TBS talks to Ed Darbishire ahead of the Grouse Season

With the official grouse season starting on 12th August, The Buying Solution interviews sporting consultant, Ed Darbishire of Ian Coley Sporting Ltd on what this special season for sport entails.

How long is the grouse season? What makes grouse shooting special / different?

The red grouse shooting season starts on the 12th August or the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ – the day after if 12th starts on a Sunday  – and the season closes on the 10th December although in reality it’s all wrapped up by mid-November.

Grouse is particularly special as it is unlike any other game bird shot in the UK; it is a truly wild bird that is harvested each year and they can only be found on UK moorland and nowhere else in the world.

Their flight and speed makes them unrivalled as a sporting bird, they are a unique challenge and people will pay handsomely to take part in the ‘sport of kings’. Shooting grouse is not just about the shoot however, it’s the history of the different locations, the people involved and the magic of the whole event which involves people from all walks of life.

The best part is that anyone shooting knows its special and as such it is not taken for granted – however wealthy and successful people are, they are always humbled. It’s a unique sustainable product that only we have – it supports so much of the local rural areas economically that many places would be lost without it. It’s also incredible for conversation – with some of the highest concentrations or rare or at risk animals and plants.

How difficult is it to secure the best days if you are looking to shoot?

Very difficult unless you own one! We are uniquely placed to secure the best days on the best moors. With our 50 years in the business we can advice on where and when and if its for sale we will be able to get it. This takes years of building relationships and rapport with owners and keepers and sending them safe, experienced and friendly teams.

Which parts of the country have the best grouse moors? What makes a great grouse moor?

Grouse can be found on most of the uplands in the UK – but only the well managed moors contain enough surplus stock in order for them to be shot. The moorland areas vary hugely on height, topography, heather coverage etc etc – some of the best moors have little heather and are wet but produce grouse and the moors with good coverage and dry also produce grouse. The work really lies with the keepers and management who work tirelessly to maintain the moor which is a haven for birds, insects and mammals – there is an abundance of wildlife on all managed moors and that’s down to the keepers.

Why do people want to own grouse moors?

A grouse moor is a very special asset, not only do you potentially have access to some amazing sport, you also have the chance to be involved in a living breathing conservation project – a chance for many to put back into something for future generations.

Grouse moors rarely come to the market – a lot of families hold them in trust and the ones that do come up for sale go very quickly! Grouse shooting is available to buy so for many that’s easier than having their own moorland, those that do buy grouse moors are not only interested in the shooting, but also the surrounding area and the community because the moors tend to play a crucial part of life in these areas.

Asset wise as long as the popularity of shooting sports continues then these are valuable investments – especially if the average bags can be increased the estate will always be in high demand – after all they are in such short supply.

A rough guide to a days shoot?

A typical day will be run in the same way as a traditional pheasant and partridge shoot – we will meet in the morning and sort the loaders for the day, prepare everything we need and listen diligently to the safety briefing and draw pegs before heading off onto the moor around 9:15/9:30am.

Normally we would shoot a single drive followed by a second drive with refreshments, and then a return drive – so three in the morning then lunch and then two in the afternoon usually a back to back drive.

If a typical day of 100 brace was taken for 9 guns you would be looking to pay upwards of £20,000 inc vat. However this can vary slightly on the time in the season and the bag sizes which can be bigger and smaller – the earlier part of the season will typically cost more than the latter part.

Which nationalities is grouse shooting popular with?

The biggest contingent of overseas clients we have to shoot grouse is the Americans – they really embrace it and in fact know a lot more about what goes into making a day possible than a lot of UK clients, they are really interested in all the elements and not just pulling the trigger. The second largest group of travelling sportsmen would be Europeans – especially Scandinavians and Spanish.

A magical sport…in a nutshell

The length in which people will go to get here to shoot grouse from anywhere in the world – its something we should be really proud of. All the money gets injected straight into the local areas, keepers, pubs, hotels – all possible because of grouse shooting.

For most it’s something they have looked forward to all year, in fact many years in some cases when days are cancelled – therefore sometimes people get caught up in the excitement of being with friends on the eve of a shoot so there are always a few sore heads.

