Velvet Vista runs at 5.45 followed by Astrojewel in the 8.45 ...

It is great to be back in harness...

Tuesday, 04 January 2011


At the entering of the New Year


Our songs went up and out the chimney,
And roused the home-gone husbandmen;
Our allemands, our heys, poussettings,
Our hands-across and back again,
Sent rhythmic throbbings through the casements
On to the white highway,
Where nighted farers paused and muttered,
"Keep it up well, do they!"


The contrabasso's measured booming
Sped at each bar to the parish bounds,
To shepherds at their midnight lambings,
To stealthy poachers on their rounds;
And everybody caught full duly
The notes of our delight,
As Time unrobed the Youth of Promise
Hailed by our sanguine sight.

- by Thomas Hardy



Pulling out, as dawn breaks

It is great to be back in harness this morning and, as much as I enjoy Christmas and the New Year celebrations, when you are working with horses, it is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job and it must be done the right way. All the staff have had a good break at different times and now we are ready to crack on and have a very successful 2011. Most of the horses are back in from their winter holidays and Iain is going up to Garrowby tomorrow to fetch another batch. They have all come back to me in great shape, having put on condition and looking marvellous in their coats.  


Joe the Coat

We have had very few runners over the Christmas period with only Astrodiva and Astrodonna having appeared from Flint Cottage during the last ten days. Astrodiva, I am certain now, wants a mile and six furlongs plus and should be up to winning a handicap over that trip shortly. Astrodonna has been a marvellous servant to us, winning four times and she will now retire to Dullingham Park, where she will make a cracking broodmare. She is 100% sound, very correct and a strong, good-barrelled filly, which makes her an ideal candidate. She is from a very nice family, which is improving all the time and I look forward to training her offspring. 


Ted Spread leads the string around the indoor ride

One runner today, Astroleo at Southwell in the 2.40 pm race, who is always consistent in this sort of grade and is a course and distance winner. I have been trying to get him out over hurdles but the ground has been very much against us, so today's race will keep his fitness levels up and, if he put his best foot forward off this handicap mark, he could earn a bit of prize money - let's hope he does. 


Rayvin Black

Not much has happened in the racing world during the last ten days but there are a few things to mention. Firstly,  there is Nic Coward's resignation from the BHA, who is going back to work for the FA. How we can let him conduct a review of the future of the BHA, before he goes, is beyond me. Why not just let a new man have  fresh look? Secondly, there is to be a review of the starting stalls procedure with a trial period starting now. Horses will be able to go in without a jockey on, they can have the front doors open and also they can be backed in. How this is all going to work nobody knows but, I am sure, it will cause more trouble than it is worth. I have always maintained that we have a very good system as it is and that the only issue to concentrate on is numbers of stalls handlers. If a horse doesn't go in when being offered at least three times, then just withdraw it; the trainer, if he has anything about him, will make sure it goes in next time. Most of the starters are very amenable, if you talk to them in the correct manner and I cannot see the need for this new trial: we need to make sure we have enough stalls handlers. As for the other idea of leaving the inside stall clear, so that the horse drawn there doesn't get squeezed up, that is another completely bonkers idea. This only means that more horses will dash for the inside, causing mayhem: these are ideas, purely for ideas sake.  


Returning home

I hope everybody yesterday was tuned in to Sky Sports at 12.15 pm to watch Sheffield Wednesday play Huddersfield. They will have seen quite a good game in the first half with an unstoppable shot, giving Huddersfield victory but The Owls played with enough spirit to give us a chance of a play-off position. They need a midfield general and I have asked Phil if Arsenal will loan us Fabregas for a couple of months; it certainly would make some difference. The Premiership continues to take shape and it looks to be between the top three now with them all having to play each other shortly - great viewing.


Westminster (left) playing in the snow with his friend

The picture above shows one of our old horses Westminster, enjoying himself in the snow with a friend; he is now in his eighteenth year and still as happy as ever. He gave Jenko some great rides and if only he could have ridden him more often, I am sure more victories would have come their way. As you know, we always find our older horses good homes and pictures like this are greatly appreciated.
A 'thank you' to the Racing Post internet editor, Robin Gibson, who gave the website a very nice mention in Sunday's paper and I would like to let him know that I am not tired of life, in fact, quite the opposite and we will be endevouring to make the site even better in 2011.
Phil's quiz is still up on the 'Competition' page and we have had quite a few entries but there is still chance to enter by the 7th please. You can still win, as nobody has come up with 100% correct answers yet; a few are very close but not close enough, so give it a go - you could still win that elusive prize.