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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Taaffe team battles elements but resigned to Goose Man not making festival cut

Tom Taaffe: "We’re lucky that we have staff who live on site and without them we'd be lost"
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For the first time since 1982, Tom Taaffe's yard resembles the depths of Antarctica rather than a high-class training centre, with the icy conditions making even the most simple task extremely difficult to negotiate.

Storm Emma's wrath has left Taaffe and his team snowed in at Portree Stables after drifts as high of eight feet have left parts of the yard unrecognisable.

Clearing the snow at the yard

Thankfully, all of Taaffe's horses are healthy and happy in their stables, but Goose Man looks unlikely to make the cut in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, a race the trainer won ten years ago with Finger Onthe Pulse.

Taaffe explained: "He's number 56 to get in, and while you'd expect maybe 15 horses to drop out, it's unlikely that enough will come out."

The snow is stacked high at the Taaffe yard

He added: "We have to be realistic, but there's 4lb between the top and bottom of the handicap and it looks like he's unlikely to make the cut. He's a horse we really like but he's one for the future and we've lots of options with him.

"Everything had been going great with him before the snow arrived so it may even be a blessing in disguise if he misses Cheltenham as things haven't been ideal these past few days."

Snow drifts beside the stables
In recent seasons, Taaffe, who managed a Gold Cup-King George double during the 2004-05 season with Kicking King, has continued his fightback from a virus that haunted his stables back in 2010. However, the resurgence has been put on hold for now with everyone waiting for the imminent thaw.

The Boston Road in Straffan near Taaffe's yard is impassible

He said: "It's certainly as bad as the heavy snow we got in 1982. We haven't moved out of here since Wednesday - we're completely snowed in.

"We've managed to keep the walker and our indoor ring going which has helped but it wouldn't be possible without our staff. We're lucky that we have staff who live on site and without them we'd be lost.

Making their way through the snow at Tom Taaffe's

"The warnings were there, thankfully, and we made sure that we were prepared with enough feed and the like.

"As far as our daily routine goes, we can manage to put the horses on the walker and let them have a little bit of a run around in the ring, but that's pretty much it. Apart from that we're on lockdown really."

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We haven’t moved out of here since Wednesday - we’re completely snowed in
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