Visit www.iancoley.co.uk for more information.

TBS speaks to Eve Johnson Houghton ahead of Royal Ascot

World famous ‘Royal Ascot’ week kicks off on Monday 17th June; it is the centrepiece of Ascot’s year and dates back to 1911 when the June week of races became a Royal Week. Every year Royal Ascot is attended by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the British Royal Family and has become one of the most famous sporting events in the British social calendar. The Buying Solution talks to leading lady racehorse trainer Eve Johnson Houghton, ahead of the event.

What do you love about being a trainer?

Being a trainer is more a way of life than a job or a career.  You live on the job, and live in the job.  If you don’t love it you are going to struggle.  The horses are the be all and end all and trying to get the best and do the best for each horse however good they might be is of utmost importance to me.

How do you and your horses prepare for Ascot?

Preparing the horses is just routine.  You normally aim for a specific race and try to get them in the best form they can be, and as happy and as fit as possible so they can do their best.  Preparing myself is not quite so easy.  Being a woman trainer and having to wear hats is not always mutually compatible!

Which horse do you think has the best chance at Ascot  this year?

Accidental Agent.  He won the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes last year, the first race of the meeting and I am hoping he can repeat it this year.

Which is your favourite racecourse and why?

I love Ascot, for obvious reasons, but I also like Newbury & Goodwood.  They always have good ground and good racing and they look after the owners & trainers well.

Which jockey (living or dead) do you admire the most?

Lester Piggot was The Maestro, but I was always a fan of Steve Cauthen who revolutionised the way jockeys rode in the UK.  He had the most amazing hands (this means keeps the horses relaxed) and horses ran for him.

Who would you rather train the offspring of Galileo, Frankel or Dubawi?

Having never been lucky enough to train any of the above I would be grateful for either.  I also think Kingman is going to be an exceptional talent as a stallion.

Which Stallion do you think will produce the most group 1 winners over the next 5 years

Kingman

Which younger horse and older horse of yours should we be following?

Kiefer is a horse I very much like and is developing into a lovely stayer.  The older horse is obviously Accidental Agent.

Johnsonhoughton.com 

TBS interviews John Wyer of Bowles & Wyer ahead of Chelsea Flower Show

As the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments, opens it doors to the public this week (it has run every year bar two gaps due to the World Wars, since it started in 1913), our friends at Bowles & Wyer offer some helpful insights and tips.

Jonathan Bramwell caught up with John Wyer who comments as follows:

What do you think will be the big trend for gardens at Chelsea Flower Show this year?

Bold – big and bold without a doubt. There seems to be a confidence and decisiveness in the designs this year (perhaps it is to compensate for a lack of it elsewhere?). From the scorched oak sculpture by Johnny Woodford on Andy sturgeon’s M&G Garden or Sarah Eberle’s use (or re-use) of farmyard steelwork and oversize boulders (Forestry Commission garden), there is an assurance that I haven’t seen for some years at Chelsea. A subtle sub theme that is running through many gardens is that of woodland. Again, perhaps reflective of the times in which we live, woodlands are both a place of restoration and something with a hint of a darker past, but always evocative. Helen Elks-Smith garden for Warner Gin runs interestingly against theme, with a delicate design almost like the parts of a watch.

What’s your best tip for creating and maintaining a fabulous garden?

When you walk through the park, or go out into the garden after a while, what you notice is what’s changed since last time you looked. So try to keep some seasonality, don’t go for all evergreens – allow a little spring blossom and autumn colour into the garden. In practical terms, I can’t over-emphasise the importance of mulch. It keeps weeds down (so reduces your work) helps retain moisture and ultimately adds to soil health.

What is your favourite kind of garden?

That’s a difficult one! I have a voracious appetite for visiting gardens, but most of all I think I like gardens with surprises. Often that means gardens with ‘rooms’, so that you get a serial experience, but sometimes it is just going into a space and finding something you don’t expect.

