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RELUCTANT SUITOR. 17 February 1989. Shy Groom-Belaka. Owner-Joe Buzzeo.

Reluctant Suitor was a late developing flat bred horse, being by Shy Groom, a son of Blushing Groom, out of a Beldale Flutter mare. He was owned by one of Micky's long term, and loyal owners, Mr Joe Buzzeo,

Reluctant Suitor started his career in February 1993 on good to firm ground at Musselburgh, in a bumper, making the perfect start, coming home a length and a half clear. He was held in very high regard, as just three weeks later he contested the bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing sixth of the 24 runners, beaten only 12 lengths, with Peter Niven in the saddle.His final start of the 1992-1993 season was two weeks later, this time contesting the prestigious bumper at Aintree's Grand National meeting, once again he showed what a bright future he had in front of him, by finishing forth, beaten only six lengths.

Reluctant Suitor returned after his Summer break, making his hurdles debut in October, under Chris Grant. He was a little ring rusty on debut, but still came through late to finish second to American Hero. He filled the same position once again two weeks later at Kelso, but this time he was doing his best work late on, and he also reversed form with American Hero, who this time was back in third. For his next race it was decided to change tactics, and in November at Newcastle, which is his owner, Joe Buzzeo's favourite racecourse, Reluctant Suitor made all of the running, winning at odds of 5/6. In December at Musselburgh with the same tactics employed, he doubled up.The hat trick was completed on his handicap debut, from a generous looking mark of 104, in January 1994, and at Musselburgh in February, he ran his best race yet, when easing down before the line to complete his four timer, taking his mark to 122. It was back to Cheltenham in March, this time contesting the Supreme Novices Hurdle, where he finished seventh of the 18 runners, beaten 18 lengths, but possibly still surpassing all of his previous form.

He returned to the track seven months later in October 1994, making his chase debut,and mirroring the start of his hurdles career, finished runner up on each of his first two starts. Unfortunately the story came to an abrupt end on his third chase start at Doncaster in December, when in contention, he fell fatally at the fifth last fence. We will never know what Reluctant Suitor might have gone on to achieve, buts lets just be thankful for the memories he left us.

CHARLOTTE VALE. 23 April 2001 Pivotal-Drying Grass Moon-Chestnut Mare. Owner-Peter J. Davies.

You could say that Charlotte Vale lived life to the full, although her life was eventually cut short due to a foot injury, that eventually got the better of her. She raced a total of 53 times, including nine times over hurdles. After her racing days were done, she was sent off to stud for a second career, that produced five offspring, including the 91 RPR rated Favourtism who was trained by Kevin Ryan, and only raced four times for that yard, all as a two year old, but looked an exiting prospect in the making. Two of Charlotte Vale's progeny were also in training here at Oakwood Stables, her first foal, Margo Channing, and her second, Spats Columbo, who was just getting the hang of racing, when unfortunately breaking down, and subsequently losing his life on the racecourse at Redcar, in 2013. Charlotte Vale is also fondly remembered for giving Gemma Hogg our assistant trainer, her first, and only win as a jockey under rules at Hamilton Park on June 7th, 2007. Unfortunately I don't have enough space to go in to detail about that race now, but for a full detailed report, get yourself a copy of 'Stable Lass,' by Gemma Hogg, and go to Chapter 16.

Charlotte Vale made her debut in June 2003, over an inadequate five furlongs at Pontefract, doing her best work at the business end, and finishing forth. A step up to six furlongs at Hamilton next time, once again saw her finishing well, this time she was runner up.As a three year old, she finally got off the mark at Thirsk in a handicap off a mark of 65, over one mile four furlongs, a trip and track that would suit her well during her career. She was back in the winners enclosure at Pontefract in June, and placed on a further four occasions as a three year old.

Her next success came in June 2005, back at Thirsk, taking her BHA rating to 76, a mark that she regularly ran off, or very close to for the rest of her flat career.

She made her hurdles debut, finishing forth at Catterick in November, before wining at Sedgefield by 11 lengths, later in the month, under Tony Dobbin. The following November she took her chance in the Grade 1 'Fighting Fifth' hurdle, finishing eighth to Straw Bear, a race of course which Cornerstone Lad would win 14 years later. She only ran nine times over hurdles, winning or placing on five occasions, earning a rating of 116. Her final season was in 2008, where she was as good as ever, wining and placing. Her final race was at Carlisle in June, before retiring to stud.

Charlotte Vale gave us all some great memories, and in the words of Gemma,'She was a real sweetheart, with a cheeky character.'

MONYMAN. 01 January 1990. Mandalus-Superdora. Owner-Trevor Hemmings.

Monyman was owned by Trevor Hemmings, one of National Hunt Racing's biggest supporters, running in the famous yellow and green colours, for the whole of his rules career, He was the highest rated produce of his mare Superdora, who had eight representatives on the track, producing the winners of 13 races.

Monyman made his debut in a bumper at Haydock in January 1995, finishing tailed off in the heavy going, after going off at a not fancied 20/1. It was a different story at Carlisle in April, when he won the 16 runner bumper on firm ground, staying on well up the hill, after being given a patient ride.

He made his debut over hurdles, after his Summer break in November at Newcastle, weakening from two out, and probably needing the race.In total he would run seven times over hurdles in the next 11 months, mainly over the minimum trip, placing on five occasions, but seemingly lacking that extra gear to get his head in front.

It was a different story when he went chasing in November 1996 at Kelso, he jumped well under Russ Garritty, coming from off the pace to win a novice handicap chase by a length and a half, at odds of 13/8 favourite. He was second at Aintree 10 days later, after being hampered, but was back in the winners enclosure at Catterick in December. He completed a quick three timer at Musselburgh in January, under his penalty, taking his rating to 112, a rise of 14lb for his three wins.He went off at 1/1 for his next race in a handicap at Wetherby ,but could only manage third place, but in his next attempt at Ayr in March, he probably ran his career best, coming eight lengths clear, over the minimum trip, on good ground, taking his official rating to his highest of 121.He was placed on four of his next six runs, with his mark gradually coming down, and from a rating of 111 in March 1999, he got his head in front for the final time at Newcastle, with Brian Harding in the saddle.He then took his chance in the John Hughes Trophy at Aintree, but probably didn't see out the two miles and six furlongs.

After his Summer break he raced a further three times under rules in the 1999-2000 season, but he was no longer showing the same zest for racing, and was sold out of the yard to race in hunter chases, and point to points, for his new trainer J.M. Turner in Suffolk.

Monyman was placed a couple of times in points, and ran for the final time in May 2002.He was a horse who was totally ground dependant, with good, or good to firm bringing out the best in him, over the minimum trip of two miles.

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