If the forecast is correct then I am hoping this morning’s frost in Ditcheat will be the last for 10 days or so and, if that proves to be the case, I couldn’t want for better news with which to start a Monday morning.
It is not that I don’t like my gritting partner David Judd or driving around the village in the evenings at 15mph in the red truck, window wide open listening out for David’s instructions, it is simply that I could do without it. However, icy roads and horses aren’t the greatest combination ever so salting the roads at this time of year is one of life’s necessities.
For such a dull practice, salting the roads was not without drama this week. Paul’s yard is home to two yard trucks, one silver Nissan, the type of vehicle you would call a good ground horse, a spring horse if you were talking to his owner, but in all reality ‘Silvia’ is a bloody sissy.
The second truck is the one and only unbreakable and adored ‘Big Red’, an unsurprisingly red Ford Ranger from 2002 that is a truck of all trucks. It seems that when Ford made big red they chiselled her from granite instead of engineering her with truly fantastic results.
Picture if you will, in all her glory, a faded red truck with a lifetime of dumps, scrapes, dents, and hard work to her name but still perfectly road legal, a war horse of a truck and through the winters, big red gets some serious stick. There isn’t anything we haven’t put in the back of it or towed with it, you name it and there is a strong chance big red has done it.
Of course, for a job like salting the roads big red is perfectly suited, but for a while now she has struggled with getting up in the cold. We cover the windscreen and do everything in our power to make sure she can spring to life in the mornings, but Tuesday morning it was all too much for her. The normal phone call when big red doesn’t want to play ball is to our resident gallop supremo Rob Lee, who can basically fix most things with a hammer and regular cigarette breaks, but this Tuesday morning big red wasn’t starting, a trip to Accident and Emergency awaited it would seem.
Open top village tour draws disappointing crowd
However, the roads still needed salt applying which left David and I in a bit of a spot. After considering if there was a horse that would benefit from an early trot round the village to get a little fitter with the salting machine behind them (I am of course kidding) we concluded the only way to get it done was with our little open top tractor, now I’m sure there are plenty of you out there reading this that are much hardier types than me, but let me tell you that minus 3 in an open top tractor salting roads at half past five in the morning isn’t the best way to start the day.
At one stage, my aforementioned Irish salting co pilot Mr Judd harped up from the back of the tractor to tell me how fun it was . . . always thought he was an odd one.
Aside from seasoning the roads in Ditcheat, it has been another manic week and it is with no shame that I tell you as I write my blog this morning I’m pretty low on energy, sleep deprived we will call it.
Ed Bailey – who coincidentally finished fourth in the Golden Button this weekend – always told me that being tired isn’t a thing it is just a state of mind . . . I must say though the jury is still out on that one. Ed’s finishing position in the Golden Button however deserves credit as I think in my circle of very closest friends we were fairly certain he wouldn’t survive the challenge.
Mighty Modus still answering the critics
In terms of the racetrack, although winner-less over the weekend, there were plenty of decent performances, like Diego Du Charmil finishing an excellent second in the Kingmaker, Saphir Du Rheu showing plenty before getting tired in the mud at Newbury and Politologue running a race we were all proud of against the superbly-talented Altior.
My week, however selfish as this may sound however slightly revolved around one horse, that horse being Modus. Now, I won’t bang on about him again because the blog faithful already know my love for him but it was brilliant to see him get back to winning ways at Kempton on Friday with the minimum of fuss. I still heard people question his attitude after the race which is totally baffling, but as racing experts I guess we should believe them, they do after all know the horse much better than his team that work every day with him.
So there we are then, that was my week in a nutshell and although you find this assistant trainer tired today you do not find him in any way downhearted, a Ditcheat Jockeys’ Academy session this evening with John Francome is a treat to look forward to and another week is underway.