Shantewe gave the Sheep as a Lamb syndicate our first victory, but where did she come from and what does Sheep as a Lamb mean. Answers below:
Sheep as a Lamb comes from an old saying "You may as well be hung for sheep as for lamb". Strictly, it's a justification or excuse for going on to commit some greater offence once one has perpetrated a minor one. A modern day equivalent is that if you're going to get into trouble for having a pint after work in the pub, you may as well stay for five or six. It sums up the syndicate nicely.
The syndicate is made up of a group of old mates, 3 lots of parent/son combinations, a few newcomers to ownership and even a group of ex-pat Norwegians we met at Cheltenham!
The Shantewe story is a slightly longer one. We had Boreas Duke (and still do, shares available www.saalracing.com/theduke) in training with Mick Easterby and decided we wanted to have one in the south too.
Lambourn seemed as good a location as any, I left messages and emailed a few trainers but in the first of a number of sliding doors moments Jamie Snowden was the only one to call me back. I was never sure about getting a National Hunt horse, I'm nervous enough watching them on the flat, never mind hurtling towards a hurdle at 40mph. However, the syndicate was born out of a group of us making an annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham so it was time to man up. Andy and I headed over to Folly House for what was an excellent breakfast and talked about horses.
Jamie had a lease filly available which we took a look at and after having a think about it, decided to take her. Unfortunately we were too late someone had agreed to her before us. It was the second sliding doors moment because as it happened he had another lease horse arriving in the form of an unraced, yet to be named Shantou filly. This was our first sight of her back in Jan 18. Massive thanks due here to Adam Wragg of Carlton Stud (now finding fame as they also own Anapurna's sister) who leased her to us.
The first time we saw her on the gallops and Jamie's thoughts about her are below:
She was due to run in the Spring of 2018 but unfortunately picked up an injury in March, the syndicate weren’t getting much in terms of action and Jamie offered us the chance to perhaps start again with another horse. Those sliding doors again (number 3), we decided as a syndicate to persevere and gave her the summer off.
She returned filled out, still not the biggest but with a great attitude, buzzy, but able to settle, always wanting to get on with things. We now just had to get her fit and wait for some rain after an unseasonably dry few weeks.
We finally got some and after the above piece of work, with two experienced horses and we entered for Wetherby on the 28th November.
I got a call from Jamie a few days before and his words "She's ready" sent a bit of a shiver down my spine. As declarations came through it was clear it wasn't going to be an easy assignment, 16 other horses, Harry Fry and Noel Fehily coming up for one race on the hot favourite.
The plan was to sit off the pace, be in contention 2 furlongs out, pick off the horses and hit the front in the wings of the last hurdle. I couldn’t watch the race with the guys, my Cheltenham group are all based in Yorkshire and here we were having our debut runner at a Yorkshire course. I hid out with Ollie (assistant trainer) and watched it from the stands.
What happened next was quite frankly the stuff dreams are made of, exactly as planned Gavin hit the front (although afterwards he thought he got there a little early) and won hands and heels going away to beat a good field at a rather tasty 16/1 SP (25/1 available on course).
The replay on the link below and the commentary will live with me for a long time as will the guys faces (and hugs) when we returned victorious to the winner’s circle. The feeling was unbelievable, I was quite emotional, Gavin got an unexpected hug, I could barely speak to Jamie. The night out back in Leeds was memorable as was the video footage back from the pub in Norway.
What next? You’ve got to aim high so we went for a listed mares bumper at Market Rasen. A small field and lack of pace didn’t help and an ex flat horse receiving weight got a bit too much of a lead and beat us to the line, we finished third giving Shantewe some valuable black type for the breeders. And she caught the eye of the Racing Post.
Next stop was a big syndicate outing to Sandown in March for a mare’s bumper final. Table’s were booked, scarves were produced, extra owners tickets were ready, the rain came, Sandown’s uphill finish would suit Shantewe down to a tee….Shantewe started coughing, couldn’t shake it off in time. It’s the hope that kills you right?. The scarves looked good though.
I still went to Sandown, I watched the race convinced we would have won, unfortunately bookies don’t pay out races ran in my head.
Aintree’s grade 2 mares bumper at the Grand National meeting was to be our final race of the year. I watched it while on a family holiday, the guys that went certainly enjoyed the hospitality. We were slightly disappointed to finish 5th and not grab 4th place, can you believe that. I had spent way too much time watching horse run around Dunstall Park, but now the bar had been raised. The winner of this looks a good horse and the 2nd and 3rd franked the form at Punchestown.
She came out of Aintree so well we decided to give one more run before the end of the year. We went to Hexham, delighted to give Page Fuller the ride who is sponsored by our friends the Racing Manager who’s software we use to communicate to owners. It wasn’t fair on the other horses really, as the Racing post put it in their preview “Shantewe sets an abnormally high standard”, yet she went off even money SP and proceeded to trounce the field.
Now we’ve raised the bar of expectation again, after her summer holiday Shantewe will be back for a novice hurdle campaign which we hope could give us our first Cheltenham runner. You’ve got to dare to dream haven’t you?
This was taken before her summer holiday, a reminder of what she'll be doing in the Autumn. Quite a difference from the first time see saw a pole in February 2018 which can be seen in the blog below:
Jamie Snowden and the team at Folly House also deserve a mention, as they have been brilliant throughout the process. It's not always easy to fill syndicates and Jamie understands that, he was incredibly patient, welcomed stable visits and treats you the same if you own a hoof of a handicapper or all of the stable superstar.