Fergal O’Brien: We all do it for the love of the job *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    Winter has properly arrived and we’ve had a fair bit of snow. We had five to six inches where we’re based in Gloucestershire, and this obviously affects work and racing. A few meetings, including Huntingdon, Kelso and Musselburgh were abandoned.

    It’s been a real effort to get in and make sure all the horses are hayed, watered, rugged and looked after, and our staff have all been brilliant. Racing isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life, and the dedication stable staff show is admirable. We all do it for the love of the job.

    At this time of year, most people are thinking about their Christmas breaks, but for us it’s the busiest time of year. We’re planning who’s working when, not what everyone’s having for Christmas lunch. It’s hard for the staff as they have family who do “normal” jobs, and therefore it’s a sacrifice to work over the holidays — but no one complains.

    With the snow you have to get in one way or another — if you worked in a supermarket 12 miles away, you might call up and say you couldn’t get in, but you can’t do that with horses.

    While the weather’s bad, we’ll get as many out as possible, but only the ones that really need to, the rest will go on the walker. It’s the same over Christmas, only the ones that really need to be ridden out will be. Although saying that, Christmas morning is always really busy and we have a lot of people wanting to ride out — maybe it’s so they can justify their turkey dinner later on!

    Two outstanding winners

    We’ve had a successful week — Barney Dwan ran really well at Market Rasen on Thursday last week, winning by 15 lengths on his first time out over fences. He was a real star and jumped brilliantly.

    Meanwhile, his half-brother Time To Move On won in the bumper at Exeter on Friday (8 December). He bolted up by 10 lengths, which is very exciting for the future.

    The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival was great; Newbury, as ever, was brilliant and there were some big crowds, plus all owners and trainers were well looked after. It was disappointing for us as Cap Soleil lost her unbeaten run when finishing second in the Ladbrokes Mares’ Hurdle.

    We have a quieter couple of weeks coming up. We’ve had a lot of horses out running recently and we’re all looking forward to Christmas.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 14 December 2017