Saturday, January 05, 2013

Spring on the way?

We're back to normal after the Christmas/New Year hiatus and it's been a very straightforward process, assisted by the fact that the weather really has been rather pleasant, with January 2nd having been the only one of the five days of 2013 (thus far) to have been rainy.  It's almost spring-like at the moment, and I've just looked at the forecast and we're set for more of it: no rain forecast for the next ten days, no frost and really rather clement all round.  That'll take us up to mid-January and so it's easy to think that spring  mightn't be too far over the horizon. Which is just as well bearing in mind that winter seemingly began in the summertime, which was an awful long time ago.

The evenings are already starting to draw out as we're now 15 days past the shortest day, even if the mornings are still very dark:.  I think that we'd see a difference if we had a morning with a clear sky, but the nights haven't been cold enough for one of those.  Still, we'll soon be able to see where we're going early on - and some of the morning skies have been lovely when they've arrived.  I nipped back up to the Heath after first lot on the bicycle a couple of days ago as I needed to call over to Peter Chapple-Hyam's yard just across Old Station Road from the bottom of Warren Hill, and I caught a lovely view of a great morning sky - which turned out not to be a shepherd's warning as it was a very pleasant day.

Another sign of spring is that that day I brought the first couple of horses back from their winter spell.  We always have a handful off on holiday for the final couple of months of the year after they've finished their season, and these generally come back early in the New Year.  Thursday (January 3rd) saw the first two return (Grand Liaison and Wasabi) and so we can start to look ahead to the new season with renewed focus.  So that was grand - especially as those two little dears were absolutely as good as gold the next morning on their first ride of their new preparation, as you can see.  Bless 'em.

Another kick-off of the New Year is that we will have our first runner of 2013 tomorrow at Plumpton. Douchkirk (Frankie, the tips of whose ears you can see here on a sunny and quiet morning on Long Hill on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year) hasn't run for eleven and a half months so it'll be good to get him out again.  He ran at Newbury on Old Year's Day last season and then at Wincanton in the second half of January.  He would have run again but for the late-winter spate of abandonments, and then had a little setback just as the weather finally relented.  He had a let-up and was set to resume in the summer, until going lame when putting out a splint in early August.  That led to another let-up - and now, five months later, he is now finally set to resume, his first run for 351 days.  It seems a long absence, but it isn't really - you just need a couple of little interruptions to a horse's preparation - and they all get things wrong with them at one time or another - and, hey presto, a year's just passed you by.  So that'll be great to get him out again.

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