The clock ticks four minutes past the Easy Jet departure time at Edinburgh airport and, while sat on the plane, it feels like takeoff isn’t that close just yet. The doors are still open and although I thought the big rugby match in Scotland took place on Saturday it seems there are a group of women that are keen to create a rolling maul down the centre of the aircraft.
The glamorous weekend away that they obviously planned over a glass of Pinot looks likely to finish on a less dignified note, courtesy of an over indulgence on the aforementioned Pinot. While such behaviour normally riles me, this evening I’m a calm, relaxed soul on the crammed flight back to the West Country. Seven o’clock is not late in the day by any means, but this week has been long and challenging but in the end wonderfully rewarding. Of course, working with horses throughout the winter when the start and finish time alike are both in darkness means days are extended. However, hard work gets things done and, after a Sunday like we enjoyed, things are satisfyingly sweet.
Somerset or Ditcheat more to the point has been an extremely wet place to be this week and, with the rain a pretty constant fixture across the south of the country, racing has been a little slower than perhaps we are lucky enough to be accustomed to. However, Paul’s search for winners knows no bounds and, with good ground promised in Scotland, a raiding party was dispatched. If, at the start of the week from the comfort of Paul’s office chair, Noel Edmunds had presented him with the offer of five winners from 11 runners at Musselburgh I’m pretty sure it would have been a deal.
Musselburgh maestros make trip worthwhile
The on screen stars of the show were undoubtedly Diego Du Charmil, Wonderful Charm, Frodon, San Benedeto and El Bandit, but there were six people who were the real stars this week, Kevin, Andrew, Kate, Dawn, Harriet and Beth. While I’m nestling into my seat, the team are an hour into a 10-hour trek home. They are a team who worked so hard to make this weekend possible and have so many nice winners.
We are in the air now and, while the temptation to buy a tax free Easy Jet toy plane is easy to dismiss, the temptation to be reflective is overwhelming, so if you don’t mind I’ll share those reflections.
This week, in the very infancy of Thursday morning, the time on Ozzie Baker’s life (Clifford’s father) came to an end. Although sad, it appears it was a timely ending that has cut short prolonged suffering for both Oz and his family, but a father, grandfather and husband in any capacity will forever be missed.
The reason for my reflective nature this evening is this; my time in the yard has made me come to a conclusion that I’d like to share with you. To many people work is a necessity, something one simply has to do in order to pay the mortgage, the gas bill, to fill the car with fuel or to feed the children. I think however in this job we are lucky enough for it to be so much more.
Team work more important than ever
A love, a passion and, for many working for Paul, it is a total way of life. In Clifford’s absence for part of this week the requirement to come together and work as a team has been even greater than normal as no team ever runs particularly smoothly without one of his most vital members.
I’m not of the belief that sad circumstances bring out the best in people, I’m just of the belief help is required more that ever when something sad or unusual is happening. You tend to notice an act of goodwill or kindness a little more and this week has certainly produced evidence to support my point.
From Rose Loxton who has helped steady the ship in the top yard all week to Tom, our farrier, who has taught the young assistant trainer that a shoeing list needs regular tweaks and attention. Kate Nutt, who along with Andrew and Gemma, has ensured all the horses have travelled to the races without any mishap this week. Kate, my girlfriend, who has incredibly kindly helped me feed every morning before caring for her horses afterwards and all the ladies in the office who have made sure nothing was missed while our head man cared for his family
Out of darkness cometh light
As you can see then, even when the sea is rough Manor Farm stables is a place special not only for the horses that call it home, it is special for the people that work there and in a horribly tough week for Clifford and his family I like to think that the knowledge his 82 babies were in safe and loving hands provided at least one part of piece in his mind.
A treble any day of the week or year, in whatever kind of races, goes down as a good day at the office, but as I travel high above the British Isles this evening I do so proud as punch that I am part of a team who can overcome adversity and emerge with three beautiful winners to end the week.
We are not far off concluding our flight now and with that coming to the end of a day and a week I won’t forget for so many reasons.
I endeavour to learn at least one new thing every day in my role as assistant trainer, but this week I found myself writing things down on an almost hourly basis to try and take in the amount of information I needed to. Of course, as a team not everything went right and I made plenty of mistakes through the week but as Dad reminded me if you’re not making mistakes you need to find a harder job.
I was as proud as punch to be part of a five-timer at Musselburgh this weekend and the pleasure I got from being there on Sunday is not something most jobs would provide you with. It can be a taxing job at times, but like so many others in the employment of Paul it’s a job I wouldn’t swap for all the tea in china.
Rather neatly we have just touched down in Bristol and, while the cabin crew set about refereeing the women in the second row of the aircraft, among them an Irish man by the name Fehily who was actually happy with his results in Scotland this weekend, I get off the plane happy to be going home to Kate and the knowledge that on this Sunday all at Paul Nicholls racing is just so.
I go home knowing new targets have already been set by my employer for the week ahead and excited to be one of the people trying to fulfil those targets. It doesn’t look as though it’s going to be a manic week on the racing front so we will all be trying to move with the times ready for a super Saturday at Newbury this weekend.