Martin’s Blog 26th August

What stunning weather for a change for the Bank Holiday and we have made the most of it with no runners. We’d planned to go to Cartmel but plans changed which meant a quiet weekend runners wise.

I therefore went to Newmarket for a couple of days with the family staying with Ryan Moore and his family as Freddie has met son Toby through the Shetland Pony Grand National racing they’ve been competing in this season and are now great friends. It wasn’t just us four that went to stay with them though – Freddie’s shetland pony Blackie was invited too! We had a wonderful time and were up early on Saturday to watch the horses on the gallops. Our Chairman, Jon Hughes, had commented that Newmarket is a bit more like the M25 of training compared to our idyllic quiet Cotswold base and he wasn’t far from the truth. Horses everywhere – the boys loved it and there were so many familiar faces too and a stunning sunny morning.

Belinda got in touch with Joe Akehurst who works for Richard Spencer and they not only invited us to look around their Sefton Lodge base but said that Freddie could ride the lead horse if he brought his riding kit. We whizzed back, Freddie got changed and we returned with friend Toby, in riding kit too, and both boys were very excited. Fresh from a double the day before and on their busiest race day ever with 7 runners going to 5 different meetings, owner Phil Cunningham, Richard and Joe were so generous with their time and we had a brilliant time. Freddie was thrilled to ride ex-Jonjo O’Neill/JP McManus grey Temple Lord out with the string and it was unreal watching him trotting around their loop in the centre of Newmarket and then walking up Warren Hill with him as the horses worked. Toby then jumped on to ride him home and both boys were grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day. Thanks to everyone there for giving up their time – a stunning yard and so friendly too. Freddie, a true jumps boy through and through, is now seriously contemplating starting off on the flat – aided by Richard Spencer inviting him back no doubt and loving Ryan’s gym and pool! At under 4 stone 7lbs currently he’s on a good weight so we’ll not be putting him off as we are keen on a top notch care home in years to come too!!

Toby’s mum Michelle was the perfect host and had arranged for the boys to ride in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Arena at Palace House in Newmarket which they loved and then we returned later for lunch there joined by Vera, Sarah & Isabella Akehurst and the rest of Michelle’s children. A delicious lunch plus a go on the mechanical horse for them all before returning to swim in the pool Belinda even managed to meet up with heavily pregnant Amy Stennett and fiance Patrick Owens – Amy an old friend from the days with The Duke and godmother to Freddie. Next time we are in Newmarket they’ll be parents as she is due in under 2 weeks. Exciting!

Back home and a heatwave yesterday and today. Those of you on social media will have seen that, with the help of Ollie Garner & Cotswold Forage’s Natural Flake Shavings and the new bowser we have bought through John Abernethy from Merrick Loggin – the boys have a brilliant home-made pool! Admittedly the first pool collapsed causing a minor flood down the road however hopefully it’s a case of second time lucky – it is holding up as I type! Ollie Garner himself even called by to inspect my handiwork so it was a good job it was re-built by then!!