With the New Year a few weeks old I thought I would bring you up to speed with the latest goings on in Ditcheat and events with the team.

It’s a well known fact in the National Hunt racing community that, for the first couple of weeks in January, Paul is away on his annual holiday to Barbados and this year is no different.

I hear he is having a great time and we talk every evening and every mid afternoon, chatting about everything that is happening, how the horses are doing and what we are all up too.

You also always know when he’s just woken up as we are about to get on with third lot and it is early in Barbados when Clifford, David and I get an “all ok?” message.
A January holiday in Barbados must be in vogue as word has reached me that the champion trainer of the Emerald Isle is taking a similar vacation just now as well. Whilst I’m not sure they have quite had time to compare tans, it is probably an excellent demonstration that under such intense pressure the like of which the two of them find themselves under, a break is essential.

Paul is back this week and we are all looking forward to his return. I’m sure there will be a few quips about ‘sun tan Paul’ and then it will be back down to business.

I think it is always a good demonstration to all of our team to recognise how good they all are at their respective jobs as, while Paul is away, the show is very much kept on the road with no change to the system whatsoever.

As I discussed in my last blog, all of our horses have had their flu jabs now and they came through their couple of quiet weeks really nicely. It is always great fun when we start them back up doing a little more work as for one of the only weeks of the year, we have a few riders joining the tumblers club.

Paul’s horses thrive on their routine so when they have a couple of weeks of very quiet time it does not take them long to become exceedingly fresh.

This year is no different with a particularly funny moment arising from Miranda and her regular pilot Charlotte or Ginge as we like to know her.

Both were absolutely fine but we did have a giggle at Miranda’s playful moment and Ginge’s muddy backside!

Last week was one of my favourite weeks of the season. Obviously, during the majority of the winter, I’m on the roads with Cobby travelling to one racecourse or another, but I did not have any racing last week apart from at the weekend and, with gorgeous weather, work was an absolute joy.

We had a few days of the most perfect weather with cold, crisp mornings and bright sunshine. It is really lovely to spend a week at the yard with everyone working and riding out or getting horses jumping. They are the type of weeks I love.

When there is lots of racing, there is pressure everyday for the horses and us as Paul’s team to always be performing at a high level. Inevitably your days and how much fun you are having rather hinges on the luck you are having on the track.

At home though with a week of not much racing, it is all about the process and I absolutely cannot get enough of that. Sure there is pressure because in a team like Pauls you always want to be performing to a high level, but it is pressure of a different kind.

You can plan your week in great detail, big schooling sessions, getting horses going after their winter break, looking around the yards a little more, I love it. So the last few weeks have been great.

In all honesty, thank goodness for the horses because if my form and disposition depended on England’s fortune in the Ashes I’d hardly be able to get out of bed.

The few runners that we have had recently have been good with Threeunderthrufive the highlight, winning the ninth race of his career, this time at Warwick in the Grade 2 novice chase. He is a high-class racehorse who jumps effectively and gets on quite brilliantly with Adrian his jock.

Threeunderthrufive is looked after everyday by our assistant head girl Michelle Marsh, who has cared for him for the majority of his career with us and, I now have no doubt, loves him a lot more than her fiancé and future assistant trainer Mr Charlie Davies.

The other racing highlight was that of Cap Du Mathan who, after just south of two years off the track, roared back to action with a front-running win at Taunton under a lovely ride from Harry. Although I say a lovely ride, he got off Cap turned to me with a giant grin on his face and said “I’m glad he won mate he completely ran off with me for two miles!” typically humble from Harry who has been quite brilliant recently in the saddle.

I am not just saying this as he is away and I want to butter him up before he is back, but I genuinely believe a horse like Cap is why Paul is such a brilliant trainer. If you were given a pound for every problem Cap Du Mathan has had in the past two years out of action you would be an extremely rich man, but Paul has the patience to wait until the horse can do it again and the skill in getting him back to his best.

He has obviously been massively helped by his team, from Clifford, who has put in loads of work with him, to Natalie Parker who has ridden him and helped nurse him back to fitness. He was a real feel good winner for the yard and I would suggest a great advert for the skill of the guys that worked with him everyday. Well done team.

With the horses all now fit, fresh and raring to go we will start to get really busy again over the next few weeks with lots of big targets coming up for horses. That is an exciting thought.

That is just about all I have time for this week but I’ll be in touch again at some stage soon.

Take care and go well.