Firstly, a very happy New Year to you all. I wish you a very prosperous 2014 and I hope that it will be a good year for me too!
2013 was slightly frustrating; I was wait listed for Badminton on Louie (Bankon Louie) and then various horse injuries plagued me for the rest of season. Sadly, as all horse people know only too well, that’s how it goes with our 4-legged friends and we learn to appreciate the good days even more for it. Having juggled eventing with academic studies for most of my life, it’s very exciting to be able to give it my whole attention and hopefully my results will begin to reflect this. So bring on 2014!
Before I move onto 2014 I must reflect on the last few weeks, which has brought some pretty exciting news for our family. On Christmas day my eldest brother, Harry, proposed to his girlfriend and assistant trainer, Ciara O’Connor. Ciara is an integral part of Harry Fry Racing and Harry wouldn’t have taken out a licence without her support so it is very special and only right she will now become part of the family. I have to admit the moment got a little bit too much for me and I shed a tear (or two!).
Harry Fry Racing started 2014 with a bang, having their first ‘official’ Cheltenham winner with Mendip Express on New Year’s Day with champion point-to-point jockey Will Biddick on board. (When Rock on Ruby won the Champion Hurdle in 2012, Paul Nicholls was the official trainer, although Harry was running the satellite yard where the horse was based).
Will warmed up for this win the day before, hunting with the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale on New Year’s Eve. He rode a 14.2hh pony along with his friend and fellow Harry Fry Racing jockey, Ryan Mahon, on an even smaller pony! (Pictured top, either side of joint master Rupert Nuttall.)
We have enjoyed some great days hunting over the festive period, albeit very wet and muddy ones. Once on the hunting field with the hounds flying and adrenalin high, you quickly forget about the miserable conditions.
I’ve also had my first fall of 2014. I took my young horse, Archie, down to Bicton to use their arena yesterday, which has had some portable XC fences in it and he thought this was all very exciting. Having sat some of his rather exuberant bucks, he then did one acrobatic manoeuvre too many and sent me flying out the side door — naughty boy!
Apart from his antics, I was really pleased with how he went. He popped over everything very confidently. So the New Year is well underway, very soon the new eventing season will be upon us and I cannot wait.