Our Reward.jpg


Our Reward;

also out of action at present, but hoping to

return to the racecourse in the Spring



Pride of Pemberley.jpg


Pride Of Pemberley poses for photographs;

he’s out of action this season due to tendonitis



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I undertook another visit to Jamie Snowden’s yard in Lambourn, although both Our Reward and Pride Of Pemberley were currently out of action due to injury setbacks.   

Being December, with racing starting and finishing early due to the reduced daylight hours, today’s visit commenced at 08:00.  It would take 90 minutes to reach Lambourn, so I set my alarm for 04:30 with the aim of leaving home at 06:15.  Having showered and washed and dried my hair before applying make-up, by 05:30 I was ready to eat a breakfast consisting of two warm croissants. I also decided to check emails at this point ... only to discover that EPDS Racing’s Managing Director John Powell had sent a message the previous evening warning that the M4 was due to be closed on Saturday, between junctions 12 and 13; that’s Reading West and Newbury.  I needed to get to junction 14, for Lambourn.

It was a little too late for me to reschedule my departure by more than a few minutes, and I did forget a few things in the process!  I forgot to wear a pair of earrings; I forgot to take my regular medication; also to wear a pair of socks over my tights and to take a woollen hat with me.  As I was due to stop off to visit my friend Denise on the way back, fortunately I didn’t forget her Christmas presents!

Today’s outfit consisted of a mid-pink coloured thermal T-shirt, an indigo blue thermal T-shirt, a Prussian blue thermal T-shirt, an oversize bright blue BHS cardigan, a neon-blue M & S fleece, black fleece gillet, tights under bright blue M & S jeggings, a burgundy jacket with brown epaulettes, and a shades of blue Candy Swirl snood.  I wore my brown M & S Footglove ankle boots and took both my black M & S snow-boots, and a pair of moccasins. 

I set off at 06:03 with the aim of travelling via the M40 to Oxford, after which I’d take the A420 road towards Swindon, before travelling through Shrivenham on my way to Lambourn.  There was scant research regarding the route before I left home.  Obviously it was still dark, and very cold, with temperatures just above or below freezing.  In fact snow was forecast for the following day, Sunday.  My route took me around the ring-road and down to the London Colney roundabout.  I then headed down the bypass to join the M25 anti-clockwise carriageway at junction 22.

There were no issues on the motorway, apart from one idiot who decided to drive up my inside as I was overtaking a lorry in the inside lane; he squeezed through a narrow gap between us.  Having arrived at junction 16, I took the slip-road to join the westbound carriageway of the M40.  It was still almost dark when I reached Oxford; I left the motorway at junction 8 and headed towards Oxford upon the A40.  I’d taken a quick glance at the map before I’d left home and I was thinking that it would be quicker to reach the A34 via the Eastern/Southern bypass road.  This being the case, I had to turn left at the Headington roundabout; I nearly ended up in the bus lane at this point having pulled over too soon in order to turn left.  

Anyway, I drove down the Eastern bypass in search of the A34.  However, at Rose Hill, everything went pear-shaped; there was a right and left but no straight ahead.  Which way?  I should have gone left, but turned right by mistake; I did, however, immediately realise there was something amiss.  But, instead of re-negotiating the roundabout and taking the correct exit, I ended up returning to the Headington roundabout instead.  Later research showed me I should have turned left, then right, then left, then right again in order to head down the slip-road onto the northbound carriageway of the A34. 

Anyway, back on very familiar territory, I headed along the Northern Bypass Road instead, before turning right to head up a brief section of the A44 in order to join the southbound carriageway of the A34 instead.  The next junction was the A420 turning, so I headed up the slip-road and turned right at the subsequent roundabout.  The road began as a dual carriageway, before reverting to single track each way, with a 50 mph speed limit.  I continued down the A420, which had intermittent stretches of dual carriageway and roundabouts en route to Swindon.  I was seeking a signpost indicating that I needed to turn left to reach Lambourn. 

