Jo Foster: Over the stable door

The point to point season is now in full swing.

Tomorrow we head to the Hurworth meeting at Hutton Rudby. It is a popular track attracting plenty of runners and a strong crowd always turn up to cheer them home. It is my groom Steff’s second outing so I shall be nervous.

Next Sunday all eyes are on the Badsworth and Bramham Moor who boast a new track at Askham Bryan College near York. Clerk of the course Wayne Burnell and his team have worked hard with the College to prepare the track at short notice since losing Whitcliffe Grange in Ripon. Holding the meeting at Askham Bryan offers students a new and exciting opportunity to be involved with, although I suspect for many the bar may prove the biggest attraction.

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The College boasts a diverse array of land-based courses and apprenticeships to help anyone wanting a career in the countryside. Tomorrow they open their doors to the public for Lambing Sunday. It is a chance to see the spring lambs with their mothers at close quarters. There are calves being fed, a robotic milking machine and cows being milked in the parlour at 2.30pm. With plenty of children’s activities it is a great way for everyone to learn more about farming in a fun way. The day starts at 10am and entry is £5, under 16’s are free.

A particularly unusual feature on the grounds of the new course is an old water tank. Erected on the highest point of the York vale, it once provided water to all the farms in the district.

At present my spare time is taken up with planning Skipton races on May 2. With a new £1000 Ladies feature race held over 3 miles 4 furlongs I hope it will attract plenty of runners. There are so many people who come together to help run a point to point, it is quite incredible. I think hunting and farming folk are unique in their dependability as a community to pull together and help each other. It is gratifying to be part of it.

Things have been fairly hectic at home. Builders are converting the old farm mistal in to a house so there is noise and dust everywhere when I step out of my back door. They have unearthed all kinds of antique farm machinery in the old ostlers loft from Shire horse harnesses to Fordson Major Tractor doors. Apart from my brother and me ferreting around in there as youngsters (when told strictly we weren’t allowed to) things won’t have been touched since the 1960’s. It is like a treasure trove of memories.

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The horses have been running well and we have had a number of winners recently. Last week we had a winner at Hexham, it was the 9 year olds first ever win on his third start for me. We were overjoyed but our joy soon turned to bitter disappointment when soon after the race the estranged owner rang to tell me he had sold the horse to my neighbour earlier in the day, without any a consultation to me. It seemed the agreement we had together was thrown out of the window when it suited him. To my small yard this is a big blow.

My father has always taught me to give someone your word is as good as a written contract and should always be honoured. To fail is just plain disrespectful. It seems not many people follow the same level of principle and it is hurtful when those we have learned to trust let us down so blatantly.

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