Today Jaimie Duff, Assisstant Trainer and Travelling Head Girl, describes her trip to Hexham races on Saturday.
My morning normally begins at Arlary where I will be involved in the usual yard routine. I will also go over the plan for the day, make any necessary changes and delegate additional jobs to members of staff. It is also my job to check over any runners from the previous day, trot them up, deal with any cuts they have acquired and then if all is ok, give them a short walk for ten minutes or so to stretch their legs.
Today I am off to Hexham with four runners, Castlelawn, Via Archimede, Against the Wind and Delightfully. I will be finishing the morning routine a little earlier than usual as I must on the road by eight thirty in order to allow time to collect Via Archimede and Castlelawn from Kilduff en route. Molly tries to sneak into the lorry and nab her favourite travelling position, the front passenger seat, but I am aware that Lee will unfortunately not be up for sharing :(. I always prepare the lorry the day before we are due to head off which involves packing numerous bridles – some of the horses wear different bits / nosebands and so we need to make sure we have the right ones loaded. We also need breast-girths, headgear, lead chains, quarter sheets, (some horses also have their own sheets depending on the owners sponsors and so we need to make sure they are packed too), passports, colours, buckets, grooming / plaiting equipment etc… quite a lot to remember! Lee will be helping me today and so when he has finished riding his lot, we head off with Rocco and Delightfully for Kilduff to pick up the others.
Lucinda and Scu are elsewhere engaged today and so I have the privilege of being able to act as trainer! On arrival, the first thing to do is unload the horses – we are not allowed to take more than one at a time and they must always be wearing a chiffney so it can be a lengthy process if we have lots of runners. Each horse is allocated a stable and the vets will scan for microchips before entry to ensure the horse matches the passport we have handed over! While I make the declarations, Lee will start to organise the equipment we need in order to prepare the horses for the parade ring. I am slightly concerned about the ground conditions regarding Against the Wind (Rocco) and so we have decided to delay the decision until Peter has ridden Castlelawn in his 2 mile chase and come back to us with a verdict. Castlelawn displays a brilliant round of jumping to win very nicely followed by Via Archimede who again jumps well to finish third under Grant. In between these two races, myself, Wilma and Gordon Wright made the decision to declare Against the Wind a non runner as we felt the ground was a little too quick for him. This was great news for Rocco as it has brought his holidays forward which were due to start tomorrow.
Our next and final runner is Delightfully. Although she and Grant have a great partnership, it is clear after a circuit that she is not enjoying herself and so he decides to pull her up and save her for another day. We collect the pair at the end of the race and head back to the stable bock. After each horse has returned from the track, we will walk them off for about half an hour after washing them, to give them a chance to regain their breath and cool down gradually. When they are all settled back into their boxes, I will check them over for any injuries, collect the colours and reload the lorry ready to set off for home. No cuts to treat or bandage today which is great so we are ready to depart.
We arrive home at nine thirty today – a fairly reasonable hour compared to many of our trips to the races. The horses are unloaded, checked over again, rugged and fed for the night. A great day and I am relieved to be able to head straight home, often we can still be on the yard late into the night sorting out horses that have injured themselves on the way round. Satisfied that the runners are all looking and feeling well, I give Lucinda a quick call to pass on the good news and sign off for the night.