Yesterday was an emotional rollercoaster of a day and one where I know I wasn’t the only one to feel totally drained by the end of it. I was nearly at Plumpton when I received a phone call from Belinda that I was dreading, the horrendous news that Chris Stock – our friend, huge supporter, owner and father to our Conditional Jockey Harry, had lost his brave fight against cancer. Since Chris was diagnosed earlier this year both he and his family have shown such strength and courage and the reality today doesn’t quite seem real and it certainly isn’t fair. It’s said too often that you couldn’t meet a nicer person but with Chris it really was true – he was an absolute gentleman and we have all lost a wonderful man. He leaves behind an incredibly special family and we’ll be doing all we can to support them over the days and months ahead as, I’m sure, will their family and huge amount of friends too. He’ll be sorely missed by so many.
At Plumpton Lord Condi was our first runner and was making his second start over hurdles after a rough run last time which we hoped he’d put behind him – he’d been intensively schooled since and jumped well. He certainly did put it behind him and under a positive ride from Aidan Coleman, he grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck and eventually beat the favourite quite cosily. Obviously we were all so thrilled for him to win for his supportive connections and in the striking heart colours of owner Joe Saumarez-Smith for the first time (we rotate colours for many of our partnerships each season) and for Mick who rides him out at home and looks after him too and we hope he can continue to build on that run. For some of us though the emotions of a winner so soon after receiving such dreadful news when we are a very close knit team wasn’t easy to take – as I said earlier, a real rollercoaster of a day.
Our other runner was Buckle Street and Richard Johnson came in for the ride on him. Although he started sweetly (things went wrong at the start last time and he was left at the start & I felt it was harsh to be described as ‘refused to race’) and looked to be running a big race until he faded tamely and was a bit disappointing. Richard however reported he was always hanging – something he has done before on occasions, even when winning, but the physios were 100% happy with him going into the race and Richard did report he jumped really well. A bit of a mystery but, as usual, he’ll be fully checked out again by both our physios this week – he is sound this morning and has eaten up.
Back at home and we were the venue for a Training Day for the Pony Racing Authority with Patrick & Julie Scott training and assessing about a dozen children from 8 to 15 years old from those having their first try to those who have ridden plenty of winners and on a variety of shapes and sizes of ponies from the very fluffy to some that wouldn’t look out of place in training! The rain thankfully eased and the children enjoyed instruction on two mechanical horses, used a variety of fitness equipment and were given techniques to work on before their riding and control was assessed on our circular enclosed loop gallop and they were eventually allowed to gallop in pairs up our hill carpet gallop. We’ve already received messages of thanks and Belinda reported some very happy children and parents.
A stunning morning here today in glorious sunshine with Mark Boothright and Elouise Renouard and Tyrone Hanlon in to watch Debden Bank and Back on the Lash do a fast piece of work and also to watch horses schooling over hurdles and fences on the grass. A big thank you to the members of the team who were in to ride out in the awful rain yesterday, some on their day off, to allow the horses to work or school today as Monday is usually an easy day for the horses after their Sunday off. It really was much appreciated.
Aidan Coleman and Andrew Tinkler both in this morning and we schooled Reve, Primogeniture, Chequered View, Brillare Momento, Raving Bonkers, Twentyoneblackjack, Pirate Look, World War, Dr Dunraven, Lerichi Belle and Oscar World. A fabulous morning in brilliant sunshine and the horses all looking and jumping well.