles and it was decent ground.  OK so perhaps he could have finished closer, but the horses around him are the top 2 mile novice hurdlers in the country and these would certainly not be Oscara’s ideal conditions.  Maybe, just maybe, I should still be dreaming?

Excellent insights from Phil I’m sure you will all agree. There will be more from Phil soon as I will be badgering for a Punchestown article in the same style and also his thoughts for the forthcoming season.

Thanks as always to Phil for his excellent article and there is more on the BG Racing partnership on Phil’s own Blog –

p.s. I did ask Phil how OSCARA DARA was doing at the minute and he replied with –

He summered in Ireland with Alan Fleming and returned to Seven Barrows (Nicky Henderson’s yard) about two weeks ago.  Pre-season work underway to build strength and fingers crossed we get an full season in this year.

I’m sure we are all looking forward to this lad hitting the track for his 2nd season over timber 🙂

Ben (NTF)

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