A Father’s Day like no other for so many reasons – a rollercoaster of emotions at Worcester.
We learnt on Saturday of the untimely death of Richard Gibbs who has been an owner here for many years, a lovely man, a huge supporter of our Team and who was due to be at Worcester with us, his wife Cheryl and daughter Olivia to watch Debden Bank yesterday. Paul Davis, who runs our in-house partnerships which include Debden Bank, was in touch with Richard on Friday evening to arrange tickets. Tragically Richard passed away during the night.
We are sure Richard would have wanted Debden to run so we headed to Worcester but Richard and his family and friends were not far from our thoughts. I was worried about the ground as they’d not had the rain we had and I wasn’t prepared to risk Debden or Pay The Woman, our other intended runner, on quick ground. However, after walking round they’d done a great job and I was happy to run them both.
James Best’s instructions were to be handy for the first 2 miles and then to press on down the back and try and outstay the field. He carried this out to the letter and, although Debden started to tire over the last 2 fences, which was understandable after such a long absence off the track, they held on well to win by 7 1/2 lengths to the delight and screams of his owners – Team Keighley like to celebrate! Debden had drifted alarmingly in the betting (7-2 to 11-1) but we were convinced with what we’d been seeing up the gallops and, as well as Ernie riding him, ex-Stable jockey Warren Marston had ridden him in his work frequently too and he was confident he was very well and he’s very good judge.
What a rollercoaster of emotions followed and how we wished Richard was there with Cheryl & Olivia to enjoy the special moment with us all. But we knew he’d be telling us to savour the moment and cherish the happiness of such a fantastic win after nearly 200 days off the track.
Debden isn’t the easiest and is so lucky to have Ernie by his side every day and, with so much excitement, he was reluctant to enter the Winners’ Enclosure! However, we quietened down briefly and he decided to join us! Brilliant scenes and thanks to wonderful Racecourse Photographer Nigel Kirby for capturing the emotion so well in his photos. We continued our celebrations in the outside winners’ area, looked after superbly by Jane Broad, wife of newly retired Jockeys’ Agent Chris, who kept the fizz flowing as we re-lived the race on a large TV and raised a poignant glass to absent friends.
We had to wait a few hours for our second runner of the day, Pay The Woman, who, like Debden, had won last time out. That was at Ffos Las where she started at 40-1 however she showed yesterday that it was no fluke that day, following up in gutsy style. The favourite, who eventually finished 3rd, was backed as if losing was simply not possible and, again, our horse drifted in the market. However, she didn’t know that and James, once again, carried out my instructions to the letter, giving her a positive ride and, despite possibly looking booked for 2nd half way up the straight, she doesn’t know when she’s beaten and battled to the line to win by a length. More noise, more celebrations and a huge well done to the Foxtrot Racing Team – what lucky owners they seem to be. She was superbly bought by Gerry Hogan, who was quickly on the phone afterwards, to replace the now retired legend Solstice Star. She had huge hooves to fill but what a job she’s doing! Holiday time for her now – a lovely mare who we need to look after.
What a day in so many ways and so very sad that Richard wasn’t there to share it with us. A stark reminder that we must live for each and every day – he did just that.
A busy day today too. I head to Southwell where we run Mark Boothright’s Pinnacle Peak (Sean Bowen) and Owners for Owners’ Dreamsundermyfeet (Rex Dingle) and Belinda heads to Newton Abbot with her beloved Mr Mafia for Peter & Jane Boggis (James Bowen) and Matthew Baker’s Brianna Rose in the bumper under James Best. We are on 7 winners already which I’ve been reliably informed is the quickest 7 winners ever for our team and we’d dearly love to add to it today. My boys are busy too – it’s exam week for Freddie and Bikeability at school for Harry – it’s all go!