Considering the amount he dominates this blog, it wouldn’t be right I don’t start this week’s musings discussing Dodging Bullets.

As seasonal reappearance’s go I thought his run at Exeter in the Haldon Gold Cup was an excellent one. He gave loads of weight away to the winner and the runner-up and, having jumped brilliantly throughout, it was no surprise to see him have a blow from three out to the line.
Nick was thrilled with him and expressed the feeling that two and a half miles is now something he desperately needs. It was good news all round then and happily my mate Dodge has come out of the race really well so we will look forward to a season over a trip for him.

Fabulous Frodon heading to Cheltenham

Elsewhere, this week has been a productive one again for Team Nicholls with some excellent performances in both victory and defeat. For me Frodon was the star of the weekend, winning his third novice chase of the season with his ears pricked and will head merrily on his way to the Betvictor Gold Cup on Saturday at Cheltenham. Frodon came to us last year and very quickly became a favourite around the yard with his hilarious temperament and friendly nature. Holley Evans, who rides him everyday does a fabulous job with him and frequently has her arms stretched so deserves a lot of credit for riding him so well and keeping him under control in his training! Paul’s plan with Frodon has been meticulous and I can envisage him running a huge race come Saturday.

As I’ve said a million times before, young horses taking centre stage is always something I love, so seeing Capitaine romping home was really cool if completely uninformative. We obviously learnt nothing about his level of ability as he sauntered round Wincanton but it was good for him to get off the mark and start his hurdling career.

He wasn’t the only novice hurdler who did well this week however as Bistouri D’Honore put in an excellent display of jumping to win at Exeter whilst Winning Try ran with great credit in Aintree finishing third in his novice hurdle.

In the absence of our main-man Sam Twiston-Davies our team of understudies have once again all done their bit to ride winners and keep the show on the road. While Nick went to Paris for a hugely profitable working weekend Stan, Sean and Jack rode domestically but it was the birthday boy Harry Cobden who took the starring role on Saturday riding three winners at Wincanton.

While all of us at Ditcheat have missed Sam being part of all our recent success, it’s given all of our other jockeys a great platform on which to show off their talents and in my opinion not one of them has let us down, so well done men. Top work everyone.

Superbe voyage pour Dolos est magnifique

My working week has very much been a tale of two halves, the first being an excellent week mainly spent at home watching the horses training and spending hours on the gallops in the afternoon ensuring the surfaces stay in perfect condition for the 128 horses that depend on them every day.

However, I have hardly spent a moment in Ditcheat over the weekend, travelling to Aintree on Saturday to help with our team on Merseyside and Auteuil on Sunday to watch Dolos run a fantastic race to finish third in the three-year-old Grade One hurdle and in the process picking up more than he would have for finishing second in the Triumph Hurdle in March.

There are certain advantages to being an assistant trainer and on this weekend my mode of transport home from France was considerably quicker than most and without question hours and hours faster than the travelling team with the horses cared for superbly by Andrew and Scott.

With horses running in France and Ireland this weekend alongside the three domestic meetings it was another weekend that highlighted just how hard our travelling teams work. Many hours through the night and early mornings make going to exciting places with the horses anything but glamorous however everyone works so hard and does a fantastic job.

Freddy’s plight dominates our thoughts

Writing my blog this evening I’m not really thinking of the great success we have enjoyed this week, nor the tragic loss of one of the best and most graceful racehorses I have ever laid eyes in Vautour.

I am thinking, and have been all week, of a person I have never met, never spoken to or been in any kind of contact at all, the person I am thinking of is of course Freddy Tylicki, who has suffered paralysis of the lower half of his body in a horror fall at Kempton on Monday. We are all aware of the risks that jockeys take on a daily basis under both codes, the last thing I say to every single jockey I leg up is “good luck, safe trip” knowing only too well that a split-second accident can not only ruin a career but change the course of a life. Reading all of the heartfelt and touching comments the racing world have said towards Freddy gives all of us that didn’t know him an idea of the calibre of man people were dealing with, he is clearly a top class person.

I’ve often talked about my pride at being involved in Paul’s yard, but this weekend I’m particularly proud of working in racing. The way one and all have gathered and rallied around to raise money and offer support when required is very humbling. This sport can lift you to heights like no other but also has the capacity to take you to lows that I couldn’t even imagine. No doubt the darkest of dark days will follow for Freddy and his fight will be long and tough, but with his family, friends and the wider racing world there to support him one can only hope he will never feel alone in his fight.