Temperatures hovering around freezing this morning, some freezing fog about and after yesterdays light covering of snow conditions are distinctly dodgy.  Horses all on the walker or out in the fields apart from our three Ayr runners tomorrow who are having a pipe-opener on the all-weather.  After a wet spell the ground at Ayr looks like being particularly heavy and, whilst our runners are all proven in the conditions, one always worries a bit when they are extreme.

Massini’s Lady at Perth last summer

We start with Massini’s Lady in the 2.55, Lucy rides and 9 run, she’s a big scopey mare and will go well if she can reproduce the form of her seasonal debut when runner up over course and distance but didn’t run as well back at the track at New Year so has to put that behind her.

Marlee Massie dancing in his stable on the morning of his Ayr win – we will be hoping for more of that when he hears the lorry tomorrow!

Then in the 3.30 we run Marlee Massie, 5  run and Lucy rides, he did really well to win on his chasing debut two starts ago and then subsequently disappointed at Kelso, there may have been reasons for that and we are hoping he can bounce back tomorrow.  Finally we run The Orange Rogue in the 4.00, 8 run and Lucy rides, he should love the ground and we’ve taken the hood off after a lacklustre display last time.

The Orange Rogue

A soul searching day for National Hunt fans yesterday when Many Clouds collapsed and died after putting up the bravest of displays to narrowly deny the mighty Thistlecrack in Cheltenham’s Gold Cup Trial.  When Many Clouds won the Grand National his trainer Oliver Sherwood said “this horse would die for you” which he literally did yesterday leaving us all stunned with sadness.  Having enjoyed so much wonderful racing this winter there is unquestionably a feeling of guilt when a horse pays the ultimate price through sheer guts and heart.  The horse’s willingness to pay that ultimate price has been intrinsic in the human/equine relationship for thousands of years, yet this is not war, this is not tilling the land, this is sport and that feels different.  There are times when I find this hard to reconcile but these horses are still producers in many different ways and in return for that we look after them to the very best of our ability, so we should focus on the good days and celebrate these wonderful animals that give us so much pleasure rather than dwell on any moral dilemma, there is a price to pay for everything.

Happier days for Many Clouds, as fine an example of a steeplechaser as will ever exist, how priviliged I fell now to have seen him at Kelso last spring.