As it has been over a month since my last blog post I thought while I had chance sat on a train to London on a gloomy, dull Thursday afternoon I would update readers with the goings on down in Ditcheat.
I think, as I’ve not posted a blog for a while, I’ll start by addressing the miserable talking point which was that for a few weeks we were bang out of form. In the grand scheme of the world and the season it was not by any means a disaster but it made for an uncomfortable two or three weeks.
Paul has now got to the bottom of what was stopping the horses performing up to their best and happily once again they are firing.
The thing I noticed about it during those few lean weeks is just how rare it is for Paul to go out of form. For years on end he has maintained a high strike rate of winners with horses generally running to form throughout the season.
These things happen though and the horses seem now to all be running really well again with two more winners on Thursday.
So how is everything else going?
Well as much as I try to fight it, the lead up to Cheltenham is well and truly underway with what now seems to be an eternity of chatter leading up to the four days.
It always baffles me how much we all talk about Cheltenham. Do not get me wrong the racing there is fantastic and so are the horses but I never understand how each race gets dissected to the enth degree.
Happily, my job at the yard is to help prepare the horses and not worry too much about the rest of it and even more happily that all seems to be going well.
Paul will not be running a huge amount of horses at this year’s festival, just a small group of horses that have realistic each way chances with a couple of horses that will have winning aspirations, Bravemansgame, Bob and Co and Stage Star are at the top of those lists.
I was fortunate enough to have a sit on Politologue around Wincanton on Thursday morning which I tried to savour every minute with his retirement at the end of the season now the plan.
He goes to Cheltenham with an enormous task but riding him I could not help but smile at his relentless energy and will to be a racehorse. He is a special horse to us at Ditcheat and we will miss him dearly when he hangs his plates up.
The highlight of the past month or so since I last spoke to you last was Inca De Lafayette, who won on debut at Taunton last week for his Owners Group syndicate.
From the moment Inca arrived in the yard he has been a lovely straightforward horse who always has a super attitude towards his jumping and his work. That showed in his race as he settled nicely and gave Harry a lovely ride to win.
Other highlights were Dolos who won at his beloved Sandown, roaring back to form and showing that he retains all his ability, Pic D’orhy winning the Pendil under what I thought was an incredibly brave ride by Harry who asked him for a very long stride at the last which I have no doubt won him the race.
There was also a win for Cut The Mustard a sweet mare who has been running good races in defeat all season so it was great to see her win nicely at Leicester under Bryony.
Of course we then had the storms to contend with. Now for those of you that do not work with horses, I can assure you the worst type of weather to be dealing with horses is in the high winds. It’s dreadful.
They are obviously flight animals so the wind when dealing with horses is absolutely not your friend. It was so bad on that Friday of storm Eunice that Paul took the decision to not ride anything out and walk around the yard through the morning. I was in no doubt that was the right call.
Fortunately, the yards did not suffer any damage of any real note and after a couple more roughish days we were back on track.
The next few days are looking busy with plenty of runners at Newbury so hopefully the good run of form we have enjoyed this week will continue on over the weekend.
It is odd isn’t it as our lives go on in complete normality, just a few hours flight away there is a war going on started by one of the most dreadful men I would imagine this world has seen.
I listen to the news at 6 o’clock before I go into work and then read it before I go to bed and I cannot help but feel down about what a dreadful situation it is.
It does rather put into stark perspective that if you are enduring a run of a few horses not performing at their best then life could be so, so much worse. I have no doubt at times I tend to forget just how incredibly lucky we are to lead the lives we do.
As Cheltenham approaches I hope we will be lucky there, I hope our horses perform at their best, I hope our horses not going to Cheltenham keep running well and winning. I hope Mon Frere sleeps well after sadly suffering a life ending injury at Newcastle on Thursday with Meg aboard.
I hope more than anything though that people just like you and me living through this unthinkable nightmare in Ukraine will be safe and that people who are quite literally just trying to lead a normal life will be protected from evil I do not want to imagine.
I will write again before Cheltenham and again sorry it took me a while to write this one.
Until then however, go well.