Well I’m back on the road this week, this time on the way home from Huntingdon after Dodge’s respectable effort in the Peterborough Chase when finishing fourth.
In all truth he ran about as well as he could these days, the speed he once had he now doesn’t, but he enjoyed himself all the same and, as always, tried his best. He may not be the champion he once was to some, but to us and his group of wonderful owners he will never be anything other than an unforgettable star who gave us some truly special moments.
Latest landmark a great team effort
Elsewhere this week, Team Ditcheat reached another milestone breaking through the one million pounds barrier in prize money for the season – an achievement that is always a brilliant landmark to attain before the turn of the year. We reached the magic million on Saturday down to two quite brilliant performances from our horses As De Mee and, in remarkably brave and gallant fashion, Rocky Creek, who won the London National.
No you read it right, I did say Rocky Creek!
Paul always tells me that if you watch extremely closely then you’ll never stop learning about the horses so when As De Mee was well beaten in the Paddy Pow . . . I mean BetVictor Gold Cup he told me how he was never again going to ask Sean to take his time on As De Mee, preferring instead to see him right up at the front of the race enjoying himself, a lesson that paid off in some style at Aintree where his jumping was immaculate.
Winner, winner chicken dinner
Sean told me afterwards he hadn’t enjoyed a ride so much before and the victory was never really in doubt. It was a great prize to win and another landmark day for our friend Mr Bowen. He has won big handicaps and Graded races this year and yet the most excited I’ve seen him was when looking forward to a plate of chicken nuggets!
While all that drama was playing out on Merseyside, Grandad and I were just about to leave a quiet day at Chepstow when we thought we had better wait and watch how Rocky Creek faired at Sandown . . . what followed wasn’t what I was expecting.
But then how could you suggest Rocky, who has been struggling to get his head in front for some time now, would roll back the years like he did?
Jack top of the league
In hindsight though he was probably a good thing considering it was a Saturday and Jack Sherwood was riding him! Jack has got a better record than Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturdays this season – riding really good winners for us. Don’t ask me why, but there are certain horses that just run for Jack and don’t for other people, he has a style that some horses love and he got a fantastic tune out of Rocky who seemed to relish Saturday’s stamina test.
Happily our string continue in great form as the weeks go by, something I hope continues for some time. Wins from the wonderful front-runner More Bucks – who once again jumped his rivals silly when winning at Sandown on Friday – and Aux Ptits Soins who discovered the winning thread at Kelso on Sunday were highlights of the week for me.
There were other notable displays like Coillte Lass who cantered around Ludlow to start the week superbly, Rainy City who posted a career best at Sandown and another excellent effort this time in defeat from Boa Island. Add an immaculate display of jumping from Antarctica De Thaix when finishing second in her first chase on Friday and you’ll see that we have enjoyed a decent seven days.
Spade work leaves me cold but remains essential
A good week on the racecourse then but at home things have been a little more challenging with that horribly annoying fella Jack Frost getting right in the way. To put it bluntly it’s been bloody cold in Ditcheat this week and with the cold weather comes plenty more work for us, including gritting the roads so they are safe for our horses to venture out on. I have no idea if you’ve done much gritting, but just to clarify being in the back of a pick up truck at half past six in minus six temperatures spreading salt isn’t the most fun you could have. But these jobs have to be done and fair play to the whole team who worked hard and ignored the cold all week to keep the show on the afore-mentioned well-salted road.
Sam chat a trip to treasure
In a week where so many good things have happened you’d be forgiven in thinking that the highlight of my week was a difficult choice, quite the opposite actually. My highlight was a car journey of all things, on the way to Sandown on Friday with Sam who rerouted after Exeter fell victim to the cold. What could possibly be fun about a two-and-a-half-hour car journey I’m sure you’re thinking?
Before you start imagining Scholfield levels of heroism like our Newton trip I have to stop you, there wasn’t a jam we had to overcome or horses to get to the races, it was straightforward, we just chatted. But spending time with a guy as ambitious and full of life as Sam is not only fun it’s insightful and engaging. We all know about his ability in the saddle and recently we have seen his tireless will to get back into the saddle as quickly as the doctors dare let him. For me though the refreshing thing about him is that the friendly, warm and honest guy you see on camera is exactly who you find when one is lucky enough to get to know him.
It’s great to have Sam back in the saddle and even better to have him back part of the team, a team built with all kinds of characters, but Sam is a good egg right to his orange tinged core and we are lucky to have him.
Fans’ favourite Dover back on track
Looking ahead to this weekend where, fingers crossed we will be represented across the country I am looking forward to one horse in particular, a horse who goes by the name of Cliffs Of Dover. Throughout October Cliffs racked up fans nearly as quickly as he racked up wins and we are all excited to see him strut his stuff again.
Talking of hot three-year-olds I partnered Chameron in his first canter this week alongside Ditcheat Thoroughbreds’ latest purchase Monsieur Co, another French three-year-old, now sadly I can’t see into the future but I’d be surprised if you, the racing public, weren’t enjoying those two in due course.
Until next time . . .