With no Sunday runners this weekend it gives me a chance to go back to last season’s ways and type my blog out on a Sunday, a day that has been action packed but good fun and has included a rare trip to Larkhill point to point . . . but more on that later.
It always seems to be a good place to start to talk about our runners over the past week and, while I don’t intend to talk about all of them, there is plenty I want to touch on. From Brahms de Clermont, who put in a good display of galloping in winning his Taunton novice hurdle in a good time, or the quite wonderful Old Guard proving better than ever at Newbury on Saturday, we have trained plenty of winners and also a number of horses who ran with great credit in defeat.
Adrien du Pont put up what I thought was a career best when finishing third behind Willoughby Court and Yanworth, a race Mr Cobden said rode extremely well. Black Corton ran his heart out once again to finish second to Elegant Escape in the John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury, interesting I thought that a race named after one of the greatest jockeys ever was fought out by two of the brightest young talents around.
Cyrname ran another excellent race over fences to finish second on Friday at Newbury in receipt of a lovely Sean Bowen ride while Braqueur D’or ran a monstrously big race in the Ladbrokes Trophy to finish fourth. The improvement seen in the latter in such a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable and he is a credit to the whole team involved with him. What I love about Braq the most is his vulnerability, he is a light lean horse who can make the odd mistake in a race and has far from loads of ability, but my goodness does he try. He gives his jockey absolutely everything and that is a rare quality deserving of huge respect. He enjoyed his day when put in the muddy field on Sunday and well deserved it was too.
Toon trip pays dividends
While we were at Newbury on Saturday, Andrew Doyle, Lucy Sharp and Sean Bowen represented us at Newcastle, a visit which for the last few years has revolved around Irving. Of course he faced an impossible task in trying to beat the imperious Buveur D’air but he battled hard and finished an honourable second. There are few horses that have graced our yard with the natural ability of Irving but so often his physical frailties have been his undoing. Rarely is a horse a dual Grade One winner while also a case of what might have been had he possessed the chassis required to successfully carry that huge engine for a full season. Even with Irving failing to win, the trip up to Newcastle was very much worthwhile with my week’s highlight coming courtesy of a three year old hurdler by the name of Act Of Valour, who put in a stylish display of hurdling on debut, promising much better things. Act Of Valour was important not just because he was the first runner we have sent out for the McNeill family who, having had the pleasure of meeting Max and Paula, are lovely people, it was also important as I genuinely believed Tom Malone (our bloodstock agent who bought the horse) was going to suffer a nervous breakdown before the race. Rarely has he been as excited about one before a debut but his faith was justified and he looks a juvenile hurdler worthy of plenty of respect this season.
Dedication and focus pays off for Harriet
I have already talked with great pride in my blog this season about the Ditcheat Jockeys Academy and how well all of its members are doing. Sunday marked the start of another two members finding the winner’s enclosure with Lorcan Williams and Harriet Tucker riding winners for Rose Loxton at Larkhill. Lorcan is an extremely accomplished amateur jockey and this success was very much picking up where he left off last season, but for Harriet this was a massive deal. Her first ride for Rose on the classy chaser Caid Du Berlais wasn’t the product of a couple of weeks graft; this was a product of years of hard work dedication and focus in order to ride a winner. For Harriet, there has been no real racing background to fall back on or owners to put her up. She has owned, trained and ridden a horse for the last two years in order to make her dream of riding a reality and through that work she has got to the stage of riding a good horse like Caid. An army of supporters went to cheer Harriet at Larkhill and I can honestly say I was as proud of her as I was of any of our team that ride winners under rules. It’s been well documented over the past few weeks the success of Bryony Frost and how well she has been doing, however for me one of her finest achievements recently has been lending Harriet a helping hand and inspiring her to go for it just like she did.
I am proud of many things in Paul’s yard, but one thing I am particularly proud of is how, when giving out rides, whether it is Paul under rules or Rose in the pointing field, our jockeys aren’t judged on whether you are a boy or a girl. Neither does it matter where you came from or whether or not your face fits, you are simply judged on your riding and that alone. Bryony and Harriet do not “ride well for girls” they simply ride well and in a world where so many sports separate men and women I think we should celebrate the fact that in racing if you are good enough then you can compete – and those two young riders most certainly can compete.