Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Back on the road

Thank goodness, the good Lord permitting, we will be racing again tomorrow; the last six weeks have unquestionably been a real slog and I have to confess that on the odd occasion my resolve has wavered, apart from all the work a lot of money from many loyal supporters has gone in so far this season and, frankly, bugger all has come back. It was a real blow that the weather closed in just when we were about to step up a gear but at the end of the day we have to deal with the elements and produce some results. I have a great bunch of horses here at the moment, better than ever, and have at least 15 that I am hoping to run in the next 8 weeks so I'm going to set some targets (publicly) and state that I will be deeply unhappy if we don't have at least 50 runners before the end of April and of those runners (in points and under rules) I expect a minimum of 20% to be in the first two and 40% in the first four, that is no more than we have achieved in the past and I see it as a minimum achievement to prove that we are up to the job and that I'm not just going a bit gaga; tomorrow's runners will be interesting because of their unusual recent training regime so I won't throw all my toys out of the pram straight away if they run poorly...

The show gets on the road with the resumption of racing in the North at Newcastle, we have three runners none of whom have done any fast work for five weeks but all of whom have cantered six days a week throughout the freeze. Skipping Chapel gets the ball rolling in the 1.10pm, Fearghal Davies rides, 7 run and the ground will be like glue. He is in very good form and despite him not being an obvious choice on recent form I would like to think he will run very well. Seeking Power (pictured above with Holly) runs back over hurdles in the 1.40 with Lucy on board, this is not an ideal race for him but he is such a huge beast I really need to run him to stop him losing fitness, 12 run and I will be delighted if he is in the first six. Contendo (below with icicles!)runs in the 3.25, 12 run, Andrew Thornton takes the ride and if he can pull his feet out of the glue quickly enough I hope he can run very well; it is effectively only his second run over fences but he has plenty of jumping experience from point-to-points and this really is the sort of race he has been waiting for all his life....

Sunday, 10 January 2010

We will not be defeated!

Increased resolution is required to keep the horses working now that we are well into the 4th week of the big freeze, the tractor can no longer cope with the depth of the drifts on the all-weather gallop so Sunday morning was spent shovelling the snow off manually with Lucy and Mrs A, it is important to have a supervisor in these circumstances and there is nothing like a wallop with a shovel to provide encouragement to work harder.

Later in the day I had to drag Mrs A away from a most enjoyable lunch party to start the second shift but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Lucy had spent the entire afternoon shovelling and had cleared it completely enabling me to rotovate it three times in order to have it serviceable for Monday morning.
Because I know that when (if?) the thaw starts we will be confined to the all-weather we have been cantering the horses in the snow for most of the last week; they have only been able to go steadily but have all cantered 5 or 6 miles each day, despite the low temperatures the horses seem to love it, though even Skipping Chapel's eyelashes froze after 5 miles cantering at minus 12 degrees.

The only new problem that this has given us is some of their coronet band's have started bleeding, we try to avoid this by applying vaseline prior to work and then sudocream afterwards, it seems to have worked as having checked them all over on Sunday evening there are no problems with their legs and they seem healthy, hard and raring to go as soon as racing resumes, roll on the day....

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Battling on....

... the tractor battles to keep the drifting snow at bay and the gallop open between first and second lots at 9am this morning. It had already been rotovated at 7.30am and 8 horses had been up it 5 times first lot; once walking, twice trotting and twice cantering. Its been very much the same routine since 18th December, the horses seem well and are hopefully maintaining their fitness; the riders, well, I think stoical is probably the best description

Sunday, 3 January 2010

the view from the cab (take two!)

as the sun rises at the top of the gallop this Sunday morning.. (two weeks on)

Crikey I feel fat, for as long as I can remember the farm has been frozen and covered in snow and every day has been spent rotovating the gallop, exercising the horses, feeding the horses, rotovating the gallop again and nipping into the house to fill up with Mrs A's endless supply of yummy things to eat & drink. There hasn't been a squeak of any racing in the North and it doesn't look like there will be any in the near future which makes the gargantuan effort from the whole team appear somewhat futile.

Remarkably we have been able to canter the horses every day (so far!) despite some very low temperatures and over a foot of snow now lying; all we can do is hope that the weather relents soon and we can go racing and produce some winners, we have at least a dozen ready to run and I have been doggedly determined to keep them going so that we don't have a fitness issue as and when the weather eases.

So the coldest December followed the wettest November which followed the driest October & September and the wettest August, climate change yes, global warming - not an obvious description from where I am sitting. Tales of extreme weather events abound, it certainly appears that the Roads Department is running seriously short of salt and lack of funding in the local Councils meant that they refused to pay snow-plough drivers "Sunday" money with the result that even some motorways remained untreated at 11am this morning, the knock-on effect of course of untreated roads and pavements is a sharp increase of activity and cost in the A & E departments at the Hospitals... ho ho, plenty to look forward to though, new website is there but has one or two little glitches that I want to iron out in the gallery department, will hopefully be including a few more videos, Mrs A gave me a very natty little camcorder for Xmas; I did grumble a bit for the first few days about how blurred the images appeared until one of the children kindly explained that I ought to remove the protective film from the lens...

p.s. still looking for a part-time lorry driver as and when........................