In this game, every now and again, I could swear horses know when you really need them to perform for you.
Don’t ask me why or how this phenomenon occurs, but occasionally horses come up trumps just when everyone is longing for them to perform to their optimum.
Take Orbasa last Friday. On the face of it he has been bitterly disappointing on his last few outings, giving more trouble to his jockeys than the judge in recent times and he went to Wincanton with expectations not exactly hitting the roof. The decision was taken to fit a brand new pair of blinkers to his handsome head, do away with the customary tongue tie and employ a brand new jockey, not only to him but to us, a young man by the name of Henry Moorshead.
Much to our delight, Henry joined us in the height of summer and has been a joy to deal with since. Polite, thoughtful and talented in the saddle, Henry rode Orbasa perfectly and they stormed up the run in to record a memorable success. Henry’s father travelled down from the north to be there for his son’s first ride as a conditional and he only enhanced the huge cheer as Henry returned victorious to the winner’s enclosure. There was not a soul in the yard not made up for Henry and he is yet another hugely promising rider to represent us.
As we work through the season, weekends tend to be the most important time in terms of racing, so to come home on Sunday evening after accumulating six winners meant spirits in the Range Rover were high. To be honest my weekend comprised of two thoroughly enjoyable days and I’m going to tell you about them – I’ll start with Saturday.
Our stable jockey (STD) was in residence with Kate and I on Friday night in preparation for an important work morning on Saturday and, after said piece of work, we headed off up country with me in the passenger’s seat; the first of many good results over the weekend.
Stratford trip offers a collection of culinary delights
Travelling up to Sam’s house we initially talked about all manner of things, shared opinions on our racing lives, laughed at our experiences and covered just about every other topic for good measure. I indulged in a breakfast bake and delicious hot drink while Sam reminded me that I was no longer a jockey or anything like one so he declined a bake or sugary drink and sided with water. I bet he was thrilled with me spilling crumbs all over the Panamera.
A windy Stratford greeted us and after walking the course I descended upon the owners and trainers facility where the friendly fella behind the bar assured me the chicken madras wasn’t too lively at all and I’d thoroughly enjoy it. Stupidly I believed him and took the plunge. Now, I don’t have the most adventurous of pallets, but there hasn’t been a worse forecast since dear old Michael Fish declared things weren’t going to be too bad back in ‘87. Never have so much bread and butter been consumed or orange juice quaffed as I tried in vain to get the Madras down.
With my mouth still on fire, I enjoyed watching Romain de Senam make it two in a week under Sam, but the highlight of Saturday came in Market Rasen courtesy of the flying grey Capitaine, a hugely exciting, bold jumping novice chaser.
A further instalment of the X factor, followed by Ed Sheeran on the Jonathon Ross show brought the curtain down on my Saturday and mid morning the day afterwards we headed to Kempton confident of a big day.
Paul sent out six runners on Sunday and, however this season goes, I will remember it as one of our finest.
Two seconds and four winners was the final tally with Amour de Nuit the highlight courtesy of gaining his first Listed success in slick fashion. His display was closely followed by a 1-2 in the second Listed race on the card with Old Guard running out a good winner ahead of San Benedeto who made an excellent seasonal reappearance.
Flyer fitness never in doubt
Monday played host to the most amusing part of the week for me while watching Ridgeway Flyer get off the mark at Plumpton. Midway through the race while making some nice headway Paul turned to regular rider David Judd and questioned is he fit enough to which David swiftly replied, “You tell me, you train him!”
Cue floods of laughter followed by plenty of cheering as Ridgeway answered our leader’s question himself.
I think I mentioned in Blog 2 about my charity race and how I was hosting two young men from the charity Key4life at the yard. I did that on Monday and what a fascinating morning it was. Jack and Anthon arrived in the yard at 6.30am and worked hard throughout the morning, spending most of it with me learning about caring for the horses and how we run the yard from day to day.
I guess in the past my ignorance has led me to believe that people in prison deserved to be there and weren’t my problem, but these were good people who had simply got in with the wrong crowd and made some questionable choices.
Still human and more than capable of being good people, Jack and Anthon are now getting back on the right path and with Key4lifes’s help they have a real shot in life. When I agreed to do this charity race I signed up fully intending to raise lots of money, but I didn’t know I would be lucky enough to be so involved with helping some of the benefactors of it.
Weekend promises exciting and poignant challenges
That leads me to the weekend ahead of us which looks both exciting and important in equal measure. I’m heading to Cardiff on Saturday night after Cheltenham to watch Anthony Joshua’s title defence, which will be my first ever boxing experience and it is a night I simply cannot wait for.
We move onto Wincanton on Sunday and a meeting where all in Team Ditcheat desperately want to win one race in particular.
We have three entered in the Dominic and Ozzie Baker memorial novice hurdle where the potential reappearance of the exciting Diamond Guy is an option. It is a novice hurdle of little weight to most, but to us in Ditcheat there aren’t many races we care about more, here’s hoping we can win it again for Dom, Ozzie and all of the Baker family.