We had a tree down in he drive way on Christmas Eve, it was a manic morning trying to get the horses out and feed supplies in! I had planned to take Mr Big out with the Old Berks for the jockeys meet so I had a last minute panic to get a lift as I couldn’t get the horse box down the drive. After making our way through all the floods I arrived for the meet just in time. The ground was very water logged, which made the hedges very big. With a field of over 100 there were loose horses everywhere but Mr Big was on a going day and jumped very well, he got through the ground like and old pro, I think we were one of the 20% of the hedge jumping field that didn’t take a tumble!
On Christmas Day we rode out the horses that were due to run in the coming days, even the secretary came in for first lot. I won a lovely bottle od Vintage Dom Perignon courtesy of my bet with Simon Beccle and Nicky Henderson winning the trainers championship so we opened that.
Boxing Day started fairly badly as our three box wouldn’t start at 5am in the morning to go to Market Rasen, then the two box that went in its place also broke down. With a lot of reorganising we managed to get two horses to Market Rasen and one to Wincanton in time.
Airmens Friend ran his race but he hated the ground and finished third. Shockingtimes didn’t jump a fence but managed to finish second. He came back very sore in his back the next day. While at Wincanton Lord of House jumped really well and won his first h’cap chase quite nicely.
On Friday we went to Kempton where Seventh Sky ran tamely, we have since done a wind operation on him as he is not getting home.
On Saturday we worked horses on the grass, Verano, Latelo and the Trans Island gelding all worked really well. We had no runners so I lit the fire and watched the racing. On Sunday we ran Elmore Back at Doncaster, he ran a blinder to finish second to Oscar Hoof a good horse of Nicky Hendersons. We should be able to place him to win his next race.
On Monday I rode two lots out and got soaked to the bone, after I had dried off I went racing to Haydock with Tony Stapleton. I stupidly ran Sands Cove over 2m 4f on heavy ground, he did not get home. His poor run was totally down to trainer error.
We run Lord of House today as I rode him out yesterday and he was extremely fresh and he will love the ground. If he gets beaten today then I have run him to soon.
And then tomorrow will be 2014! Happy New Year.
We schooled 5 horses last Thursday, Verano and Almost Gemini are very quick over their hurdles.
I went to Bill Rees memorial service on Thursday, it was a lovely service and I saw a lot of my old weighing room colleagues. We ran Who Owns Me that day at Towcester. Harry Bannister rode him to take some weight off, unfortunately they fell at the 8th fence which was just one of those things, but they were both none the worse the next day for their fall. We will look for another race fairly shortly.
On Friday 2nd Lot went round the home gallop on the grass, all the horses thoroughly enjoyed this – all though I am not sure my staff enjoyed getting their arms pulled out! I also had a lot of visitors that morning, Tony Holt and Ian McNabb came to see their horse Verano on the gallops, Noel Chance popped round (to use the fax machine!) and Diana Henderson came round to wish me a Merry Christmas.
On Saturday we had Noel Fehily, Mark Grant and James Davies in to ride work 1st lot. Seventh Sky, Lord of House and Latelo worked extremely well on the grass up back of the hill. When Noel Fehily says that a horse is an aeroplane a trainer sits up and takes note, so I am looking for a nice bumper for Latelo shortly. After the horses worked I went shooting in the woods behind my house, it rained all morning and I got absolutely soaked. After a hot bath I carried on the Christmas festivities by attending two different drinks parties!
I had a lovely evening last night at Olympia in Nigel and Ros Kempners box, it was a very entertaining evening and always one of the highlights of this time of year for me.
This morning we had several owners in and have been hit with nothing short of Hurricane Katrina all day! I declared Airmens Friend and Shockingtimes at Market Rasen on Boxing day, they would not want the ground any softer so I will be keeping an eye on the amount of rain they have over the next couple of days. Lord Of House is declared at Wincanton, he will enjoy the mud so I hope it is on.
I managed to run out of oil for the heating in my house and the aga on Friday night so I spent most of the weekend in the hot tub trying to keep warm!
On Saturday morning Shockingtimes and Elmore Back worked very well on the bank, they are exactly where I want them. I will be looking to run them both over the next two weeks. On Saturday night I went to James and Clare Lucks Christmas drinks in the village. It was very busy and great fun, everybody was really getting in to the Christmas spirit!
On Sunday Michael and Judy Maynard came down for lunch at the Plough in Eastbury, it was nice to catch up with them both over some good food. I had sent Airmen’s Friends to Southwell only to then take him out as the ground became to soft. It was a shame a it looked a good race for him and he is ready for a run. I will look for something else as soon as possible.
