Category Archives: Martin Smith

A New Dawn

Things have moved on since being at Royal Ascot with Hillbilly Boy, an experience we will never forget but a result we hope to improve on. Billy has had a well earned break since the biggest race of his life and his preparation is now in full swing for his next task, a Group 3 race at Longchamp on the 7th of September.

He is likely to get the type of ground he relishes so we’re very excited to see how he competes at this level. He seems to have strengthened over the summer and may just have a little bit of improvement left in him.

It has been a year of many firsts with this horse so how fitting that he should be not only our first international runner but also our first runner in a Group race.

Indomitable Spirit
Indomitable Spirit at Yarmouth

Yesterday we passed another milestone having our first 2 year old runner, Indomitable Spirit at Yarmouth. He is such a laid back character that the hustle and bustle of racing was always going to be a big shock to him. He has practiced doing plenty of fast work at home but there’s no substitute for the real thing and this experience will stand him in good stead for the future. He was really well behaved in the build up and will come back stronger and wiser.

No Refund has had a couple of runs for us now and seems to be going the right way, if not tomorrow he will be losing his maiden tag soon.

Khelfan is making steady headway, she did well to get a prominent postition early on but just used up a little too much energy in doing so from a terrible draw.

Amberjam is penciled in for a novice hurdle at Worcester on the 19th, we were really pleased with his first run over hurdles and hope to see him come on.

We also have Notebook -our new @Little_P_Racing horse- and Invisible Touch looking to run at the July course later this month. Can’t wait! 🙂


Martin Smith Weekly Blog

The first couple of weeks of the turf season have flown by for us having a winner with Hillbilly Boy at the Lincoln meeting and last week we had our first jumps winner on a memorable Grand National day.

Just before our race at Chepstow I stood and watched Leighton Aspell win the race every jump jockey dreams of winning. Leighton and I have remained good friends since we worked together at Josh Gifford’s yard when we were 17. We had a lot in common when we first met having both ridden 9 winners on the flat at the time and always had a lot of fun together.

Leighton retried from race riding a few years ago when things weren’t going well for him and he made a big decision to get back in the saddle but I think it’s fair to say he made the right choice!! He also rode Ossie’s Dancer in his first couple of starts over hurdles and has done the majority of his schooling at home for us so seeing him win the Grand National minutes before Ossie’s Dancer won his first race was absolutely amazing!

Steve and Verity Garner who own Ossie’s Dancer were like proud parents at Chepstow. Having owned his mother Nina Ballerina, they have owned Ossie’s Dancer since birth and they have been very patient with him. Even though he showed little promise as a youngster they gave him a second chance by sending him to us and it makes me very happy to see their trust in him and us finally being rewarded.

Looking ahead we have a fantastic week in store with the 2014 turf season coming to Newmarket. Not only do we have one of the most telling 2.000 Guineas trials in the Craven but we also have the Breeze Up sales at Tattersalls. It’s a rare opportunity to watch some of the best racing prospects in action and also get a chance to see some future stars go through the sales ring.

The Craven Breeze Up sales are renowned for turning out future stars, in 2012 Rosdhu Queen was purchased for 65.000 guineas and went on to win the Gr1 Cheveley Park Stakes that same year before being sold for a whopping 2.100.000 guineas in Decmeber 2013!

It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter who you are, you just have to be bold and adventurous in this sport and one day you never know…

You might just win!!!

Apologies for the late upload, Luke takes full credit for that!!! Oops

Martin Smith Weekly Blog

Now that the Cheltenham Festival is over it’s finally time to look forward and concentrate on the flat season ahead. Who will win the classics? Who will be champion trainer, champion jockey and most of all…

Will we ever see another horse as good as Frankel???

Well Toormore certainly seems to have been the most impressive two year old of 2013 and although he will have a tough task ahead, my best wishes go out to him and all his connections. Having worked for Richard Hannon senior, nothing would make me happier than his team winning a classic in their first year with Richard Junior in charge. I know he has been waiting a long time to prove he can follow in his father’s footsteps and I think he has the ideal horse to do it with.

Before we go steaming headlong into the new turf season, there is one issue from last week that I think needs to be addressed. The comments from Ruby Walsh after the tragic loss of Our Conor have been the subject of much speculation. Having grown up in racing I have always heard similar comments about how “People are more important than horses and as long as the people are ok that is all that matters” but I have to say, what a load of rubbish!!!

It makes me sad to think that someone can have as much talent as Ruby, make an enormously successful career benefiting from all the hard work their horses put in and then be ignorant enough to think that one life is worth more than another. Whether it’s animals or people, every form of life is a miraculous gift and can Never be replaced by another!

When I was a 13 year old boy I went to the races with my father like I had done many times before, only this time changed my life forever. On the way there my father told me he was going to let me lead up our runner and I was so excited! My brother spent the day with me showing me how to prepare a horse ready for a race and after all the hard work, Prodeo won his race!

