This week has been hard work and a little challenging. Things have not gone completely to plan but in the grand scheme of life they are actually not that bad.
We ran Ken's Well on Monday and it was his first run in a year, after being ill for at least 8 months of it, possibly more due to the environment as much as anything. He had been schooling and working very well at home and I went to Stratford confident of a good run.
Unfortunately he mad a howler of a mistake 2 out and that was his race over. In hindsight it was the wrong course for him, fences too small and the track was too fast, he works so well at home it gave me false confidence that he could cope with the speed of Stratford. I also think that where he made the mistake is right where he would have either bled (I have a strong suspicion that he bled at Wincanton last year, although at the time I put his prolonged blowing down to health) and right where his wind would have shut down if it were going to. On the plus side he didn't bleed and he had stopped blowing by the time he reached the stables, so I am hopeful that he may have gained some confidence by the fact he did not choke. At least we have a horse in one piece, have learnt something and will go again shortly, over a more galloping track and possibly further.
Yesterday we ran Marmont, it was the wrong race but he had to start somewhere, I knew that Southwell watered very well and hoped that the ground would be safe, even if it was not what we wanted. He jumped well the first circuit and when the good horses quickened, James felt that Marms struggled on the ground to go that pace, so he just got him round without falling. I was very disappointed in the way the horse jumped, his schooling has been fantastic, however that had all been on the all weather surface and he had yet to jump a fence off of grass.
I would like to have seen him let down off the bridle and allowed to gallop and jump like we know he can, however I understand James wanting him just to get round. He has come back ok this morning just a little jarred up, so again I should have waited for softer ground and an easier race.
I know things will change when the ground becomes easier, it is then possible to put the horses in the right races at the right tracks, I have run them when it hasn't been right just to see where we are and what I need to change at home, or just to show myself that I am right about what they want and to stick to my guns in future.
I know they are healthy now, fit enough for a run but the run seems to be bringing them on. Our gallop has been riding very quick in this dry weather and I am sure that it doesn't help with the fitness and some of the soft ground horses find it too quick to do any more than hack on it. Again this will all change after a decent amount of rain. I have also realised that the hay we have is very good and they are definitely carrying more condition at this time of year than they have in the past.
This week sadly Ash has told me that she want's to go off to Australia to work for a while, I don't blame her and whilst she is young I said she has to go wherever she can and experience life as much as she can. We will be very sad to see her go but she is going to wait until Trace (Gregg) has been on his holidays, which gives me time to find someone else I hope.
However hearing the constant feedback from pretty much every other trainer, good staff are few and far between. It is harder to get them, and I have to work harder to keep them, pay more than I can realistically afford and give more time off than I have or would ever have had in a job with horses. I don't begrudge this at all for the right person, and think the world of my team I have so please pass the word around and see if we can get someone to fit into what is an excellent group of people.