The turning was beyond Watchfield and Shrivenham, and turned back on itself in order to enter the latter village.  I turned right at a small green, to head along Station Road.  It was the B4000 and the road was icy; I kept my speed down and didn’t detect any slippage on the road surface.  There was a narrow bridge, over a river or stream, before the road appeared to be diverted slightly to the left, over a fairly new bridge over the railway line.  It then bent back to the right to join its original route; I wonder if there was, originally, a level crossing at this point. 

I continued to and through the village of Ashbury before heading up a steep hill and entering the Valley of the Racehorse.  It was already after eight by this point, fortunately bright daylight now, although the low trajectory of the sun’s rays were a nuisance before they disappeared behind a hill, as I was having a problem seeing where I was going!  Along the way, I passed a National Trust property, Ashdown House.  Anyway, I eventually reached the outskirts of Lambourn and turned right to head up the driveway towards Jamie’s yard.  Building works were being carried out in the paddock to the left of the drive; staff accommodation evidently.  https://mobile.twitter.com/jamiesnowden/status/951431797858033665/photo/1.  I’d usually park in the car park on the other side of the road, adjacent to the cricket pitch but was worried because I was running so late – it had now gone 08:15.

I was in such a hurry by this stage that I didn’t even put on my snow-boots, choosing to continue wearing my brown M & S ankle boots instead.  I put on my coat and snood and entered the yard.  There was activity in the yard and I did enquire if I was too late; although I did notice a tacked-up horse in one of the stables.  No, the lot hadn’t left yet and my host was waiting in the kitchen of Folly House.

It transpired I was only the second person to arrive; the only other being a young man who was one of Our Reward’s syndicate members.  EPDS Racing’s MD, John Powell, arrived after me.  He left his young son Alfie in his 4x4 initially, because he was worried he’d be too late also.  They’d come along the M4, leaving at junction 12 before getting snarled up in traffic at Midgham on the A4.  He described the A4 as a nightmare, or words to that affect. 

We were also joined by a guy named David, an amateur rider in his time, who’d come to ride out for the first time.  Evidently he’d driven up from Basingstoke way, encountering a stunned deer sitting in the middle of the road at one point.  He’d picked it up and placed it on the grass verge to recover ... or die as is often the case in these instances.  Jamie went on to describe an occasion where he’d had to put a badly injured deer out of its misery ... when the only option was to drive over its head.  Oooooooooooooooo no.  I understand this is a common practice.    

Anyway, after partaking in refreshments provided by Jamie and his wife Lucy, we went out into the yard and the lads and lasses were legged up on their respective mounts before heading to the gallops.  The horses heading to the gallops were Capsy De Mee, Filemon, Oscar Star, Presenting Pearl, a giant 4-year-old named Footloose, Dans Le Vent, pretty chestnut Naranja, Some Day Soon, Three Ways and, David’s mount, Floral Bouquet.

They headed out of the yard, whilst it was decided we’d all travel to the gallops in Jamie’s 4 x 4; his Assistant Trainer, Oliver Signy, accompanied us.  I sat in the back of the vehicle, behind Jamie.  Our Reward was currently occupying the ‘dual aspect’ box, with views down the drive.  He’d got his winter coat and, being on the injury sidelines currently, he was chilled and friendly as we made a fuss of him before we left the yard.  One of Jamie’s pointer dogs also accompanied us to the gallops, in the back of the 4x4. 

Having left the driveway, we turned left to head up the B4000 towards Upper Lambourn.  We turned right just prior to the churchyard, then left at the far end.  A subsequent right turn took us into Maddle Road; we parked up at the corner where the road bears left, to await the string.  David’s saddle, on Floral Bouquet, had slipped; Jamie hopped out of the 4x4 to re-saddle her.  The horses then continued along Maddle Road, we overtook them further along, before turning right to head up the track beside the Peter Walwyn gallop; it had been announced the previous day that the former trainer had passed away.  He was famous for training Grundy, amongst others.

We stopped part way up, in order to view the string as they galloped by, before being driven to the top of the gallop and alighting once more.  Whilst standing here, trainer Charlie Mann drove by and Jamie said hello to him.  And John said hello to Jan Soldan who was riding a horse within, possibly, Richard Hughes’ string; the work rider has changed allegiance, having previously worked for Noel Williams, he’d now moved to Lambourn.

