Sunday, 18 March 2018

MORE snow. It wasn't quite as windy as last time and the drifts weren't as big, but it was still a fair dump. Thank goodness we can turn all the horses out so that they can play in the snow. They still get plenty of exercise even if they can't be ridden. The difficulty is getting them to drink enough water, as they don't drink so much when it is really cold. You then have to be careful not to work them too hard as if they lose fluids sweating, but don't drink enough you can get all sorts of problems with tying up or colic.
I have to say it was rather nice having time off from racing, fire lit and a roast lunch, although I am raring to go for next weekend now.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

FANTASTIC time at Cheltenham with some awesome racing, particularly the Gold Cup which was a the most amazing show of jumping by two top grade horses, Might Bite and Native River, who made the rest of the high class field look positively average. Native River slogged it out bravely and managed to get his head in front, as he coped well with the soft ground, but the class of Might Bite showed as he didn't like the ground but was still incredibly impressive and fought all the way. Had the ground been good it would have been a different story.  The Foxhunters was won by Paul Nichols, which is rather controversial being a professional trainer pot hunting in an amateurs race. He had five entered in the race, but I guess at least he gave his stable lass a ride.  We walked the Oakley point to point course today and although it was soft, heavy in places it was just about raceable but sadly, the emergency vehicles would not have been able to get round, so they had to postpone it. That is both our meetings off for the weekend, so it looks as though we have got a weekend to catch up on jobs that didn't get done while we were at Cheltenham. It is bitterly cold now and has started to snow so they definitely made the right decision.

Native River and Might Bite digging deep


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Fabulous day at Cheltenham today, the sun shone, it was great racing and due to the preview evening we went to at Crockwell Farm, and the great tips from Andrew Tinkler, Charlie Poste and Sam Twiston Davies we got a hat full of winners. I very rarely have a flutter but my luck was in today and I picked three dual forecasts which was very exciting and made the day not just great fun but also nicely profitable. We are also going to Cheltenham tomorrow and I know that my luck won't last, so to stop while the going is good.
It is great living relatively close to Cheltenham as I can ride out before we go. All the horses are bouncing at the moment and just waiting for good ground. Bad weather is predicted for the end of the week but I am hoping that won't be the case and that we can start racing properly as we have got some nice horses entered at Garthorpe and Brafield,  including Popaway, Velvet Steel, Babbiloora
and Glory Hunter who is leaping out of his skin after his last race and may as well go again before the ground dries up.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A great day with Murphy coming second and Beech Hill fourth. Paddy is improving all the time and gave Murphy a great ride. He was 50/1 at one stage so ran well above his mark and beat some good horses. He is now qualified for the Intermediate final at Cheltenham which is very exciting as he stays forever and loves big fences. Beech Hill was a superstar. Hannah got left behind at the start, went the scenic route around the bends and then forgot to kick on after the last (or at all really!)  but still came a close fourth out of eleven runners. It was only Hannah's third start so she can be forgiven, but Beech will definitely win some races when Hannah gets more experienced and will give her a lot of fun. Lucy Burton also won Best Turned Out with her. The horses are all just peaking nicely at the moment. We decided not to run Budge as the ground was so soft, we will save him for next week. So a good day was had by all.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Yesterday I drove to Devon to see a very dear friend of mine, Jaine Drinkwater,  who very sadly has Motor Neurone disease, I had last visited her just over a year ago and wasn't looking forward to seeing how much she had deteriorated, being the nature of the disease. However, I was pleasantly surprised how well she looked. She has now lost the ability to move and struggles to speak but her and her husband Bob, who is now her full time carer were just fabulous fun and were able to laugh at all the huge hurdles they are now faced with. They were also full of praise for the NHS who have been incredible with their support. Her house is kitted out with all the latest eye tracking technology and as well as communicating she can control all the household appliances with her eyes.  It was a truly inspirational visit and they both made me feel very humble with the amazing way they are coping with what would be most people's worst nightmare. It certainly puts everything into perspective..... 

We are all thawed out now and the ground is really soggy but it is good to get all the horses out and give them some proper work. Tomorrow we are running Glory Hunter in the Intermediate, Don't Budge Me in the restricted and Beech Hill in the maiden at the rescheduled meeting at Didmarton. The ground will be too soft for Budge but it will be good for Nathan to get a feel for him, but the other two should like the conditions.  We are celebrating with the Aprahamian's tonight as Billy, their son has just won the Grand Military Cup at Sandown on a Nicky Henderson horse, called Baden. Nathan, our other novice rider, also rode in the same race and did really well to come sixth on a 100-1 shot.
Billy was our novice rider three years ago and had his first winner with us - When he first came Peter Mann used to take the mickey out of him as he said he rode like a policeman sitting on a pole!  However, Billy was a fantastic learner and absorbed everything he was taught and is a seriously good jockey now. Well done Billy!
Billy Aprahamian on Baden at Sandown

Friday, 2 March 2018

The road leading to Blackgrounds Farm.

The lane leading to the grass field we normally canter around - the hedge is 4 feet high!

Oh my goodness - This weather!! It started on Monday evening and has been pretty horrendous. We have managed to get the horses out every day either ridden or turned out apart from yesterday when the wind was wicked. It wasn't a lot better today but it was good for the horses to get out and play in the snow for a while. The most important thing is to keep them warm and ensure that they have enough water, which is hard work as all the drinkers and troughs are frozen. They all have at least three rugs on and seem to be staying toasty warm despite the harsh conditions. No staff have made it in so it has been down to us and Paddy who has worked really hard.
Last night we went out for a bar snack at the Plough at Upper Boddington, after a lovely meal we couldn't believe how much the snow had drifted whilst we were in the pub and then we still decided to go the hilly way back, rather than the safe option... We love a challenge but it probably was a bit daft as we got completely stuck in a snow drift. Even though our car is 4 x 4 it was just too deep to go either backwards or forwards. Slightly embarrassing, but we phoned some local farmer friends who found it very funny as Doug rather prides himself on never getting stuck. They came along and gave us a lift back as we were too stuck to tow out. Later on that night they very kindly came back with a digger and dug the car out, which was just as well as it would have been completely buried if we had left it for the night.
It should be beginning to thaw out by Monday, which is just as well as we are beginning to get very low on food, hay and straw for the horses.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Some fabulous photos from Garthorpe with Top Garry, who's owners are clearly very good photographers- More photos of the other successful runners to follow...