Christmas Eve

Apologies for no blog for quite a few days….we’ve had Olympia fever and have been keeping up with things but the Blog has suffered – lots to catch up on.

Our Newsletter went out on Saturday so do let us know if you haven’t received it and would like to. It’s a whopper this time and thanks to Toby Elford for helping us so much with it.

As you all know we’ve been in Olympia and I’ve been a proud Dad watching 11 year old Freddie achieve an early ambition of riding his Shetland Pony Blackie in the Shetland Pony Grand National in the huge amazing arena in front of thousands of people there plus a whole lot more on the nights it was on the BBC Red Button. A pretty full on few days (a whole week for Belinda, Freddie & Harry) and my Assistants back at home holding the fort well. I say ‘Assistants’ as I had two last week. Thanks for Foxy (Matt Carter) for staying on longer than he had intended after handing his notice in during November to spend more time with his young family. A warm welcome to Hollie Watts our new Assistant who shadowed Foxy and learnt how we do things all of last week before starting off on her own yesterday. She’s ably assisted by Jasmin, Mick and the team though and Foxy is on the end of the phone. I look forward to you all meeting Hollie soon.

Back at Olympia and, as I said, so proud of Freddie and his young pony Blackie. The Shetland Pony Grand National Team took a chance with him as his pony is a lot younger than most and the only never to have done it before this year and Freddie a first season SPGN jockey too. I’m hoping Freddie didn’t let them down – he absolutely loved his week under the guidance of Vera Akehurst, her son Joe and daughter in law Sarah plus Sebastian, Ollie & Tom Garner and has no doubt made friendships with the other children riding that will last a lifetime.

His first race was cut scarily short after his great friend Sophie Newman-Moore suffered a horribly fall but is thankfully ok although devastatingly ruled out of riding at Olympia for the rest of the week in her last year. Although some initially feared the fall was much worse than it turned out to be, life is often so unfair as it had taken Sophie 3 years to get to Olympia only to be ruled out after her 1st race – she, and her family, somehow managed to bounce back and bravely joined the team to support them over the rest of the week.

Freddie loved nearly every moment – but had a character building race on Saturday afternoon when he tried to make all the running and was about 5 lengths clear of the field after the last hurdle when Blackie didn’t turn for home, ran out and jumped another final. Quite devastating for him at the time but he also bounced back the following day and finished a fantastic 2nd to Lucy Aspell (eldest daughter of Leighton) in the final race. It’s made him even more hungry to try and qualify for next years’ Olympia and will surely make a victory, should it come, there even more satisfying. He has also raised nearly £4000 over the year for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

The boys had such a special week, met so many famous people and made the most of each and every moment. They shared the stable block with the Household Cavalry Musical Ride and they were fabulous with the children teaching them dances and even having a Christmas sing song with them.

I could go on for a lot longer! So very privileged to #BePartOfIt and so much fun had by all.

Back to reality and this morning we welcomed Harry Greasby and Richard Cook to ride out in their Christmas holidays – two great lads who both ride well and benefiting from the experience of Warren Marston too who is always so generous with his help. Visits from Anna & Alan Varey, Jon Hughes, Nikki Cox, John Abernethy and even Neil Lloyd, our Yard Sponsor, his wife and her sister at evening stables tonight to help out our team. Much appreciated as they work so hard.

Thanks to all our fabulous owners for ensuring the Christmas Box for our Team was so generous this year however, they know that they are a great team and appreciate all their hard work especially when it’s dark, wet and cold.

Happy Christmas to one and all. Thank you for reading the Blog and for supporting our wonderful team of horses, staff, owners and friends. Have a wonderful day tomorrow.