Cold outside but Cheltenham Festival hopes providing an inner glow
Another instalment from the diary of the leading conditional jockey
We've had plenty of snow – who hasn't? – but it's beginning to disappear now, and Friday was a great example of how yards get the work done when the weather's doing its best to stop us.
No-one wants the Cheltenham horses to be held up, and there were about 20 of us riding out on Friday – all those who could get in through the snow, basically – and we did four lots, made sure all the important Cheltenham contenders did two canters up the hill, the all-weather gallop really living up to its name.
It was all hands on deck and it was good fun and took a bit more organising than usual, but Clifford Baker is brilliant at that and the routine stayed in place.
1st lot out better late than never. Good effort from all team to clear a way in the snow . 2 canters up Ditcheat Hill soon warm them up pic.twitter.com/B1cjI29fcc— Paul Nicholls (@PFNicholls) March 2, 2018
Some of the horses didn't know what to make of it. Old Guard was like a kid, all wide-eyed, making a big thing of it, but Black Corton was an old pro, as though he sees this sort of thing all the time. I don't think there's anything that fazes him.
The only thing that fazed me was losing my wellies. I wear the same type of wellies as my friend Michelle, and she picked mine up from the pile from the lads' room, took them home and forget to bring them back at evening stables. Ankle boots don't really do the job in the circumstances.
Things are getting a bit warmer now – only -1, you might say tropical! – and hopefully the racing schedule will get back to normal next week. It feels a bit weird without any jumping going on, and although it's not totally necessary to be race-riding we're riding out every day anyway, schooling, keeping our eye in – it'll be good to get going again before Cheltenham.
Obviously that's not far away now, but I don't know how many rides I'll have at the big meeting. I've got 'Blackie' in the RSA Chase on the Wednesday and hopefully Paul will find one for me in the Martin Pipe conditionals' race on the Friday, but everything else is up in the air.
I might know a bit more later in the week, but however many rides I have I'll just feel so lucky to be there at all. Now I'm going to turn up the heating and see how long it takes these boots to dry out . . .
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