With the second gallop completed, we hopped into Jamie’s 4x4 once more and initially shadowed the string as they began their walk or trot back to the yard.  Jamie spoke to David as we drove by him. The rider thought that Floral Bouquet might be slightly wrong behind; Jamie said he’d ask the physio to check her out. Further along, Jamie kindly wound down the rear window so that I could take photographs.  Having overtaken the horses we stopped briefly, as we headed downhill, to watch them walk by.  As we neared the exit onto Maddle Road, we encountered two 4x4s; Page Fuller’s mum was driving the first of these and Jamie stopped for a brief chat.

Having reached the Maddle Road, before bearing right and turning left to skirt Jamie Osborne’s yard, we encountered a man walking his dog; Jamie told us it was former trainer Nick Gaselee, famous for sending out the huge Party Politics to win the Grand National.  Having subsequently reached the B4000, we turned left and headed back to Folly House; Jamie headed through the main electric gates in order to park the vehicle under the carport.  We alighted and Jamie invited us back to the kitchen for coffee/tea and biscuits.  En route, my fellow EPDS member and I took the opportunity to photograph Our Reward as he looked out of his corner box.  Meanwhile Oliver was asked to fetch Our Reward and Pride Of Pemberley from their boxes, each in turn, for us to shortly view.

Soon afterwards we were joined in the kitchen by the owner of Midnight Chill and Adrrastos, and his wife.  Having drunk two cups of tea whilst at the yard, it will come as no surprise that I had to pop to the loo too!

Today it became known that conditional jockey Will Featherstone had decided to retire from race riding; weight problems evidently. 

Jamie has snapped up Gavin Sheehan as their stable jockey, now that he’s been ‘demoted’ as the jockey of choice by Warren Greatrex in favour of Richard Johnson, when available.  Jamie played back videos on his mobile phone of a couple of Gavin’s rides, including the jumping error-strewn Fakenham ride when he nursed his mount home in 4th place.  Jamie told us that Gavin Sheehan doesn’t wear gloves when he’s riding; confirming this, I noticed that he wasn’t wearing any when interviewed later that afternoon following his winning ride in the Becher Chase aboard Blaklion!    

It was Jamie’s youngest son’s second birthday today; I think the Snowden’s youngest is called Arthur.  I later realised today was Donny Osmond’s 60th birthday.

As mentioned, both Our Reward and Pride Of Pemberley were led out into the winter sunshine for us to take photos of them.  As the EPDS contingent was small, there was no tour of the stables today.  We returned to the kitchen once more, before we departed at 10:20.

Having reached the end of the driveway, I thought I’d turn right in order to head through Lambourn Village and maybe onwards to Wantage via the road which leads towards Nicky Henderson’s yard (B4001) or along the lane to Great Shefford and then onwards to Wantage via the A338.  However, there were a number of vehicles currently being held up by a string of racehorses as they headed into Lambourn; as a result I chose instead to return via the route from whence I’d come!  This meant I returned to the A420 via Ashbury.  Further along, near Ashdown House, there was a 4x4 parked; the occupants were distributing feed to a number of horses and ponies living in the field adjacent to the road.

There was a group of vehicles and people at the cross-roads leading to Wayland’s Smithy; a shooting party perhaps?  A fabulous view opened up, across the vale, as I drove down the hill into Ashbury.  There was an option, within the village, to turn right in order to take a short-cut to Wantage; I wouldn’t risk it though, in icy conditions. 

Having reached the A420, I turned right to head back in the direction of Oxford.  At the third roundabout I encountered, I turned right again in order to drive along the A417 to Wantage.  The road passes through Stanford in the Vale and East Challow en route; the latter definitely had character.  As I’d approached Wantage from the northwest, my route to Reading was signed around a bypass to the north of the town.  At one point I was held up in a queue caused by temporary traffic lights.  Having exited Wantage, I continued on a now familiar section of the A417, through Rowstock, over the A34 and onwards through Upton and Blewbury before heading out over the downs to Streatley. 

