Tuesday, January 26, 2021


I'm writing at a time I wouldn't normally write, ie 7.30 am.  We're on a different routine at present because of the freeze-up.  We put back our start-time from 6.30 to 7.00 early in December because of lack of light in the mornings, but we've made another change just for yesterday and today as underfoot conditions are very icy.  I'm always conscious that the principal priority is making the job as safe as possible for both horses and staff, so just for these two days we're not tacking up until after 8.00, and riding a minority of the horses, with everything getting a good exercise as they are all (including the ones ridden) having an hour on our invaluable new horse-walker.  And then more than half of them are having a further in the afternoon.

Thankfully, the floor of the walker isn't slippery, and I've sanded the approach, so that's as safe as can be.  The Heath was fine yesterday, but getting there could only be done with great circumspection (and thanks to the horses being sensible - their having had an hour on the walker before being ridden obviously helped in that regard).  So I've put five horses on the walker at 7.00 and am now twiddling my thumbs until the others arrive at 8.00, when we'll get those horses off the walker, tack up and put another horses on the walker.  I rather like days like these - adverse weather conditions do make things challenging, but it's very satisfying, and a relief, if one can meet the challenge and get the horses exercised in a safe way.

We'll be back to normal tomorrow as a change in the weather is on the way.  The temperature is already rising, already up to zero.  Rain will follow, so I hope that Abbie and I don't get too wet when we are at Wolverhampton this evening.  Turn Of Phrase runs, and I hope that she can build on her good run at Kempton 13 days ago.  We'll get on the road as soon as we've finished morning stables so we should get there in good time, maybe four hours before the race.  But don't worry - we won't freeze and/or get soaked to death standing guard outside her stable all that time: we'll put her away and leave her alone.  Hopefully that won't earn me a six-month suspension!

And, by the way, we now know why there was no mention of CCTV evidence among the details we were given of the Viking Hoard Tramore incident: there were no CCTV cameras in the Tramore stable-yard.  By British standards, that's almost unbelievable.  The majority of the people who take horses to the races in Great Britain won't remember a time when they weren't ubiquitious in British racecourse stable-yards.  They have been a fact of life here since the Dermot Browne debacle, and that was 30 years ago.  By British standards, Irish racing seems awash with money (if the prize-money is anything to go by) so it's very hard to understand why that particular corner would have been cut.  When you take a horse to the races, it's such a weight off your mind knowing that you can leave your horse unattended and be fairly confident that you're safe to do so.  Irish trainers and staff clearly have not been allowed that luxury.

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