It was a sad day yesterday as it was Chris’ father in law’s funeral. I only met Barry a few times but he was a lovely man who adored his horses and his seafood. He had not been very well in recent months and Chris and Shelley did their very best to make sure he enjoyed them as much as possible. When I went to their house a little while back and saw the spread they had laid out at lunch for Barry, I thought these are people you want to be working with, kind and thoughtful. Christine, Chris and Shelley, very much appreciated John Berry doing the reading at Barry’s funeral yesterday, he was apparently as excellent as ever, his tribute on his blog last week was perfect. Newmarket is lucky to have someone like John, he knows nearly everyone and everything and despite possessing an intellect most of us could only dream of, he will speak to anyone and help anyone.
We continue to keep putting pieces into the jigsaw at Albert House. The team is taking shape and despite some very cold weather, we have had an enjoyable time moving things forward. A couple of the horses will do some faster work on Saturday and Chris will then have an idea of when we may have our first runners. The furniture has finally arrived for the office, so I am very thankful there is something exciting to look forward to at the weekend, as DIY disaster looms tomorrow.
Hollie Doyle once more showed her class at Happy Valley yesterday. After three unplaced mounts she was on the short priced jolly in the last leg of the International Jockeys’ Challenge. Harmony N Blessed looked like he may be keen but she got him in A1 position and travelling strongly without fighting against her, she then looked very strong as he tried to lug right with her and she prevailed by 3-4 of a length. The phrase pressure is for tyres seems to very much apply where Hollie is concerned. What a phenomenal year she has had and wouldn’t it be something if she can win SPOTY.
I find that the Winter is a great time for Apprentices to shine. In a normal year a lot of the big guns are abroad and it means there are a lot more opportunities for an Apprentice. We all enjoy discussing the Apprentice rides of note each day as it is fun to spot the up and coming jockeys and it can also prove profitable for the future as a good Apprentice can be worth their weight in gold.
Three pound claimer Darragh Keenan has been flying of late and was coolness personified on Rohaan at Kempton yesterday. Three seven pound claimers also caught our eye. George Bass got Cape Greco in position A at Lingfield yesterday and kicked at the right time to get home in front. Laura Pearson looks very good value for her seven pounds and gave Manjaam a nice ride when second at Wolverhampton. Finally a big shout out to Frederick Larson who had a winner on his first ride at Southwell, coming fast and late. Having not ridden in a pony race and only taking up riding relatively recently, it was seriously impressive.