What new technologies are being introduced into our gardens? (New water systems, robots mowing the lawn, more outdoor heaters for example)

Heating systems have come on a lot. Instead of the wasteful gas burners of a few years ago, there are much more effective infra-red ‘heat-bars’ which can be incorporated on to pergolas or parasols. Outdoor kitchens are still a big theme, with many more on offer now.

Do you have tips for designing a small London garden? (Would be good to ref easy to maintain plants etc)

London Gardens tend to be shady, especially the smaller ones. The difficult areas tend to be the shady parts around the bases of plants. Try shade-tolerant evergreen plants that are good at ground cover likeSoleirolia soleiroliiPachysandra terminalis or Liriope muscari. Also consider trying things that add to the length of the flowering season such as Anemone x hybridus, A. japonica or Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. Brush the paving regularly to keep it clear of leaves and detritus that will make it slippery and give it a good clean at the beginning of the season.

How is climate change affecting our gardens? (Are we seeing different plants introduced into English gardens for example?)

I think climate chaos is in many ways a more accurate description than climate change. Although the general trend is towards warmer wetter winters and hotter dryer summers, we are likely to see weather that we frequently think of as unseasonal, such as storms with gales in June or temperatures in the high teens in February. I am now growing quinces and apricots in my hilltop garden in Hertfordshire, and we are seeing banana palms surviving in some of our London Gardens. The biggest thing to watch out for is pests and diseases that have come in on the rise of summer temperatures and more humid winters, such as red spider mite, box moth and box blight.

Which gardens / designers are likely to scoop the awards? (Ones to watch)

Always a difficult one to call. I think Mark Gregory’s Welcome to Yorkshire garden will be a difficult one to beat for people’s choice. However, one can never rule out the ‘Royal effect’ that might benefit Adam White, Andree Davis and the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden. For best in show, Andy Sturgeon and Sarah Eberle both have enviable reputations so one would be foolish to ignore them, but there are a lot of good gardens this year.

Website; www.bowleswyer.co.uk

John Wyer

On Twitter: @WyerJohn

Read his blog www.bowleswyer.co.uk/blog

TBS interviews top trainer Warren Greatrex about this week’s Cheltenham Festival

This week marks the annual Cheltenham Festival meeting which will run from Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th March. It is one of ’the’ National racing calendar events of the year, where many of the best and rarist British and Irish trained horses race, with race prize money second only to the Grand National.

Bobby Hall, Partner at The Buying Solution speaks with his friend and acclaimed trainer, Warren Greatrex, for his insights on the festival.

  • What stands out for you about the Cheltenham Festival?

In National Hunt Racing, it is the equivalent of the Olympics for Human Athletes. Every owner, trainer and jockey wants to have winners there and the whole experience is something to behold.

  • How and when do you prepare for Cheltenham Festival?

The key is to find out if they are good enough over the months before, but I find it important that they have a nice little break before their big race.

  • Where do you tend to find or buy your horses?

The majority of my horses are bought by my wife Tessa, who works for Highflyer Bloodstock; where David Minton and Anthony Bromley are also part of the team and have been buying top class horses for many, many years.

  • How do you decide which horse will race?

You will start off with a horse at the beginning of the season and work out if it is good enough to be able to compete, and then aim them at a race which is suitable for them.

  • Which has been your most successful meeting to date?

I have managed to have 2 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, but I would have to say my first winner Cole Harden who won the 2015 World Hurdle (which is the Championship Race for 3 mile Hurdlers) would have to be my greatest achievement in my career so far.

  • Which horses do you feel will do well?

All of mine going there this year will have chances, but if I had to pin it to two, Theatre Territory in the Kim Muir, and Western Ryder in the County Hurdle would be my best chances.

The new UK shooting season starts in style

Dates 13th & 14th August

Location: Hawnby & Arden – North Yorkshire Moors

For six decades, Ian Coley has been one of the most highly regarded men in the sporting industry, both in terms of competitive shooting and sporting agency. He first shot for Great Britain in 1971 and has coached the GB team six times at the Olympics with Gold Medals in Sydney and London in the double trap; he was awarded MBE in 2012 for his services to the sport. He established Ian Coley Gunsmiths in 1970 and began to offer corporate shooting days on estates across Gloucestershire in the mid 1980s. Today, the company, with its purpose-built clay shooting facility, gun room and sporting agency is based on a 50-acre site near Andoversford, ten minutes from Cheltenham.

