| Published in the Independent on 07.06.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

This week we saw the first flat racing again. The show kicked off at Newcastle and it finally feels we are on the road to some kind of normality (and income).

Changes have been made to the summer programme to include some lesser graded handicaps on the course. This is important because whilst they may not be superstars they importantly provide jobs for the industry and an income for their owners. The whole foundation of the racing world is, and should continue to be, built on providing equal opportunities for every trainer and allowing all owners and trainers the chance to both dream and potentially achieve the big wins.

Back here at the stables the whole atmosphere has changed. Everyone is busy and planning. There is a genuine feeling of positivity. The yard and fields are looking fantastic thanks to Dan with a bit of help from the rain. We rely on good grass for food and hay so we are all happy when we have a shower. Staff as well as the family are all working hard preparing for summer and as long as we don’t see a rise in cases of Covid 19 and social activity is tightened up again, we should start jump racing July 1st. Finally an income for the owners and jockeys.

Illustration for Touch of Frost, 07.06.2020

Schooling Phil Meaden’s two year olds. Bryony far right.

Bryony’s knee injury is now fine thankfully, and she’s been helping break in and school the two young horses owned by Phil Meaden from Gorcombe Extreme Sports. They are already jumping exceptionally well and we have very high hopes for them. The benefits of having Bryony school them is that she learns all about their characters. This helps enormously when it finally comes to the day they begin racing.

You may have seen that Bryony donated her breeches to a wonderful organisation that rescues dogs that have been used all their lives for breeding and have never known anything but living outside in barns or crates nor known any human affection. The organisation – Many Tears, tries to rehabilitate the dogs so they can go on to forever homes where they can live out their days without fear. They auctioned off her breeches which she wore when she won her first Grade 1 race on Black Corton, raising a super amount that they were absolutely delighted with. Bryony who has a huge soft spot for animals in need, was so pleased to hear that the money raised will go towards much needed medication and food for the rescues.

On the subject of dogs, Bryony is planning to collect her new Lurcher within the next fortnight. Already named Merlin, she has already started buying him toys and his new bed is big enough for me to climb into. He is going to be terribly spoiled. We are all excited about him joining us.

For those of you who missed hearing about the owl last week, don’t worry he or she is fine. It is now hunting for food that we are hiding around the barn and is swooping down to pick it up. No longer dependent on us supplying it food to its nest, it should soon be ready to go back to the wild.

As I sit here writing this, I see owners turning up at the stables to see their horses. They have not been able to do this for so many weeks now and you can see how much they have missed them. Fortunately horses and owners don’t need to socially distance so there is a considerable amount of much welcomed patting, rubbing of manes and carrot feeding going on. I can’t help smiling.

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

Jimmy