A TRIBUTE TO STORMIN NORMAN.
STORMIN NORMAN 27 February 2015 Sir Percy-Roses-Gelding Owner-The Monday Club.
Here at Oakwood Stables Stormin Norman will always hold a special place, as he was named after the late Norman Smith, father of our assistant trainer Gemma Hogg, and Becky Smith, Lady Flat Champion Amateur Jockey.
If Stormin Norman had only turned out to be moderate he would have still been held in high esteem because of whom he represents, but the bonus is, he was a horse with lots of ability. Norman Smith always enjoyed a good night out, and would meet with friends for a night of karaoke. After he passed away, several of his fellow singers clubbed together and bought, and named Stormin Norman in his honour. He made an excellent debut in the bumper at Market Rasen in October 2018, running very green, and finishing strongly to only being beaten by 3 lengths. His next two runs were also in juvenile bumpers over one mile six furlongs, he found the trip far too short on both occasions, running on at the end when his chance had gone.
It was his return after his winter break on April 3rd, 2019, that 'The Monday Club' will always remember. Exactly one year to the day since Norman Smith was laid to rest, Stormin Norman got off the mark in the bumper at Market Rasen, with Norman's daughter Becky in the saddle. If this had been a story line in a film, you would probably think it was a bit far fetched.
With the flat season now in full flow, a debut over hurdles was put on hold, so Stormin Norman began a flat campaign at Wetherby in May, over mile and two furlongs. He had two more runs over trips which proved to be on the short side, and now eligible for a handicap mark went to Ripon and got off the mark, off a very generous looking rating of 52, under Franny Norton. The way he saw out his race suggested that a further step up in trip should bring about even more improvement, and so it did, as three weeks later at Carlisle on lady jockeys only evening, over 2 miles, he came home on the bridle under Becky Smith. After a 13 day break he returned at Pontefract to contest one of their staying marathons, over two miles and one furlong, carrying 9lb more than at Carlisle he kept on gamely under Franny Norton to finish a two and three quarter lengths third. He returned to the same course and distance in September, and ran a very similar race, once again filling the third spot. Stormin Norman had an extended winter break due to racing going into lock-down, and didn't return to the track until July 2020. The break must have done him good, as at Musselburgh over two miles, and carrying top weight he put up a new personnel best performance, coming with a late run to win from a mark of 65, under Graham Lee. It was 10 weeks until we saw him again, with Becky back in the saddle, in a Amateur Jockeys handicap at Catterick, Becky put her experience to good use by being the only jockey to bring her horse, Stormin Norman up the stand side on the faster ground (the golden highway) to win decisively by three and a quarter lengths.
Stormin Norman was now the winner of four flat races and a bumper, and now it was time to make his hurdles debut. In October, racing over two miles and one furlong, in a Sedgefield maiden hurdle, with Becky back on board, he made a winning jumps debut. Over a trip which would have been on the short side, he made up lots of ground from the third last to win by a length.He went to Catterick in November under a penalty, and although the trip of just short of two and a half miles would suit, the sharpness of the track didn't play to his strengths, he was as game as ever, as he stayed on to finish forth, beaten five and a half lengths.His next start was in early February 2021, in a jumpers bumper at Newcastle, with Billy Garritty riding him for the first time. Jumpers bumpers form is notoriously difficult to weigh up, with many races being run at a false pace, but Stormin Norman still managed a respectable fifth, and more importantly it kept him focused for his next up and coming campaign.
It was on his next start in March when Stormin Norman showed us a quirky side to his nature that we had never seen before. At Newcastle in a novice hurdle under Conor O'Farrell, the horse swerved and tried to run out at the fourth hurdle, Conor managed to get Stormin Norman to co-operate and he stayed on to finish sixth. He returned to Newcastle for another hurdle in April, with Becky back in the saddle, where he kept on for third. On his return to the flat in April at Ripon he could only mange an eight and a half lengths sixth of the eight runners, but on his return to that track in May over two miles, he was a very unlucky loser, having been hampered at a crucial time, so much so was his unlucky defeat, that the Racing Posts comment said he was an 'eyecatcher.'His following two runs were both over 14 furlongs, at Nottingham in June, he was staying on to be beaten by two and three quarter lengths, and at Redcar in July, he again showed us that he needed further to bring out the best in him, when going down by three and three quarter lengths.
On August 2nd, 2021, Stormin Norman in first time cheek pieces contested the race at Carlisle, he had won from a 14lb lower mark back in 2019 over the two miles and one furlong.At around the halfway mark Stormin Norman appeared to take a false step, and unseated Becky, it was clear the horse was fatally injured.
Stormin Norman surpassed the expectations of us all by winning a total of six races, and has left many people with some very happy memories, be sad for his passing, but be thankful that we were lucky enough to have known him.