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  • Ian Ender

STARS OF THE PAST PART 14.

CLAY COUNTY. 01 January 1985. Sheer Grit-Make-Up 1. Owner-The County Set.


Clay County started his racing career in the hands of trainer Michael Cuningham, in County Meath, Ireland, making his debut at his local track of Navan in a 10 furlong maiden as a three year old. in May 1988. It was a promising debut, although finishing eighth, he was beaten under five lengths.He had two more flat runs, before making his hurdles debut in November 1988, finishing midfield at Fairyhouse. He would have three more runs for the Cunningham yard, his best on his penultimate start, when reaching the frame for the first time.

Over the Summer Clay County changed ownership, and countries, as he was now in the care of Scottish Borders trainer Dick Allen. After two unpromising runs, things began to click in to place at Ayr in February 1990, when he coasted home by 15 lengths. A further two races though were disappointing, and he was given a break until September. On his return, starting from a mark of 106, he placed twice, but did win a conditions hurdle, when his only serious opponent, the 1/4 shot Island Set broke down three out.

It was in December 1990 that he made his chase debut, under, his regular pilot Brian Storey, finishing second of nine at Ayr, two subsequent efforts, offered no clue as to what he would be capable of in future years. At the age of six, after a seven months break, he returned at Ayr on October 12th, winning the novice chase by 20 lengths. Maturity had finally kicked in, as he went on to complete a five timer, culminating in the Grade 1 'Northumberland Gold Cup' at Newcastle, all in just 77 days. His final race of the 1991-1992 season was at Nottingham in February, a Grade 2 novices chase, where he finished second to Deep Sensation.He was off the track for the next ten months, returning at Kelso in November,and from a mark of 135, he made all for a two length success. Off his new mark of 140, he placed on all of his next three starts, before winning a conditions chase back at Kelso in March 1993.He followed up in a three runner event at Ayr, before two defeats off 140 at Sandown, and Perth, he was then turned away for the Summer.

Clay County returned in October 1993 at Bangor, where he beat his two rivals without breaking sweat, he was then second at Kelso, and a winner at Newcastle, before finishing runner up twice from a mark of 142.His last two chases for the Dick Allen yard, were in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, and the Martell Chase at Aintree, where he cut no ice on both occasions.

In the Summer of 1994 the 'Million in Mind Partnership' purchased Clay County and sent him to Middleham to be trained by Micky.His first run for his new yard was at Haydock, he was beaten by eight lengths in to second place, trying to give Martha's Son 10lb. It was then on to Aintree, finishing third to the Oliver Sherwood trained Young Snugfit, before back to back wins at Musselburgh and Kelso, the later off 141.He returned for the Martell Chase at Aintree in April, and just failed to make all under Norman Williamson, but got compensation at Perth when reunited with Brian Storey,19 days later.

When he returned in October 1995, he was now in the ownership of The Country Set, he started that season by finishing fourth of eight at Ascot under Richard Dunwoody, His next race saw him back in the winners enclosure at Haydock in January, under Adrian Maguire from a mark of 148. In March 1996, he returned for the Martell Chase for the third year running, but his jumping was becoming suspect, and he blundered his chance away. The following month at Perth he was four lengths clear at the last when unseating Russ Garritty. He would race twice more, after his Summer break he returned as an 11 year old in October 1996, finishing second at Kempton from a mark of 150. His final start was on January 18th, 1997, also at Kempton in the Grade 2 Victor Chandler Handicap Chase, bowing out with possibly a career best at the age of 12 under A P McCoy, being beaten 3/4 length by Ask Tom.


AMIR PASHA. 14 March 2005. Halling-Clarinda Owner-M.H.O.G.


Without making enquiries I cannot be 100% sure that another horse has made more appearances from Oakwood Stables than Amir Pasha, who in total raced an incredible 128 times during an eight season career, both on the flat, and over jumps. He is a very well bred horse, being by Juddmonte International winner Halling, out of a mare who had her four race career cut short by injury, but still registered a BHA rating of 97.

