January 2011 brings a welcome change in the weather and its all systems go, its so good to see green rather than white!
Although dogged by early morning frosts, therefore delays in getting the string out, conditions are not perfect but hey for once I am not complaining. My ten year old Logic grit spreader is really getting some hammer, it may not look pretty nowadays but boy does it work.
Our staff are working seven days a week in order to catch up, they also seem glad to get going again. The sight of the horses back cantering inspires me, I start to dream again.
Mid January sees us back in the groove at Highfield, remarkably we appear to have picked up where we left off with winners and placed horses galore. Even so, I am sure that the horses will improve further. Could it be that the enforced rest may have been a blessing in disguise?
One of our juvenile hurdlers Local Hero wins twice at Wetherby and Doncaster ridden by 15 times champion jockey and Sports Personality of the Year A.P. McCoy.
A.P. (McCoy) is suitably impressed suggesting that we should step the horse up in class.
The drive home from Doncaster Racecourse is interrupted by a stop at Tesco for a well deserved bottle (or three) of wine! Jayne and I are nervously excited, could we have another potential Cheltenham Festival winner in the yard?
We are having a great run at present and the weather is relenting.
Local Hero is entered for The Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham on the 29th January, this race is a trial for The Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The race has a value of £100.000.
With Malcolm Hughes (MD of Logic South) living near Cheltenham it seems a great idea that he and his wife Rose should join us for this very important day.
It also gives us a chance to show our sponsors Logic a “work in progress” at a very high level.
The 29th of January seems to come very quickly.
There is an inspection arranged for 9.30 a.m. at the course due to forecast severe frost. The horse however is already at the track and we are on the way from Lincolnshire!
It is 1c all the way there and when we arrive at the track it suddenly drops to 0c, my feelings are that the meeting may well be abandoned.
Remarkably after the 9.30 inspection it is announced that it is on.
Jayne and I, with our daughter Nadia meet Phil Martin the owner of Local Hero for lunch.
Malcolm & Rose (Hughes) along with their daughter Nikki also join us, blimey Malcolm owns a tie!!!!!!
After a pleasant lunch it is time to saddle Local Hero. There is a big crowd for this Saturday televised meeting the tension and excitement is palpable. I collect the saddle from A.P. (McCoy) and discuss riding plans.
Local Hero saddled up and in the parade ring, we meet owner Phil Martin and his good friend Jim.
There is a noticeable silence and nervousness. A.P is given a leg up on Local Hero who looks fabulous, his two handlers also look great sporting the smart Logic livery.
We are in the stands together, Jayne is sporting a hat which she wore when In Truth won the Kim Muir at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival.
They are ready to line up and Local Hero is made the 15/8 favorite, I don’t mind admitting that I am bloody nervous.
A.P. has Local Hero in around fifth place and travels very well although pulling quite hard.
He makes a mistake on the far side but gets away with it. The race unfolds and things get serious. Traveling down the hill towards the second last hurdle A.P. and Local Hero cruise through strongly to challenge, the crowd sense another McCoy Cheltenham winner.
Approaching the last hurdle Local Hero looks to have the measure of his nearest rival Third Intention. Both horses meet the final hurdle wrong and make mistakes, however Local Hero is headed on the run in up that famous Cheltenham hill, we look in trouble. Local Hero joins Third Intention half way up the run in to the line, A.P. galvanizes Local Hero for that final effort. Showing wonderful tenacity Local Hero forges two lengths clear lifting the roof off the stands!!!!!! Local Hero completes his hat trick over hurdles and books himself a place in The Triumph Hurdle in March.
Local Hero and A.P enter the winners enclosure to rapturous and well deserved applause.
We de-brief A.P. as he unsaddles, photographs are taken and the presentation takes place.
I am mobbed by the press for a few minutes and do a couple of interviews for radio and television. Finally I get away to join the rest of the gang who are already quaffing champagne!
It is a emotional time for everyone involved, obviously the yard, Logic our sponsors, Jayne and I etc, etc. However it is Phil Martin our principle owner who deserves all the success that comes his way.
The Cheltenham Festival is in March, however that is a long time in racing, Local Hero may run again before the Festival, maybe at Haydock Park on Saturday the 19th February. Watch this space.
Local Hero is the stuff of dreams and we will dream them!!!
PS I wonder if Jayne’s Cheltenham hat had a part to play?