Well they say you wait ages for a bus and the two come along at the same time, that is probably the best analogy for us this week, with a second and two winners. I cannot tell you how big a relief it is for us, it has brightened all of us up and it's a massive reward for all the hard work my guys and I have put in over the last few months.
I had begun to think that we were never going to get the horses right and had really started to question whether I could train and if I couldn't, then how had I had winners before? and struggled to remember what it was like to go racing with any sort of confidence.
Jack (The Big Yin) ran such a super race to finish second at Uttoxeter, he had only been away from home once to Lambourn and even then he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing. He was born at the top of the hill here and travelled down to this yard at 2 months old, then only went in a lorry twice more, once to Lambourn and once to the field for his holidays (a mile away!). So you may think me taking him to Uttox in gale force winds and torrential rain was not my best idea...However I know him well enough to know that he takes everything in his stride and he behaved beautifully. I had to go there to get the ground he needed (although it was probably too soft but it was the lesser of two evils).
Thank you for the photo Nigel Kirby!
I did feel for the other horses in the stable yard at Uttox, he neighed for 3 hours before the race, but he was very professional during running and was just green in the finish, he has a lot of improvement in him and he will now be roughed off but kept ticking over for the summer with a view to coming back for the beginning of the season. He is a big raw 5 year old who still has lots to do, obviously if he wins then he is worth a fair bit of money, but that is not the right reason to bottom him, the horse comes first and if it pays off then great, if not at least I know I have done everything possible to give him a long future.
Marmont ran and won at Taunton and I am delighted for his owners and myself (who owns a good part of him) again he has been very poorly this last year, I looked back at the vet book and he has had 5 courses of antibiotics...He is the bravest horse I know and although he wasn't jumping great to start with, he and James battled and ran on to go away from them over the line. Marms is a hard horse to keep right, he has always had dreadful movement from the day I bought him but boy can he gallop, I can usually hold the strong ones fairly easily but he tests me to the limit!
He has come out of the race very well and was galloping round the paddock like a loon this morning, bucking and squealing so lets hope for a damp spring (sorry!).
Starfoot is also another of my rides and he is a very tricky horse to keep sound, he has had a lot of problems with his sacroiliac and latterly last year, he had a crookedness that no one could solve. However with the vibrating floor, massage on his off hind quarter (Nikki takes her life in her hands when doing this) daily and being ridden properly like an event horse, we seem to have ironed that out. Polly Hutson our Physio, has a great machine called an indiba, which works on radio waves and it has worked wonders with him, along with Anton our chiropractor, they have both helped massively towards getting him right..
I have been saying for 2 weeks he is better than ever and back to being the horse I knew over a year ago, the day before the race and up to getting to Market Rasen, I told John he would win, but the confidence disappeared when I thought of all the scenarios that could go wrong. However Page gave him a brilliant ride, she kicked him onto a stride at every fence and even when she was short, she kept the revs up and landed running. I have had quite a few jockeys tell me he can't jump, sorry but it's the way he's ridden as I have been saying for years. Do not swing off his mouth, soften your hands and stay balanced, all my horses are trained to have soft mouths and to jump with their shoulders and to use their backs, if someone is swinging off their mouths' they hollow and cannot jump properly. Star has trotted up better than ever this morning and we have entered for next week in case the handicapper is harsh.
Mr F was our final runner this week and he was very disappointing, he never jumped and dropped out really tamely. My gut told me that something wasn't right, he is gutless but not that bad. I got Trevor to scope him this morning and he has lumps of mucus down by his lungs, poor boy has been ill on and off for months, we thought after the last course of antibiotics he was fine and I should have scoped him at home again but he had been bright and happy. I got confident thinking we were out of the woods, it just shows, never assume anything...He is now on ventipulmin and another course of antibiotics, I will get him right then I may possibly come out of retirement and event him this summer. Gulp. Patricia would love to see him do it and He moves so well and jumps beautifully, it could be fun, although I need to find my bottle, not sure where I left it...
We ran Its for Alan two weeks ago and he was very disappointing. We found that he had damaged his sacroiliac, however I have been worried about his neck since we bought him. This is a very big lesson to learn; we had a full vetting, scanned his tendons, xrayed his joints and back but never xrayed his neck. He had a fall before we got him but did win a point afterwards, however he clearly did damage the neck, but I only realised that the first day we rode him after buying him, when he tried to bolt up the road.
I took him over to ride and couldn't turn his head left or right, I have never felt that in a horse. However we got that much better and he really settled down, but it has never felt like it should, we had been treating the neck as just a habit that the horse had learnt due to his temperament. We scanned the neck last week and he has an old fracture of one of the vertebrae low down, unfortunately it is not a pretty picture but once the cortisone has worked in the sacral we can inject the neck and try to get him more comfortable.
He will come right but we never stop learning, I think neck xrays are something I will ask for in future vettings! Anton and Polly have done a great job till now and it just needs more help to really get him mobile.
After a 16 hr day yesterday, I walked in the house at 9.30pm and finally got into a hot bath, next thing I hear is "mummy I don't feel well" followed by lots of coughing. Ella had gotten into our bed where she stayed all night with me, coughing and feeling rotten (Greg had a result in the spare room). No sleep for me and a day off school for her, it's nice to spend some time together and its lovely to be a mum for a day. I just wish I could make her better, the winners are great but having such a beautiful, kind child is the biggest winner I could ever have.
Finally can I say to everyone who has taken the time to congratulate us and say such kind words, Thank you and it means so much to us, there are so many kind people out there it has restored my faith in the future of humanity.