It is Sunday, quarter to four in the afternoon, Nick Scholfield is at the wheel and we have just got on the M3 and raised a bottle of Lucozade and water respectively to Black Corton, who topped off what can only be described as a very good week for all involved.
Seven winners from 10 runners are the final statistics as the week closes with Cliffs of Dover taking the starring role winning on Friday and today at Kempton.
As Cliffs of Dover walked off the lorry in the summer, he set foot in our yard with a relatively modest profile ahead of a new career as a juvenile hurdler. However, with a first-class attitude to jumping and assistance from Harry Cobden in the saddle every day he has been transformed into a progressive young horse. Harry has settled him and taught him to relax during his training at home so it’s great that he has enjoyed due reward on the track with him.
Andrew, Gemma and Jayne make the trip worthwhile
Fakenham from sleepy Somerset isn’t a journey relished by many, but on Friday Andrew, Gemma and Jayne made the five-hour trip more than worthwhile bringing home two winners.
It’s so easy to forget the hours of hard work everyone puts in to get our horses to the races, and Fakenham is an 18-hour day for the guys that took Pilansberg, Keltus and Lou Vert so for them to be in the next morning at half past six says a lot about our dedicated staff.
A super Saturday work morning
First lot on Saturday morning saw 47 horses in action, among them some of our most exciting charges for the year to come; safe to say it was a work morning not to be missed.
With lots of big races now very much on the agenda we are gearing up the likes of Silviniaco Conti, Le Mercurey, Zubayr and Dodging Bullets for their first runs of the season, all of which are now not too far away.
Working over four furlongs never asks too much of our string or really tells us much we don’t already know, but as the weeks go by Capitaine continues to make an impression and, perhaps more significantly, he keeps pleasing Andrew who partners him every day. The two of them galloped past me on Saturday, Andrew crouching into his Davy Russell inspired position with a smile on his face indicating Capitaine was probably going quite nicely. Good news then as he will be entered on Sunday in the Dominic Baker Memorial at Wincanton a race, as I’ve said before, we long to win every year for very obvious reasons.
Highbridge quartet hit the heights
If like me you’re a huge fan of team Ditcheat then you’ll know we had five winners on Friday, an achievement we are all very proud of, four of those winners hailed from our numerically smaller yard Highbridge. David Rochester and Andrew Doyle are responsible for the day-to-day running of the yard overseen by Paul and Clifford so were hugely deserving of the pat on the back they received on Saturday morning from Paul. David feeds all of Highbridge and we often joke that he spends more time caring for his 46 equine inmates than his wonderful young family just around the corner in Alhampton. But well done men, a great day for everyone and in particular you two.
Sam’s loss felt deeply but others fill the breach
In the absence of Sam, who celebrated his birthday in hospital this week, the rest of our jockeys have been taking their opportunities to ride winners with one in particular seizing his moment.
Jack Sherwood, who longs to ride winners more than most folk long for their next breath, has done some great things in the colours of Mr and Mrs Woodhouse, so it was no surprise to see him make all riding Present Man at Wincanton. Jack gave Present Man a great ride from the front encouraging some super jumps from his partner and the plan made at the start of the season for Present Man is very much still the plan. More of that to come!
So there we are then, as you can see once again things in team Ditcheat are great, and I am appreciating and enjoying every winner we have knowing things are only going to become more difficult as the winter comes.
Living the dream at Marks and Spencer
We are some way down the A303 now and Nick is getting nearly as good a tune out of his car as he did Black Corton a few hours earlier. We’ve happily stopped at Marks and Spencer so, as a celebratory lasagne followed by profiteroles creeps ever closer, I afford myself a smile knowing that not only do I have a perfect evening in store it is only five days until the Ditcheat Thoroughbreds-owned Marracudja takes to the stage at Cheltenham.
There is plenty to look forward to then, but without doubt the best piece of news this week is that our main man and great friend Sam (Twiston-Davies) is on the mend and, despite his injury, in good spirits.
I know I speak for everyone at team Ditcheat Sam, in saying that we are wishing you a quick recovery and our very best.