Winners seemed totally insignificant when the I heard the heart breaking news that Keagan Kirby had died after a fall in a Point-to-Point in Kent eight days ago.
It happened when the horse he was riding ran out through the wing of a fence on the second circuit at Charing and tragically he could not be saved. There have been a lot of tears shed by Team Ditcheat since then because he was a lovely lad, one of our best work riders, and had made huge progress since joining us in the summer of 2019. Only 25 he was deservedly shortlisted for the Thoroughbred Employee awards this year.
Keagan was passionate about his riding and his job, was hugely popular in the yard and all of our staff have been in bits since it happened. You wouldn’t believe the messages of support we’ve received, the flowers, and the letters. Through it all we’ve had to keep going running a business, feeding and exercising the horses. I know Keagan would not have wanted things to be done any differently.
We all found things unbelievably hard in the days that followed his death and I salute the way everyone has rallied round. The whole team has done Keagan proud.
The loss of the highly talented Hermes Allen 24 hours earlier in a fall at Sandown was another shocking blow. He had already achieved much and had a big future. Now it’s a question of re-grouping and looking ahead for the rest of the season.
It looks like I’ve got a fight on my hands to retain my title as champion trainer. Naturally I will give it my best shot but my main focus is helping Harry Cobden become champion jockey for the first time. He is riding at the top of his game, has been steadily cutting into Sean Bowen’s big lead over the last couple of months and finally drew level with Sean on 121 winners on Sunday thanks to the impressive success of Teeshan in the bumper at Exeter on Sunday.
Teeshan is a lovely prospect, will have an entry in the Cheltenham bumper and I’d say is on a par with Joyau Allen and Quebecois who have also won for us at Exeter this season.
We have had Teeshan for a while but it has taken until now for him to acclimatise and come right .
That explains my point about not taking our exciting new arrival Caldwell Potter to Cheltenham next month. It’s impossible for a horse to acclimatise into a new system that quickly and I am already looking ahead to running him in novice chases next October. He is a horse for the future and was bought at the sales early last week by several of the partners in Hermes Allen. They are good sports, love their racing and I knew they would have a good go at trying to get him.
We will again be busy on Saturday with runners at Ascot, Wincanton and Haydock.
Brave Kingdom is on course for the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot where Pic D’Orhy runs in the Betfair Ascot Chase and Threeunderthrufive goes for a £100,000 Premier Handicap Chase.
Rubaud is an intended starter in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton where we could have half a dozen through the afternoon.
For all the latest news on all my runners on Saturday please be sure to read my Betfair column which goes live the previous morning.