Here, senior sporting agent Edward Darbishire gives an overview of the upcoming shooting season:

“The opening of the new shooting season is always a very important time of the year for our business and an integral part of the countryside calendar. Traditionally the day falls on the 12th August or the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ as its commonly known, however as we don’t shoot on Sundays the day has fallen on the 13th.

Regarded as the “king” of game birds, red grouse are incredibly sought after and represent a supreme shooting challenge – anyone fortunate enough to be out on the first day of the season will be involved with something truly unique.

The 2018 grouse season is now set to be one of the weakest in a very long time, a combination of factors including some intense periods of extreme weather means many moors have decided not to shoot for the whole of August and in some circumstances have cancelled their seasons altogether.

Ian Coley Sporting hosted two days on the beautiful and productive moors of Hawnby and Arden on the North Yorkshire Moors – an area which is famed worldwide for its quality of grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting. Despite very poor grouse counts across the country this area of moorland has remained healthy with good stocks of young grouse.

The first day of the season is always highly anticipated, especially for the keepers and managers who have worked tirelessly to make the day possible – it’s the culmination of nearly 9 months work to bring it all together. It’s also a very important time for upland communities with nearby sporting estates providing essential income.

We rose to thick fog – always a concern on the first day of the season, but soon after 8.30am it cleared and turned into another beautiful summers day, good breeze with patchy cloud. Perhaps not the absolute ideal for driven grouse but better than the rain which most of the country was experiencing!

The grouse flew beautifully through the lines of butts all morning and some truly memorable sport was enjoyed by all. The vast sea of rolling heather is breath-taking in August as you’ll see in the photos, and the display of flora and fauna gives you an idea of the diverse ecosystem associated with a well-managed moor.

The first grouse of the season are prized in culinary circles and this season we were very lucky to be involved with the Great Grouse Run 2018. Freshly shot grouse from the first two drives were put on ice and whisked down to the Cotswolds to be enjoyed that evening at the Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach. The traditional way to enjoy grouse is to roast the bird whole with the feet with game chips and bread sauce and the Wheatsheaf didn’t disappoint, selling out by the end of service. In light of recent attacks on our sport, it’s fundamental to the sustainability of shooting in the 21st century that all shot game is consumed and nothing is left to waste. This excellent example of field to fork consumption of game must be championed.

The excellent weather and good growing conditions with recent rain mean that the pheasant and partridge season should be off to a very promising start. I will bring you the latest report from the first autumnal day at partridge in September”.

 

Property Lottery: How I’d spend my winnings

You’ve won the Euro lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments, charitable donations and children’s education. They have allocated €30m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?

The first property I’d buy would be a mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia. My grandparents had a lovely two-bedroom mews house in Eaton Mews North and I have happy memories of staying there as a young boy. I’d love a base in London so that I don’t have to stay in hotels when in town and my children could use it when they’re in their teens. I love the location of these mews houses in particular because they are tucked away and private, yet you can walk to Sloane Square and The Antelope, one of my favourite pubs from when I was in my 20s, in just a few minutes.

For a London pied-a-terre, they are an ideal size, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a little sitting room and dining area and they usually come with a garage, too. Eaton Square itself is tree-lined and would be a nice place to walk the dog in the morning.

I’d ask my colleague, Philip Eastwood, to help with the search as I imagine they are rather difficult to find and anticipate that would use up approximately £5m of my budget.

The Buying Solution’s expertise—or specifically, my own—would definitely be needed for the main purchase which would be a small estate with a 10,000 sq ft Georgian manor house, set in between 100 and 300 acres, in the part of Wiltshire which stretches from Marlborough south to Salisbury.

