With three weeks of lockdown under our belts and another three in front of us I thought it a good time to write another blog to update you all on how we are holding up at Ditcheat.

I think I speak for everyone at the yard really in saying I just feel so fortunate to still be able to come to work everyday and help keep the yard ticking over, everyone I’m sure in every walk of life and job has days that they wake up and think they cannot really be bothered but right now I am very happy to be coming to work. I think one of the few positives that will come out of this horrible situation is we will probably all appreciate the normal days an awful lot more. Popping to the pub for a quick pint after work, a BBQ with your friends or a round of golf all things without doubt I took for granted and when we are out of this I fully intend to appreciate those things a whole lot more.

All of Paul’s staff through this ongoing situation have and continue to be brilliant, adhering to the government guidelines as best they can when at work, carrying out their duties and as soon as that work is done returning home. Clifford last week said it was Team Ditcheat at its best and while I prefer to think of us at our best when we have 20 runners on a busy winter Saturday, I suppose he does have a point. Everyone is pulling together and making sure the horses continue to have the same standard of care they always receive.

Happily, the horses themselves look fantastic. Most of them continue to do a routine two canters up Ditcheat Hill every morning just to keep them calm and not too fresh before they head out to grass the week commencing the 27th. They are all well ‘roughed off’ now wearing no rugs all the time in their stables and eating more hay than you could shake a stick at ensuring they look big and well for when they go out, Paul has always drummed into me if you turn a horse out looking poor they will never do well, work hard to get them in good shape before they head to the fields and they are much more likely to thrive through their ten weeks of turn out.

The horses that are still training on a slightly more intense programme are the large group of un-raced horses we have, mainly four year olds who would not have run this season, but having spent most of this term learning their trade at Will Biddick’s excellent pre-training yard just down the road from Paul. They have now joined what the boss calls ‘big boys school’ and are settling into their lives nicely. This time of the year Paul always puts them through their paces a little more, pushing a few buttons ensuring they are ready for what lies ahead come the autumn. They all experienced a day out at a local point to point track before the lock down for a canter round and I am optimistic this is a smart bunch of horses. In there is a lovely son of Flemensfirth, Kapgarde, Secret Singer, a couple of Sholokov’s, a trio of nice Fame And Glory’s, a Valirann a racey son of Sageburg and a nice Yeats to name but a few and these are the horses I know Paul loves producing. They will contest bumpers next season and the year after go hurdling with the aim that one day they end up smart chasers. That is the dream anyway.

We are due rain today (Friday) which is no bad thing looking ahead to turning the horses out, the fields now chain harrowed, rolled and fertilised will appreciate a drop of rain and with the grass now coming through very well I am optimistic that Paul’s string will have an excellent summer out.

For the horses that are staying in, a team of around 20, they will just tick over until a return date looks more concrete. We have a handful of fair flat performers to have a go with and a slightly bigger handful of jumpers but at the moment the hope in Ditcheat, like it is around the world, is that globally we break the back of this miserable virus and that we can return to some sort of normality and safety.

Take care and of course stay/be and go well.