The summer was a good one, even though I didn’t have many runners during the early part of the National Hunt season because I am not a huge fan of summer jump racing.
However, my time has not been wasted as I have been at the sales, restocking and rebuilding for the season ahead — I now probably have the best bunch of horses since relocating to the delights of Gloucestershire.
For all jump trainers, this is a time of dreams and looking forward to the winter ahead. It is a special time because not too many of our swans have been relegated to geese.
Talking of dreams, Vinndication winning the Soxedo Gold Cup at Ascot on Saturday, 2 November, certainly proved that swans still float around our yard at Thorndale. His impressive win has set us all dreaming of further Gold Cups in years to come with this exciting young chaser.
He was one of our bright hopes last season and although he failed to shine at the Cheltenham Festival, he has started this season a revitalised horse thanks to a wind operation. His race record now reads as seven wins from nine career starts, so not too shabby.
Sunday, 3 November, saw Two For Gold win up at Carlisle — a rather poignant win as sadly one of his owners, Cattistock hunting man Dermot Clancy, died in September. He would have loved to see his young star sailing over those big fences.
This job is great when the horses run well and win, and we have some smashing young horses to watch out for this season, including Newtide, Mr Grey Sky, Happygolucky, Bobhopeornohope, Prince Llywelyn, Subway Surf and Imperial Aura.
I have just returned from a trip to Sydney visiting my son, Harry, who is working there for bloodstock agent and auctioneer company Inglis. I had an interesting day watching how the Australians sell their racehorses.
During my trip, I was shocked by the lack of post-racing care they have for ex-racehorses. The climate in Australia makes it difficult to retire racehorses, plus there is the cost of looking after them on land that is often parched by draught.
We must thank our lucky stars that we have the brilliant Retraining of Racehorses organisation, which helps ex-racehorses find new careers. The hunting community in the UK also helps provide great homes for our treasured horses, as do so many other disciplines, including showing, eventing and team chasing. As a National Hunt yard, we take great pride in rehoming our older horses.
Trainer Richard Phillips recently suggested that we should have a day to celebrate and promote the welfare of our horses in training. It is a fabulous idea and something all trainers should take on board.
We are all hugely proud of the welfare of our animals, and they are looked after far better than most humans but, sadly, the general public simply don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of a racing yard.
They see the downside of racing; the unfortunate accidents that happen. However, they don’t see the immediate and outstanding care these horses receive on a daily basis.
Ref Horse & Hound; 7 November 2019