STARS OF THE PAST PART 9.
FREEDOM NOW. 01 January 1998. Sadlers Wells-Free At Last Owner-Frank Hanson
Out of all the horses I have written about to date, this one is definitely the most travelled so far, having spent time in a total of nine different yards, in his 40 race career, enjoying his most successful period when trained here at Oakwood Stables.
Freedom Now is also a very well bred horse, being by Saddlers Wells out of a Shirley Heights mare. His dam was placed in a Group 2 race for Guy Harwood, and three of his siblings, including a full brother, and sister, were all Listed placed.
Freedom Now raced six times as a two year old, winning in July at Windsor under Jamie Spencer, and earning a BHA mark of 87.For his three year old career, his owner/breeder Mr Gerald Leigh moved Freedom Now to France to race from the Chantilly based yard of J.E.Peace, where he ran on four occasions, with a third at Clairefontaine in July, being his standout effort.
He was sold to the trainer John Hills, in Lambourn, and raced a further four times as a four year old, with his best performance coming at Newmarket, over 12 furlongs, off a mark of 81, with Richard Hills in the saddle.
As with many of Micky's purchases, Freedom Now was bought as a dual purpose horse.He was only in the yard for one season, but managed to fit in 14 races, including five on the flat.He made his hurdles debut at Wetherby on Boxing Day 2004, weakening from two out to finish seventh. At Catterick in January 2005, he was a length in front when falling at the second last, and completed his three runs for his handicap mark by running in the Grade 2 novice hurdle at Wetherby, and although last of the five runners, still picked up some good prize money.He next had four unsuccessful attempts on the flat, before returning to the jumps in June at Hexham, finishing second to the Kariana Key trained Mister Moussac, which set him up nicely for a run of four consecutive wins.He won those next four races in just over eight weeks, all in novice hurdles, and all in the hands of Graham Lee, which saw the handicapper raise him to 115, the highest jump mark he would achieve in his career, his last win being achieved under a triple penalty.
Both Micky, and the horses owner Frank Hanson agreed that the horse had now achieved everything they had set out to do, and he was sold on for a very handsome price at the Doncaster sales.
Freedom Now raced for a further five seasons, for five different trainers, and having 18 more starts, including a final season point to pointing, but he never won another race.
FAIR SPIN. 23 April 2000 Pivotal-Frankie Fair. Owner-Bendery Properties Holdings Ltd.
If you said to me it's over eight years since Fair Spin last ran, I would have told you to go check your facts, but it is, as he ran for the last time on January 12, 2012. Fair Spin was very versatile, if also at times unpredictable, running over the minimum five furlongs, and as far as three miles two furlongs over jumps, he also acted effectively on any surface.He ran a total of 68 times, with all but two being for the Micky Hammond yard.
Fair Spin began his career racing in Italy for trainer Michael Quinlan, racing at San Siro. He made a winning debut over six furlongs in heavy ground, in September 2002, and was then second over the same course and distance, when raised to Listed level, earning a Racing Post Rating of 80.
Fair Spin arrived at Oakwood Stables in the Autumn of 2002, but didn't race until the following April at Thirsk, in their Class 3 conditions race, he also took in quality races at Haydock, and Beverley, and although not disgraced, unfortunately couldn't get involved. He next contested sprint handicaps from marks in the mid 80's, and it wasn't until July 2004, from a reduced mark of 63, that he finally made the frame, finishing third at Haydock. He placed twice again, including over 10 furlongs at Pontefract, before turning his attentions to hurdling in November 2004. A good third at Hexham was followed by his first win for the yard, at Newcastle on heavy ground in a first time visor. One week later at Carlisle under his 7lb penalty he doubled up under Graham Lee. His jumps mark was now 115, so when he returned to the flat off 58, he looked very well weighted, but in five attempts he couldn't take advantage.Back over jumps in November 2005, he raced at Wetherby, but he couldn't get competitive in a further five attempts, and he fared little better in three more flat runs,seeing his mark tumble under both codes.
