Toby Coles’s diary: bumpers are just that

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  • This past week was conducted at the usual manic pace. Wednesday began with preparations for Eastern Chariot’s much-anticipated first trip to the racecourse. Sammy and the filly left bound for a one-mile six-furlong National Hunt bumper at Huntingdon. The Racing Post had stated that she was unlikely to prove my first winner over the jumps!

    While Sammy was stuck in traffic on the infamous A14, I was taking Charlie’s Boy for his first schooling session in company. He was to go with one of my landlord’s horses who has run a couple of times over hurdles. Both schooled very well and I was pleased with Charlie’s Boy’s empathy with a hurdle. After doing Charlie’s Boy up I jumped into my Czechoslovakian Rolls Royce (Skoda) and set off in hot pursuit of Eastern Chariot to Huntingdon.

    What you should know about Eastern Chariot is that despite being knee-height to a grasshopper and as thin as a rake, she has the heart of a lion. When going round the parade ring, the next smallest horse must have been at least a hand and a half bigger than her. However, cantering down to the start under Mr Richard Collinson, she didn’t look that out of place. I hope she had been noticed in the ring, not for the lack of her size, but for how well she looked, because she did look a picture.

    I now know why National Hunt Bumpers have the word bumper in them. To me it looked more like the front row of an international rugby union scrum! She didn’t disappoint and ran as expected, beating a few home, some of who were considerably shorter in the market than she had been.

    Thursday was a relatively easy morning on the yard and after four lots I disappeared off to Leicestershire to see the horses with Matthew Mackley. Both Rich And Reckless and Nineteensixtysix looked in great shape and will join me shortly. Cotton King seems to be enjoying his life of leisure. Unbeknownst to him it will end with an abrupt bang as he returns to me and full training at the beginning of next month. Lastly, the Royal Applause filly yearling, now named Skyblue, is progressing at a rate of knots and looks fantastic.

    A barber in waiting

    My parents’ home is just around the corner from Matthew’s so I went home for a bite of luncheon. However, hiding behind the curtain was the barber, as my father had planned an attack as soon as he knew I was on my way. Despite my continuous moans and groans about having my hair cut, I have to admit Ian (the barber) does do a very good job. Not only this, he seems to take a great interest in how our horses run and does not mind leaving his barber’s shop unattended while attacking my unkempt mop.

    Friday saw the anticipated return to the racecourse of Dear Maurice. He strolled in an average fifth and will sport a pair of go-faster goggles the next time he returns. Friday night traffic on the M25 and M11 was something not to be desired; it felt like I was parked on the biggest parking lot this side of the late iron curtain.

    New horses in the yard

    Saturday morning was a good gallop morning for Main Beach and Charlie’s Boy, both of whom went together, Main Beach under me and Charlie’s Boy under Dicky Collinson. They went over a mile on the Cambridge Road polytrack. Both were pleasing in the way they galloped. I then jumped into the little lorry I often hire to head for a village in the depths of Hertfordshire, Brent Pelham, to collect an unraced three-year-old colt by Royal Applause, aptly named Brent Pelham.

    Saturday also saw the collection of a yearling by Medicean (pictured above) from a fellow trainer — something which is embarrassing but part of the business. Thankfully he was very understanding and wished us all the luck in the world. It was Sammy’s weekend off which she massively deserved and probably needed. I can only imagine what it must be like working with me day in, day out, for the last seven months!

    Sunday morning was an early start as I wanted to ride most of the horses and I was by myself. Main Beach had come through his gallop well and, for such a big horse, can squeal like a little pig when enjoying himself. I decided to grab the bull by the horns and take Brent Pelham on to the Heath. He is a magnificent-looking beast and made sure that everyone knew it as he screamed his head off from start to finish, something which will probably take a couple of weeks until he grows up and learns that boarding school is for the big boys!

    I also decided that I would break in the new yearling colt. The previous trainer had got him to the stage of someone lying across his back. I spent quite some time playing with him in his stable teaching him that he could trust me. By the time I had finished I could play “round the world” without a second thought. I then took him outside and led him around where I was going to ride him. Once I had gained his trust and he had got used to the surroundings I jumped on. He never looked back and was very forward while being cautious under me. A good morning all in all.

    Once again my surrogate family gave me a wonderful Sunday luncheon and I somewhat struggled to leave the table as I had eaten so much. In fact I had eaten too much, my stomach was not very happy with me as I had trebled it in size and in turn I was rather ill through the night. I now know what King John felt like when he died from over-eating.

    Monday morning came around rather fast, and with it a sharp frosty morning. With the leaves having fallen, it would have been a perfect scenting morning. I will hopefully see the hunting field at least once this year, even if it is after second horses. I long for the thrill of the chase!

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