Having had a rather quiet week without much racecourse action it was good to end the weekend on a good note. Eaton Rock ran with credit up to the crux of the argument at Sandown. It was perhaps one question too many of him at this stage of his life. Although he handles the heavier going this was heavy and churned-up in the extremity. Furthermore the climb to the finish unearths any weakness in a horse not ready to take it on. However he came back from losing the battle in one piece with the long war yet to be won.
The mention of war leads neatly onto another fighter as it was Royal Artillery day at Sandown. While the winner was the Jody Sole-ridden and Paul Nicholls-trained Cowards Close most of the concentration revolved around the third placed Ballyallia Man ridden by Guy Disney. With Guy taking the 'look at what I can do not what I can't do' approach to losing his lower leg in Afghanistan he looked as good as any in finishing only 5 lengths behind the winner. A ground breaking day in sport indeed and for Guy this is just the beginning as he is ambitious in terms of winners that he wants to ride. A special mention must go to Swing Bill and our former in-mate Ballycassel who have been instrumental in preparing Guy for his 'rules' races in the pointing field.
Sticking with the amateur jockey, Saturday proved another day to remember for our amateur James Nixon. The locally-owned Kings Apollo and he continued their fruitful partnership at Wincanton with an exhibition round of jumping. This 'partnership' is not to be under played as James has always had tremendous belief in the horse and rode him in his point to points. They were among our first recruits when we started. James worked with me at Nicky Henderson's and with his ambitions to ride not realised there he joined us and has done nothing but improve since. His weekend got even better with a double a Barbury Castle on Sunday for local point trainer and old acquaintance of mine Katy Price. Homegrown and local success is quite rare these days but a weekend of it proved very satisfying indeed.