Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have a great day spent with all your close friends and family. The presents get less irrevelevant as you get older and Christmas is more about seeing loved ones who you don't see enough of during the year. First and foremost for us on the big day is to sort the horses out and we worked up an appetite mucking out and exercising the string early this morning.
Thank you to everyone who kindly dropped presents off into the yard, every one of them is much appreciated and any cash gifts went towards the staff Christmas party last Friday night which was a fantastic evening and gave everyone a chance to let their hair down. The 'secret Santa' between us was a laugh but I'm not quite sure mine was appropriate!
It had long been a thorn in the side for me that I'd never trained a winner at Chelmsford (or when it was known as Great Leighs). We had gone close many times before but getting that first winner had proven elusive. Thankfully good things come to those who wait and Candesta got the monkey off our backs last week with an impressive win. He has thrived since coming back from a summer break and that was his third win in as many months. It was a real tonic for his owner Jo Lambert who hasn't been very well recently and it was great to see her enjoying the moment.
There won't be much time to polish off the Christmas dinner leftovers this week as we have a busy one in store with plenty of runners entered.
Kicking off tomorrow on Boxing Day, Dakota City heads to Wolverhampton. He is a bit high in the weights at the moment but still running with credit. I would have liked a better draw than stalll 10 of 10 but hopefully Adam can get him covered up and bring him through with his usual late challenge.
Then on Wednesday we will be off to Lingfield with a pair of raiders. Veeraya finally got his head back in front last time and he has come out of the win with great confidece. His owner likes him to have a long break between his races so the time off is no worry and he seems in good heart at home. As it took him so long to win again, you could hardly be confident about a follow-up but here's hoping!
Mungo Madness will be travelling down with him and he is giving his owners a nice day out as they rarely get the chance to see him run. The trip is a bit short for him but hopefully he doesn't disgrace himself.
The following day we will have another pair of runners in Valley Lodge and Cuban Queen at Southwell. The former has been struggling with the handicapper since finishing a narrow second at Haydock in the summer. His run at the course last time showed he can handle the surface so we will go there hoping that the drop in grade and application of headgear can see him fare better.
We bought Cuban Queen cheaply at Tattersalls last month and she has settled in well to our way of doing things. She is bred to appreciate a dirt surface so hopefully that can see her improve on her old form.
Unless we have a miraculous week, it looks as though we'll just fall short of setting a new record number of winners in a year for the yard but we are proud of the amount we've had anyway. Looking to see out 2016 in style on New Year's Eve will be Critical Thinking and Majestic Moon.
Critical Thinking was very green on his debut but has improved a lot since then and is certainly capable of winning a little maiden race. Whether it is this time remains to be seen but I hope a win won't be too far away for him.
Majestic Moon wasn't suited by hold-up tactics last time but the handicapper dropped him 3lbs as a result. His only run at Lingfield saw him finish a close second off a higher rating so hopefully he can earn some prize money in a valuable contest.
Racing at Southwell on New Year's Day is now almost a tradition for us and we have been lucky at the meeting in the past. Looking to kick 2017 off in style will be Limerick Lord. His best form is at the track but he didn't have the rub of the green there last time. He is down to a good handicap mark now so let's hope he can get the champagne corks popping!