To say that owners Barbara and Alick Richmond did not have far to travel to see No Lippy contest the Lily Agnes Stakes, the opening race of Chester’s May meeting, would be putting it mildly.
Their apartment overlooks the picturesque track – “we’re between the one-furlong and two-furlong pole,” says Barbara Richmond, “I’m looking out over it now as we’re speaking” – and so things like taking note of this year’s new traffic policies in the town did not need to register. A case of No Trippy, if you like.
The tale of their involvement in ownership dates to 2010 and Chester, and its flagship fixture, is an integral part.After buying their home adjacent to the racecourse – Barbara Richmond is Group Finance Director of Redrow, one of Britain’s largest housebuilders and based just over the Cheshire border in Wales – friends told the couple they “must go” to the May meeting.
“We didn’t know what it was at first but by the time it came around we’d made plans to go with different groups of friends on the Wednesday and Thursday, and family on the Friday, says Barbara.
“Out of the friends we went with on the Wednesday was born The Passionate Partnership, the syndicate we are still apart of.”
October 2010 came the Richmonds’ first involvement with a syndicate, that one based in the south – Alick Richmond having lived in Hampshire – but it wasn’t long before they thought,why not up north?
Why not indeed, so they became involved with Middleham Park, specificallythe partnership which owned Yorkshire Icon, who won a couple of times and was placed several more before being sold to the United States.
That, in turn, led to the Richmonds and their friends going it alone.
Passionate Affair was the name they chose for their horse, and Tom Dascombe– who the Richmonds were local to and of course was well knownfor having the backing of Michael Owen - the trainer.
“He eventually won a seller at Lingfield, after which we thought about then having a horse in Yorkshire,” says Barbara.
“We liked the look of Mark Johnston’s set-up, we saw his website, the facilities, so arranged to visit and met with Charlie Johnston, his son. The facilities were indeed fantastic, the staff were very friendly and in the autumn of 2016 Mark bought a Dream Ahead yearling – Mark likes the sire and thinks the progeny are good value – whom our partnership bought and we called Book Of Dreams.
“Three weeks later Mark went to Tattersalls and bought another Dream Ahead, a full brother to Al Wukair, who had won in France on his debut less than a fortnight before.
“A week or so after Mark had bought the horse I got home after working late – and I vividly still remember this evening – and downloaded the Racing Post ipad app. I flicked through the results and saw that Al Wukair had won again, this time a Listed race.
“After chatting with Alick for five minutes we rang Mark to say we’d take the Dream Ahead, who was still for sale on his website. We asked the partnership if they would be interested but they were happy for us to go it alone, so myself and Alick had our very own horse! We called him Dream Today.”
In the autumn of 2017 it was time for Book Of Dreams and Dream Today to make their debut - Book Of Dreams won first time up at Nottingham, and then came a somewhat stiffer test for Dream Today. The most valuable juvenile maiden in the calendar, no less.
“We went to York for the Convivial Maiden,” says Richmond, “and we were understandably ignored, starting at 14-1. But he won by a length and a half– it was a fantastic, unbelievable day. Suddenly we had a special horse, and not long before that Al Wukair had won a Group 1.
“Dream Today then finished fifth in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and runner-up in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, which we were over the moon with. All the while Book Of Dreams had been running well too, finishing second a couple of times.”
The Richmonds were also busy off the track last autumn, buying a full-sister to a Listed winner.
“That, of course, was No Lippy,”continues Barbara. “Before her debut at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago we said we would love to run in the Lily Agnes if all went smoothly,and she won and we went on to Chester,our home track. She won again and we were absolutely thrilled to bits.”
The Richmonds also have a two-year-old by Camelot yet to see the track, making it four in total and more magical moments hopefully to come. It will take something pretty special to better No Lippy’s Lily Agnes victory, but Royal Ascot could be on the cards this month.
Not many women would be seen with no lippy there. Barbara Richmond may be one of them.