Monday, 20 January 2014 00:00


Great to start another entry here with a winner. The New Year has brought so much rain that runners have been a bit thin on the ground, and coupled with a few coughs and colds, has seen only a few runners in the first couple of weeks of the year.

A couple of pulled ups from Graylyn Amber (hated the very soft ground) and Garrahalish (dirty scope) did nor cheer us up much, but Cornish Ice running his usual solid race at Exeter on Tuesday to finish fourth. If ever a horse deserved to win it's him (along with Tom O'Tara) he has not been out of the first four this season, but just can't get his head in front. Richard Whitehead absent for the first time ever due to ill health.

Newbury on Wednesday, and sadly Richard still under the weather - Restless Harry wondering where the boss was. Happily, Harry then providing the perfect tonic. We have had a very frustrating time with the very talented RH lately, his form last year was something to forget, apart from a win at Newbury, and two URs this time, had done nothing to help our nerves. The first was not down to our horse or rider, they were mugged by a faller and Charlie had no chance of staying on - Harry performed a minor miracle to stay on his feet!

At Cheltenham on New Year's day he was travelling as well as anything in conditions (mud/wet/more mud) he loves, when he picked up too early at the ditch landed on top of it and fired Charlie into space. Bad language moment! So, with everyone condemning him, we set off to Newbury knowing we still have a star but needing things to go to plan for once. Harry has certainly become less 'restless' over the years and is easier to deal with these days, but still has Toby pony with him, and his own set of rules for the pre-race stuff. Toby Wheeler is acting as 'super-sub' and has been looking after RH whilst Holly is still away mending her broken leg, and gets on well with him, Holly also on hand to make sure we were doing it right!

The race went pretty much to plan, although there was a worrying moment when he looked to be not travelling that well down the back. However, a shake of the reins from Charlie, and Harry was soon right there in third as they went to the cross fence which he pinged. As they turned for home, he looked sure to win as long as he jumped. A heart stopping moment at the fourth last when Richard Johnson cannoned into the side of Harry (surely not another UR??) happily all well and Harry and Charlie forged clear, flew the last three fences and won by 17 lengths. We were ecstatic, relieved, emotional and ecstatic again all at the same time! Richard's niece Clare and nephew Paul on hand to receive the Harwell trophy, and smiles all round.

A quick pause for a glass of fizz in the Royal box, and then on to Dans Quest having his second run, in the bumper, Dan is a huge horse, and very much a baby still, and this season is all about experience for him. He did not particularly like the ground, but ran a really nice race to finish seventh only beaten 19 lengths by the winner. Delighted with him, and he will probably have one more run this time on some better ground, and will be a lovely horse in time. Owner Mark James, also on the sick list and watching from afar.

Robin then on to Kempton for Graylyn Ruby who had gone with Harriet and Holly. We thought Ruby looked a bit tubby, having missed a lot of work over Christmas, but he ran an absolute blinder under William Carson to finish second, a really good result - annoying to come up against a well handicapped horse! Joe and Toby have done a great job with Ruby as he is a pretty naughty boy at home and has them sitting tight most days!

A long day but a very good one, and the journey home seemed very short even though is was tipping with rain (again) all the way back.

Saturday saw us off to Ascot with the lovely Thomas Crapper - reservations about the ground, but limited options for him at present so we decided to take our chance.  The race was not run to suit us at all, as they crawled for the first mile, and then sprinted. TC needs a true run race and really ran well to finish fourth. He was staying on, but a combination of lack of pace and heavy ground probably catching him out. It was a grade 2 race and good prize money for fourth, and I think it would be fair to say that no one thought, at the beginning of the season, that we would be out there placed in such company. Plenty of Crappers on hand to support him.

Just a shame at Ascot that the 'bowler hat brigade' are quite so officious, they are  in danger of spoiling a good day out with their attitude to those of us that are providing them with a job! A few lessons in customer care would not go amiss!

Lovely to have Valrene back in the yard, she picked up an injury after her last run so has been late coming back, but she looks great and really looking forward to getting her back to the track.

Another exciting new horse has arrived at the yard in the form of Point of Attack, a smart gelding by Beneficial, and out of a Good Thyne mare. He has been placed in two points in Ireland. He is looking for an owner or owners, and is a really lovely type. Please do give a call if you would like some more details.

A rare Sunday at home - with an outing to celebrate Paiges' 18th birthday in the afternoon, and a catch up with Richard and Faye in the evening to celebrate Harry's excellent win.

Its so wet here that we have even stopped turning out for a few days - we were murdering the ground, and I don't think the horses were enjoying it all that much - a quick wallow, and buck and they were then ready to come in! The lads and girls mightily relieved, especially with the likes of Valrene and The Absent Mare who are terrible mudlarks. Personally can't quite see the attraction for lying in cold wet mud, but each to their own!!

A white frost this morning and icy - hope its not a sign of things to come!