Although it's a busy time for jumps racing, the festive period doesn't give many chances for the flat horses so it was great to sign off before Christmas with an emphatic win from Candesta at Southwell last Thursday.
He had been in the doldrums since winning three races in 2016 but the handicapper had dropped him down to a good mark so he was weighted to win if getting back into the groove. A mile at Southwell had looked too sharp for him the time before but under a positive ride from Dan Muscutt, he kept in touch with the main bunch and came away to win by five lengths.
He went up 9lbs in the handicap for this so it'll probably be another year before he can win again but it was a day his owners Jo and Bill won't forget.
We almost had a double that day as Limerick Lord went very close to winning the following race. Good days are rare for him but he was obviously feeling in top form on this occasion as he battled off all bar one of his rivals to pick up some prize money.
Our white Christmas came two days late as we got a proper covering of snow on the 27th December which meant our two runners at Wolverhampton that day couldn't make it. I was driving the horsebox and the A14 was down to a single, snowy lane - we could have probably got there eventually but my worry was that we would never get back so I decided to call things off for everyone's benefit. It's a shame as it would have been Lulu Star's first run for us but there are plenty of other opportunities for her as well as for Best Example.
The staff were more than ready for the big day though as they decorated themselves and the horses for the gallops the day before!
Hopefully the weather can be a bit kinder up to New Year's Day as we have a few entries.
Go On Gal has been given a break since winning at Southwell in the summer specifically to save her for races at the track this winter. She has freshened up for the holiday and has been working nicely at home ahead of her return to the track on Friday.
Even though she won, Shelley felt that the filly would benefit from some cheek pieces so they have been put on to help her focus and hopefully squeeze some more improvement out of her.
New Year's Eve is rarely a wild one for me nowadays but hopefully we will have something to celebrate after Spirit Of Sarwan runs at Lingfield that day. He ran an excellent race on his comeback to finish second and his homework since then has been even better. Hopefully he can match his last performance or maybe even go one better.
It's just as well I will be in bed before midnight as we'll be greeting the new year with a trip to Southwell which always stages a fixture on the first day of the year and it gives us small trainers a chance to say we're the leading trainer in 2018 if you win the first race!
Majestic Moon has really taken to the place recently and his third place last time was a definite improvement. Hopefully he can take another step forward and get even closer to winning again.
Also entered there is Limerick Lord. As mentioned, he ran a blinder to finish second last week and should be bang there again if in the mood.
Candesta is entered too but is unlikely to get a run.
Let me take this chance to wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you get to see in it in in style and may 2018 be a memorable one! The blog will be back again on Tuesday 2nd January.
FOUR TO FOLLOW LEADERBOARD (ends 31/12/17)
Julia Feilden 104
John Chalklin 99
Kevin Case 94
Christine Sparham 93
Clare Peacock 92
Colleen Pyrke 91
Paula Smith 90
George Evans 90
Martyn Clark 90
Trevor Mather 89
John Tucker 89
Jean Allen 89