Gaby Cooke’s blog: Grand National, dressage clinics and flowers from afar

  • It’s been a rather quiet week here at The Wharf and a weekend off competing. Meaning instead of trundling off to Weston Park, we got to put our feet up and watch the whole of the Aintree meeting on Saturday. All the ponies got worked and finished early so we could carry on the Grand National tradition in our household.

    Mum made an amazing curry, with all the trimmings. I have to say it was wonderful, in fact a little too good. All of us struggled to stay awake throughout the afternoon, desperately trying not to be engulfed into a food coma! However, what a fantastic afternoon of racing it was, and what a finish to the big race itself.

    As sporting heros and champions are made, there is always the other side of the tale – my heart goes out to everyone involved with the two horses that were lost. Both were devastating in their own right, one a champion and the other a horse of a lifetime, who was travelling and jumping perfectly. But this is life’s cruel turn of fate – something I’ve definitely experienced first hand.

    Gallops and dressage lessons

    Anyway… We’ve been busy going off to the gallops with William (Broadway Star) and we keep alternating the young horses for a little trip up the gallops too. I think it’s important for them to go now and then to learn to gallop and, of course, strengthen up.

    It was also a big dressage day yesterday. I’ve managed to persuade my dressage trainer, Chris White, to come down every other Tuesday to do a clinic here. This is just perfect – means I don’t have to do them all in a row and can slot in other people’s lesson between mine.

    Despite the very miserable weather in the morning, it brightened up and was glorious all afternoon. Only a couple of rather heavy quick showers -one poor person became the victim of these! It was a very long day with lots of lessons, but was fantastic and I hope everyone enjoyed it.

    A little surprise from my boyfriend Jeremy, currently in Afghanistan, knocked on my door on Monday, in the form of a beautiful bunch of flowers and a note saying “thank you for putting up with this”. Bless him, so sweet! I’ve been hearing from him a lot recently so that combined with the flowers means I reckon he’s got a little bit of time on his hands.

    Getting the babies going

    I’ve also hopped on to the two four-year-olds. They were both very good and much to my relief they don’t seem to have forgotten much from last year. Unfortunately, the weather has been so awful I thought I would give them a miss for a few days.

    So instead we’ve got my two very pretty Grafenstolz yearlings in for handling. They are as sweet as pie and settling into life going on the walker and being groomed. Well, they’ve learned to love the grooming and scratching – they were not impressed at all to start with!

    With another quiet weekend ahead, we’re busy out in the lorry lots showjumping and cross-country schooling, prepping William for his first advanced.


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