Weeks don’t come much busier than the one the team and myself are currently slap bang in the middle of, with our well-publicised move to Southgate Stables from our soon to be old base of Hamilton Stables well underway.
Wednesday was the biggest challenge, with my parents and all my hard-working staff chipping in to create a team of 15, all of whom had to work like trojans to help move us the entire operation, lock, stock and barrel, plus the small matter of 25 horses, half a mile up the road. That distance might not sound much, but when you factor in tack such as bridles, saddles, boots, helmets, body protectors, head collars, chifneys, feed, wheelbarrows, buckets, mucking out equipment and more, you start to form a fuller picture, and that’s before you work out the logistics of physically moving the horses themselves-
Ever aware of the idea of a carbon hoofprint, I opted to do it the most enjoyable way for the horses on such a sunny day â€“ ride them! So that’s what we did! A fun diversion from packing boxes, heavy lifting, fetching, carrying and labelling. I’ve also reluctantly had to become Newmarket skip hire’s best customer, not an easy brief when you’re as big a self-confessed hoarder as me! I’ve had to break the habit of a lifetime, getting rid of bits and pieces I’ve been busy convincing myself I’ll find a use for since my Pony Club days!
What I have to stress is that consistency and continuity are vital, so not all the team have moved just yet â€“ the likes of Three Gracez and Mercian Prince (more of him below) who are due to appear in the coming days have stayed put for now and will be running from the old yard. The last thing I want is to disrupt their rhythm and routine, so for now they’ll stay put until it’s the right time to make the switch to their excellent new surroundings.
My owners have already been asking me what my favourite parts of the new set-up are â€“ without question the highlights at this stage are going to be having a super indoor ride where the horses will be completely protected from the elements during the harsh winter months if we need them to be, no beast from the east in there, plus the fact our turnout facilities will now multiply dramatically, to such an extent that our horses will now have individual paddocks. That’s going to be fantastic, ideal for the likes of some of our recent runners, especially Sandkissed who ran a cracker to be 2nd at Brighton on Tuesday. She’s the perfect example of a filly who has benefitted from a patient approach. As a two-year-old she was constantly held up by a variety of physical niggles, nothing major, the equivalent of human growing pains, so we did the logical thing and gave her a long holiday in the field, allowing her to enjoy herself, as well as rest, grow, strengthen up and mature. The reward has been three smashing runs in the last couple of months, with her finding just one too good at Yarmouth and Brighton the last twice. The way she’s improving, hopefully it won’t be long before she gets to put her head in front, something that’ll do wonders for her confidence.
On the same card I also enjoyed another solid display from Associate Rock, who finished in the money for the second time running and hopefully also won’t be long in winning. She isn’t without her quirks â€“ you may have seen she went to post early and trotted all the way down to keep her nice and calm â€“ but she has enough ability to do the job at that level.
Speaking of fillies with a bit of attitude, a couple of people remarked on me going all the way to the start with Blessed To Empress at Windsor on Monday, making sure I was there to help smooth out any creases in the loading process as she went into the stalls. A winner at Chelmsford in May, as I’ve remarked in my blog previously, ‘Blessed’ is a character alright and certainly has her own way of doing things. The stalls handlers do an excellent job, but on this occasion I just wanted the additional assurance of knowing that if she was in one of her tricky moods there’d be no-one else to blame if I was down there with her and she played up.
One of ours who was on best behaviour was Happy Odyssey, who built on a cracking debut second on the turf at Lingfield by winning on our doorstep at Newmarket on Thursday. A daughter of Camacho, we stepped her up in trip to six furlongs after she got trapped in a bit of a pocket over five furlongs 19 days previously, a move which paid dividends as Tom Marquand gave her a lovely ride from the front to win by three quarters of a length.
So, delighted with that it’s back to rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the big move for the remainder of this week, while making sure our runners have the best possible preparation as we look towards the weekend and beyond.
Last mention goes to stable favourite Mercian Prince, a three-time winner for us who is rarely out of the frame â€“ on Tuesday he goes back to Stratford where he ran so well in May, where we’ll look at trying to add to his tally in the 2m 1f handicap chase.
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