I have just arrived at Plumpton races on a sunny Monday after an excellent schooling first lot at home so thought I would skip the course walk with Mr Cobden and put together a few thoughts from the past couple of weeks.
Having thought about it the whole way down here I really think there is only one place I can start this week’s blog and that is of course with Frodon and his heroics at Down Royal over the weekend with his partner in crime Bryony, who was at her brilliant best.
At this stage I have basically run out of words to describe him as he seems to relentlessly keep on raising the bar of what looks possible for him.
I do not mind admitting one bit I was of the opinion it would be hard for him to go over there and beat the Irish horses in their own back yard. Paul however, from the middle of July, has had that plan in place for him and there was no chance he was going to be caught out through a lack of fitness.
As per usual with the deadly duo of Frodon and B, they found a fantastic rhythm, attacking each and every fence, an ability which makes life incredibly difficult for his competitors to make ground on him as he does not tend to make the errors which enable his rivals the chance to pressure him.
Bryony saved just enough for when she needed it most and then the two of them were not for passing up the run in to record a victory we will all remember for some time to come.
I really do think it was yet another remarkable training performance from the boss to get Frodon in the condition he needed to be in to beat his rivals on the day. I was once again thrilled to bits for Mr Vogt, Frodon’s owners and his family who love him so dearly.
Sadly, as so often happens with racing, the enormous high felt after Frodon was replaced with a feeling of great disappointment after Cyrname struggled in the Charlie Hall with Harry rightly pulling him up in the straight.
Early on in the race it looked as though he had his mojo back as he travelled enthusiastically and jumped well but, as soon as Harry needed more from him, he cannot seem to get enough air into his lungs to fuel his engine.
It really is such a shame as he is a fantastic horse. I have no doubt Paul, Johnny de la Hey and his family will think about what the right thing is to do next with him. One thing I can assure you though is that whatever that decision is it will be for the very best for Cyrname.
Now we have ‘enjoyed’ plenty of rain it has been so exciting getting the novice hurdlers on the track and, over the course of the last seven days, we have unleashed some extremely exciting novices in the shape of Gelino Bello, Mr Glass, Stage Star and Kandoo Kid all creating excellent impressions on hurdling debut.
I have no doubt for Paul that this is particularly exciting as there has already been years of work put into these horses and they are really starting to pay dividend. Hopefully over the coming weeks there are a good few more nice ones to come.
I was taken in particular with Gelino Bello who, for Mr and Mrs Cotton, put in a beautiful display of jumping at Aintree last Sunday to win in effortless fashion in what appeared a deep looking race.
It is such a nice surprise when horses which don’t show you huge amounts at home go to the track and perform like he did as you just know there is more to come from him. He is just one of a number of exciting horses and I am excited to see him develop this year.
Now Cobby and I are back on the road again regularly, I have started to find what I call my winter rhythm which generally comprises of a lot or two at home on the gallops before heading off to the races.
While I would be lying if I said I do not miss watching the horses all morning at home it is great to be back racing almost every day and, with 49 winners on the board, the yard is in great form as things are getting more serious.
At Cheltenham last weekend the Stewart family led by Judy held a memorial for Andy who, very sadly for all of us at Ditcheat and most of all Paul, died in September.
Of course, Andy was a fantastic owner over many years for Paul and together they enjoyed some truly memorable days on the track, most famously with Big Buck’s who enjoyed the most incredible staying hurdling career.
Those of us that were lucky enough to know Andy though, will not remember him for those days, we will remember him for his generosity and kindness towards everyone he met and how he could not do enough for charities and people that were most in need.
For 20 years it is no exaggeration to say Paul and Andy spoke everyday whatever it may have been about from horses to Barbados to who he was having lunch with that day or what government was leading the country.
Andy was a special, special man.
I will personally never forget the chances he gave me in the saddle on Salubrious, Saphir Du Rheu and many others. It was always special riding in his red, black and white colours and those few words he said to every jockey before every single race.
“Remember most important, safe and sound”
That probably summed Andy up perfectly. As the horses walked around the paddock for his memorial race at Cheltenham a huge rainbow appeared over the track. I have little doubt Andy will have been up there somewhere telling anyone who would listen he’d organised that with Cheltenham, a track he loved so dearly.
Another big week lies ahead for us now with the Haldon Gold cup on Tuesday at Exeter, a race I love, while there is plenty of good racing for the rest of the week. Things are now very much full steam ahead.
I will just finish on one note before I head off to saddle for the first and that is to say I was delighted for Gary Moore and his family’s success this weekend.
Gary has become a good friend of mine over the last few years, mainly down to the fact he regularly takes the piss out of me at the races. I have felt for his family this week in particular poor Josh who in his career has endured some rotten luck and spent all last week in hospital awaiting an operation.
Having spoken to Gary on Saturday he tells me he is now relieved to be home and hopefully on the road to recovery.
It is a funny game this sport of ours and I was happy to see Gary and Jamie enjoy success on Saturday, although in typical Gary fashion he was more annoyed about the novice hurdler that got beat more than he was happy about the winners.
Don’t worry Gary you were beaten by an alright one, I smiled. The second word was off in his reply, I’ll let you decide what his first word was.
Chat again soon. Go well