Owner of the Day: Whistle and Flute: Woodway 20

15 June 2022

As the voice of Owners, the ROA are consistently promoting the impact and benefits of ownership whilst working to make ownership more rewarding.

Once again we will be hailing our popular “ROA Owner of the Day” for Royal Ascot, which showcases an owner with a runner at the meeting. 

Today’s (Wednesday 15 June) ROA Owner of the Day is the Woodway 20, who own Whistle And Flute, a runner in the Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35pm).

A whistle and flute (suit, in other words) will be the order of the day for thousands of gents at Royal Ascot on Wednesday, and maybe a few ladies too, and if lightning happens to strike twice it will be in the Windsor Castle Stakes as well.

A year ago the Listed contest went to 22-1 chance Chipotle, trained by Eve Johnson Houghton for the Woodway 20, and connections are back for more with Whistle And Flute, who comes into the race with similar credentials.

Both colts had three runs under their belt coming into the meeting, with Chipotle having won his first couple of races before finishing down the field at Sandown - hence his Windsor Castle SP - while Whistle And Flute was also a winner on debut at Bath before a decent second on Royal Ascot trials day at the Berkshire track in April (the same race that Chipotle had won 12 months earlier), but then last time at Beverley things didn’t go so well as he finished in rear in the Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes.

The Woodway 20 - which takes its name from the yard in Blewbury, Oxfordshire where Johnson  Houghton trains - is in only its second year and to say the first went pretty well is to put it extremely mildly. 

Chipotle turned out to be an ultra-shrewd buy at 10,000gns from breeders Theakston Stud at the Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale in September 2020, giving the Woodway 20 not only those three early strikes but signing off with victory in the Listed Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar, for which the first prize was £85,000 plus a round of drinks, and then selling a few weeks later at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale to big-spending Najd Stud for 210,000gns.

Explaining the set-up, Johnson Houghton says: “The syndicate is in its second year. There are 20 people and they have five per cent each, so are all equal shareholders, and there are three horses.

“They are all two-year-olds. They are bought and are for one year, and are sold at the end of the year; win, lose or draw, that’s what happens. 

“It’s a mix of people, most of them have got to know each other pretty well, and they love it. They’ve really enjoyed themselves, and you can’t not have done really with the time they’ve had!

“The original idea was that if I bought three cheap horses, one would be okay, one might win a race and one would probably be not so good. We were not spending very much money, you are spreading your risk and hopefully giving people a lot of fun. It has worked out really well. There’s a nice shared experience and visits to the yard too.”

Chipotle, though starting as one of the outsiders in the 2021 Windsor Castle, did not just scrape home, he veritably bolted up considering he won by two and a quarter lengths in a field of 27. For trainer and jockey Charlie Bishop, it was a second winner at the Royal meeting following Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne three years earlier. 

“It was amazing,” recalls the trainer. “It was a fabulous start to the syndicate. I honestly never believed it would work out like that but it did.

“It was lovely last year as there weren’t too many people at Royal Ascot, but there was enough of a crowd - it was capped at 12,0000 - so it was great and worked out really well,” 

Bishop is once more in the saddle on Whistle And Flute, who of course again faces a big field, albeit not quite so monstrous as took on Chipotle, with 24 declared for Wednesday’s five-furlong test for juveniles.

Whistle And Flute is a son of Dandy Man out of Roderic O’Connor’s daughter Maria Ormani, and cost £13,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale, which was held in Newmarket last year due to Covid-19.  

“Whistle And Flute has a very similar profile to Chipotle,” says Johnson Houghton. “To dream of it happening again is madness really, but he was bought for a two-year-old syndicate, he was bought to run, so why not have a go. He deserves to be there.

“I don’t think everyone from the syndicate is going but Ascot are pretty good, and if they can get you in, they will. They might not all be able to go into the paddock, but we will get everyone there who can go.”

The Woodway 20 enjoyed a runner on Oaks day earlier this month when Blatant contested the Woodcote, and he too has given his owners a victory this year at Leicester, while also placing at Chester and Kempton. 

The son of Brazen Beau likewise looks well bought, at 20,000gns from the Tattersalls Somerville Yearling Sale, and his trainer added: “Blatant has been another winner for the Woodway 20 this year and he’s a nice horse.”



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