Grim out there today, driving rain on a strong almost storm-force easterly wind, hard on the horses and hard on the riders, heads down, big warm up in the school then one and a half times up the gallop, back in, horses rugged up and fed – not easy and as ever I am hugely indebted to all the staff for toughing it out.

A mud spattered Tipsy Dara returns to the winner’s enclosure at Carlisle on Sunday with Kelly and Lucy (J Grossick)

Tricky trying to find positive things to say but……. if it was a few degrees colder this would be falling as snow which would be creating havoc, Mrs A has bought me some new waterproof trousers which don’t appear to leak like the old ones, tomorrow is the shortest day so spring must be just round the corner and it looks like Newcastle will be forced to abandon thereby sparing me the agony of deciding whether to run on what would have been awful ground (sorry, don’t suppose that’s a positive to Newcastle).

Standintheband heads to the start at Carlisle

Northern Acres put up an improved performance at Catterick on Tuesday to finish 6th of 17 under a fine ride from Blair Campbell.  Arriving here this afternoon wass The Flaming Matron, stranded in Larne last night she sailed on the 4am crossing, suspect it was a little rough and she seems quite tired, some Kinneston TLC required.

And no mud on him! Standintheband in the winner’s spot to seal a memorable afternoon.