Sat at my computer once again at 5:30am with another week in front of me, I do so hopeful this week won’t be quite as manic as the one we have just enjoyed.
I am all for being busy but for whatever reason last week felt like I took one breath in, blinked and here we are again.
I should imagine that every jump yard in the land at the moment is pretty well the same, what with spring festival preparations now well under way and horses running nearly every day. People do say time flies when you’re having fun so things can’t be bad.
The blog this week could be a little disjointed down to the nature of my week so apologies if it’s not great, there is just so much to fit in. Now, the question is where to start and I think first of all I am going to tell you about my week before going on to some stories from the yard of interest.
With Cheltenham on the horizon we hosted the BBC Points West cameras on Tuesday and they shadowed me for the morning, filming a normal day with me and undertaking an interview all about what I get up to working for Paul – by all accounts this piece is going to be aired on Points West during Cheltenham week. Now it was of course cool to get a phone call to be asked to do this and, after a conversation with Damien from the ‘beeb’I only had one question for him; “Of course I’ll do it, but do you not want to do it about someone a little more interesting?”
The answer was seemingly not however and they duly followed me round for the morning, I can’t think it will make compelling television, but I should imagine the two men that came down to film it won’t forget their experience for a while mainly down to the fact they are probably still drying out.
Dodge relishing his new role
Without doubt, not just for this season, but for the past couple of years the horse who received the biggest volume of blog space was the one and only Dodging Bullets, my old mate who is now retired living only 10 minutes away with Lucy Sharp who looked after him all his life here at Ditcheat. Very sensibly Lucy gave Dodge a long and well deserved rest when he was retired, letting him adjust to his new life on the family farm and allowing him to get used to not other racehorses but a hairy Shetland, dogs, chickens and whatever else one might come across on a farm.
However Dodge is now back into ridden work and with his new career in its infancy the time had come for him to have a trip off the farm, not to gallop round a racecourse as he was so used to doing, but just to where Kate, my girlfriend, keeps her horse where a riding arena is situated.
Lucy and I took Dodge on the 10 minute journey with an over excitable racehorse in the back and as we arrived it was pretty clear Dodge believed he knew what he was there for. I legged Lucy up onto Dodge and he strutted down the track towards the school as if he owned the place and into the dimly floodlight arena where the funniest meetings of horses took place.
Kate rather amusingly has a quite lovely horse called Harry, a winner on the British eventing circuit and re-homed by Kate from a brilliant organization called World Horse Welfare. I always say that it looks like Harry was built to pull a plough, so you can imagine how funny it was when the former Champion Chaser met his new pal, you could not have found horses with such different paths in life but there they were; the rescue horse now introducing Dodge to his new challenges.
I let the girls get on with it as, in the words of Kate unless I’m on a gallop I’m completely hopeless on horseback, so watched from a distance but what I saw bought a huge smile to my face. A once quite mad racehorse that would sweat at the thought of training and jig-jog every stride he wasn’t galloping was now walking and trotting round the arena in perfect control, head tucked in with no semblance of his wild past to be seen. This was the first chapter of what is going to be an active retirement for Dodge and it was fantastic to see him learning new skills so quickly. He remains a horse I am utterly fond off and always will be.
Corton continues to confound
On the racecourse we had a successful time of things with Black Corton and Bryony continuing this quite remarkable campaign of theirs, winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novice Chase at a canter, he now heads for the RSA and at this stage how could anyone ignore him? What I love about him is that you can see all season he is growing with confidence, his jumping is getting better all the time and together B and Blackie make a great team.
I know this game of ours is focussed completely on winners and I totally get that, but on Friday a mare I am particularly fond of ran a brilliant race to finish second in ground she hated, that mare is called If You Say Run. She really is the most charming little horse who I have loved since she arrived last season and I can’t wait to see her run on some spring ground in due course, I was so proud of her at Sandown as she came back to the winners’ enclosure. You could see she had absolutely given her all and that, as I always say, is the best quality any racehorse could possibly have.
Larkhill winner leaves Ed with a sore head
I’ll leave you with a little bit of news from Sunday which made my weekend for sure. I talk all the time in my blog about the talents of our team of riders, it is something I am really proud of, all of them with lofty ambitions for the future and targets they want to reach. This weekend though the rider I was most pleased for probably won’t be doing it in a few years time, he has no massive ambitions in fact he is just doing it for the fun and that is a guy called Ed Henderson, a really good mate of mine who is studying law at Exeter University.
When I first saw Ed ride around two years ago, it was quite something to behold, he hadn’t been riding all that long at that stage and brought something of an alternative style to the saddle, less John Francome more John Wayne in fact.
However, Ed has worked extremely hard to improve his riding and improve he has, so much so that he rode a winner at Larkhill on Sunday, much to the delight of us all. The last message I got from him was around 6pm explaining to me he was fairly well hydrated at that stage so I should imagine he’ll be later out of bed than some today.
My final note today before I finish is a thank you, and that is to a remarkable little horse called Zarkandar, four times a winner at the very highest level he has been one of the flag bearers of our yard for sometime now and my gosh he’s put his stint in. Zarkandar is a fantastic little horse with a character much bigger than himself, he’ll be missed in the yard and remembered for an awful long time, a happy and well deserved retirement now awaits him.
So there we have it, another jam-packed week has flown by and the week and I’m sure the one in front of us will be as busy, but that is without doubt a good thing and with the evenings now slightly drawing out my favourite season of spring is just around the corner. Happy Monday everyone.