Adonis Hurdle Preview


Honneur D’Ajonc returns to Kempton on Saturday and we’re excited to see him back on the track and in a race in which we think he has every chance (2.25 - Grade 2 Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle).


It’s a big day for Honneur D’Ajonc, Jane, Chester and ourselves after what happened at Kempton over Christmas. He was going so well when he came down at the last in the Juvenile Hurdle that day and while it’s impossible to say for certain whether he would have won or not, we feel as though he would have.


While he was none the worse for wear physically after that, Jane gave him a relatively easy time to make sure he had fully recovered and based on what we’ve seen from him at home, we’re optimistic that there are no long-lasting effects.


There’s no substitute for the racecourse though and it’ll be important to see Honneur D’Ajonc jumping fluidly, especially early given this is a Grade 2 against some talented rivals, not least Tritonic.


We still have a lot of confidence in him and it would be all systems go for the Cheltenham Festival if he performs well tomorrow. Fingers crossed!




Heartbreak at the last



If ever we needed a reminder of the ups and downs the sport of racing is capable of delivering, it came in spades on Sunday at Kempton. On Boxing Day, it was a case of all systems go for Honneur D’Ajonc, who was set to become the first horse to carry the Valentine Bloodstock colours in a Grade 1 when he lined up in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. Unfortunately, Chepstow’s card, the highlight of which was of course the Welsh Grand National, fell foul of the weather. Fortunately, Honneur D’Ajonc had also been declared at Kempton and so it was to the other end of the M4 that Janes’ Head Girl Fliss, Chester and the horse headed, to contest the Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.


It turned out to be a dramatic race from almost the word go, with early leader Warranty being carried out on the turn away from the grandstand by Cloud Thunder. All the while though, Honneur D’Ajonc and Chester travelled beautifully and turning for home things were looking good. Heading to the final hurdle we felt we had the measure of Heross Du Seuil, but it was not to be with our horse making a very novicey mistake and his race ended before the finishing post.  The silver lining was of course, Honneur D’Ajonc and Chester getting quickly on their feet and as the frustration dissipated, we had to be delighted with the way the horse performed. Our horse showed the immense amount of ability we thought he had, when being a little keen early on and still travelling strongly before falling. Of course he must now put that behind him, if he can, then our opinion is that it would take a horse of considerable talent to beat him in the Adonis. A faster pace, a lead and better ground – albeit he coped well with the softness of ground at the weekend, will see him improve even further.


He’s very exciting and whether his next run is in our colours or someone else’s we’re sure he’s on the cusp of better days. Our congratulations go to Heross Du Seuil, Nico De Boinville and Nicky Henderson for their win and our thanks to Jane and Chester, who did such a wonderful job in preparing Honneur D’Ajonc and then adapting to a late change of plan.


Firstly we at Valentine Bloodstock hope you all had the best Christmas you could given the wider situation we’ve all faced in 2020, we must head into 2021 with optimism that it will bring brighter, easier and happier times, a glimmer of normality is a minimum we might all settle for.


November & December have been incredible months for us personally and professionally, with the arrival of our first child Hugo Philip Partridge and then the successful sale of Hamilton Dici post-victory at Warwick. Yesterday we celebrated our first Christmas Day as a family which was wonderful and tomorrow we’re excited to watch Honneur D’Ajonc carry the Valentine Bloodstock colours in a Grade 1, can the crest of a wave we’re riding continue… 

Honneur D’Ajonc who will take his chance in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle, the first Grade 1 of the National Hunt campaign for juveniles. There is no playing down the fact that this is a very big day, not only for us and our business, but for Trainer Mrs Jane Williams and Jockey Chester Williams too. It is such a shame that we will not be able to be there as owners, due to the ever-changing situation around the Coronavirus pandemic.


We will be watching keenly from home though and not without a degree of cautious optimism. Unlike some of our rivals sourced from the Flat, this will only be Honneur D’Ajonc’s second appearance on a racecourse and so we are entitled to think he will have come on since his debut, yet he will still have plenty to learn and improve on beyond tomorrow, win lose or draw. He finished second at Exeter on that occasion, behind Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral. It was clear from the moment we saw Monmiral in the parade ring that day that we were going up against a horse of immense quality and, in going on to win a Grade 2 since, Monmiral has done nothing to suggest that was not the case. Ciaran Gethings rode our horse that day and felt that he only got him going properly following a mistake down the back and at that point Honneur D’Ajonc realised he was in a race, so we have grounds to believe he will be sharper for that experience this time round. Jane has a group of juveniles this year that are all of a good level, we feel we have a handle on where we are with Honneur. Since his first run Mrs Williams has had Honneur D’Ajonc take part in two serious bits of schooling work and both her and Chester have been very happy with what he has shown them. The Heavy going is a key variable at play but we are comfortable based on what we have seen so far, there is no reason to think he should not go on it - after all, it is the same for everybody.


All of the above goes to demonstrate what a team effort this is, it is such a big deal for all of us. For Chester, this is a first Grade 1 ride in Britain, and the importance of having runners with a good chance in Grade 1 vindicates the hard work Jane, Chester and their staff put in at home. Jane played a major part in the training of numerous Grade 1 winners when the horses were all being trained under Nick Williams’ licence, it would be beyond all our dreams to bag a first Grade 1 for her when all of us are involved in the horse.  


We bought Honneur D’Ajonc at Arqana in July 2019 and have always thought he was a horse with a lot of quality, but ironically, he is not the only horse in the race we know a great deal about. Yggdrasil is stabled about 100 metres away from Honneur D’Ajonc, being trained in Nicks yard, and was broken in by us last year. He is a lovely horse with a lot of potential and if tomorrow proves not to be our day, we would be delighted to see this horse, who is a half-brother to Siruh Du Lac, come out on top.


In the last decade alone, we have seen the likes of Defi Du Seuil and Bristol De Mai win this race early in their careers and while we could not possibly say that our horse will go on to achieve what those two have, it is a measure of the regard in which we hold Honneur D’Ajonc in that we think he is up to taking his chance in a race like this. From the day he set foot in the yard, we’ve thought he was a horse of great potential, possessing lots of likable traits, we hope he can perform to the level that we’ve all dreamt he could tomorrow. Of course this is not his cup final, we are realistic in our expectations if the Finale proves to much to soon, he will improve further in due course.  Who knows, maybe December is our lucky month. After all, it was during the Festive period in 2015 when Lizzie rode her first Grade 1 winner with the legend Tea For Two at Kempton. 


The race is live on ITV4 at 1.40, so make sure you tune in and get behind Honneur D’Ajonc!



Grade 1 Runner At Christmas 




Goffs UK HIT & P2P  Sale @ Yorton 


Last week we sent 3YO Hamilton Dici (COASTAL PATH) to the sales after having won the week before at Warwick. This was Hamilton Dici' second time on the racecourse and we are certain he will progress further over the years and we wish his new connections and trainer Mr Kim Bailey the very best of luck with him.