| Published in Sunday Independent on 26.07.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

Every year we hold the Frost Racing Club Open Day for our members. This year, due to the current situation with social distancing we knew we would be unable to hold it in its usual format, so we needed to be a bit creative. In doing so we have had an absolutely super week with our members, enjoying their company on a far more personal basis.
Being a Racing Club member means you are a part owner of one of our horses. As an owner you have many benefits, you can attend the course where your horse races, stand in the owners’ ring prior to the race, and also enjoy the exclusive owners’ facilities at the course such as the bars and restaurants.

Every spring we hire a marquee and put on a huge buffet for our members. Most years all the family attend – including Bryony and Hadden. We give everyone a tour of the stables and they have the opportunity to meet the staff as well as meeting other owners. It’s a very popular event.

Due to the rules surrounding coronavirus, not only was racing cancelled for three months this year, but further rules put in force by the BHA, meant that our owners still couldn’t attend courses when racing eventually started again in July.

To make up for this, we wanted to do something special for our members, so we have held daily garden gatherings for just ten owners a time. This has meant we have been able to spend more time with individuals. Together we have enjoyed the most amazing bacon rolls supplied by Courtdene Farm, our guests have watched their horses on the gallops courtesy of Richard Cooper, had a tour of the stables and met all the staff and finally ended up joining the family in Nikki’s garden for a well-deserved brew. We really feel we have had a lovely week and the feedback from members seems to show owners felt the same.

Bryony had a great week too, with a first at Stratford on Cubswin and then a second that same day on Keyboard Joan. Her week as a whole has been a good one with two other seconds. Hadden is hoping to fly back to the States in August when the country is indicating easing up rules on who flies into it. He has been having a wonderful time working for the Olympian event rider Padraig McCarthy who he has admired for many years and says he will miss it terribly.

Back at home, despite living here for 35 years, we have never seen more than two hedgehogs at a time on this land. Early this week Nikki and I could hear little grunting noises coming from outside. We followed the grunts to find five hedgehogs on our lawn. I think this is due to the local badger culling as hedgehogs are a main source of food for badgers. Anyway, the next day we went out to buy hedgehog food and have been feeding them ever since.

Illustration for Touch of Frost, 26.07.2020

If this file doesn’t work – just use a hedgehog!

Also, at the Frost safari, we are leading up to the day when Oscar the owl will need to be set free. He is now swooping down to take food from the floor and is showing incredible confidence. As soon as we know we have a few consecutive dry days – as he has always had the shelter of the barn, we’ll wave him goodbye. It will be a bittersweet day when it comes around, as we have become very fond of the scruffy bird, but we want him to be happy. Nikki and I were recalling over dinner with the family, the scene from the film Born Free starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna based on the true story of George and Joy Adamson who reared a lion club (Elsa) when living in Kenya but then had to set it free. The couple moved away thinking they would never see Elsa again but when they returned to Kenya a year later, Elsa greeted them with her mate and cubs. “Hey, Oscar may well return with a family too” I said at the table. Our children just looked at me in despair.

Until we catch up again next week, keep safe and importantly be kind to each other.