I’m sure there were plenty of trainers that had it much tougher than us around the country, but it was a definitely a testing week for the team here.
The road leading up to our yard is quite steep and narrow, so once the big snow drifts settled on it, access was a problem. What we ended up doing was that the staff parked down in Owning village and we ferried them up and down to the yard with a tractor and trailer.
Fair play to all the team here, as everyone that had any prospects of making it safely into work, made a big effort to do so and thanks to that we had very close to a full squad every day.
The weather that we had last week creates all sorts of issues within a racing yard.
Our water pipes froze, so a lot of time was spent hauling buckets of water around to the horses to make sure they had enough at all times. I don’t think we’ll ever take automatic water troughs for granted again!
There was a lot of snow to be cleared and surfaces to be made safe just so that the horses could be taken out of their boxes. The gallop was also a big concern and we had a rotating crew of people manning the tractor and harrow all night every night to try and keep it useable.
When all was said and done, we managed to get all the horses out onto the gallop every day and were able to maintain their routines as best we could.
I know it has almost become a cliché for trainers to deflect praise from themselves onto their staff, but there couldn’t be better examples of the importance of team efforts within racing yards than those that kept the show on the road all over the country last week.
It really was a herculean effort from all the staff here and thanks to them, the horses we are hoping to run at Cheltenham didn’t have their routines interrupted too much.
We can’t be sure how many runners we’ll have at Cheltenham yet as a few of them will be touch-and-go to get into the handicaps, but the number is likely to be between six and 10. Plans are in the process of being finalised at the moment and the first of them are likely to leave the yard here on Sunday.
It’s a very exciting time for all of us here. All we can aim to do is get them down to the starts of their races in the best shape we can and after that, it will just be a case of hoping for the best.
We can’t wait for it.