It's hard to guess what is going to happen over the next few days as things seem to be changing very quickly as the world reacts to the coronavirus outbreak but the flat racing calendar already had a scheduled break for a few days this week so there will be no action until Friday. Whether things go ahead with a crowd present or not remains to be seen but I'm hopeful that racing won't stop altogether as things can still carry on behind closed doors with little worry about those involved getting ill.
Maybe I was inspired by the Cheltenham Festival last week as on Thursday we decided to take a few of the horses up to the Links schooling grounds and give them a taste of jumping. It is a trick we have used in the past to keep the horses sweet and it gives them a change to their routine and something else to think about. Some of the horses were more enthusiastic than others but the star of the show was Paintball Wizard who seemed a natural and really enjoyed himself.
The flat season kicks off at Doncaster in two weeks time and we will be busy then with plenty of runners lined up. Before then we just have one entry on Friday and it sees the first of our winter holiday horses having his comeback run. Alibaba showed plenty of promise last season and almost got his head in front when narrowly getting beaten at Beverley in the summer. He hasn't grown an awful lot over the winter but he has got a bit stronger and is capable of winning this year. I expect he will improve for the run fitness wise but it's good to get the core team of the yard back in action.
I'm pleased to report that Shelley is now back riding out (more through necessity than anything else!) and says that her shoulder is taking it well. She needs an operation to pin it but can get by with things how they are at present. With Shelley not race riding, we have made the most of a few other jockeys who have been in to ride the horses work and get to know them better. Ryan Tate and Charlie Bennett are both very experienced professionals who we will be using at the races whilst apprentice jockey Sean Kirrane may be moving up north to join David O'Meara but we will be using him when we feel a horse needs a claiming jockey to take some weight off.