I rode in the amateur hurdle at Catterick on Wednesday aboard Winged Faras, who appreciated the better ground
Fearing jockey and horse would need the run after 15 days with a snowed-in wagon, frozen gallops and fair weather opening at the gym, I was surprised we were beaten only five lengths. Unfortunately the following day a pointer decided to head butt me on the gallops, inadvertently smashing my nose, which exploded. I am now sporting one of my son's Thomas the Tank Engine plasters to hide the worst of the damage and hoping no one will notice at the black tie Christmas party tonight.
Arguably the best qualified huntsman in the land is returning to hunt the Sinnington Hounds next season. Adrian Dangar will take up his former role 12 years after leaving for the Quorn in Leicestershire. A passionate countryman, Adrian has chalked up numerous Macnabs and hunted all over the world. A journalist for The Field magazine, he also runs a successful bespoke travel company – "Wild and Exotic" from his home in Nunnington. I look forward to following my friend back on his old Helmsley stomping ground.
The cold snap has meant providing extra feed and hay for those horses living out. Peter, my father, does the same with his wintering cattle. The bullocks recognise his truck pulling into the field knowing breakfast has arrived.
Cattle are strong, wilful creatures and can cause more damage to a parked vehicle than a group of monkeys in a safari park. Peter has worked out a hassle-free way to feed them.
Leaving the front door ajar and the jeep in gear, he walks behind it throwing the hay out from the back door as it moves, avoiding any bombardment from the hungry beasts.
Then he hastily jumps back aboard and heads off. This rather hit and miss approach has seen its fair share of close calls.
The two terriers, Pingu and Piglet, are occasionally allowed to escort him on his morning duties in hope of poaching some rabbit action while his back is turned.
However, once hunting they are reluctant to return, much to their chaperones' annoyance. One particular day they accompanied Dad to the riverside land where we were cantering. He shut the door so the dogs couldn't disappear as he walked behind the jeep feeding the bullocks. On finishing the bale, he jogged to the front door only to find it locked from the inside.
Mildly panicking, he hurried round to jump in the passenger side as the jeep plodded along on auto pilot. That door wouldn't open either. The terriers, spying easy prey outside had pawed and slavered at the windows accidentally pressing down both locks.
Peter froze, momentary fear flashed in his face as he watched the departing jeep. Two little faces peered over the dashboard, like a tentative elderly couple, heading directly for the swollen River Wharfe ahead.
In Scooby Doo-style he caught up with the vehicle and managed to open the cumbersome back door and jump aboard as it slammed shut on his fingers. Four bales of hay lay between him and the handbrake which had to be grasped if they were to avoid being carried downstream. Fingers throbbing, he chucked the bales out one by one. Just as the vehicle lurched off the bank side, he leaned through the gap and wrenched on the hand brake throwing the dogs into the foot well and the back tyres skidding to a halt on the sand bank. It was the nearest Dad's jeep has come to a wash in years.