There are a couple of people in my life that, when they ask you to do something, you don’t question it. Whatever their request may be, because of the level of respect you have for them, you just carry out their order.
I would like to think that I can include Mr Barber, landlord to Paul’s main yard, as a good friend of mine as he is one of those people who I hold in that regard. If you could bear that in mind for the first part of the blog I’d be grateful. Mrs Barber celebrated her birthday on Friday so to celebrate we headed to Cheltenham to watch Arpege D’Alene run in the novice chase.
At the end of a day where fun was had and Arpege ran really nicely, the three of us got in the car in high spirits ready for the journey home. In all truth it started well, Cheltenham was a breeze and the Lexus was purring along nicely until the Almondsbury interchange where things went south. Mr Barber declared that the roads were suffering from ‘Fridayitus’ and we should continue down the motorway instead of tackling Bristol.
Wise idea I thought, so the M5 it was
Fifty painfully slow minutes later we came to the conclusion that sat at a standstill really wasn’t getting us home, but happily I didn’t need to worry as Mr Barber assured me he knew the savviest of short cuts through Nailsea into North Somerset via every farm track, sorry B road in the county. As I mentioned before, questioning Mr Barber wasn’t something I was ever going to do, but I couldn’t help but feel like our route wasn’t the most direct, however his most reassuring line was that 50 short years ago Mr Barber used to deliver apples to Nailsea and knew the route off by heart. The thought that the roads may have changed a little in those 50 years kept popping into my mind, but with tongue firmly bitten I carried on and learnt plenty about the local countryside along the way.
Looking back I can’t help but feel that was my punishment for thoroughly beating him in a tense game of cattle counting on the way up to Cheltenham. For those of you wondering, Mr Barber (crowned farmer of the year twice) informed me that at this time of year not many cows are turned out so he wanted to see how many he could spot, to my delight the final tally was four nil to me, a result I’ve tried to remind him of as many times as I can since.
A truly funny day and a birthday I hope Mrs Barber will always associate with fond memories of her first KFC and lots of laughs.
Doncaster delights only topped by Frodon foray
With some excellent chances at Doncaster and Cheltenham on Saturday, I headed to the home of jump racing optimistic of a good day but what followed exceeded my expectations.
Three winners at Doncaster provided an amazing day for Andrew, Gemma and Scott who travelled with the horses to witness Cliffs Of Dover record his sixth win of his campaign in frenetic style. Present Man won his first Graded race on his first attempt under that magic man Mr Sherwood again and the late Mr Roach smiled from above as All Set To Go found the winning trail once again.
For me though, the highlight of this week was the amazing little Frodon winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup under our man Sam Twiston-Davies. He nearly started favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup and, after one race-stopping error, I wasn’t bright enough to understand why he went off a drifting 14-1 on Saturday. However, Sam rode him with the confidence and belief that makes him such a brilliant jockey and the pair battled so well to see his rivals off up the hill.
Days like Saturday are what we all work so hard for back at home and to have a four timer was very special. Twenty four hours on from getting back from Cheltenham I’m now happy to report I’ve dried off!
Christmas jumpers at the ready for Ditcheat and Ascot
Today (Sunday) meant I’ve been required to brush the dust off my Christmas jumper to attended Ian and Wendy Fogg’s Christmas drinks and that generally means the big day is drawing near. The only good bit of news about the impending arrival of Christmas is that before that comes Long Walk Hurdle day at Ascot, a day I can’t wait for.
Aside from a valuable handicap hurdle on the card, the presence of the equally interesting Long Walk means I’m really looking forward to seeing how our French champion hurdler Ptit Zig gets on.
Until then we have some nice entries through the week and four new horses from the latest Cheltenham sale to get to know.
The quest for 100 winners for the season is now 11 away and, as you can see once again, all at Ditcheat is great.