Prominent owner Keith Brown is determined to help ease sad memories from last year by returning to the winner’s enclosure at Beverley this season.
Brown, who is based just nine miles away from Beverley in Swanland, has savoured numerous high-profile triumphs, most notably across the Irish Sea.
Top Notch Tonto won for the first time at Beverley and also famously finished second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in 2013.
But last season Brown suffered heartache when one of his best horses, prolific Beverley winner Orewa, had to be put down.
Brown said: “Orewa picked up a nail on a back hoof and chipped a piece of the pedal bone.“We went to the end to the end of the earth to get him right, but we just couldn’t get him sound.”
Orewa, a four-year-old son of Helmet, won three times at Beverley. He also hit the jackpot at the Curragh two years ago when he earned connections 148,000 euro in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes.
Brown added: “It’s been an awful time. He was such a high-class horse for us, but we’ve got to move on and look forward with lots of positive thoughts for the season ahead.”
For all the owner’s big-race success, nothing gives him as much pleasure than a winner at Beverley, which opens its gates for the first time this season next Wednesday (April 18).
Having a runner in two of the keynote races of the Beverley campaign – the Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy and the Hilary Needler Hilary Trophy – is always a priority for Brown.
And this season he could have a perfect candidate for the Brian Yeardley, won last year by Cardsharp, who subsequently finished third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Brown said: “We’ve a lovely young horse called King Billy, who is a Zoffany colt.
“He’s a very precocious two-year-old and we are intending to run him at Beverley’s first meeting of the season next Wednesday.
“We think a lot of him and if he does what we think he’s capable of, we hope he can become a Royal Ascot horse.
“Beverley is my local track – I absolutely love the place – so it will mean a lot to me to get off to a flying start to the season with King Billy.”
Brown, surprisingly, did not have a domestic winner in 2018. But that disappointment was tempered by the exploits of Dream Walker, who won nearly 60,000 euro with victory in the “Ahonoora” Handicap at the Galway Festival last August.
Dream Walker is, though, set for a change of scenery as this season he will be trained in Ireland by Co Kildare handler Jarlath Fahey.
Fahey has also recruited Top Notch Tonto, who is now eight years old and has not won since June 2015.
Brown said: “Top Notch and Dream Walker both love it out in Ireland.“They’re not getting any younger so it makes sense to see how they get on over there.
“Jarlath is a very good trainer and I’m sure he’ll do a great job with them.”
Prize-money at Beverley has this season been raised to more than £1million, with the Beverley Bullet on September 1, won last year by the mighty Take Cover, now worth £60,000.
Beverley chief executive Sally Iggulden has also introduced a new mile-and-a-half handicap for three-year-old fillies on July 7, which will be contested for £25,000.
Beverley’s parade ring, meanwhile, has undergone a complete overhaul, with new safety rails and walkways in place to increase the welfare of the horse.
A new winner’s circle has been installed, too, with the intention to make even stronger memories for victorious owners.