Cheltenham January Sale graduate Deafening Silence making some noise this season

Deafening Silence (near side) winning the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown
Deafening Silence (near side) winning the Grade 2 Winter Novices' Hurdle at Sandown

To say it has been a pretty good season so far for the Dan Skelton-trained Deafening Silence is perhaps something of an understatement – the son of Alkaadhem has run twice and won twice with the second of those victories coming at Sandown in the Grade 2 Winter Novices Hurdle.

It was just the seven-year-old gelding’s third start under Rules and the two-and-a-half length victory in December has ensured that the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale graduate has been given two entries in Grade 1 novice hurdles at The Festival – in the Albert Bartlett over 3m and the Baring Bingham over the slightly shorter 2m5f.

The horse is owned by the My Racing Manager Friends syndicate, a group of five and managed by Elli Morgan, who explains how the progressive staying hurdler came into the syndicate’s ownership.

“I manage another syndicate called Babbit Racing and the horses moved to Dan,” recounts Morgan. “I found that I really liked working with him and was keen to get a horse with him for the My Racing Manger Friends Syndicate.

“I gave Dan a bit of a brief as to the kind of horse I look for and he came back to me and said that Tom and Gina Ellis had a horse heading to the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale. So I was aware of the horse before sale day and luckily managed to buy him.”

Bloodstock agent Ryan Mahon, who works regularly with Skelton, was in charge of purchas-ing at the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale and secured Deafening Silence on Morgan’s behalf at an affordable £40,000, and she adds: “I like big chasers and I also like horses who have some kind of form, although I have not bought any from the Irish point-to-point field, I have bought several from British point-to-points.

“You know a bit more where you are with a form horse and, at that point, you know that they are sounded in wind and limb and they want to do it. 

“Deafening Silence had three races in points and been unlucky in the first two – he fell and was then brought down, but he won his third start with ease. He’s looked as though he had a good attitude, that nothing fazed him and he just fitted the bill for me.”

Deafening Silence in the ring at the Tattersalls Cheltenham January Sale 2022

She continues regarding purchasing from the pointing field: “I think it's really important for these horses, it does them so much good by going out pointing before they go racing. It teaches them a heck of a lot.”

When coming to sell shares in a horse Morgan also admits that having form in the book is a helpful addition to a horse’s profile when she is selling shares on.

“A form horse is a bit more appealing,” she explains. “The horses that I buy on spec and sell off, it's just easier to sell them as they've got sort of some background. If they have proved that they can do it, it makes them more saleable from my perspective.”

However, despite Deafening Silence having had those three outings in points, it was not initially a smooth path with him – after a first run under Rules when third at Chepstow in October 2022 his syndicate members needed to be patient as he did not return to competitive action until that victory last November at Exeter.

“We had some niggles with him early on, but, you know, often that is the way with these bigger horses,” adds Morgan who manages 23 horses for a variety of ownership groups though her company My Racing Manager Ltd. “We gave him some time and he's come back bigger and better. I think giving him that space between runs did him the world of good and has allowed him to grow into his body and brain.”

The gelding has certainly rewarded connections for their patience, although Morgan admits the season’s debut success was not necessarily a surprise.

“After he won at Exeter the welcoming group in the winner's room asked me if we had expected to win and I said that, yes, actually we did as we knew what we had.

“It was, though, a very big upgrade to a Grade 2 and I certainly didn't go into that race thinking we're going to win and was hoping for a place – so that was quite a surprise and a very good one!”

The five members involved in Deafening Silence includes some already involved in other horses managed by Morgan, but also completely a couple who are new to racehorse ownership, whom she reports are thinking the journey so far is “wonderful”. 

There is a plan to give the horse another run before The Festival, which at the time of writing is six weeks away, but the team is equally happy to go direct to Prestbury Park if the right prep race does not present itself. 

At The Festival a run the Albert Bartlett would be the immediate plan but either novice option will be up for consideration, as Morgan says: “The obvious choice is the Albert Bartlett, but Dan and I decided to enter in the shorter race just in case the ground comes up soft, and we have some options.”

The 2024 Cheltenham January Sale is on January 27th, after racing on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham Racecourse