He really does live up to his name – what an absolute star Solstice Star has been for our yard – yesterday’s win at Uttoxeter was his 9th for us spanning 6 years including 5 wins in a row which took in two Cheltenham wins. He’s not been the easiest to train as his body is quite fragile but, along with my fabulous team here, we’ve managed to keep the wheels on over that time and what fun he has given us all.
Lilly Pinchin always looked to be travelling well on him but she sensibly always kept hold of him, filling him up, and he jumped for fun for her too. When she eventually let him go on, the rest couldn’t go with him and he flew clear winning by 17 lengths (just hoping the Handicapper isn’t too harsh on him on Tuesday!). Currently leased by Richard East and James Gibbs to Dan Abraham’s Foxtrot Racing although they remain part of that, he’s just loves the heavy ground that he’s able to get through and made it look easy yesterday.
Whilst we managed to have many, many Channel 4 covered races, as soon as ITV Racing took over it only seems to have been Freddie able to get on as Mini Ed rather than us have a winner which has been a bit frustrating! Our winners have been either before or after coverage started but not any more! Well done to all connected with him – a massive family favourite and now an ITV Saturday winner too! The boys couldn’t be there as Harry was playing football in a local derby but his Northleach team beat Bourton on the Water 6-1 and he scored a goal too so he was happy.
What a great week at Cheltenham – the inevitable highs and a few lows sadly too – we all felt for the Moore family with such bad luck in the Triumph Hurdle. A fabulous family who deserved that winner. Let’s hope they are luckier in next year’s Champion Hurdle – what an engine Goshen looks to have. It does feel though that it won’t be long until racing is forced behind closed doors or even worse, postponed altogether. We’ll see.
Now on to some really, really sad news. I’ve not been able to write a blog since we heard the awful news that Harley Cornock, who until last summer had worked for us for 6 years, had died. Writing those words on here make it all seem so real, too real. Harley was a massive part of our team and we were so fond of him. When he started with us he was very quiet but his riding ability was always fantastic – he had a quiet but firm way with horses and could switch off buzzy horses, sit tight on naughty horses and never worried or got cross with them. His confidence as a person grew the longer he was here too and he got on with absolutely everyone – no-one ever came to us complaining about Harley, he was quite simply a lovely person and the more his confidence grew, the more we saw of crazy fun loving Harley! When he left us in the summer, Harley organised an evening of Go Karting which he predictably won (that was his other passion and he was a very accomplished racing driver when not on a horse!) but during which he presented Belinda with a leaving present – a (nearly) naked calendar of himself around the yard that had been compiled over a few weeks beforehand with the help of his great friend Harry Stock and no doubt others! He was shy no more and we were sad to lose him but his great friend Max Comley had set up a point-to-point yard in Naunton and he was keen to go and support him and we all still kept in touch.
I could write about Harley for hours – we shared so many special times and his photo adorns our walls in the office and at home. He adored Any Currency, led him up when he successful in the Cross Country race at The Festival and even took him to Le Lion D’Angers for a week when he finished 3rd over there, and so it was fitting that, after it didn’t work out with him going Team Chasing, he retired to live with Harley and his family and as a combination they continued to grow together and he was doing well in show jumping competitions with him. There are too many other horses to mention here that his talent helped us win races with. He was a gifted rider and we are all heartbroken that we’ll never see him again. He will never ever be forgotten by us all and in time we hope to remember all the amazing times we shared without it being so painful. All our thoughts are with his lovely family and so pleased to hear that Racing Welfare have already been to see them – they are coming here this week too. We are so fortunate to have such support in racing in such desperate times. Harley, thanks for everything, we’ll all miss you so much and you’ll never be forgotten.