However, instead of continuing to Pangbourne, I turned left and headed over the River Thames and into Goring; there were two bridges over the river itself, with an island in the middle.  There was also a 20mph speed limit within the town.  Having passed over a railway bridge, I arrived at a T-junction and turned right hoping to take the B4526 through Cray’s Pond.  In fact I missed the subsequent left-hand turn and ended up in Goring’s station car park instead!

It will come as no surprise when I mention that I have actually done a ramble which commenced from the station car park at Goring, and included a section of towpath along the River Thames!  However, a few moments earlier I had noticed warning signs at the corner so was able to view these better when I returned having completed a U-turn within the car park.  The notices warned drivers that the B4526 was closed; it was access only.  Typical.

This meant that I had to head in a northerly direction along the B4009 instead, through South Stoke and North Stoke en route.  I also encountered a cyclist and it took an age to overtake him because the road meandered through the countryside with plenty of bends, inclines and declines.  When I reached the A4074, I turned right to head in a south-easterly direction towards Caversham.

Upon reaching Caversham, the road winds its way through the residential area, past Caversham Court Gardens which I once visited with Den, before arriving at traffic lights upon the main street close to Caversham Bridge.  I knew where I was although, in my mind’s eye, I thought I’d be arriving via the Sonning Common road instead!  I turned left into Church Street and headed around past the Waitrose store to a mini-roundabout; I was held up at a pedestrian crossing en route.  I turned left into Prospect Street, and drove past the Wetherspoons Baron Cadogan pub where I’ve been on numerous occasions, before reaching a set of traffic lights at the junction of the aforementioned Sonning Common Road. 

Once the lights had turned to green, I continued along the Henley Road to reach Den’s house.  I was held up briefly at this point, as coincidently their next door neighbour had been travelling in the car in front of me and they pulled over into the space where I wanted to park, before then backing into their own drive.  Once the space was vacant, a car heading in the opposite direction flashed me and I was then able to park up outside Den’s house.  It was around 12:15 when I arrived and it had taken one hour and 55 minutes to travel from Lambourn to Caversham!  According to Google, the recommended M4 route takes just over 50 minutes and the recommended B4001 road to Wantage followed by Blewbury and Winterbrook still only 70 minutes!

I spent the afternoon chatting and watching TV, including a little of the action from Sandown Park and Aintree – the Tingle Creek and London National from the former, and the Sefton Chase from the latter. 

With the threat of freezing conditions overnight, followed by snow the following day, I left Den’s at 18:10. 

I headed through Sonning in order to cross the River Thames; it was dark in the village, the road made slightly narrower by a vehicle protruding a little way onto the other carriageway.  Worried that I needed to keep out of the way of traffic now heading towards me, from the direction of the bridge, one of my tyres caught the pavement outside the French Horn pub; damn.  Fingers crossed no damage had been done.  I continued over the single-track bridge and speed humps within the village and had soon reached the A4 where I turned left to head in the direction of Maidenhead.

The road heads through Charvil, Hare Hatch and Knowl Hill before reaching a large roundabout above the A404(M).  I turned right here and headed down the slip-road, soon finding myself behind a small, slow moving lorry as I approached the M4.  I then headed eastwards upon the M4 to reach the M25, still tracking the same vehicle.  I subsequently continued upon the clockwise carriageway of the London Orbital motorway; shortly before leaving at junction 22, I found myself travelling behind what appeared to be an identical lorry to the one I’d followed earlier.  But it couldn’t have been the same one, as that had continued into London upon the M4. 

Having left the motorway, I headed up the London Colney bypass and into St Albans.  I arrived home at 17:20.  Having unloaded items from my car, I checked the passenger-side wheels and tyres for damage.  It was dark, but I couldn’t feel anything amiss.   

I’d arrived home part-way through the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing; Mollie King was eliminated, leaving 4 finalists – Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson and Joe McFadden.  The following weekend, the final was won by Joe McFadden; I wanted Debbie to win. L  And yes, I did vote for her, 8 times in fact.

And, as forecasted, it snowed the following morning – this picture was taken as daylight arrived; it snowed all morning and we ended up with 3 to 4 inches of snow. 

Snow 10 Dec.jpg


PHOTOS – Visit to Folly House Stables in Lambourn (Index)




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