After that day I went on to ride Prodeo every day before going to school and then I came back to the yard to brush him after school, I learned to ride work on him and even jumped over hurdles for the very first time on him. After almost 2 years of me looking after him, he ran in another claimer and his owner had a big bet on him, unfortunately he found one horse too good on the day and finished 2nd.

The owner was so upset about losing his money that he didn’t put in a bid to try and keep the horse so he got claimed by another trainer and was taken away, leaving me to come home without him. I cried non-stop for 2 days when I lost Prodeo and I can promise you that although many other great horses have come into my life since that day, there has been and never will be another Prodeo!!!

Luckily for me I was reunited with him for one summer when his new trainer moved local to us and let me ride him every day during my breakfast break. I never asked for or received any payment, just to be back with him for 20 minutes every day was all I wanted.

I am still that 13 year old boy now and just thinking about this story is making me sad but I will never ever forget Prodeo! I am thankful for every day I spent with him and to think that someone who is at the top of our sport can say horses can just be replaced is a crying shame. I feel sorry for Ruby if he really has no passion for all those horses who have made him so successful, I can guarantee he wouldn’t even complete a circuit of Cheltenham without them!!

We had a fright at Uttoxeter on Saturday when Ossie’s Dancer made a mistake at the 4th hurdle and took a heavy fall. We saw him get up but he didn’t finish with the other horses and one of the girls working on the course told us he was in the horse ambulance. I walked across the course with the owner to find out what was going on and to our elation we found him walking towards us, safe and sound!

We then went to the weighing room to check the jockey was ok and were faced with a similar ignorance that had infuriated so many people at Cheltenham. After keeping the owner and I waiting for 15 minutes, he barely spoke a word to us when he came back and couldn’t get way from us quick enough. He certainly didn’t ask  (or care) whether the horse was ok!

Luckily I know from experience that not all jockeys are so heartless towards the animals who pay their mortgages and put their children through school but I think it’s time for the people at the top take a long hard look at themselves and think about the damage they are doing to our sport. Not only do they needlessly infuriate genuine animal lovers but they also set a bad example for young riders who aspire to be just like them!

Have a good week everyone!


Martin Smith’s Weekly Blog

We had a long drive to Chepstow on Saturday but we were delighted with the way Ossie’s Dancer ran once again. In his 3 runs over hurdles so far he hasn’t run a bad race and now he will be given (hopefully a fair!) handicap mark, we can look for an ideal race for him. Ossie’s Dancer was bred by his owners Steve and Verity Garner and I know nothing would make them more proud than seeing their boy come home in front!

This week we have Millie’s Quest entered at Kempton, she ran well last time but didn’t quite get home having been off the track for a few months. She’s also dropping back to 6f which her owner Michael Whatley has always insisted would be her trip so I hope he is right!

Next month we hope to see Amberjam back in action, he was due to run a couple of weeks ago but got an infected foot just days before the race. He has made a full recovery now and is going well at home, he has also been schooling over the hurdles with Ossie’s Dancer so we might be seeing him appear over jumps before the end of the National Hunt season.

Just before Christmas I was asked to collect Douglas Pahsa from a “Racehorse retirement” home where he suffered from appalling neglect and had all but lost the will to live. I’m delighted to say that 2 months later he is doing better than anyone could have hoped for!

After a month of building him up with some good quality hard feed and some much needed TLC, he started being ridden out to lead the 2 year olds and show them the ropes. He is doing so well now that his exercise has been stepped up to taking the youngsters up Warren Hill and he is absolutely full of himself! He loves his new babysitting role and is starting to look like a race horse once again so who knows….

We might just see him back in action one day!

Martin Smith – The End Of An Era

It seems strange to hear a term like ‘the end of an era” in a yard as young as ours but there was no other way to describe today’s event. Our precious and phenomenal mare Balti’s Sister left our care and embarked on her new career as a broodmare today.

She was our longest serving team member and one that gave Michelle and I lots of success as owners before we were granted a license to train. We purchased Balti’s Sister at the Tattersalls July sale in 2012 when my father saw her and fell in love with her. We put her in training with Terry Clement who did a tremendous job with her. Although I rode her out and looked after her myself, Terry was instrumental in her race planning and the fact that we won 4 races in a 5 month period and increased her official rating from 59 to 78 is a testament to his racing knowledge as much as it is to our expertise in horsemanship!

Since I held a trainer’s license last summer she only ran a few times for me, her last run was arguably her best performance to date but unfortunately the miles she had clocked up were taking their toll on her back so the decision was made to retire her to the paddocks where I’m sure she will make a terrific mother and produce some fantastic athletes in the future.

