Martin’s Blog 23rd December

Two days racing at Ascot with Olympia in the middle has got us into the Christmas spirit!

On Friday we had Reve and Solstice Star there and the wind was such that both hurdles were taken out in the home straight. Reve got himself so worked up in the walk to the track that he was absolutely dripping in sweat – so much so owner Ollie Ryan and myself had a discussion whether to run him. We decided to as it was mild and he is a free sweater although we were concerned that it was more than he’d sweated before. Tom Bellamy was asked to look after him if he didn’t feel himself.

They didn’t get quite the start I’d have liked but he jumped for fun so no thoughts of his fall at Leicester last time even if the sweating may have suggested he was worrying. I was a little disappointed that he never properly got into it but am pleased he had an enjoyable race and we may taken him to the races as a companion once or twice before he runs again.

Solstice Star got a great lead and jumped for fun under Harry Stock. However a combination of the strong headwind all the way up the straight and, Harry thought, him needing his palate cauterised again saw him go from looking like he was going to win to finishing so weary he wobbled after the line and Harry had to dismount. The vets were quickly on hand though with water and he caught his breath and recovered quite quickly. He’ll need time before he runs again so we’ll get it done and freshen him up. What fun Foxtrot Racing have had with him already this season and I’m sure he’ll bounce back again.

Olympia on Friday night was superb so huge thanks to Ollie Garner for looking after us so well. The boys loved it and could hardly pinpoint just one part but the boys vs girls jockeys challenge was brilliant and they always love going behind the scenes especially to see the Shetlands in their stables. It certainly starts Christmas for us and we stayed over to save a long late drive home and back again yesterday morning.

Freddie needed to be at Ascot before noon as he received his prize for finishing 2nd in the 128cm ponies Pony Club Pony Racing Series for 2018. He proudly received his prize on the famous Ascot podium – so kind of Ascot to allow the children their moment of glory at such a big course and a brilliant Pony Club Series which allows the children to be competitive in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. Roll on 2019!

We had to wait until the last race of the day but with all the great racing on yesterday there was plenty to amuse us, for Forecast under Tom Bellamy replacing injured Conor Shoemark. I’m kicking myself for the tactics we employed with Forecast as I decided it was best to stick to the normal tactics and to drop him out and get him settled hoping that, in the soft ground, the field would stop and enable him to pick them off up the straight. Over 2 miles this didn’t happen and we never really got into it, which is frustrating, but he’s fine today and we’ll not use such exaggerated tactics next time.

Tonight is our Team Christmas Party at The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power – a night that our team deserve to let their hair down and Landlord (and owner with us) Hugh Kelly always looks after us superbly. Tomorrow I’m dishing out all the goodies that have kindly been left for the team over the past few weeks. Thanks to everyone who has been so generous, they are a great team and it’s hard working with horses that they don’t recognise Christmas and therefore we can’t just shut up shop and have a few days off so it’s thanks to my team that we can keep the show on the road.