Hello everybody, hope the summer has been good to you all and I very warmly welcome you back to my blog, a place where exclusives are rare and humour is hard to find, but much to my surprise it seems my Mum wasn’t the only one to read about my weeks last year so I’m going to blog again this season.

As I said last year, I have no intention of being a tipping service nor do I want a career in race reporting so I won’t ever talk about all our runners, my intention last season was to bring to light the stars of team Ditcheat, events behind the scenes and to share with you this wonderful ride I am currently enjoying as an assistant trainer.

The loss of true friends difficult to take 

However, this year team Ditcheat, my team of which I am so proud to be part of, will do battle without one of its most loyal supporters. I am of course talking about the late Mr Roach, who finally succumbed to his battle with illness after the bravest and most dignified of fights.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a core of loyal owners, some of which who have been with Paul from the very early days and Mr Roach was an owner and friend to Paul long before the championships and the glory, back when aspirations were far higher than achievement. Trusted friends in any walk of life do not come by the dozen, but even to my young mind Mr Roach to Paul, Mr Barber and many others was exactly that. He was a comrade who lived by his word and forged some brilliant memories over the years on and off the racecourse. I never spent hours or days with Mr Roach, just brief influential encounters where a piece of advice dispensed was always worth listening to, a time where you would always be smart and look him in the eye with a firm hand shake. Simple values that I’m sure were the bed rock of a full and wonderful life for a great man. He will be missed by many people all over this land but at this time when I pause for thought, I make an effort for my manic mind to slow and consider how Mrs Roach and his closest family and friends are feeling right now.

A gap has been left, a void that will not be filled, but memories I hope for those grieving that will last a lifetime.

Swift to forget my birthday

It’s a male Derham trait not to make too much of a birthday but on Wednesday I grew one year older – sadly I’m not sure wiser has followed …

If you listen to the pop hit 22 by Taylor Swift, a woman who has more boyfriends than Sam Twiston-Davies has had winners, then like me you might have been worried that becoming a partying lunatic might have been on the cards.Happily the longing for winners and fast horses is still right at the forefront of my mind. I had a wonderful day involving two delicious cakes which could never be a bad thing. Big thank you to Kate and Amy for them!

Magnificent seven set the tone

These last four days have included a fair amount of hard work for the whole team. With runners at Hereford, Newton Abbot and Chepstow it gave me, and lots of others, a few days to get into the routine of life where going racing will become the norm. Fortunately all these days racing included one vitally important thing – winners.There were seven in total with some performances that promised great things for the season ahead. Personally, in terms of equine stars that stood out, Dolos and El Bandit were at the top of the list, both showing abundant class when winning at Chepstow. I think is worth focusing on El Bandit for a second as he really demonstrates all the positive things about our team. He started his career on a rather low note at Wincanton being tailed off in a bumper in the spring of 2015 and here he is 18 or so months later winning a Grade 2.

Paul is forever reminding me that Rome wasn’t built in a day and with good horses patience in abundance is required. He never had anything but upmost faith in El Bandit and always insisted that once the penny had dropped he would be a serious force to be reckoned with.

Terri Jay and Gary Derwin deserve a huge pat on the back for the work they have put in with El Bandit, as it would be fair to say some days he is anything but straightforward, but their hard work and patience has paid off in great style and he’s a horse very much on the up.

Stepping forward in a crisis

After Sam’s horror fall at Chepstow he sadly wasn’t fit enough to take the rest of his rides on the day, but it gave two guys the chance to shine. Nick and Sean both benefited from Sam’s misfortune, but I really felt for Sam as that is a painful position to be in, in more ways than one. However, he has a long season ahead of him and he made absolutely the right decision for his own health and one day isn’t going to change his already brilliant career. Paul has not only invested in the future with his young horses over the last few years, he has built a team of young riders to be very proud of and to have Nick and Sean riding for us as well as Sam puts us in a strong position with riding plans.

Ditcheat team has the X Factor

The forecast is currently not smiling on us with a dry week looking likely so we won’t be busy over the next few days, in fact until the rain comes we will pretty well stay at home, safe in the knowledge the string is in fantastic order. Sat watching Dermot O’Leary try and add drama to the worse group of singers ever assembled since Sean, Stan and I were in a car together I am overflowing with optimism for the season that lies ahead. I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in and can’t wait to share it all with you. For those of you that are new to the blog you’ll hear a lot about Dodging Bullets and Aux Ptit Soins, my daily rides, and for the regulars you’ll be delighted to hear both are in rude health as their work load increases.

As you can see then, all is well with my little world and in the words of The Carpenters, we’ve only just begun…