When Axl Rose sang of 'walking in the cold November Rain' do you think he realised the significance of those words for National Hunt trainers? I hope that he is right as the ground's version of 'Stoptober' means a runners-embargo for many trainers. So hopefully Axl is right and the ground does not remain teetotal. I have ended up using the phrase 'tempt oneself for a day and regret for a year' in terms of running horses in need of slower ground.
Dason Court did however get it's fix for success at Southwell. The home-bred Political Quiz was impressive on his hurdling debut. Significantly, it was jockey James Davies' first winner for us and he kept it very simple and the horse was not given a hard time as he is still inexperienced. From the day he arrived Political Quiz has always been a very forward horse and shows knowledge beyond his years and experience. Izzy Davies - who looks after and rides him at home- has christened him 'Champ' so you can see how strong her loyalties to him are. He doesn't carry much condition in spite of eating like a trojan, a problem we would all like to have. Touching on 'trojan' evokes memories of Trojan Sun who we sadly lost in the summer. He was our first horse and like Political Quiz bred by the polar-opposite-of-locally-based Ian Low. When I titivated about running the horse on Thursday Ian was very forthright in his decision to run him and thank goodness he was.
Ian has a funny relationship with Southwell as Trojan Sun won there but also managed to fall twice at the first fence in the same race. This might seem impossible but not when there is also a year in between mishaps.
The latter part of the week saw the first use of the incredible new stand at Cheltenham Racecourse. Talk about fulfilling expectations and a whole lot more. Owners want for nothing and the views from the owners and trainers are panoramic. Immense credit must go to the team at Prestbury Park for their vision in creating this racing arcadia. While at Cheltenham we also saw Lewis Gordon ride his first hurdles winner on Dark Spirit. We were contemporaries at Seven Barrows and he was always very keen to show people what he could do in the saddle so it is great that he is realising his dream.
The weekend ended with an interesting gathering at The Royal Exchange in Hartpury. Not quite a summit in a meeting of great minds but plenty of banter. During this lunch I was delighted to meet Henrietta Knight and she was probably not aware of the barrage of questions that I was wanting to ask. Thankfully I resisted but she did assure me that Chelsea Bridge - a horse sadly brimming with untapped talent through injury- is happy doing dressage. It makes winners more appreciated at any level when you hear of a horse so talented that never got to realise his potential.