Martin’s Blog 16th December

Great to be back at Cheltenham yesterday and to catch up with so many friends too. Spice Girl’s race was a muddly race and she never got into a rhythm or jumped like she does at home and therefore couldn’t be competitive in that grade. We’ll give her even more schooling and drop her back to a smaller track and go from there as she’s much better than she showed yesterday.

Viking Mistress is as tough as they come albeit with a fragile body so she’s quite difficult to train but she is so genuine and willing and yesterday gave our Martin Keighley Racing Club such a thrill with their first Cheltenham runner – something most of them had never even dreamt of. Alice Plunkett from ITV Racing interviewed Paul Davis and quite a few of the members in the Pre-parade Ring whilst Viking Mistress was being saddled which was fabulous. She ran another solid race and jumped really well to finish 5th … we were all hoping and praying for a 4th place so the Club could walk into the famous Winners’ Enclosure – nearly but not quite so next time!

Richard Johnson was once again superb. What an ambassador he is for racing – he happily posed for photos before and after the race and afterwards gave us all a very detailed debrief on his thoughts of the race, Mistress and where to go next with her and he spoke to every single member as if they were the sole owner. He made them all feel very special, had time for everyone and underlined what a true Champion Jockey he is – we are very lucky to have him and what a role model for any young jockey. (Although Yogi Breisner told Freddie not to copy his style over a jump – “he’s brilliant at what he does and unique but don’t try and copy him” he said!)

Last night at the Sales we didn’t manage to secure a new horse – trade was as crazy as the previous sale and horses making massive prices.

Afterwards the Ballymountain Boy partnership kindly took Belinda and myself out for a Christmas Supper at the Hotel du Vin in Cheltenham which we love. The food was superb and the company hugely entertaining so a great night was had by all and thanks to Paul Davis for driving.

Paul was in bright and early this morning to watch the horses on the gallops. Lots of salting required around the yard and on the road as another hard frost here last night.

Brillare Momento goes today and is in great form. She’s won twice at Cheltenham already (April and October) this year and we’d dearly love it to be the third time today although it’s a very competitive race. She’s got to reverse form with Momello who beat her at Newton Abbot but that was a run too many for her at the end of last season and the track wouldn’t have suited her either. I’m delighted with how she is at home and so is Isabelle Mangan who looks after and rides her out. It would be fabulous to get a good result ahead of tomorrow’s Staff Christmas Party at the Hollow Bottom – a night my team thoroughly deserve for all their hard work and dedication.

Champion Court had lots of visitors this morning – Lesley Sutton who bid for and won the chance to ride Champion Court in Belinda’s Macmillan Charity auction and Dawn Spooner, who bid for and won the chance to look after Champ for the day, both came this morning so plenty of carrots for him!

Happy Birthday to Cheltenham’s Head Groundsman Ben Hastie today – what a superb job him and his team do at Cheltenham and Ben couldn’t be more supportive of us and our yard.



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