Martin’s Blog 17th April

Our horses remain oblivious to the strange times that surround us. They are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and are chilled out and allowing me to take plenty of footage which I’ve been assured is uplifting during these times of Lockdown. I’m experimenting even more video footage, thanks to owner Neil Clifton, and with help from Freddie so keep posted on my social media feeds!

Nothing this week though has been more uplifting than one of Yorkshire’s finest – War Hero Captain Tom Moore, the 99 year old who pledged to walk 100 laps of his garden and in doing so raise money for NHS with an initial target of £500, before his 100th Birthday on 30th April. Well yesterday he achieved that feat of 100 laps and, as I type, has just passed the £18 million mark – wow! Along with his strapline of #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay – he has inspired the nation and, as he hails from Keighley, I’m also hoping he’s helped those that struggle with pronouncing the name will now realise how to say it! Well done Captain Tom, you have brought so much joy, are so humble and a complete inspiration.

I’ve enjoyed sharing our Cheltenham winners throughout Lockdown with a new winner most days. Whilst I’ve only got a day left to share our final Cheltenham winner (…so far!) it’s brought so much joy reliving each and every one. 7 years ago today was a very special winner with Champion Court & Ian Popham winning the Macmillan Cancer Support Silver Trophy in great style for Mark Boothright. What a brilliant day. Zoe & Abi Stock collected the boys from Nursery & School respectively, got them changed going down Cleeve Hill and they ran in to get there in time for the horses walking down the shute …and Freddie said to Richard Johnson, riding fancied Menorah, “Good Luck Dickie, hope you’re 2nd”….out of the mouths of babes! They were! We still laugh about it with Dickie to this day!

Last night we had our weekly treat of a takeaway from Greedys Fish & Chips in Stow on the Wold. Run by the Shoemark Family we are keen to support them and last night Kieran Shoemark was the delivery driver! They were delicious as always and a break for me, the Chef, from cooking supper on the BBQ as usual – I can highly recommend them. Belinda joked that we know we are in a hugely racing area with Kieran delivering the chips and during her rare visits to Stow she’s bumped into (well not under 2 metres!) Alastair Down in the Post Office and then Johnny Burke after she’d done the food shop!

I’m sure I’m working longer hours even than normal with so much to do around the yard at this time of the year – not that I’m complaining as we are lucky to live where we do and I’m lucky to still be able to keep busy. The weather means that there I’ve seeded some of the fields whilst others need mowing and strimming. Freddie is keen to learn and help where he can and is at the age that he’s getting quite useful. He’s not looking forward to home schooling starting again on Monday – I’m sure Belinda isn’t either!

We have a twice weekly conference call with Jon Hughes and Paul Davis to ensure we are on top of everything – Paul is head of finances and there isn’t a £1 spent that he doesn’t know where it’s gone and he’s obviously even more of a help to us at the moment. We are so lucky to have them both advising us, none more so than now, and it’s very odd not to see them both – they are within 10/15 minutes of the yard and therefore love nothing more than to come up on a schooling or work morning and watch all the horses, including those they are involved in, and speak to the team. They are also loving the videos I’m taking, as are our Team who are furloughed thus also not allowed into the yard. Strange times but we have a great team and we will get through this and hopefully come out the other side even stronger.

All celebrations are odd during Lockdown – I’m not one for birthdays but do hope, for everyone’s sake, that we our out of Lockdown by mine in June! Today we wish owner and great friend Peter Boggis a very happy birthday. With summer jump racing delayed they have kept hold of their superstar Mr Mafia until we know when it will resume and we look forward to having more fun with him when racing is back on.

Wishing you all a good weekend, wherever you are – stay safe and well and I’ll update the Blog again on Monday.