I will not look back on the 2015/16 season with particular fondness. Not that I am the sort of person to ever be completely satisfied as I am all to aware of what is associated with a hubristic attitude, but I never felt we ever got going or had any real rhythm at any point during the season. However, I do believe in character building and perhaps the more Catholic idea that persecution only makes one stronger and hopefully more keen. With this in mind we are looking at things we can do to gain that edge we seemed to be lacking last season in order the make our future bright. The tremendous support we get from our fiercely loyal team of owners is greatly appreciated and keeps us from donning sackcloth and ashes and feeling sorry for ourselves. We have a lovely team of young horses to look forward to and plenty that have been given the time they need in order to thrive when they are ready. Forward we must now look...
However, there were a few recent highlights and themes of the season that must be appreciated. Firstly, Richard Johnson is Champion Jockey. Another Herefordian who shows you that if at first you don't succeed keep trying. He is a tremendous person and a real workhorse who just gets on with the job in hand. His biggest fan - my Mum Jane- Elsa and I were lucky enough to join his family and friends at Sandown in celebration of his incredible feat. No one likes to hear 'the best never to be' and now we will not ever hear that as he is Stobarts Champion Jockey of 2015/16. It was a tremendous day with plenty of emotion and topped off by Menorah coming home in front again. Richard obviously likes the idea of Stobart's generous new cash prize as he did trump AP and any other jockey by riding more horses in a season than any other rider in history (I think I am right in this). Furthermore, we had one hell of a party at Sandown and in The Queens at East Garston which we really should make an annual event.
Secondly, the comeback of Sprinter Sacre was simply astonishing. Having been lucky enough to have been at Seven Barrows during his bumper and hurdle days I know how special he is to all and particularly to Sarwar Mohammed who looks after him. It is also great to see Nico riding him as he has ridden the horse at home from the day he arrived. Sprinter's restoration must be akin to that of Sir Henry Cecil and a reminder that class is indeed permanent. A mention must also go to Nico and Dave Bass as both have improved so much and enjoyed fantastic seasons in the saddle. They have quite different styles but both very effective. Also Paul Nicholls- talk about rallying off the bridle in tremdous fashion when the chips are down. A simply fantastic achievement to hold off Willie Mullins' battalions. Although Mullins has a very potent arsenal at his disposal it is testament to his team and his skills to even challenge for the title as even the best horses need to remain fit and healthy. His invasions not large like the Armada but were far more successful.
The last word goes to HOLLYWOODIEN who has been a star this season. Sir Peter and Lady Gibbings have been very patient with him and sensible in their approach with one so young as they want him to last. A beautiful horse who has done nothing but mature and improve since the day he arrived. He loves jumping although can be prone to the odd 'Kauto Star' moment. There is plenty of star quality in Hollywood so one hopes that this one might be in ascendance - it certainly seems that way.