The last day at school

It turns out leaving 30 minutes early for Newmarket on this particularly gloomy morning was a good idea. Wrong training centre I hear your say. And you would of course be right, as I am spending most of my time in Lambourn at the moment.

However, this week I am in Newmarket for the final three and half days of my training modules. Which means, gulp, three weeks today the time will have come. I will be able to have runners as Harry Derham the Racehorse Trainer.

I’m not sure if I am excited or terrified.

Anyway, sat in the Racing School car park half an hour ahead of schedule I thought I’d pull together a quick blog to let you know how I am getting on. I have just come off the phone to my quite brilliant Head Lad Graham who assures me that everything is going swimmingly without me getting in the way and first lot have head out to the gallops.

That has put my mind at rest for now and it should be a good thirty seconds or so before I start wondering how they’re getting on at home without me.

My team, in the few weeks I have been at Racing School through this autumn into winter have been brilliant, getting on with their jobs and looking after the horses extremely well. As I have learnt over time, it is so important to have a great team.

Graham and I are in contact throughout the day and FaceTime in the evenings to go through the work board and the next days plans. I’ll be back on Thursday night and really look forward to putting the final preparations into my horses before my license is through at Christmas.

The countdown is very much on now and each day that goes by I feel a little more nervous but that is also matched with excitement.

I am extremely focussed on how my horses are training and have tried to stick for the most part to the routines Graham and I have thought out for each horse. Looking round them all on Friday with their rugs off I was delighted to see their coats in excellent condition and them looking well.

This obviously means nothing if they don’t run well but in the school of Ditcheat you learn to have your horses looking in excellent condition, happy and relaxed and the rest should take care of itself.

It has been a real challenge to get myself accustomed to a new group of horses alongside a new set of gallops but it has been a challenge I have enjoyed. Graham, who has been in Lambourn for a large part of his career has been a massive help to me in that respect, so too has A P McCoy who has ridden out for me a few times lending his experience and valuable insight. To have him helping us out has been brilliant. He also happens to still be pretty bloody excellent on the back of a horse, so much so that my jockey Paul O’Brien has concern he might try a comeback! All joking aside though his help has been wonderful.

I have not really spoken about Paul in my blog yet so it seems like a good time to introduce him. We were discussing it the other day and came around the the terrifying fact that it was about 10 years ago when we sat alongside one another in the weighing room, two inexperienced conditional jockeys trying to make our way, which sadly made us feel a bit older than perhaps we had hoped we were!

Paul is a thoroughly likeable character and I spoke to him in June about coming into ride out for me. Ed Bailey, my Bloodstock Agent and I came to the conclusion he would be a good man to have on our side and happily Paul said the idea of getting involved appealed to him. We left it that we would touch base nearer September when the horses were about to come into work.
I’m fast learning that with Paul this is no surprise, but sure enough the day before the horses came in he was on the phone saying I’ll be in tomorrow and has been in twice a week since. For a trainer just starting out to have someone to help school and work the horses on a regular basis has been fantastic. He now knows all of my horses inside out and in return for him supporting me I am going to do the same to him on the track.

Of course like any new partnership I am sure we will take time to get to know what each other wants to do on the track, but I have great belief that we can team up to hopefully have some success. I’m looking forward to legging him up on my first runners.

Well what about those runners?
We are planning to have a good few ready for the period between Christmas and New Year with names like Helenn Clermont, Game Winner, Il Va De Soi, Fourofakind, Hard Frost and Dargiannini all pencilled in to make their first starts for me around that time. I also have a team of horse preparing for just into the New Year so I am hopeful to get going with some nice runners.

Of course with any new business or new horse, in this instance it is a fact finding mission and I will learn plenty about some of them when they race in terms of how to train them and what to aim them for. However being me, I am ambitious and desperately want to do well with them straight off the bat.

A few people have asked me if I’m feeling pressure and I whilst I certainly am, nobody could be putting more pressure on me than myself. It’s a funny thing really as I have been so lucky with the support I have had from lots and lots of owners and people around me that hope and want me to do well, which is a lovely feeling. However, I am only too aware that the only currency in this sport is results, so I am anxious to get started and do well. It makes me nervous even thinking about it to be honest.
As I say the next three and a half days are at the Racing School completing my final trainers modules and then the real hard work begins. As cheesy as it sounds, being granted my license will be the realisation of a dream I have held for sometime now.

The thing about achieving those things however is that it is then time to set another target, another goal, another dream and it obviously doesn’t take a scientist to work out what the next one would be.

I will of course try and do another blog before it is go time but until then.

Go well

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