No pause for breath from one season to the next these days, and after the excitement of Sandown it was a change of code two days later and Storming Harry making his debut at Windsor. A son of Miss Pebbles who we trained back in the day, and a very exciting day for Nigel & Jenny Thick who bred SH. A lovely introduction for him, he behaved perfectly and ran a nice race to be fourth. Another making a debut - this time over hurdles was Spurned Girl, another homebred - this time by the Hitchman family. SG had had some runs on the flat, and I think it fair to say that she had not covered herself in glory! She came with a few 'issues' and all credit to Malcolm who has quietly put up with her tantrums, and persuaded her that civilised behaviour is best! SG did not put a foot out of place at the track, and ran a decent race, jumping really well and seeming to enjoy the experience. She will come on for the run.
Its supposed to be a quieter time of year for us, but although the horses are mostly on holiday we still have 18 in and there seems to be a milllion jobs to do as well! Steam cleaning finished for another year - more successful this year with a machine from Fosseway Hire as opposed to the disaster that was HSS last year!
Just the wooden boxes at Labrador to oil and 'housekeeping' done. Happily Hill Farm only needs the steamer!
The team all trying to get their holidays in which involves a lot of juggling with plenty still to ride, on top of which Holly 2 (Spivey) has been called for jury service for the last two weeks. It appears that like degree courses, trials could cost a lot less if they just got on with it and had less breaks!
As usual at this time of year its either all or nothing on the runners front. Paige and I made the three and a half hour trip to Fontwell with Autumm Spirit and our new addition Tommy, who was making his maiden voyage. Tommy has stepped into Toby's shoes as chief travelling companion, and did not put a tiny hoof out of line. A nervous day for the Lordy Partnership as Fizz has had a long break with several 'issues' to contend wit - Brian Wilson looking particularly green before the race. She ran well for a long way, and jumped for fun - just got a bit tiredup the straight - the race will bring her on.
Robin, Kelly, and Toby made the considerably shorter trip to Worcester where Queen of the Stage and Playing with Fire both ran. Wayne Kavanagh on PWF, probably made too much use of her, and did not really see the trip out. Joe Palmowski on QOTS, who ran a super race first time over hurdles to finish fourth.
Robin and I then had a couple of days in Devon which was lovely, and great weather, sadly not long enough!
Back to the fray with three greys at Southwell. Playing with Fire staying on and looking as if needing further, having not got home previously! Mrs Merry has decided to retire her from racing now, and she will resume her stud career. A change of tactics for The Absent Mare,and and 'up front' clearly suiting her. she ran easily her best race to date, jumped for fun, and finished a good third. Pleased with her.
Bally Lagan, favourite after his Worcester win was travelling like the winner at the last down the back, when he was on his nose for a stride! Joe did well to keep the partnership together, and they finished fourth. Three miles in a furiously run race proabably not ideal for BL, but still not out of the first four over fences is not a shabby effort!
Not long now before everyone in from their summer hols. The flies are starting to be a problem so they will be glad to get into the cool of the stables during the day.
Well we have come to the end of another season, and what away to finish! The first night racing of the season for us on Friday night at Chepstow, Entertain Me up 15 lbs for her win at the previous meeting, and running what was probably a career best, to finish second only beaten a neck. A brave run from her, sadly Mrs Merry not there to see her but cheering from afar! Dancing Daffodil again disappointing - blood vessel issues for her and a holiday beckoning - she will be be back!
Home at eleven o'clock and then on the road again by ten on Saturday, Holly and I off to Sandown with the boys - Restless Harry and Kitegen for the final day of jumping this season. The Bet365 Gold Cup for Harry - a top quality race and one that was run at breakneck speed - Harry a bit outpaced on the first circuit and made a couple of small errors, which did not help our blood pressure, but Charlie doing sterling work and had him back where he wanted him as they went out for the second circuit. As they came to the pond fence Harry started to make ground and two out he was right there. The rest of the race was a bit of a blur, only clearer after watching the replay a few times, Harry fought SO hard and ran the race of his life to be fourth only beaten three and half lengths. None of us had any voice left afterwards, and it is difficult to put into words how proud we are of him.
Where to start this weeks ramblings?? Priority I think must be given to our landlord Nic Allen who completed the London Marathon on Sunday in a very respectable time. To do the race at all leaves me in awe (knees would definitely not permit!) but to do it having had a week in bed with a stomach infection is something else. So huge congratulation to Nic who has been raising money for Cancer Research.
Personally feeling as if I have run a marathon or two this morning, but I think its just a case of 'Lorry Lag'. Robin and I set off in 'Precious' (big lorry) on Friday night and caught the 2.45am ferry to Rosslare from Pembroke - nice! Then drove to Cork to watch Harriet compete on Saturday and Sunday, then back to pick up three new horses in Wexford on Sunday evening. All going well until we pulled into Sean Doyle's yard, dropped the ramp, walked back around to the front of the lorry to see water pouring out of a pipe in the engine - not nice! Finding a mechanic in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday evening was a complete non starter, but the lads at the yard came up trumps, and John (not an official mechanic, but soon turned into one!) and Mr Doyle senior saved the day by fixing offending water pipe, whilst we all retreated to the pub! An extra night in the lorry, and then a nervous run to the ferry early yesterday morning with everything crossed that the mending would hold up at least enough to get us back over the water followed. All was well though and the mend held up with no problems even with the four hour drive back from Pembroke. Very glad to see the end of our drive, and very glad to get into my own bed last night!
A few ‘tecky hitches’ which explains a news blackout from Alne Park for the last few weeks. Apologies for that but up and running again now! Still on night turnout to avoid the flies, but at last they seem to be abating a bit and we hope to get back to a normal routine next week. The team will be glad to have another hour in bed in the mornings, especially as the days have already started to draw in! Horrors – but at least racing proper is getting nearer! We are very excited about he coming season with some lovely new faces looking over doors, and the team from last year all looking well, after a good summer of nice weather and plenty of grass. The horses that are in have been running really well, frustratingly without getting their noses in front! The Absent Mare has been second twice and third in her last three runs – all good efforts, and she has now really got the hang of the fences – she and Jo seem to have struck up a good partnership. She so deserves to get her head in front – it must come soon! Kitegen was an excellent third at Market Rasen only beaten a couple of lengths, Autumm Spirit has run much better but still does not look particularly in love with the job, Entertain Me pulled up lame but happily is on the mend now and having a short break. Spurned Girl who has come a very long way in a short time and improved beyond all recognition, is also having a short holiday to let it all sink in for a few weeks. Minnie Milan was a good third at Worcester and then sadly went to the sales – and even more sadly won a couple of days later! Annoying to miss the winner, but we wish the new connections all the best with her, and will follow her progress with interest. Lots of visitors over the last few weeks and a welcome to some new faces. Ann Johnson has taken a share in Garrahalish – lucky lady! Nice to welcome John Powell from EPDS Racing here with his business partner Tracey. They liked what they saw, and have bought the remaining shares in Dontminddboys, who will now run in the EPDS colours. Great to have them as part of the team, now just a couple of shares left in this exciting horse – so do call if you would like to get involved. A blast from the past here last week in the shape of Dave Hearn, who used to have a share in Nautic, delighted to have him involved again, as he has bought a share in Dontminddboys. Great to have seen so many other owners here – we are very open house here as regards visits, and it’s always nice to see faces, old and new. Yard visits from clubs are also very easy to organise so if you would like a ‘morning on the gallops’ just get in touch.