24th October

Cheltenham was very different yesterday, though how could it not be?Belinda and I in different zones – I chose to saddle and was therefore in the green zone and Belinda spent the day with our owners in the amber zone. What a great job Cheltenham did so huge congratulations to them for ensuring racing went ahead and so safely too. I enjoyed my lunch in the Golden Miller Restaurant until Belinda shared her photos of their fabulous lunch on Level 4 of the Princess Royal Stand in the Cheltenham Club! It sounds like Cheltenham pulled out all the stops for our owners which is brilliant. Ollie & Irene had a great time as did the members of Foxtrot Racing.

Thankfully both our Cheltenham runners, Solstice Star & Found On, this morning were safe and well which was a huge relief as, without being over dramatic, things could have been so different….

Solstice Star thoroughly enjoyed himself under Lilly Pinchin, handily placed from the start, jumping for fun and was still bang there before 2 out when he weakened to eventually finish 15th although beaten under 13 lengths – however hopefully the Handicapper will relent as he’s too high in the handicap to be competitive over hurdles at the moment. His owners, Foxtrot Racing, were all rightly thrilled with him though. However, on returning to the Unsaddling enclosure I was very concerned about a huge flap of sliced skin sliced near his front tendon. The vet immediately checked him and was hopeful it was only superficial but cleaned it up back at the stables and confirmed he was a very lucky horse. It doesn’t even bear thinking about if it had touched his tendon so we are all thanking our lucky stars. He’s not too sore this morning either and the vet will check him out on Monday. He’s continuing to give us so much fun.

I have always held Found On in high regard and I knew she was in at the deep end yesterday but there seem to be no weak races anywhere at the moment and I was hopeful the track would suit this tall, genuine galloper. James Best has put in so much hard work with her and we had planned to jump her off in front to help her settle, ensure a decent pace and use her good jumping as she’s schooled brilliantly at home. However, the McCain horse was going to make it so there would be no point cutting eachothers’ throats so we had to drop out last and get her settled there. James did just that, not panicking up the hill when the leader was over 20 lengths ahead, instead using her jumping and slowly creeping into contention down the hill to be perfectly placed.

She was still travelling sweetly approaching 2 out where she made her first mistake of the race – suffering what the Racing Post described as an ‘x-rated’ fall. How she and James got up from it relatively unscathed I’ll never know. We’ll also never know if she’d have won or not but she was bang there on her hurdling debut and we do now know that she is as nice as we thought/hoped she was. To watch her pop the last loose and canter up the hill was a relief, as was seeing James get to his feet. So unfair yet so thankful both were/are ok. James looked as devastated as I felt and owners Ollie & Irene Ryan too albeit all of us thankful she’s ok and excited for the future.

She’s pretty tough and seems bright enough this morning and sound too. Our physios will check her over on Monday & Tuesday and our vet is in on Monday too. She’ll have all the time she needs but we’ll also school her back over hurdles as soon as she is ok. Thanks for all your messages – always amazes me how much even those who don’t know our horses care about them.

A new day and great to have George Thornton and Tracey in with friends this morning – they booked to stay locally hoping Cheltenham would be open for visitors……it obviously wasn’t. But great to see them here and they got to watch the horses on the gallops and also James Best schooling Ben Buie, Cut & Run and Dariya and have a really good catch up. We shared plenty of Any Currency stories and memories – he really did give us some wonderful days.

Miranda Theobald and her friend Clemmie in to ride out this morning and as most of the horses had worked yesterday they just did a couple of canters with a lot of them going up the grass 2nd time up.

No runners today but Reve goes to Aintree tomorrow for his chasing debut for Ollie & Irene Ryan with Sam Twiston-Davies, who won on him over hurdles before Christmas, in the saddle. He’s schooled superbly at home and, although it’s been mentioned he’s not bred to be a chaser, he looks every inch the chaser and I think he could run a huge race at a big price. It’s crazily competitive, but again everywhere is and he needs to start somewhere so off to Aintree we go. I’d dearly love for Ollie & Irene to have a change of luck too.