Belinda and I had a brilliant day at Royal Ascot yesterday. We went up on the Train and met Owen and Lynne Burrows in the Car Park for a delicious picnic. Owen trains for Sheikh Hamdan in Lambourn and is Belinda’s oldest friend having gone to nursery school, primary and senior school together – his late father Lyn was The Duke’s Head Lad and their friendship continued even though Lyn and the family moved to the Pipe’s yard when they were teenagers. It was great to meet his friends and catch up – we should make more time to get together but all always seem so busy.
We were then generously invited to join Chris and Jo Massey and their friends and family in a Gazebo not far from the Winning Line in the centre of the course. Such a relaxed setting and perfectly placed with a big screen for those of us interested in watching the full race whilst near enough to see the horses approach and pass the winning line and pull up near us without getting out of your seat (Belinda in heels!). Absolutely wonderful hospitality as usual – delicious food and endless liquid refreshments too – we felt very lucky to be invited to join them. Sadly Owen didn’t celebrate his first Royal Ascot winner – another year though I’m sure.
Our wonderful day at Ascot ended with Ian Attwood inviting us to the Box of dual Royal Ascot winning owner Bjorn Anderson, brother of the late Anders who we trained plenty of winners for – through great mutual friend Nick Ponting, the trust set up in his memory, The Anders Foundation, sponsored our yard a few years ago. Bjorn won the Sandringham Stakes yesterday with Agrotera trained by Ed Walker, who we also met and who shared a very funny story of his first jumps runner, and Bjorn also had won the Gold Cup the day before with John Gosden trained Stradivarius. What a week for him and we were so grateful to be able to raise a glass or two with Ian, his father and Bjorn too and all their friends last night.
Luckily the trains ran late into the night and the boys were staying with Sophie & Guy Upton and their boys at Jackdaws Castle so we only needed to get ourselves home! A brilliant day.
We were offered a hotel room last night but we had owners in at 7.30am this morning so it’s good to know that the responsible adult still kicks in after far too much champagne! We were out bright and early to welcome Jo Stainer and Jon & Jack Hughes 1st lot and then Howard and Sandra Fine 2nd lot with Mark Allen and Kate Docker to see Bay Dude work who they share. It was Howard and Sandra’s first visit to the yard and we felt we’d known them forever and are delighted they loved their morning and are as excited as we are about Bay Dude (Sky Calling’s 3 year old) debut in the next week or so.
Work morning so Andrew Tinkler in and he schooled Dr Dunraven on our Leisure Ride carpet loop too and, in his words, he was ‘awesome’. He runs on Monday at Southwell and seems in great form.
No runners today but a hugely fun morning with lovely owners both old and new and with super weather it really makes you realise how lucky we all are to be in such a wonderful game.