A Double at Catterick!

Champion Jockey Richard Johnson and I go back a long way as we both started with David Nicholson and it’s always great to be able to secure his services on the racecourse.

Yesterday he was booked for both rides at Catterick and kicked off in perfect style winning on Ollie & Irene Ryan’s lovely five year old Reve. Reve’s not had much luck this season and could possibly have already won two races but it was fabulous to eventually get his head in front – even though the Phil Kirby mare that was 2nd gave us a bit of a scare turning for home looking to be going better than us. She was receiving 17lbs in weight from us but we eventually won well by 10 lengths and I was thrilled to hear from Phil afterwards that they think a lot of her.

The following race, and Catterick’s big race of the day, saw Foxtrot Racing’s Solstice Star back over fences after two wins over hurdles already this season. His best run over fences was last season at Carlisle finishing 2nd to Mister Whitaker who was to go on and win at The Festival. If he reproduced that he’d be in the mix but, although he’s acted on good ground before, he’s always ideally preferred soft/heavy ground which we aren’t getting this season.

What can I say about the ride he gave him?! It must be ride of the month! He left him alone to pop away over his fences in 4th / 5th place for much of the race and never hassled him until the final circuit where he decided there was more in the tank. Turning for home he was 4th but Richard simply made his mind up for him at the final 3 fences and, even though he was 4 lengths down at the 2nd last, he never gave up and Solstice kept finding for him. They got a good jump at the last but still had 4 lengths to find however never-say-die Dickie – our Champion Jockey riding at the very top of his game never accepts defeat and with Solstice giving everything they got up just before the line to somehow pass the line 1/2 a length in front. WHAT A RIDE!

Three wins from four runs for Foxtrot Racing and the members of Foxtrot who were able to be at Catterick yesterday were quick to heap praise on Dickie for his fine ride. He’s such a humble Champion and never one to accept priase – he quickly detracted the compliment back to me for training him. Whilst our team have got Solstice there in top form, without Dickie in the saddle I don’t think he’d have won yesterday and I think most people who watched the race yesterday would agree.

My parents and my Aunty June were able to be there yesterday too and my Assistant Foxy made a rare Racecourse appearance as well – he was under strict instructions to deliver me home in good form if we had a bad day by Belinda…there was no need! The four hours home seemed to go much quicker than usual even on a Friday evening!

What a superb day and great for the whole team who always work so hard but have had to endure our horses being a bit quiet since the turn of the year with some snotty noses and a few coughs, mainly due to the warm weather not getting rid of bugs despite the strict biosecurity here. Then the snow, then the racing shutdown due to the flu outbreak (although we weren’t affected there was plenty of uncertainty in the air). So a double has boosted them all and rightly so – yesterday’s winners made a good contribution to the team’s quarterly prize money fund too!

My boys didn’t make the long journey north as they were busy enjoying their last day of school half term and had already a full diary but they were very excited with the winners and Reve is one of Harry’s favourites too so he gave him a good shout! The boys always want to know what my Trainer prize is and their mum always hopes it is Champagne so they were disappointed when I returned home empty handed yesterday and I do agree that it is odd when a Racecourse chooses to reward the Owner and the Jockey and not the Trainer. We’d not be racing without owners so they are very important and obviously couldn’t race without a jockey however the Trainer does most and sometimes all of the race planning and is very influential in deciding which races to aim for so you’d think they would reward that support. There are quite a few tracks that don’t reward a Trainer with a memento.

A busy morning here today with a good group of members from Cheltenham and Three Counties Racegoers Club arranged by Sarah Matthews and our very own David Bishop, part owner of Cheltenham winning horse Bobble Emerald. A fun morning where they enjoyed biscuits, cake and hot drinks in our Owners’ room before watching the horses warm up on our circular loop, then walking across to watch them canter up our straight gallop. Sadly we had thick fog all morning so they couldn’t see much but they all seemed to enjoy it and we finished with a Q&A session hosted by David where they had the chance to quiz me!

It was great to have Ash Hark back in riding out this morning. Ash worked for us for quite a few years before relocating in the Autumn with girlfriend Emma and he is much missed. I often think you find out more about a person once they have left and Ash has been missed by not Belinda, myself and our boys, who adored him and found he always had time for them and time to answer all their questions and help them, but also by the whole team here – he was a popular and valued member of the team.

No runners today so Belinda, Freddie & myself rushed off to watch Harry play football for Northleach Under 9s against Tetbury. He played really well and they won 7-1 so a great result. I love going to watch him when I can so a home game when we have no runners is a perfect opportunity.

Good luck to Mike & Mella Wright’s Twentyoneblackjack who runs today at Chaddlesley Corbett trained by Max Comley, a regular here. We are hoping he gains plenty of experience in the Point to Point field and he rejoins us to run under Rules when the time is right.

Have a great weekend.