Over the stable door: Countdown to the Pendle

IT’S ‘THAT’ time of year again. The Pendle point to point is two weeks away and I’m running short on time, patience and energy.

Action from last year's Pendle point to point

I keep asking myself why I think I can do everything. It’s always a great day, with huge crowds and a fun atmosphere, I’m ably assisted by Louise the secretary and Chris the course builder but Louise is on jury duty for three weeks so chaos has ensued.

I still have a business to manage, races to attend, staff to organise, a son with an aversion to bath time and a farm to run. Everywhere I look fences need mending or replacing. The winter paddocks need reseeding, so far I have managed a couple of days chain harrowing and rolling so thankfully the pastures look tidier.

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Tris and I are like ships passing in the night, I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with him that didn’t involve pinning up posters or checking the cheapest place to buy wine (I haven’t been driven to drink yet although the thought is tempting). My friend, who organises the race day bar, can’t come so it’s another job on my list.

Last week the Bedale point to point provided a wonderful day out for us. Dan, a pointer the vet had written off for the season back in January, won the Bedale hunt race. His owners are great hunting people who work tirelessly behind the scenes for the Bedale and have had their share of ups and downs in ownership. Fulfilling a lifelong ambition to claim the spectacular trophy, was wonderful reward for their patience.

Meanwhile, Felix and his chums kept the trade stands busy. After the races they strolled back to the wagon with blue tongues, licking enormous lollipops and each carrying a goldfish. “Look what we won on hook a duck,” Felix proudly held aloft his bag. I groaned.

The last time Felix won a goldfish he was five. My parents had taken him to the local fair. We had nothing suitable to keep it in except a vase. After the fish’s first night Felix came down to find it floating limply. He was mortified and I had to explain about our individual responsibility of care for any pet, even a goldfish. “No bowl, no fish,” I said. Three years later another fish appeared.

This time he’d purchased a bowl. We drove home to excited chatter, the fish had been named Sir Swimalot but as we turned into the farm Sir Swimalot’s bag fell in the footwell of the car and burst. My son’s delight turned to panic as the fish flapped around helplessly. I grabbed the bowl, scooped up the fish and ran to the stream carrying both. Hurriedly filling up the bowl with murky stream water I dropped in the fish praying it would not be too late. Obviously the goldfish was shaken but there were vague glimmers of life.

Felix had run off crying so it was with some relief when I was able to show him Sir Swimalot’s sensational return to life. I was hailed a hero, a title which lasted all of five days until the healthy goldfish was found, no longer looking quite so healthy. Felix declared his untimely demise must be my fault for not cleaning the water out properly.

Skipton Races is on Saturday, May 2 at Heslaker Farm, Skipton, BD23 3AB. Gates open at 11am, first race 2pm. Cars £25, under-12s free.