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.
In another year we would all normally be gearing up for Christmas and planning on seeing relatives across the country. The news yesterday that all these occasions will have to be put on hold this year was obviously very disappointing and I do feel for everyone who can't go and see loved ones. Obviously it is all for good reason to limit the spread of coronavirus but it is becoming very frustrating and has a big impact on people's mental health at this time of year. Please stay positive everyone and we will soon be back to better times.
Racing is very lucky in that it can continue during this pandemic and, although there is a break in the action from 23rd - 25th December, there is some great action to watch from Boxing Day onwards and lots of it is on ITV Racing too. Before that, we will be tuning in to BBC Sports Personality of the Year tonight and voting for the brilliant Hollie Doyle. She has been a phenomenon in the saddle this year and fully deserves the nomination. I don't know if she'll be able to beat the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Tyson Fury but she should be proud no matter what. She is a role model to not just female jockeys but aspiring male ones too such is her fantastic work ethic and level-headedness.
With very little racing this week, we have just one runner in Engrave at Lingfield on Tuesday. She has found her confidence recently with two wins from her last three runs and I think she still has room for more success. She's switching to Lingfield here which probably won't suit her as much as Chelmsford has but I don't see any other reason why she can't run well.
I must say a massive thank you to everyone who has very generously gifted food and wine to the yard recently, we have enough to see us through another lockdown I think and the biscuits won't be wasted on the staff. Unfortunately we can't have a staff party this year but the team will all be getting a cash present in their wages so thank you.
On behalf of all of Team Feilden, I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you get to enjoy a great day!