Ironically only a couple of weeks ago we were blessed with the arrival of our first foal, our mare Castalian Spring gave birth to a beautiful filly by Sleeping Indian. After having her covered by Sleeping Indian last year we shipped Castalian Spring out to Ireland where she and her foal can enjoy some of the best quality grazing on Earth. They are kept with our friends at Clonlisk Stud and will be visiting Coolmore to be covered by The Way You Are later this month.

Back home our horses are in superb form lately! Ossie’s Dancer ran the race of his life to finish 3rd at 100/1 beaten only 9 lengths by Anay Turge who won a grade 2 chase at Cheltenham only a couple of months ago. More recently Hillbilly Boy finished 2nd at Wolverhampton last Saturday in his first run for us.

Millie’s Quest is declared to run on Thursday, she has had a winter break and I’m very pleased with her condition since coming back into training. I think the drop back to 7 furlongs is just what she needs and I’m delighted to have George Buckell on board. George has been in amazing form lately winning 3 out of 3 on Noble Citizen for his boss David Simcock as well riding Boris The Bold to victory for us before Christmas. Michelle and I have mentored George since he was 12 years old and it makes us very proud to see him doing so well. He is a first class horseman with a very professional attitude which is extremely rare for any 19 year old lad!

Our 2 year olds are coming on in leaps and bounds, Bounty’s Spirit is the most forward and looks like she will be the first one to appear on a racecourse in the spring. Indomitable Spirit is one of the most imposing and handsome 2 year olds I have ever seen! He still has a little way to go before he will be ready to run but he has a great attitude and is enjoying his work. Spirit of Arakan is a May foal and is still growing fast so she will probably take the longest to prepare but she is a very attractive filly and the fact that she is by the same sire as Champion 2 year old Toormore I’m sure will make her one to watch in the future. LittleMissPositive is a small filly with a massive personality! She is very forward going and extremely popular with her Little Princess Racing syndicate members, there are still a couple of 10% shares available but they are going fast which is no surprise seeing what she is like on the gallops!

As sad as it was to see Balti’s Sister leave today, as you can tell there is plenty to look forward to in 2014 and we’re chomping at the bit waiting for the new turf season to start!!!

Pictures are of Balti’s Sister, The Sleeping Indian filly and LittleMissPositive


BaltiSleeping Indian FillyLittleMissPositive

Martin Smith Weekly Blog

Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards

I am delighted and extremely proud to announce that Toni Hunter (@toni_hunter92) who has worked for us for over a year, has made it into the top 10 nominees for the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards. We have been told by the judging panel that the Rider/Groom category was the most competitive of all which makes her achievement all the more impressive.

There is still a way to go however… The three finalists in each category will be invited to meet with the judges in London on Tuesday 25 February to decide the winner. The winner in each category will be announced during the awards ceremony at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in London that evening, hosted by Clare Balding.

There is a list of nominees available at:

As you will see the list is almost entirely dominated by much bigger and more established yards so it makes Toni’s achievement all the more meaningful. We also owe a thank you to Lisa Cowdrey (@LjcTime) for helping us writing the nomination letter as I’m sure her help made all the difference!

As for the horses, Ossie’s Dancer (Toni’s favourite!) is entered at Southwell in a novice hurdle on Wednesday. We were very pleased with his first run over hurdles at Fakenham on New Year’s Day where he finished a respectable 5th in bottomless ground.

We also bought a new horse out of a seller at Lingfield last week, Hillbilly Boy who won his race at 14/1 has settled in very well and we are very pleased to have him on board. I’m sure he will give his new owner Macguire Bloodstock a lot of fun.

Although most of us might be watching the racing at Meydan and wishing we were there, we certainly have plenty going on to keep us warm over the next couple of months 🙂

From all of us here at Ontheotherhoof, well done Toni!!



Year Of The Horse

I hope you’re ready for this!!

 Well 2013 was certainly a year we will never forget! We finally managed to get our license to train in England and have met some wonderful people who have been more supportive to us than I could ever describe.

 In December, after hitting the crossbar quite a few times with Batgirl and Balti’s Sister, Boris The Bold made all under George Buckell to give us our first winner! A day we certainly will never forget!!

At the time of writing this we’re only 3 days into 2014 and so much has happened it’s hard to believe the year has barely begun. On New Year’s Day we faced absolutely horrendous conditions to see Ossie’s Dancer have his first run over hurdles at Fakenham.

 Conditions were so bad that half the field had pulled up with 3 hurdles left to jump yet Ossie’s Dancer showed some true grit and although he got tired he battled on to finish 5th behind Fennel Bay, a half brother to the memorable Rising Cross who finished 2nd in the Oaks to Alexandrova and Howdigo who is trained by my father in Bahrain where he won several of their biggest races including the Bahrain Gold Cup. So all things considered we were delighted with the performance.

