It is very rare in sport that the fairytale ending actually comes off. Of course, lots are planned and thought about but in reality, particularly in our sport, a perfect ending is very difficult to execute. Happily however, for our friend Gary Derwin the perfect curtain closer to his career came in the shape of victory aboard Clic Work on Thursday.

Gary joined us in the middle of last season and very quickly became a popular part of the team riding out every morning. He rides Jessber’s Dream and El Bandit everyday doing a fantastic job on two very tricky horses so when he came to Paul and asked if he could have one more ride before he hung up his boots the decision was an easy one. Since Thursday lots of people have been asking him why he has taken the decision not to renew his licence but after a good chat with him, his decision is clearly well thought through and sensible. Gary now has a young family to look after and opportunities to ride nice horses on the track were becoming impossible to come by as was the time to commit to a yard full time in order to get those rides.

We are the fortunate ones in this situation as Gary has chosen to come to us to continue riding out every day and be part of a racing yard. He gave Clic Work a top ride to win on Thursday and the whole team were absolutely made up for him, I’ve often talked about my pride in being part of a yard that can give people such special days and Thursday was really as good as they come for me. It was an occasion Gary will never forget and neither will plenty of us and I will always smile when I think of that day. You have to respect a man with more than his fair share of ability in the saddle who is giving up race riding to take care of his family and Gary has my utmost respect.

Join the Clan and get on board with our new star

I’m sure, like many of you, I watch plenty of racing throughout the year and if you are a regular blog reader then you’ll know that with my passion for young horses, novice hurdles and chases and bumpers are races I try and pay particular attention to. I am always hoping for one superstar to emerge from the pack, and maybe, just maybe Clan Des Obeaux could be exactly that.

Sean Bowen, aside from being a belting good jockey, is a straight talking guy who doesn’t mix his words, so when he hopped off Clan in the Newbury winners’ enclosure after routing a high-class field and declared that he is the best horse he’s ever sat on I let my imagination run wild. Clan is as good a looking horse as you could lay your eyes on and with a near flawless jumping technique and high cruising speed at four-years-old he looks to have the potential to go right to the top. As I said last week though, building for the future with a horse like Clan doesn’t mean this year will be busy for him as Paul is intent on nurturing his abundant ability.

The biggest well done of all though goes to Scott Marshall who has ridden Clan from day one last season and insisted he was a machine ever since. Scott does a beautiful job on him and was made up to see him deliver like that.

Brave Irving comes out Fighting

If any of you are casual players on a sports team or maybe a professional sportsman or woman then you will probably know the pain of pre-season training, the hard work and preparation that goes into getting ready for your first competition, race or event of the year. For our horses it is much the same, some take longer than others to get fit, some find it easy, while some you wonder if they will ever lose their summer bellies.

For some though it’s simply a right struggle and in Irving‘s case it has been exactly that. Irv has been many things through the last few seasons, tricky to train, baffling and frustrating, but when fresh and firing on all cylinders he is always quite brilliant. His physical problems make him a nightmare to keep right and all of Paul’s team as well as him deserve a lot of credit for getting him back to win a Grade One. From David who feeds him and cares for him, Melissa who rides him and Holly who looks after him and makes his bed, everyone has worked incredibly hard to get him back and my god wasn’t it worth it!

His win also showcased an increasingly mature performance in the saddle from Harry Cobden who was landing his first Grade One which is a remarkable achievement aged just 18.

A warm welcome back for our main man Sam

Back at camp, this week just past has been an exciting one, with two new French horses arriving, both high class prospects. Viky De Reponet is a mare who has taken some eye catching scalps in her native France while Chameron is a good looking new three year old unbeaten in two starts over hurdles, wins which include the Listed Prix Finot. They are both settling in well and are horses to really look forward to in the coming months.

Something I really can’t wait for this week is the return of our main man Sam Twiston-Davies. As we all know Sam is a brilliant rider and, after telling me about the fitness training he has been doing at Oaksey House, I can’t wait to see him in the saddle for us once again this week.

Best of luck on your return Sam – all of us at team Ditcheat are one hundred per cent behind you.