Penny for a shrewd trainer's thoughts

Richard Edmondson talks to Mary Reveley, who runs three in the Ladbroke on Saturday
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The Independent Online
A cosy notion for Lambourn's trainers over the last two weeks, as they shovelled their way to the milk bottles on the doorstep, may have been that at least their brethren in the frozen north were having a harder time. The tweeded softies from the valley of the racehorse should read no further.

There are areas north of the Trent which are veritable hot spots by comparison, racing establishments which have escaped the worst ravages of the weather. Mary Reveley, at Lingdale in Cleveland, on the top fringe of the North York Moors, could be expected to inhabit country where the only visible signs of farm life were the tips of bull horn.

Yet Groundhill Farm is operating very nicely, and it seems Mary has not been persuaded to slip on the cardigan. "We've had it worse," the trainer said yesterday. "We've kept the horses going and they've done plenty of work.''

Among the string are Penny A Day, Express Gift and Executive Design, all of whom are scheduled to participate in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday. The noises from the Dublin course are optimistic about the race going ahead, but the emanations from Reveley's mouth are typically downbeat.

"I wouldn't rate the chances of my three very highly," she said. "I think Penny A Day has got a better chance than the other two, but there will be four or five Irish horses lurking there well handicapped.

"Penny A Day went up 9lb for his Wetherby win and another 2lb from the Irish handicapper for beating a horse that's never won a race. That's ludicrous. He's not the greatest of jumpers any way and never has been.''

Reveley is as confident about her horses' prospects as she is about the longevity of her own career, and has suggested for some time that she will soon retire and promote her son Keith to the licence. She may have a race on with Willie Carson to get in the fireside armchair.

The firebrand Scot, 54, has felt his personal flame dimming over the last few years and his latest remarks suggest he may not be riding much further than high summer.

Carson insisted last night he has completely recovered from the kick that lacerated his liver and caused severe internal bleeding last September. He has already sat on a racehorse and is about to embark on work at his local gymnasium in Cirencester as he builds up towards the start of the turf season in March.

"I have not said anything new. The situation is exactly the same as it was before," the jockey said. "The injury is all fine now. I aim to be back in action for the start of the Flat, it's just a matter of getting fit now."

Once he is fit, Carson will be searching for a high note on which to end his career, by teaming up again with Bahhare, favourite for the 2,000 Guineas.

Bahhare, owned by his employer Hamdan Al Maktoum, could become the rider's 19th British Classic winner but his future with the Sheikh has still to be discussed.

"We have not heard from Willie as to whether he has decided to carry on riding. But if he does then Sheikh Hamdan will decide whether he wants him," racing manager Angus Gold said.

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