by Grant Morgan
The 'rolls royce' of our tour fleet is our sojourn to Royal Ascot. So special it is, we only embark on this trip every two years. And in doing so, we limit the group to 25. This enables our guests to get to know each other and most importantly, the very special guests we meet along the way.
I believe we delivered our best Royal Ascot tour yet, and we look forward to replicating this in 2021.
This year those special guests were numerous in numbers, but also big on quality. Our journey appropriately started in Newmarket, staying at the very English Bedford Lodge Resort & Spa. So much of our great sports history is rooted in this beautiful town. During our Newmarket stay we got to spend some time with two amazing trainers.
Firstly it was Sir Mark Prescott at his historic Heath House Stables. Sir Mark is the oldest serving trainer in Newmarket, but don't let that tag fool you. He is still full of vim and vigor, and is one of the finest raconteur's I've come across.
At the other end of the age scale is dynamo young trainer Marco Botti. A product of rich Italian racing heritage like Luca Cumani and Frankie Dettori. Marco is one of the new generation of trainers and we got an insight into his training style and philosophies at his modern training complex.
Front and centre of our Newmarket stay are private personal tours of the very best breeding operations in Dalham Hall, Cheveley Park and Banstead Manor. This enabled us to spend some time with some top class stallions including our own Brazen Beau. Of course the highlight for most was meeting the great Frankel.
Rounding off our Newmarket leg was a very special dinner at the majestic Jockey Club Rooms (circa 1668). Joining us were trainers Sir Mark Prescott and Marco Botti. Our own Gold Coast training duo of Toby and Trent Edmonds and Singapore's Stephen Gray also enjoyed the company of our guests at this wonderful dinner.
With a wonderful overview of English racing and breeding set for our guests, it was time to move camps to our London base at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane in the swanky Mayfair district.
The group was well catered for on Royal Ascot Day 1 (Tuesday) with a fabulous lunch in the modern and spacious 'Carriages Restaurant'.
Next on the Royal Ascot agenda was Day 3 (Thursday) for Ascot Gold Cup. We were based in the 'Old Paddock Restaurant' which gave the group good access to the pre-parade ring whilst enjoying another lovely lunch.
Friday was the day for the gents to get final fittings for morning suits at Savoy Tailors Guild. The ladies enjoyed a visit to the Royal Cavalry Museum. With top hats tucked away, the full group then ventured to the classy Goring Hotel for a memorable High Tea.
The crescendo of the tour is Royal Ascot Day 5 (Saturday). Saving the very best to last, we were based in the Royal Enclosure in the 'Trackside Restaurant'.
Rounding the tour off on the final night was a beautiful dinner in Aqua Shard, perched overlooking London in the iconic Shard building.
This year’s Royal Ascot carnival could see major involvement from Australian stables.
Ontrack Racing’s 2019 Royal Ascot tour is sold out and participants look likely to have plenty of Australians to cheer on said Ontrack’s Grant Morgan.
“It’s looking likely Magic Millions winner Houtzen and triple Group One winner Trapeze Artist will run at Royal Ascot, while leading trainer Chris Waller has flagged Ascot ambitions for three-year-old colts Autumn Sun, Zousain and Lean Mean Machine.
“While there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge before Royal Ascot, it’s great to have so many great Australian sprinters pencilled in.
“Houtzen and Trapeze Artist are the most likely participants, while The Autumn Sun was inoculated this week for a potential Royal Ascot trip,” said Grant Morgan.
Houtzen is trained on the Gold Coast by one of Ontrack’s main Queensland trainers Toby Edmonds and the trainer is just back from an information gathering exercise.
“I flew over to check out stabling at Newmarket and to take a look at Royal Ascot and it’s all go,” said Toby Edmonds.
“Houtzen will fly out late in March and we’ve arranged stabling at Newmarket.
“It was an amazing experience to visit Newmarket and see Royal Ascot first hand and the whole stable is excited about having its first ever runner at an international meeting,” said Toby Edmonds.
Grant Morgan said the Royal Ascot experience is always fantastic, but to have a runner at the meeting takes it to another level.
“We have had some great tours there, but nothing compared with having Brazen Beau there to compete in the Diamond Jubilee back in 2015.
“It is a truly unforgettable experience having a runner at Royal Ascot and Ontrack will be proud to cheer on Toby with Houtzen as well as Bert Vieira with Trapeze Artist and Chris Waller with one of his colts,” said Grant Morgan.
Ontrack Thoroughbred’s bi-annual tour to Royal Ascot proved a memorable event for participants.
The 2017 Royal Ascot Tour was Ontrack’s third to the world’s most famous racing event and 25 Ontrack clients joined hosts Grant and Jenny Morgan and Jennie Bartels.
“It was a spectacular tour and we were blessed with fantastic weather and a great bunch who shared two memorable weeks,” said Ontrack Managing Director Grant Morgan.
The tour started with a week in Newmarket, the heart of the English horse racing and breeding, and included stable and stud visits.
“We were privileged to spend time at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud and catch up with our very special horse Brazen Beau who is coming to the end of his second season in the UK before heading back to an Australian spring.
“The party also toured Juddmonte Farm’s Banstead Manor in Newmarket where champion racehorse Frankel is now blazing a trail as a stallion. It is an amazing property and the chance to inspect Frankel proved extremely popular with the tour.
“We were also hosted by trainer Luca Cumani at his Newmarket stables and our guests really enjoyed having the opportunity to see close up how one of the leading trainers in the UK operates,” said Grant Morgan.
Three days of Royal Ascot’s five-day racing carnival were included in the tour and all days were blessed with incredible weather.
“The final day at Ascot saw the group hosted at the Trackside Restaurant in the Royal Enclosure and that mean top and tails for the gents and the finest for the ladies. It is truly an amazing experience to spend the day in the Royal Enclosure and it always proves an eye opener for first timers.
“The tour members had a great time and Ontrack’s policy and limiting numbers meant those on the trip are able to get to know their all of their fellow travellers and it also allows everyone the chance to get up close and personal with many great horses, whilst also gaining the opportunity to personally spend time with leading breeders, stud managers and the people that work with the horses.
“It really was a great tour, but the real judges of the trip are always the guests,” said Grant Morgan.
“It was an absolutely amazing tour with fabulous company and first class all the way. Thanks to our hosts Grant and Jenny Morgan and Jennie Bartels for a fantastic time.” – Glenda Newick
“Wonderful experience.” Jeanette Donaldson