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The winter jumping season is once again approaching, and we will have many familiar old faces returning, as well as several new ones making their debuts. Over the coming days and weeks I will be providing detailed essays on some of our horses that will hopefully be in the winners enclosure very shortly.

RORY AND ME. 23 February 2015. Shamardal-Rosawa. Owner-Richard Howard & Ben Howard.

Rory And Me is a late developing type, who has been given plenty of time to mature, and now at six years old, should be ready to reward that patience. He was bred by the Aga Khan, and as you would expect, comes from a very talented family.His sire is Shamardal who only raced on six occasions but bowed out in 2005 after winning the St James' Palace Stakes, run that year at York, by eight lengths. His dam raced in France, winning all of her first four starts, and achieving a Racing Post Rating of 107, she retired to stud after a disappointing run in the 2005 Prix de L'Opera, won by the Patrick Haslam trained Kinnaird. Rory And Me made the perfect start to his career when winning a bumper at Market Rasen on debut in May 2019, despite looking very green, in the hands of Alain Cawley. He was given a break of just over two months before returning at Southwell, where under a penalty, he kept on gamely to finish third beaten seven lengths, on a track that probably didn't play to his strengths.He returned to Market Rasen 19 days later, and was back in the winners enclosure, underlining the promise of his debut.

His hurdles debut was put on hold, and in September he made his debut on the flat at Pontefract, in a 12 furlong maiden. Having to give lumps of weight for age to Newmarket trained three year old's, he finished a very respectable third with Graham Lee riding.Under Paul Mulrennan at Ripon nine days later, he significantly stepped up on that effort, when running all the way to the line, to only fail by a neck to catch the Ralph Beckett three year old Isabella Brant.His final start as a four year old was back at Pontefract in October, when disappointing for the first time, but he will have probably not enjoyed the very soft ground, and it was also decided he needed wind surgery.

Rory And Me was given a long break and didn't reappear until July 2020 at Ripon, in his first handicap, and stepping up to 14 furlongs.From a mark of 74 he was doing his best work at the finish to go down by one length and a quarter, to finish third. Over the same course and distance in August, he was beaten 18 lengths to finish fifth, after being held up, and he never got competitive. He stepped up in trip for one of Pontefract's staying events in September, but clearly didn't stay the two miles and one furlong, and the decision was taken to send him hurdling.

Rory And Me made his hurdling debut at Wetherby in November, on good to soft ground over two miles, and after getting outpaced, rallied to good effect to finish a three and three quarter lengths second to the 122 rated Venetia Williams trained Gemirande. TO BE CONTINUED.

To keep up to date with all the latest happenings at Oakwood Stables, and Sharp Hill, click on 'NEWS' at www.mickyhammondracing.

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