I’m quite clear on what elements it would need to have, and top of the list are a good view and a bit of fishing on one of the lovely chalk streams in Wiltshire. I don’t mind which—it could be the Kennet, Avon, Itchen, Nadder, any would do. I’ve fished ever since great family friends introduced me to the sport when I was aged about 10. It’s my passion and my escape. You usually can’t get phone reception near the river, which is a bonus, and it’s not just about the fishing. It’s about being in a lovely, quiet place and having some time out from the noise of life—as well as the odd snooze on the riverbank without being disturbed.

On the estate, I’d expect there’d be about 50 acres (or more) of woodland where I could organise a really fun shoot. I’d want it to be as far away from a commercial shoot as possible. I’d invite friends for a walked-up day with some duck flighting in the evening but the main focus of the day would be a really good lunch that would take place in a converted barn—my man cave—with a big roaring fire.

Recently refurbished, the main house would have six or seven bedrooms, well-proportioned reception rooms and a large, open-plan kitchen, where my family and I would spend all our time. Outside, there’d be a number of outbuildings which could house my children’s ponies and quad bikes as well as a games room with all the toys–a table tennis table, snooker and darts plus a TV where my son could play on his games console. There would be a cottage to house a couple, who would help run the house and look after the land, and a guest cottage for visiting families to use—which is just a really comfortable arrangement for everybody.

After 20 years of working as a buying agent in this market, I know how rare these houses are. Last year, 72% of the houses that The Buying Solution bought were off market but in the estates market, that figure is closer to 90%. Opportunities to acquire something like this come along once in a lifetime. I’d have to focus a lot of energy and time in tracking it down. I suspect it will cost about £15m to buy.

With the remainder of my Euro lottery windfall, I’d buy a beach house in Salcombe, Devon. It’s where I’ve been on holiday all my life as my great-grandparents had a house there, and I love it. In a perfect world scenario, I’d like to have access to all the fun in the town but not be among the crowds so my perfect house would probably located up the creek towards South Pool or Kingsbridge as privacy is something I cherish. Ideally, it’d have its own private beach and a jetty for a small, wooden fishing boat which I’d use to go and buy the paper and groceries after an early morning fishing trip. There’s nothing more delicious for breakfast than freshly-caught mackerel on the barbecue with a squeeze of lemon and some pepper. There’d be a boathouse where we could store all the toys including windsurfers, a jet ski and small sailing boats for the children.

We’d probably avoid going in August, when the town gets too busy, but use it as a weekend or holiday escape for the rest of the year.

Property Lottery: How I’d spend my winnings!

Charlotte Dover, Associate of The Buying Solution covering the Cotswolds, Oxford, Cheltenham and Bath, reveals how she’d spend her lottery winnings

You’ve won the lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments and charitable donations. They have allocated £3m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?

Having only relocated from south-west London to Charlbury, in Oxfordshire, within the last 12 months, I wouldn’t be looking to move again so soon. Charlbury currently suits us very well: we have access to lots of walks, all important pubs and local shops and our house is within walking distance of the station with a direct link to Oxford, for theatres and restaurants, and London, to catch up with friends.

I’d be inclined to put some of the £3m aside to help with a move in the future but the lion’s share I’d invest in some buy-to-let properties. Despite the additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax rate and the changes to tax reliefs for landlords, I still believe that sensible investments in the rental market are worth considering. I’d use the experience and knowledge gained as a lettings agent in London for 10 years, as well as my work for clients of TBS looking to rent, to make a few shrewd investments.

One place which always has a high demand for property from tenants is Oxford and I’d focus on finding a little house in Jericho first. The location is perfect. It’s an area that’s popular with students as well as families, it’s easily accessible from the train station and the city centre and there are lots of fun bars and restaurants locally on Walton Street.

I’d probably buy a two-bedroom house as it avoids having to apply for an HMO [houses in multiple occupation] licence. Oxford, due to its large student population, can be stricter than other cities, requiring all HMO properties to have a licence. Having said that, if I found a really good three-bedroom house, I’d be tempted to go for it and apply for a licence as demand is strong. Tenants could either be students, young professionals or even families who are basing themselves in Oxford but commuting to London for work. It would probably cost me between £600,000 and £700,000 for a two- to three-bedroom Victorian terrace with a small garden.