Both his sire and dam were regular rides for the late Walter Swinburn, so it was fitting that Amir Pasha should start out his racing career, in Hertfordshire, with that racehorse trainer, Amir Pasha ran six times for Walter Swinburn, all as a three year old, his best effort coming at Wolverhampton, on his last start for the yard,in October 2008, earning a mark of 59. He was purchased at the Newmarket sales soon after by Micky, and would run in the colours of Mr McAllister. In November he made his hurdles debut, but showed very little in his first four attempts.He had his first run on the flat for us at Musselburgh in April 2009, and ran his best race to date, finishing third over two miles, beaten just three lengths.That was something he failed to repeat under both codes, until in December, when at the 20th attempt he finally got off the mark in the selling hurdle at Catterick. Now he had got the hang of it, it was only 13 days until he was winning again, back at Catterick, but this time in a non seller,and stepping up to two miles and three furlongs.

During 2010 Amir Pasha would run a staggering 21 times under both codes, winning three times, and being placed a further 10. His hurdles mark was now 111, and his flat rating had increased to 65.

Since joining the yard two years previously, Amir Pasha had not had a proper break from racing, and it was only 85 days until he was back in action, finishing third over the jumps at Musselburgh in February 2011.He would once again run 21 times during 2011, this time winning once, and being placed 14 times, although he also won on January 1st, 2012 at Catterick.

This remarkable horse ran a further 19 times in 2012, and reappeared 17 times in 2013, at the age of six in 2014, he ran 18 times, and in his final season of racing in 2015, which was curtailed by injury, he had run 10 times by June. During that final season he had six attempts over fences, but like many flat bred horses he probably didn't enjoy the experience very much. He finished a very courageous career having run 128 times, winning on 10 occasions, and finishing in the first three a further 32 times. A truly remarkable record by any standards.

He is one of those lucky horses, who now enjoys a wonderful retirement in the care of his new doting owner.


ENDLESS CREDIT 24 April 2010 High Chaparral-Pay The Bank-Gelding Owner-Mike and Eileen Newbould.


Endless Credit was purchased by Micky at the Newmarket Autumn horses in training sale of 2014, out of the Luca Cumani yard, a yard he had bought from on previous occasions.Endless Credit, or as he was known by in the yard,'Luca,' didn't race until he was three, winning once and being place twice in each of his three races, which were all at Newmarket racecourse.He failed to win at four, with his best run coming at Nottingham in July when beaten a nose over one mile and two furlongs. he finished his time at the Cumani yard with a rating of seventy nine having peaked at 87 as a three year old.

Endless Credit was bought as a dual purpose horse, and hopes were high for him, with very good cause, because his half brother was the Triumph Hurdle winner of 2008, Celestial Halo, who would also go on to finish second in the 2009 Champion Hurdle, and also be runner up in the 2013 World Hurdle, he also had four half brothers and sisters who achieved ratings above ninety on the flat.

After joining us,he started out over hurdles at Catterick, finishing third, he went on to win his next two at Kelso and Hexham where he went off at odds of 1/4. He then went to Aintree's Grand National meeting for the Grade 2 Novices Hurdle, but after a mistake at the second flight, his jumping went to pieces, and he eventually fell two out. All in all it had been a more than satisfactory start to his hurdling career, earning an official mark of 132.

His 2015 campaign continued apace, he was straight back on the flat, and in July at Newmarket, Frankie Dettori finished second on him over one mile and a half. A week later at Ripon this time with Graham Lee aboard he filled the runner up spot again.The remainder of his form for the rest of that season began to tail off, and after seventeen months without a proper break, he was put away until the following May.

As a flat horse at the age of six he had no secrets from the handicapper, but gave his best, finishing third at Musslebough and second at Thirsk. After another five months off the track he reappeared back over hurdles, his best run coming at Wetherby on Boxing Day finishing second off 115 with Fin O'Toole on board.

In April 2017 the decision was made to go chasing, a job his brother Celestial Halo didn't enjoy, but after an inauspicious start when pulling up at Carlisle, he surprised (me at least) when making all at Perth. A month later at Kelso his jumping was poor, and he trailed in last of four, this would be his last race for 11 months, as he was now fragile making him difficult to keep sound. The best thing to do was to get him as fit as we could for his return, and it paid off when he won at Hexham after nearly a year off, first time back. He couldn't repeat that effort in what proved to be his last two races after that, for us, and in the hope of new surroundings freshening him up, owners Mike and Eileen moved him to the Malton yard of Lucinda Egerton, Back over hurdles, and now nine years old, that finishing kick just wasn't there anymore.

Endless Credit was very well named as he was a credit, achieving that rare fete of winning on the flat, over hurdles, and also over fences. Have a peaceful, well deserved retirement 'Luca.'

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