Obviously, racing is not nearly as manic and, here in Ditcheat, we only have a handful of horses in training to run, but life always seems to be busy in and around the yard.
Power washing, painting, checking horses, updating gallops, fixing stables, tarmacking bits and bobs, hedge cutting, rail cleaning and all sorts of tasks needs tackling. Everyone also needs some time off and, before you know it, the time is nearly upon us for next week.
Next week? What on earth is going on next week I hear you say…
Generally, if you find yourself in Paul Nicholls employment the mid-Monday in July is the beginning, where it all starts for another year.
The vast majority of the horses return from their 10-week summer staycation and get back to the routine of yard life with the fairly basic aim having most of them ready to go again in and around the middle of October.
That is give or take a week or two depending on specific targets and plans that have been made by the boss.
I really enjoyed my summer holiday this year with plenty of golf played badly, lots of cricket watched, some even live, which after the pandemic was an absolute joy while generally taking things easy for a month did me the world of good.
I adore my job and I was excited to get back, but the rest was nice and I think it does all of us a little bit of good to have just a little bit of time away from one another.
Just before the holiday I joked with Clifford that I’d miss him during my weeks off as my first conversation every single day of my working life is with him.
“I won’t miss you,” came the reply, tongue in cheek … I hope.
Wandering round the horses in their fields over the past week I am itching for them to come back in now.
As a group they have done well for their summer and apart from the first two weeks of their breaks when monsoon season arrived in Ditcheat, they have enjoyed some fine and warm weather.
This week, although busy, is mainly quite calm and relaxed with only one entry on Sunday as most of the summer horses have run in the last few weeks.
Hold onto your hats next week though because that is when the fun starts.
I always think it is amazing that next Monday at 6:30am, Manor Farm Stables will be empty yet 49 hours later it will be full to the rafters once again.
New faces, equine and human, always make for a fun and interesting couple of weeks but being honest I think Paul and Clifford are happier men in three or so weeks’ time when the horses are back into a routine.
My job for the coming weeks is a fairly simple task, but nevertheless a job I enjoy.
Essentially every horse that comes back in from the field is taken into our arena, has some tack fitted before we let them have a buck squeal and a kick. When they have that exuberance out of their system we pop somebody up onto their back.
This is generally a fairly-well organised exercise with the odd naughty one making things interesting for the incoming rider but, generally come the back end of next week, most of them will be up and going and having a trot up Ditcheat hill in their groups.
I often think people must question why, if a horse is not racing until October or November, would they need to come into work in the middle of July?
However, working for Paul, you very quickly realise that those first couple of months of work are absolutely vital to the success of a horse’s season.
The ground work that is laid in those first weeks, building their strength, training their minds to be calm and relaxed in all of their work is basically setting the foundations for a good year.
In other news. the horses this summer are flying, which is nice to see, a double on Friday at Newton Abbot took this season’s tally to 20 which is a pleasing figure at this time of year.
Kilmington Rose winning three on the bounce has been a personal highlight for the summer campaign so far for lovely owners Henry and Charlie Pelham, but she has been backed up ably with victories for Darling Maltaix, Mick Pastor, Chez Hans and Eglantine De Seuil among others.
When jockeys are injured the one good thing that comes from it is the understudies get a chance to be in the driving seat and I thought Bryony was brilliant in Harry’s absence through May riding loads of winners and generally doing a great job.
Now Harry is back I am just hoping they both stay injury free for the next ten months and ride us lots of winners between them. It has been great to have Harry back recently and I have no doubt he will have another brilliant year.
I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing Bryan Carver a swift return to the saddle too following his recent fall at Newton Abbot. Bryan fractured his T7 vertebrae in two places and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
I think that is just about all the news I have for you at the moment and, although I am not going to do a blog regularly this season, I will endeavour to scribble some bits down through the year and keep you up to date with the yard, the boss and what is going on with me.
Until next time however, go well.