As is so often the case with the lull between the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, last week on the racing front was fairly quiet with only one day of real note to mention.
That was last Wednesday when we sent three horses up the road to Wincanton and not one of them was beaten. All three of those winners had satisfying stories to go with their victories and that was an excellent way to break up an otherwise racing-free week.
With the lack of action I thought I would use this blog to try and answer some questions that my loyal band of readers may have about the yard and some of our horses, so without rambling on too much I think I will get straight into some questions.
First of all Jack Houston asks: “Any of the new purchases that we probably haven’t heard of yet?”
In terms of what is left to run this season Jack we have quite a few really nice four-year-olds that will hopefully make their debuts in bumpers in the next month or so. They were all broken in and pre-trained with Will Biddick and have filtered into our yard since. Although we would not press many buttons with them at home Flic ou Voyou and Enrilo look nice types that hopefully should not be too far of a run.
In terms of horses for next season Jack, I am going to side with a mare called Danse Idol, last seen in January in a Punchestown bumper finishing second to Relegate – that form does not look too bad at all now, she is a point-to-point winner owned by Highclere and looks set to have a nice future with us after her summer.
Brendan and “the national hunt fan” have both asked about Danny Kirwan. One asks where does he go next and the other questions what will his trip be next season.
At this stage Danny is being trained to go to Aintree for the Graded bumper on the Friday of the meeting, something we are all looking forward to after his excellent win at Kempton in late February. There is however well over a week to go with him until that day so everything has to go right between now and then for him to take his chance. I know Greg who rides him so well everyday is happy with him, but with a gorgeous big young horse like him I know Paul would never train him too hard for a bumper.
In terms of next season, I am honestly not sure what will prove his optimum trip as he stayed well to win head in chest in his maiden point-to-point and bumper winners generally do stay well. He is however not short of a gear so if I was a betting man I would think he would start at two miles and see how he progresses, it is my opinion seeing him at home that you will see the real Danny Kirwan when he is faced with jumping fences.
Dave Marland asks: “If someone were to set you up with a stable of 10-15 horses next season would you take it?”
The answer to that Dave is no. As flattered as I might be, I am currently extremely happy with a job I think I am very fortunate to have and at only 23 I realise I still have an awful lot to learn from Paul, who is not only a superb boss, but a fantastic teacher. My dream of course one day is to become a successful National Hunt trainer, but I still have a lot of unfulfilled ambitions as Paul’s assistant trainer and for the immediate future my aims lie very much with Paul’s team and helping him to be as successful as possible. It is an honour to be part of this yard and I do not take my position lightly.
Danny N has asked: “Will Topofthegame run at Aintree?”
Topofthegame will not run again this season Danny with Paul deciding to let him have a long break and look after him with chasing in mind next season. He obviously ran a brilliant race in the Coral Cup having jumped boldly throughout the race, he looks to stay very well and all of us here are extremely excited to see him go chasing next season. For now though once the weather has warmed up and everywhere is dry in about a month or so he will be turned out in a field backing on to Mr Barber’s house, his part owner who will enjoy chatting to him all summer long dreaming of what is to come, although he is massive he is a gentle, gorgeous horse to have around and one we are all fond of.
Des and Sandie Nichols have asked two questions: “We want to hear your funniest moment and which member of team Ditcheat has the most irritating habit?”
First of all hey guys, hope a Trump-run America is treating you well, we all hope to see you both soon, now onto your questions. In terms of funny moments from my seven years of employment at Pauls I could be here until Christmas telling you hilarious things that have happened either to me or things that I have seen, however I will give you one from this season. It was back in the summer when we were getting back up on all the horses, a task that is never lacking a funny moment and one we generally do in our indoor school as if the normal happens and one of you takes a tumble a landing on sand is always a little softer. Rob and David Rochester are generally on the floor while Juddy, Andrew and I hop up onto them.
One particular afternoon we were rattling through them and had one more group to do. As I remember it Juddy had ridden some particularly lively ones that day so as a gesture of good will and a wink to all the lads I told him to ride a horse that will go unnamed in this story, but he was a handicap chaser of advancing years. The team will know who I am talking about!
Now Juddy was new to the yard this summer so everyone but him knew that this old fella had more tricks up his sleeve than any of the others he had just sat on. All the boys stayed tight lipped and said nothing as Juddy thanked me for finally giving him a quiet one to ride “no problem pal, you deserve it” I said looking away holding back the laughter.
Rob put him in the plate and a workforce held its breath, walk a lap, trot a lap, come on fella do not let us down, Juddy looked up and smiled, the handicapper was tamed, or so he thought. Around about the third lap of trot, our old mate performed one of his emergency stops, quickly took three steps back and lower his head to the floor – let me tell you this was one of his finest moves – and Juddy went all the way down his neck over the ears, performing a front roll onto the ground. Now I would love to say we rushed to his aid, but to be honest Andrew and I nearly fell off ourselves for laughing while Rob and David were not much better. Juddy joined us in laughter, hopped back on and our fun was over.
In terms of most irritating habit, there can’t be much worse than somebody nicking your chocolate biscuit while doing the board in the mornings, the perils of sitting next to your boss I guess Des.
I am going to make this my final questions as boredom I am sure will be setting in so the final one goes to Tommy Dowson who asks: “Are there up and coming, undercover NH sires from your youngsters at home?”
Not an easy question Tommy and maybe one I am not fully qualified to answer. I do also think that only the fullness of time can determine whether or not a sire has been truly successful, however you have asked the question though so I will do my best to answer it. Word reaches me of two sires I hear are both doing well in Ditcheat and surrounding areas, Lorcan Williams and Charlie Todd, both exuberant young men with plenty to offer and I doubt they charge at all for their covering fee. In fact they would probably even buy dinner for the right mare and, if their current rate of employment is maintained, they look sure to make their mark.
A slightly different blog then this week but I hope you have all enjoyed it. Work, as always, will come first this week, but once I am done at approximately 5.30pm from Thursday onwards I will be in front of my TV screen watching McIlroy win the masters, he says hopefully, go on Rors!