Over the stable door: Hopeful for the big one but helping of luck needed

Another busty day at Cheltenham for the bookies
Another busty day at Cheltenham for the bookies
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It’s a big week for the yard. We have our Jockey Club biannual inspection on Monday so every fire extinguisher, skull cap, stable door, padlock, medicine cabinet and risk assessment has been thoroughly tested, mended or catalogued at great expense.

The inspection involves endless amounts of paperwork - owner’s contracts, hazard reviews and safety policies to cover every eventuality from slipping over on some ice to cutting a finger opening a bale of hay; it is bordering on the ridiculous. It will be a huge relief when Monday is over.

On Wednesday I have an entry for the Cheltenham Festival which will be another memorable day out for the owners if we get to run. Rolo may well get balloted out of his race. We need six horses rated above him to not declare as runners on Tuesday morning. It’s going to be a case of wait and see.

I am planning to visit the festival for a day’s racing whatever happens with the horse. The atmosphere is unlike anywhere else, it’s the place to meet people and do business. I can almost feel the hum of energy from the anticipated 68,000 strong crowd as they watch the runners race up the hill, it will be electrifying.

The new Princess Royal Stand, which last year was a cordoned off building site, has finally been completed at a cost of £45m and provides new corporate boxes, public bars, an owners area and fantastic viewing. It’s aptly named Big Bucks champagne bar not only celebrates the four-time World Hurdle winner but acts as a reminder about the cost of racecourse bubbly.

My son has written a story for the Radio Two children’s writing competition. It was part of his homework so I was astounded when he arrived home from school one day, went upstairs to his room and began scribbling away at his desk without so much as a stern finger wag or a hard-bargained bribe on my part. Undertaking homework willingly just does not happen in our house.

He was still quietly working away when I crept out to feed the horses. An hour later I found him still in his room and was almost deliriously happy to see a full page of scribbled notes on his desk. Felix was by now distractedly playing on his guitar, strumming away what vaguely resembled an AC/DC song.

“Can I read your story yet?” I asked him. He continued his Highway to Hell rendition and ignored me. I asked him again. “Yes. I suppose,” he finally replied with a teenage shrug.

I picked up his pages and began to read his story. It is a tale of Johnny the Lamb, a young girl called Joanne who is given the lamb as a present and her evil grandfather, a farmer who tries to steal Johnny and sell him at the market. I couldn’t help but laugh as I read it, some parts were based upon events he had encountered on the farm although my father is anything but an evil grandpa.

My son smiled coyly when I showered him with praise after finishing it. I am generally quite a harsh critic. Felix then asked if he could get the story published in order to raise money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

“What a fabulous idea,” I told him, overwhelmed at his charitable suggestion. It is a rather good story so I will try my best to get his children’s story in print.