IT was with great sadness this week we decided to retire Jonniesofa from racing.
Jonnie has been one of our best horses over the years, a winner of a Grade Two hurdle at Haydock back in 2016 he’s been a real star for the yard and his owners Rob and Annette Houghton.
Sadly, he’s not been the soundest and has suffered a recurrence of the suspensory problem which flared up last year. It wasn’t a bad one that time, so there was no chance we’d retire him then but it’s come back.
Had the injury been something else we might have gone again because he doesn’t have too many miles on the clock and he’s only eleven.
But the fact it was the same one again and it’s worse than 12 months ago, we just felt it was best for him to draw stumps now and let him retire.
He will stay with us to do his recovery before we think about what he’s going to do in the future. He’ll have a lovely life after racing and hopefully we will, in time, find him a nice home where he can flourish doing something else.
Jonnie was Rob and his family’s first racehorse, he didn’t cost an arm and a leg - certainly nothing like you’d expect to pay for a 140 horse these days - so it has been a dream journey for them.
To get a horse like him, especially the first time up, was fantastic for them. He’s gutted that we’ve got to retire him because, like us, he was convinced there was still more to come.
Emma Dunkley has spent so many hours together with Jonnie on the yard, doing his rehab work and getting him back fit again so many times. So she deserves so much credit for what we’ve been able to do with him. They’ve been great friends.
He also had a great understanding with Craig Nichol, who rode him on all bar one of his starts for us.
Jonnie took us to the Cheltenham Festival, where he ran in the Albert Bartlett seven years ago and that was the day his problems first appeared. But despite the amount of times we had to stop with him - he always won the day we brought him back!
That just summed up the love for racing he had and the attitude he showed on the track. The fires always burned brightly - and were still going to this day.
Although Jonnie won a very good hurdle race, he didn’t manage to win a big chase and that will always be a real shame. There’s no doubt he had the ability to win one and if we’d had a clear run with him then I’m convinced it would have happened.
He certainly deserved to because he’s been the bravest, most gutsy horse over the years and I think that’s why he’s had such a great following among the public.
Even this season, although he was hard to place, he showed the talent was still there and the plan had been to go to Aintree for the Topham with him.
We thought that would have been the perfect race for him, over that trip and those fences.
We will never know now. But it’s a case of don’t be sad it’s over, just be glad it happened in the first place!
If you want to watch a short video Racing TV did at the yard in 2019, you can find it here - https://www.facebook.com/racingtv/videos/434164650818703/
It was a real shame for Craig Nichol breaking his leg at Newcastle the other day when he came down on Definite Wisdom. He’s cracked his fibula on the other leg from what he did in the autumn, which is rotten luck.
He’s hoping he won’t be off too long and might be back in a month or so. If anyone deserves a change of fortune it’s him.
And that fence at Newcastle has turned into a real bogey fence for us - Slanelough came down there last month and it’s now claimed Craig and Definite Wisdom.
I was pleased with the way Doktor Glaz ran at Carlisle the other day. He’s not been the easiest to keep sound but he’s been far better this season. Considering the ground on Thursday he ran well, but the deep conditions just blunts his speed. He’s come out of the race well, just a little bit stiff and hopefully he’ll be winning in the spring.
Here he is with budding work rider Jake Dickson this morning.
Fete Champetre was probably the pick of our runners last week. We had started off hoping to have a couple of winners Wetherby and Newcastle but it didn’t pan out that way. But Fete ran a nice race to be third at a big price, so hopefully we’ll see him kick on from here.