While it would be good to have foot on a rung of the Oxford property market, I don’t think it’s likely to increase substantially in value quickly as Oxford has already seen marked increases in property values over recent years. Where I do see opportunity when it comes to value is in Cheltenham. With all the investment going on in the town centre—and the likes of John Lewis and The Ivy opening up—Cheltenham is becoming a very viable, and better value, alternative to Oxford.

My second investment buy would most likely be a two- or three-bedroom apartment in a Regency or Regency-style building in Montpelier or Tivoli. It could suit young professionals or parents with children at school locally wanting a pied-a-terre or, with the fast road and rail connections, anyone who is working in Bristol, Bath or Birmingham. It would likely cost between £500,000 and £600,000 and if there happened to be gaps between tenancies, I’d like to use it as a base to take advantage of all the festivals that take place in Cheltenham throughout the year.

My final investment would be in a little house slightly outside prime Cheltenham in an area such as Leckhampton or Charlton Kings. The aim would be to let the house to the family market looking to get their children into some of the fantastic primary schools. It would probably be a three-bedroom semi-detached house with a garden, and likely to cost just over £500,000,

If there was anything left over in the pot, I’d keep it as a holiday fund; for warm weather, I’d head off to Franschhoek in South Africa whenever I could and would likely spend the rest on annual skiing holidays. Rather than sticking to the same resort year after year, I’d like to spend the next ten years exploring different ones all over Europe.

Property Lottery: How I’d spend my winnings

You’ve won the lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments, charitable donations and children’s education. They have allocated £5m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?

My first thought would be to allocate approximately £4m of the windfall to a country purchase and the remainder to something in London.

In terms of location I wouldn’t stray too far from where I live now. For more than three quarters of my life, I’ve lived in the beautiful part of the Wiltshire and West Berkshire countryside that stretches between Pewsey and Hungerford. Barring university and a short service commission in the Life Guards, when I served in Bosnia, and a stint of living and working in London for ten years, this patch has always been home.

My dream house would probably sit just to the west of Hungerford. The position is far outside the immediate commuter belt to be in proper, unflashy countryside and yet it’s still accessible for London. As a yardstick, I often think that a proper country town should be somewhere that you could do all your Christmas shopping and Hungerford, particularly at the north end of the High Street, ticks those boxes. Between Roxtons, clothing boutique Mojo & McCoy, the lingerie shop Angela Knight, and the jewellers Furr & Co among others, there’s plenty of choice and, for everything else, Marlborough is only a few miles down the A4.

With a budget of £4m, I’d expect to be able to find a good-sized, period family house with six or seven bedrooms, in excellent condition and recently renovated. These days more buyers are looking for houses that are of a manageable size and something that’s about 4,500 sq ft is ideal. It would have the all-important live-in kitchen, which we all love, and both a swimming pool and tennis court in the garden. I’d anticipate that there would be a few outbuildings one of which we could convert into ancillary accommodation, if it hadn’t already been done.

For this money I’d expect that the house would come with a substantial amount of land—approximately fifty to sixty acres. This would give me as much room as I need for equestrian activities: a pony for each of my children who ride and a team chaser for me. It’s lovely riding country with lots of hills to gallop the horses up and it’s pretty easy to piece together a good couple of hours of hacking without venturing near any main roads.

That acreage allows the potential to grow our own hay as well as room to breed a foal or two and train a point-to-pointer–something I’ve always been interested in doing. The cottage would be perfect for a couple who could help out in the house and the garden or with the horses on a part-time basis.

With what’s left of the lottery money I’d buy a two-bedroom flat in London—probably in Fulham—as an investment. Fortunately for me, I don’t need to spend a lot of time in the city so I don’t need a base there. But it would still be good to have a foothold in the London market. I’d rent it out to professionals for now and, when the children are older, it’s there for them to use.

