2020 was a year that we will all remember for the wrong reasons given the way that the Covid pandemic has affected everyone's way of life. The year had one last sting in the tail for us with the death on New Year's Eve of our stable star Gas Monkey.
He only had a couple of days left of his winter holiday before coming back into work for the new year and he had been turned out with the same horses for the past couple of months but, for whatever reason, he had been kicked on the leg and came in from the field that day very lame. We had his leg x-rayed straightaway and it was the worst news as his elbow was shattered beyond repair and the only option was to put him down.
I am absolutely devastated as not only was he the best horse in the yard but he has also given everyone so much joy, particularly to his owners the N.E.T. Racing Club. I bred him myself so have seen him since day one and horses as good as him and with as much character as him are hard to replace. He will be much missed and deserved a long and healthy life but he gave us so many good days that we can look back on.
There's never much time to sulk in racing though as there is always something to get you out of bed the following day and we still have a yard full of horses who will now be building back to fitness in time for the new season in the spring.
We have a handful of horses who are ready to run now and a few of them will be out this week, starting with Smokey Malone at Kempton on Wednesday. He hasn't shown much in three runs to date but life will be a lot easier for him in his first handicap and we've put the blinkers on to help him concentrate. He is better than the rating he was given so hopefully he can get his act together and start earning his keep.
The following day Productive goes to Wolverhampton and he is another who will be wearing blinkers for the first time to try and buck his ideas. His runs for us recently have been very disappointing and he has been finishing his races barely out of breath so it is clear that he isn't trying too hard. He is down to a level now where he should be able to win in second gear anyway so we just need him to get enthusiastic about the game.
Rounding off the week will be Saray Prince and Dilly Rosa in the same race at Chelmsford on Saturday. They are both in the early stages of their careers and this will be Saray Prince's debut so hopefully he can learn from the experience and show some promise for the future, along with Dilly Rosa who has had just one career start.