The time is 9:35pm on Sunday evening, laughter rings around my house as half an hour ago I made the grave error of setting up a ‘team WhatsApp group’.
I needed to inform them all of a couple of pieces of information needed for work on Monday and all hell broke loose!
In my attempt to quieten the madness that broke out I have been labelled a mother, a fun sponge and even Sergeant of the fun police – alas at least everyone is in good spirits on a Sunday evening and with good reason.
The 50-winner barrier has been smashed this weekend, the million-pound barrier broken, a Grade One winner for our shooting-mad, cow-wrestling, pheasant-chasing farm-loving stable jockey topped off by a winner of the Grand Sefton Chase courtesy of Warriors Tale, who received a beautiful ride by our very own Welsh God Mr Bowen who, if in a race for a chicken nugget, would more than likely be able to acquire the strength of the Lord himself.
My 617-mile round trip this weekend has topped off what has been another cracking week in the life of this assistant trainer, with a week that had everything from a trip to London, a stay with my long-time friends Dan and his wonderful wife Grace Skelton, plenty of winners and a couple of quite serious fits of the giggles.
I’ll deal with the horses first, after all, that is why we are all here and as I said they have been going great guns.
Of course, in any week of the year there are a couple of frustrations with Topofthegame forgetting what a starting tape was, My Way and Deniquilin getting stuck in the mud at Sandown, Not A Nail narrowly failing to overcome his inexperience at Exeter, albeit showing bundles of promise, and Silver Forever being caught out by lack of a strong pace at Huntingdon. Having said all that though there has once again been a steady flow of excellent winners.
Rhythm and Idol bust their moves in style
From Coup De Pinceau at Ludlow, now a dual bumper, hurdle and chase winner who jumps as solidly as any novice chaser I have had the good fortune of watching to Rhythm Is A Dancer who has gone about his business at Wincanton this season, improving with every start to look a more complete article race by race.
Danse Idol absolutely destroyed what appeared a decent race on paper in the mares’ novice hurdle, jumping and galloping her rivals silly to record an effortless first success over timber. I look forward to her progressing this season with Harry C assuring me there is plenty more in the tank.
Now in the case of the Owners Group there has been a small void since Alcala was sadly ruled out for the season back in the summer, but their winner at Exeter on Friday could indeed make “Owners Group great again” as Getaway Trump showed a sharp turn of foot to win his second novice hurdle this season. The victory represented a lesson in leaving it to the boss by your correspondent as I expressed my concerns that the heavy ground could stop our lad from showing his best. Luckily my illustrious employer did not share my view demonstrating once again why there is only one captain of the ship.
Warriors and Dollars prove to be Dynamite TV
Our two big wins on Saturday at Sandown with Dynamite Dollars and on Merseyside courtesy of Warriors Tale were completed in the limelight of the ITV cameras and were both very special with both jockeys excelling in the saddle. Perhaps most noteworthy was the time of Dynamite’s race with those keen form boffins among will be aware why I say that.
On a personal note, Saturday was just about as good as it gets with the whole team mucking in and enjoying success around the country, none more important that Truckers Lodge at Chepstow. While not the biggest meeting on the day, it was a good win on a couple of counts, firstly it was the first winner we have trained for new owners of ours Mr and Mrs Hall who now have two horses with us and absolutely love being part of our yard. They are great sports, love their horses and I was delighted we got off the mark for them with Truck. Secondly was the man who did the steering Lorcan Williams; a good rider, but most importantly a good mate. He has been riding well of late but got on a boring old run of finishing second and concerns of him turning grey before his time might well have come to fruition had Truckers not won so I was made up for him. Having said that I am sure not even grey hair would stop his success with the opposite sex such is our Lorcan’s popularity.
Away from the racecourse, I just want to touch on my Monday which was spent taking a trip to London after an invite from Barry Orr from Betfair to go along with Paul to the Derby Awards, a day out I thoroughly enjoyed.
Paul, Bryony and I took the 9:42am from Castle Cary headed for Paddington and had a ball. At first, we were entertained with Bryony the whole way up on the train, drinking cups of tea like they were going out of fashion and trying to conjure up any interest from Paul to watch YouTube clips of the planet’s funniest animals. In all truth you probably had to be there.
Once at the lunch, the food and entertainment was brilliant with Luke Harvey proving a hit as host of the afternoon. As I was not working for the rest of the day and knew I did not have to drive at all, I figured it would be a good time to enjoy some wine with my lunch.
Wine ghost’ nearly catches me out
Now, I am sure that all of you will at some stage or another have been to a swanky ceremony with everything that goes with it and, as lovely as these lunches are, something that often seems to be my undoing is what only can be described as sneaky drink topping up. Whether it was our waiter or someone from our table it occurred to me that my wine glass did not seem to be going down. I felt sure that I was enjoying and drinking it, but the level remained the same, I chose not to worry though, enjoying the fishcake for starter and lamb for main, but just before the chocolate mousse and raspberry sorbet I had to make a trip to the boys’ room.
I got to my feet wrestled my way through the various tables until I got to a large empty room leading to the stairs and then the toilets. The room full of tables, chairs and people did not pose any problem with many balancing points along the way however once arriving at the empty room with stairs I realised there may well be a problem.
You see, walking down stairs or walking anywhere for that matter has never presented me with much of a problem, but I felt myself really having to focus and it was at that point I came to the conclusion the mystery wine glass had tricked me into thinking I had not had much when indeed I had probably had more than enough. More than enough for me being about two and a half glasses such is my lightweight nature.
Many hours later as I walked back to the station with Bryony and our now tremendously well-hydrated London guide and boss Mr Nicholls we enjoyed a train ride home full of stories, chicken nuggets, biscuits and lots of laughter. The yard is definitely where my heart is but, a day like that was a hoot and I was grateful to Paul and Barry for letting me attend.
Paul does a fanatic Jethro impression after a wine or seven which may or may not have been showcased out on the train, a treat I felt all of the First Class carriage enjoyed.
Blog fan makes my day
So there you have it, another week in my life has passed and this one I will not forget, my phone while writing this blog has not stopped buzzing so I am assuming there will be more boring assistant trainer-type abuse on my newly-created WhatsApp group for me to now contend with before I lay my head on my pillow.
Finally though, before I go I would like to dedicate my blog to a lady who I met on Sunday at Huntingdon who came up to me and told me of her enjoyment in reading my witterings. She explained she was not a particularly knowledgeable person in racing (probably why she likes me I thought) but felt by reading my blog she was part of something and it gave her an insight into our yard. I wish I got your name, but sadly I did not, but no doubt you know who you are though and thank you very much for that, you made my day.
It is now the wrong side of 10pm and I must get some rest, until next week though, go well.