On Monday the oil was delivered with meant normality could resume at Neardown. We have had a lot of rain here now and the ground is quite soft, I will be getting the horses out on the grass as much as I can.
The horses all did one canter up the bank on Monday then did two canters up on Tuesday. Plum Stone is in great form, cantering away nicely. She has been re clipped and has a great shine to her coat. All the horses look really well in their coats and are feeling very well. Area Access now has a h’cap mark so he will be upped in work after an easy week and we will crack on now to try and win a race.
Almost Gemini and Verano worked together this morning up back of the hill gallop, they did a good bit impressing their jockeys. They are two very nice horses. Dragon City is going nicely and looks as though he will be a nice 3yo, he has really filled out since he arrived. Sureness and Portmoarch who are the other two new arrivals have had a quiet time since they have arrived but I am now starting to pick up their work and they are going well. Seventh Sky who worked with Attimo this morning is working exceptionally well and is looking fitter every day. I didn’t give Low Gales to much of easy time after his last run as he can be quite a stuffy horse, he worked again today and seems to be tightening up for it.
On Tuesday I wrote 150 Christmas cards which I do every year, it is not something I enjoy doing! If you don’t get one I am sorry but there are 150 people that did!
We had David Crosse, Mark Grant and Peterjon Carberry in to work the horses on Wednesday. It was so heavy with fog that I learnt nothing about the horses as I could only hear their hooves.
On Thursday morning Bill Brindle came down to watch the schooling. We had a good morning schooling the babies. Almost Gemini and Verano schooled very well, they are both really getting the hang of it. Dragon City had his first pop over the baby hurdles and did this really nicely. From then onwards the day went to pot, our horsebox wouldn’t start (As someone didn’t turn it off properly last time!) after 3 attempts with the breakdown people it still wouldn’t start, we had to borrow a box from LRT but still managed to get there in good time.
Always Smiling was out of her depth in a very good mares novice chase at Huntingdon. She will hopefully get a h’cap mark now. She jumped well. Low Gales ran at Taunton and was far to free early on, he therefore did not finish his race. Sands Cove ran his race but he really needs 2m 4f on a flat track or 2m on a stiff track.
On Friday the 13th I ran Lord of House at Bangor, as I am very superstitious I would rather stay in bed today! We put check pieces on him for the first time, as it turned out they were a mistake as he ran to keen and did not enjoy himself.
We have two runners over the weekend. Who Owns Me at Lingfield tomorrow and Airmen’s Friend at Southwell on Sunday.
On Thursday we schooled 8 horses and they all jumped well. We also loose schooled 2 of the 3yos Dragon City and Portmonarch, even in the wind they were super. Dragon City has a very natural jump and has filled out and grown since we have had him, I like him a lot. He is still for sale and now he has been clipped and come into himself I will get a picture up on the website shortly.
Later on Thursday we ran two horses at Market Rasen, Duke of Monmouth and Stoney Silence and Shockingtimes at Wincanton. Duke of Monmouth ran for 3 fences and pulled himself up, I have no idea why as I thought he might win. He has come out of the race well with no obvious signs pointing towards his poor performance. Stoney Silence had the benefit of the doubt on his first run but not on his second, he will be going down the road now as he doesn’t seem to be suited to the racing game.
I went to Wincanton to watch shockingtimes, he would have won by half a minute but for falling at the fourth last. It was very frustrating as he should have won his last two. But he is unscathed so I will find another race for him shortly.
On Friday we went to Sandown with Fine Parchment. Harry bannister rode him, as usual he jumped superbly. Harry gave him a very good ride and he won sticking his head out. There is a nice race for him back at Sandown on January 4th, as he has won his last two their it is probably the right place to go!
We went to Sandown on Saturday for two runners, Area Access had a run round to get a h’cap mark and Seventh Sky ran well up until the 2nd last where he blew up, we knew he would need it and he will come on for the run.
Airmens Friend and Low Gales did a nice piece of work up the bank on Saturday, they we followed by Verano who is a lovely young horse from Germany, now under new ownership of the Hennessy Five Syndicate. I have stepped up his work and he will do his first proper bits this coming week.
Elmore Back has come out of his race well, enjoying his work at home.
The store horses both unnamed have also been doing some canters upsides over the last few mornings, I have been getting them used to being next to other horses and they are both learning quickly.
I had a good dinner party on Saturday night and cooked a very good game and Guinness pie, which went down very well. I then loose schooled Mr Big on Sunday morning before driving to Highworth with him for a meet with the Berks and Bucks drag hounds. Rodney Powell was the field master and Mark Todd, Lucinda Green and I then made up the leading trio. Mr big jumped beautifully, he has restored my confidence in him and my bottle is intact this time!