Martin’s Blog 29th January

Cheltenham on Saturday and despite absolutely jumping for fun Solstice Star looks well and truly in the grip of the Handicapper as he’s run consistently without winning. Indeed when he ran last time out over hurdles in December he was still 6lbs higher than when he won on Trials Day two years ago. Hopefully he’ll give him a chance as he deserves to be back winning soon.

It was a huge step up in grade for Fairmount following his impressive win at Ffos Las. He struggled in the grade at this stage of his career but is a nice horse for the future and we’ll drop him back in grade.

On Festival Trials day in 2016 Cheltenham fell silent when the awful news was announced that Many Clouds had just died. On Saturday you could literally hear a pin drop as the whole course fell silent once again for a minutes silence before the Cleeve Hurdle whilst we all remembered Richard Woollacott who had died aged just 40 earlier in the week. Tragically he suffered from a mental illness that most of us were unaware of as he seemed to be one of the happiest trainers you could meet – never without a broad smile. In yesterday’s Racing Post Alastair Down wrote a powerful piece after talking to Richard’s widow Kayley.

Yesterday we went to Cocklebarrow Point to Point where I was pleased to see that Racing Welfare had a stand. They not only help staff in racing but also Trainers themselves (Belinda keeps reminding me!) and those in the breeding and pre-training industry too. Racing is a wonderful sport but can be a tough and lonely one at times and all encompassing too so we are very lucky to have Racing Welfare and all their services and it’s great that there is much more of an awareness of what they can offer us all. They aren’t just there for when bones are broken and to help with gym memberships but can get counselling quicker than any GP and offer help in times of financial hardship too. Their helplines can not be shared too often….

We went to watch Creepy and Mortlestown in particular at the Point to Point – two horses that won six races for us between them including Creepy winning a Grade 2 around Cheltenham. He’s now become a fabulous schoolmaster for the Dee Family winning 3 point to points last season including two for eldest son Charlie, now a Bloodstock Agent, and this season it is the turn of younger brother Robbie and he ran a good race to finish 4th. Their trainer Claire Hart rode the winner of the Ladies Open on Dabinett Moon – an Aunty of Pomme De Nuit and trained by Pomme’s owner/breeders Christopher & Fran Marriott. We are waiting for better ground for Pomme to make her debut in a bumper.

Two runners today in the same race at Hereford – Cul De Poule and Madame Fiona both owned & bred by Roger & Yvonne Allsop. Fiona needs to start today after two blips in her career so far so I have to say I was doing plenty of winding up yesterday when I collected my boys after a Mud Run Birthday Party as the birthday boy was the son of today’s Starter Sophia Upton! No pressure Soph!

A usual busy Monday morning with Farrier Nick Partridge, Physio Maggie Turner and the vet in too. We took a couple of horses to Jon Trice-Rolph’s Todenham base for some schooling and all the rest at home just did quiet canters.