It was in August 2006 that he finally came good again, needing all of the two miles at Ripon, in the hands of Paul Hanagan, from a mark of just 48. In November back over jumps at Hexham, he also took advantage of his much reduced mark of 95, winning the two mile handicap hurdle by seven lengths.
After racing in January 2007, Fair Spin missed a year, and took quite a while to find his form, as he struggled through the 2008-2009 season, racing 11 times. By April 2010 his flat mark was only 45, when he ran in the Pontefract Marathon, over the extended two miles and five furlongs, He had been working well at home prior to the race, but he still went off the complete outsider of the field at 40/1, he relished every yard of the trip winning by a neck under Paul Mulrennan. A month later in May, and back over jumps from a much reduced mark of 68, he won again at Hexham, by 3/4 of a length. The treble was completed in June, also at Hexham, but this time by eight lengths. Fair Spin also won twice more at Carlisle, and Hexham, in November, meaning he had won five races in a calendar year, at the age of 10.He would race just another five times, with his best effort coming at Carlisle, when finishing second under Joe Colliver, in December 2011.
Fair Spin has lived in three different places since retiring, first living with his owners, until moving to a retired lady judge who lives in Middleham, and after she gave up riding, he has moved to Halifax, in West Yorkshire, where he now spends his days with Megan, and another of our retired horses Zaytoon.
MASTER OF THE HALL. 28 April 2004 Saddlers Hall-Frankly Native Owner-Masters Of The Hall.
One of the classiest horses to have been resident at Oakwood Stables in recent years was Master Of The Hall, he arrived from Doncaster's Autumn in Training Sales in 2013, purchased by the 'Masters Of The Hall' syndicate, which included BHA Chief Executive, Nick Rust, who had owned other horses in the yard in previous years. Master Of The Hall was bought to be a 'Saturday' horse, arriving with some top class form already in the book.
Master Of The Hall started out life by winning an Irish Point at Dromahane on debut, and was then sold on to race for Nicky Henderson, who tested the water by running him in a bumper at Sandown, where after travelling well, found himself outpaced. His next race was his hurdles debut also at Sandown, where he went off 1/1 favourite, coming home on the bridle. He followed up at Newbury, and then in more exalted company at Huntingdon, finished his season with a 3rd place and a rating of 142.
His chase debut in November 2010 was a winning one at Ascot, after a 5th placing at Cheltenham, and a further success at Huntingdon, his season culminated with a win in the prestigious Reynoldstown Novices Chase Grade 2, also at Ascot.
After a Summer break he returned at Aintree in December 2011, winning a Listed Chase by sixteen lengths. His final win for the Henderson yard came at Kelso the following March under A.P.McCoy.
After joining us he made his yard debut in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, he was just beginning to come under pressure 4 out when he took a very unfortunate heavy fall, leaving him winded for several minutes, this affected his confidence, as next time in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, and then again in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day, he never jumped with any fluency. The decision was taken to return to hurdles to restore his confidence. He would have 8 races over hurdles during the Spring of 2014 before finally getting his head in front at Market Rasen with Joe Colliver in the saddle off a much reduced mark of 104. With his confidence now restored he began to make up for lost time, being placed 4 times in his next 6 races, culminating in his biggest moment for us, by winning the £25.000 handicap hurdle at Market Rasen, taking his official mark back up to 127.
He raced for one more season, returning in a chase at his now favourite Market Rasen, but once again his jumping was not all it should be, so it was back over hurdles, where he won his last race at Hexham in the hands of Jamie Bargary. At the grand old age of eleven he raced 8 times, mixing hurdles and fences, and never finishing out of the first four, with his last racecourse appearance being at Southwell over fences on August 16th, 2015 where he was 3rd.
Nicky Henderson may have had the best out of Master Of The Hall's young legs, but as an older horse, he gave us some great memories to saviour.