Martin’s Blog 23rd October

Wow! What a fabulous few days we’ve had. On Saturday, along with Chairman Jon Hughes, his wife Jack, Paul Davis and partner Pip, Belinda and I flew to Ireland for the weekend. The weather forecast wasn’t great with Storm Brian making quite an appearance so I have to admit I wasn’t loving life when, after plenty of turbulance heading to Cork, the Air Hostess told us that Shannon was shut, there was a possibility we’d be re-routed to Dublin but failing that we may have to turn around to Birmingham…..but seconds later the Pilot was happy to ‘give it a try’ and land in Cork! OMG I’ve never worried for our lives quite so much however, although two fire engines were on the runway waiting, we landed just about safely…cue a round of applause from the relieved passengers! Even at Passport control we were told that we were ‘lucky to land’!

Onwards and a fabulous night at Mikey Ryan’s Gastropub in Cashel where we met up with Gerry and Ciara Hogan and PJ and Grainne Colville – delicious food and fantastic company. Paul, Pip, Jack and myself headed home in the first taxi leaving Belinda & Jon at the bar having a nightcap….she couldn’t persuade him to visit the local nightclub so they arrived home shortly afterwards! We stayed at the Cashel Lodge where the ill fated but hugely talented Neon Wolf was bred. Off to PJ’s on Sunday morning to visit our Presenting and Oscar 3 year olds and watch them canter. Thrilled with them both – PJ does a super job and no surprise to see some quality JP youngsters with their heads over the doors.

Gerry then took us to Rathcannon Point to Point which was fun and we bumped into many friends and were thrilled that Enda Bolger invited us to look around his yard, just a couple of miles away, a very kind gesture as it was in between runners – he’d finished 2nd in the first, walked over in the 2nd but then had a runner in the last. His facilities and in particular cross-country course blew us away and it was a very generous offer as he was clearly busy. Top man and Gerry Hogan was the best tour guide around too and another career beckons if he decides horses aren’t for him! On top of his hospitality he’s donated proceeds of an auction prize to Belinda’s York Macmillan Ride after she wrote to him and that will take her total over £28,000 – unbelievable and she is so very grateful as we all are.

Reminiscing about our days at The Dukes with Gerry and ‘who is doing what now’ and ‘who did what then!’ was great fun …. topped off by bumping into a certain Adrian Maguire who added to the stories – brilliant!

Home late last night and my parents kindly came down for the weekend to look after the boys. An early start today though as Belinda had arranged a visit to Oliver & Tarnya Sherwood’s yard in particular as a treat for Harry who’d wanted to go and visit his beloved Many Clouds but we’d sadly not arranged it in time. Still very excited, he got to see his stable, the ‘Many Clouds’ room and even his tree. Belinda rode out 1st lot and we watched 1st and 2nd lot and were well fed in between. So good to pick the brains of someone who has been there and done it .. Oliver and Tarnya are such lovely people and we all had a fabulous morning and are so grateful to them for allowing us to go and see the Lambourn facilities.

Back here and this afternoon the jockeys of the future descended on us as the Cotswold Pony Club had a Pony Racing Training day here and they allowed Freddie to join in. A warm up on our carpet loop to assess their control before allowing them across to our mile straight carpet gallop in pairs. The smiles on their faces said it all although some of their ponies will need a few days to get over galloping up our hill! Pony Racing is a brilliant initiative and so many of our good English jockeys have come up through Pony Racing. Freddie can’t wait to get properly started next Spring. Well done to Lou Partridge, wife of our farrier Nick, who organised today.