 As if that wasn’t enough, yesterday we discovered that my wife Michelle is pregnant! To be honest I’m still in shock but I’m sure most of you can imagine just how happy I am. It somehow seems fitting that we should be expecting our first child in The Year Of The Horse.

I’m hoping to run Special Mix again at Lingfield next week, he has come on leaps and bounds since his 2nd there last time out so I’m hoping for another great day at the races with some great friends. There are still a few shares remaining in Special Mix but they are going fast so I would encourage people to contact us soon if they are interested in joining us in the winner’s enclosure!

 To everyone, a very Happy New Year from all of us and we hope to see you soon 🙂

From everyone here at Ontheotherhoof we would like to congratulate Martin and Michelle on their exciting news. Champion Jockey in the making for sure!! (Luke)

Martin Smith Christmas Blog

Merry Christmas from all of us!!

 It’s everybody’s favourite time to be merry and be with family and friends, for us it is also a time to look back on our first season and start setting some goals for what we hope will be a phenomenal 2014!

 Next week our New Year’s blog will cover a bit more on that front, for now i want to dedicate this blog to one person who has been an inspiration to us and I’m sure will be for many of you. 

 So many of us take the little things for granted and get frustrated over mundane stuff that really has no importance when you look at the bigger picture. Most people look to their favourite athletes or world leaders for inspiration but for me one tweet from Joshua Jackson @Battling_joshua makes me realise just what is important. 

 Joshua was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, in 2010 he was in remission and relapsed in October 2012. He has raised thousands for Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he spends a lot of his time, he is a massive Liverpool fan and is followed by most of the team’s best players past and present. He goes through more treatment than most people could put up with and yet he is never annoyed, upset or angry! Joshua is an absolute warrior and inspires all of his 25 thousand followers!

 I can’t imagine what life must be like for his family but I sincerely hope they have a great Christmas and a happy 2014 so from all of us at Martin Smith Racing and everyone at Ontheotherhoof, Merry Christmas Joshua! 🙂

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Martin Smith Weekly Blog

Saturday morning and we’re looking forward to a day out at Southwell. Amberjam has had a tough time in maidens so far. He’s still young and immature, needs a longer trip than maidens provide and probably isn’t at his best in the all weather surface. I know a lot of people would be thinking “Why even bother if he’s too slow and backward?!” but I have an enormous amount of faith in this horse and I’m confident we’ll see a different side to him once he matures and we can step up in trip and possibly even over jumps…

This Wednesday we had an a bit of a disappointing day. We were at Lingfield in good spirits and really looking forward to Special Mix running. However the weather had other ideas and we lost the meeting due to the thick fog. Special Mix has been in really good form since his first run for us, he has a couple of entries again at Lingfield next Wednesday so let’s hope he gets a run this time.

It would be great to have a winner for our Little Princess Racing syndicate @Little_P_Racing, all our members adore their horses and love the sport. They are great fun to be around and most of them have supported us from day 1 so it really would mean a lot to all of us! As far as we’re aware, Little Princes racing is the UK’s most affordable racing syndicate (by quite a long way compared to some other syndicates!). Michelle and I are determined to show that you don’t need to pay over the odds to get involved And have some success along the way! 😉

For anyone who is still looking for the ideal racing gift what better way to spend your winnings after a good bet?! Visit our website for more information. Good luck wherever you’re watching the racing from! 🙂

The Highs and Lows of Racing

Well what week it has been! Boris the Bold and George Buckell formed a very professional partnership to give us our first winner on Wednesday and the comments and support we have received from everyone has left Michelle and I complete overwhelmed.

However our week didn’t start out that way, on Tuesday we found out that Crowd Control and his 3 year old brother by Scorpion will be continuing their training careers with Rebecca Curtis from now on. Obviously we wish them every success and I’m sure Rebecca will look after them as well as anyone could. We have become very fond of them both and to lose two promising youngsters in one go is a huge blow for a small yard like us. I’m sure anyone can imagine just how much more it meant to us to have our first winner just 24 hours after hearing the news.

Maybe this will go some way to explaining the Tweet from @SimonNott: “Delirious scenes at @kemptonparkrace when last winner Boris The Bold got home. Stable staff celebrating like they just won the Derby. Great!”

Once I explained the stable staff were actually me with Michelle and Lisa who both own a third of Boris he kindly gave us a mention in his own blog so thank you Simon.

Now the weekend is here we can finally come back down to Earth and look forward to our yearlings who are doing really well. We will be offering 10% shares in LittleMissPositive, a filly by Pastoral Pursuits as an ideal Christmas Present for any racing fan! Details will be posted on our website shortly. Hope you have a good weekend’s racing wherever you are 🙂


Martin with his first winner Boris The Bold
Martin with his first winner Boris The Bold