We have two runners at Cartmel on Sunday, and neither are strangers to this unique track. First up at 3.45.pm in the extended three miles, and one furlong handicap chase is the 14 year old warrior Alderbrook Lad.In recent years he has become somewhat of a Cartmel specialist, and this will be his 22 visit to the track, his current record stands at four wins, and 10 places. Cartmel is a good track for front runners, and Alderbrook Lad has put in some spectacular leaps from the front in his younger days.To compensate for his ageing legs, he will race off an all time low mark of 102 for the yard, and with the best 7lb claimer in the business Emma Smith-Chaston riding him for the first time, he may yet roll back the years. Running in the same colours 35 minutes later at 4.20.pm is Canford Thompson, who won on his last appearance 320 days ago. He has been a hard horse to keep sound over the years, and doesn't help himself by being a little quirky as well, but on his most runs he has become consistent, and although he hasn't got a lot to spare off his current mark, a repeat of his second placing over course and distance a year last June under Becky Smith, who once again is in the saddle, should see him go close.
Good luck to the connections, Ian Barran, Rita Butler, & Gemma Hogg.
ALDERBROOK LAD. 14 May 2006-Chestnut Gelding Alderbrook-Alone Tabankulu Owner-Ian Barran, Rita Butler and Gemma Hogg.
In our yard the Lad you almost certainly think would be the stable star would be Cornerstone Lad, but there is another Lad who has reasonable claims to dispute who in fact is the top Lad, because this elder statesman who reached the lofty rating of 144 in his younger days, who almost got killed on the streets of Middleham when running loose, who has had 68 races to date, and will race again this Summer as a 14 year old, might just have a case for top billing.
It was thanks to our ex go to jump jockey, turned very successful trainer Neil Mulholland, who alerted Micky to the fact that Alderbrook Lad was up for sale. He was duly purchased at Doncaster Sales in November 2013 for £7000, he looked a bargain purchase then, and he certainly looks one now.
After an inauspicious start when falling at the first on his stable debut at Catterick, he soon hit back by winning his next two starts at that track both in heavy ground, although it would turn out over the years that he his best performances would actually be achieved on good ground. From an opening mark of 103 over fences, and in the space of just six months with three further wins, this time over hurdles, he found himself rated 140. Because of his ground preference summer jumping seemed the logical move, and because he loved to force the pace, Cartmel Racecourse which suits a bold front runner has become his second home. Taking advantage of a 17lb lower mark over fences Alderbrook Lad won two in a row at Cartmel in May and June of 2015 making all on both occasions, and accumulating £20.000 in prize money, he finished that campaign with a rating of 144. He has returned to Cartmel a further 17 times since, winning twice and being placed a further nine times At the ripe old age of fourteen the plan is to return to Cartmel, circumstances permitting, but whether that happens or not, I'm sure you will agree he is a stable star.
CANFORD THOMPSON. 12 April 2013. Canford Cliffs-Sadie Thompson Owner-Ian Barran, Rita Butler, & Gemma Hogg.
Canford Thompson doesn't like staying in the same place for two long, having changed yards a staggering seven times, and he has only raced 36 times to date. His dam Sadie Thompson only raced twice, both as a two year old, winning on the second occasion at Warwick. He also has two very talented half brothers, in the 96 flat rated American Gigolo, and the 141 rated jumper Daneking.
Canford Thompson ran four times as a two year old in 2015, from the Newmarket yard of Marco Botti, his best effort was on debut at Wolverhampton in September, when finishing third, over seven furlongs.
He joined us here at Oakwood Stables for the first time in the Spring of 2016, where in three attempts on the flat, he failed to show the sparkle of his debut.In August at Cartmel he made his hurdles debut in a first time hood, but dropped away from two out, and it was a similar story at Perth the following month.His next race was at Wetherby in September, where there was no pace, so his jockey Fin O'Toole took the initiative, and went clear after the second flight, and he kept enough in reserve, to win being driven out. In October, back at Wetherby, he took his chance in the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle, but came home a soundly beaten fifth.
The owners at that time thought it was time to move him on, as he was proving a hard horse to keep sound,and he changed hands at the Doncaster sales later that month,with his new handler Mark Walford taking a chance on him. He ran twice for Mark in November, and December, running well, and placing on both occasions, on the all weather, but he was proving difficult to keep sound.
It would be 11 months until he returned to the track, this time in the care of West Sussex trainer Daniel Steele, he ran twice for that yard, but failed to fire. He next appeared in January 2018 in his forth different ownership, and forth different trainer, this time with Mick Appleby taking over. After a couple of runs on the sand at Southwell, he found his form, finishing runner up on all of his next four starts.
He was on the move once more in April 2018, this time to go jumping again, with the Neil King yard in Wiltshire. After some consistent efforts, he got off the mark for that yard at the seventh attempt, at Stratford in October 2018, from a reduced mark of 89. under Bryony Frost.
When Canford Thompson came up for purchase again, he was brought back to Middleham for his second spell with Micky, where fingers crossed,to date, he has proved a lot easier to keep sound. During 2019, he raced six times over jumps, placing on four occasions, and getting his head in front on his latest outing at Kelso in September, under Billy Garritty. When racing resumes, it should be worth keeping an eye on Canford Thompson, as he now appears to have found consistency, with the benefit of being a sound horse.