“I look like I’m about to go out and rob a lawn mower,” quipped Stan (Sheppard) last Friday at Fontwell just as myself, Bryony and the ginger prince were about to walk the course.
We were dressed normally, but Stan sported a grey hoody; hood up I might add along with tracksuit bottoms as he was ready to go running after our walk. Never one to take life too seriously is Stan and I do not know why but that line really cracked me up. Ice creams in hand we set off for our walk, sweated freely for two laps of sweltering Fontwell, had a laugh, discussed plans for the day and our day progressed.
It continued in good fashion as well with Favorito Buck’s improving markedly for the step up to three miles plus and jumping on the whole very well with Bryony before our day came to a shuddering halt. Stan was having his first ride of the day on Rock On Oscar and having jumped four fences in a nice rhythm he faced up to the fifth misjudged it and Stan took a quite horrible fall. He slapped the ground and I immediately feared the worst as he received quite a kicking following the initial impact. I ran over to where he lay and as the doctors attended him it was clear Stan was not in a good way.
Relief all round as Stan given all clear
He was knocked out, but thank goodness everything else seemed fine and, when he gradually came round, the relief that ran through me when he could move everything and the doctors then relaxed was immense. It is a thoroughly unpleasant experience when one of your mates gets injured like that but, thank goodness he is ok and after a brain scan at Chichester Hospital, where much to our surprise they found one, he was allowed home.
Falls are of course part and parcel of a jockey’s job, but I will never like seeing them and every time our jocks walk away from one unscathed I am grateful. Stan has been incredibly sore these last few days but it could have been an awful lot worse and with rest he will be back in the saddle in no time.
It is a little weird really as my high and low light came in that day, the low being the fall and the high was picking Stan up from hospital later that day with a clean bill of health. Aside from Stan’s fall pretty much everything has been good this past week with lots of racing and most importantly some really good results.
Tommy masters Exeter foes
Eight winners was the end total, but you have to go right back to last Tuesday to find the most impressive equine performance from the week, a display that came from Master Tommytucker who despite over racing throughout the contest destroyed his rivals carrying a penalty in the rain softened Exeter ground. I have since watched the race back a number of times and still cannot believe just how hard he pulled and how well he kept going, throughout the day horses were simply not getting home, but he turned round the final bend and powered up the straight in the shape of a very smart horse.
Tommy is very much a chaser in the making and he is a wonderfully exciting horse to have in the yard for next season. Yes, he has a long way to go but it would surprise nobody here if he ended up being a chaser of the highest grade in time.
Away from the other equine highlights such as Brahms De Clermont racking up his fourth win of the season in gritty fashion, Secret Investor getting off the mark over hurdles and Diamond Guy putting in a speedy display at Wincanton the major satisfaction for me this past week has once again come from seeing the staff working so hard in the yard and being rewarded with the results.
Andrew went from Southwell to Bangor to Stratford, Scott took care of Fontwell while Kate Cheltenham to Ayr to Wincanton. These are all long days and, if everyone from the guys at home to the team at the races did not pull their weight, big weeks the like of which we have just enjoyed could not happen.
Valiant Vicente a hero again
Achieving things that have never been done before is incredibly difficult but with Vicente that is exactly what we tried to do in the Scottish National and, although coming up short, he finished a gallant fifth giving his all in a race he loves. He once again did Julie who rides and looks after him everyday proud and lost nothing in defeat.
Looking ahead to this week and I know it will be another busy one, but I cannot help but be a little gutted the season it is all coming to an end once more. Of course it has to and we will start again almost immediately, but I am so proud of the work we have done this week. It is sad when it all goes back to zero and we start again. For now though and during this week we will focus on trying to further Paul’s tally of 126 winners so far this season and hope we can finish another successful term in good fashion.
Have a good week.