TBS interviews top trainer Charlie Hills ahead of Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is a five-day race meeting like no other in that it has a presence on the global stage. With thirty races across five days, it’s generally considered to offer the best quality racing in the British Flat Racing calendar. It takes place next week from Tuesday June 19 to Saturday June 24 and, for the second year running, prize money will be worth more than £4 million. Here, Bobby Hall talks to his friend and leading racehorse trainer, Charlie Hills, about the meeting:

When do you start preparing for Royal Ascot?

Ascot is pretty much at the forefront of our minds as soon as the season starts. Most of the two-year-olds will need a couple of runs prior to the meeting to gear up to it and not all the horses we have in mind will make the grade. For the older horses, it’s not up to us. The handicaps are extremely competitive and they will need to have either have won or been placed in their last race to get a run at Ascot.

How do you decide which horse will run in which race?

It pretty much goes on their previous run and what distances they’ve covered. For the two-year-olds, it depends on how they are bred and whether we think they can cover five or six furlongs or even 7. We base the decision on which horse we think will suit which race.

Which has been your most successful meeting so far?

Back in 2015, I had a couple of Group 1 winners. That was probably my best year yet. As a trainer, you really want to come away with a win in a Group 1 or Group 2 race but it’s a really competitive—probably the most competitive meeting of the year. It attracts a massive global audience, too. These days, horses are coming from America, Australia and Japan which is making it even more challenging.

What makes Royal Ascot special for you?

It’s really about the tradition. I love the British summer season and this is one of the defining events in the calendar and a sporting highlight of the year. Ascot stands alongside other prestigious sporting and summer events such as Wimbledon, the Grand Prix and the Chelsea Flower Show and I enjoy being part of the history that’s made there each year.

What are you looking forward to this year in particular?

We’ve got three really strong horses running: Battaash [a four-year-old with 6 previous wins] who is running in the King’s Stand Stakes; Equilateral, who is due to run on Friday in the Commonwealth Cup; and Mutawaffer, who is running in the Windsor Castle Stakes at 3.40 on Saturday.

Which horses do you fancy for the week?

Wesley Ward has a few good runners—I’m looking forward to watching Chelsea Cloisters in the Queen Mary on Wednesday.  Cracksman [ridden by Frankie Dettori and trained by John Godsen] will also be one to watch in the Prince of Wales Stake. And another highlight will be the Godolphin-owned Harry Angel who will run on Saturday in the Diamond Jubilee at 4.20.

Charlie Hills (01488 71548; charleshills.com)

TBS appoints Maison Communications as its Global PR Agency

The Buying Solution is pleased to announce the appointment of Maison Communications to handle its global PR.  Maison will be generating awareness for The Buying Solution across UK and international channels to elevate the perception of the brand and its key team members.

Jonathan Bramwell Head of The Buying Solution says; “We’re delighted that Maison has come on board as an extension of our team to support us on the next stage of our journey. Over the next three years the vision for The Buying Solution is one of growth and innovationcommunication both in the traditional and social media arenas will be at the core of our strategy.”

Maison Communications was launched in 2017 by Tania Thomas (nee McNally) and Henrietta Harwood-Smith with the aim of providing an expert, senior level PR service to its clients who operate in the property, interiors and ‘living’ spheres. The Buying Solution will be included in Maison’s mix of agency, developer, interior designer and architect clients.

Tania Thomas Co-Founder of Maison Communications says; “It’s been an exciting year of growth at Maison – our aim has always been to run a tight ship with a select number of clients and for us The  Buying Solution is the perfect fit.

Henrietta Harwood-Smith Co-Founder of Maison Communications says; “Our main objective for The Buying Solution will be to ensure that their expertise both in London and across the UK shines through. With a heritage and knowledge base of over 150 years The Buying Solution is one of the UK’s most prestigious buying agency brands and we’re delighted to have them as part of our client line up.”

About Maison Communications

With a combined 24 years in the Property PR industry Maison Communications was launched to focus on and bring creativity to the main areas associated with ‘living’ – property, interiors and health & wellness. With guaranteed senior level PR support, the business has an impeccable list of media contacts both in the UK and overseas and has worked with both publicly listed and smaller start-ups across the world.

www.maisoncomms.co.uk