Good Friday 19 April





Picture of the Day



Me and one of my favourites ... Theinval



Easter was late this year, 19 to 22 April, and the weather glorious too … unlike 2018 when an early Easter resulted in the majority of the planned Lambourn Open Day events being abandoned due to heavy rain.  In fact the only event had been Nicky Henderson opening his yard at Seven Barrows that day … which meant the Best Turned Out yard award was a walkover!!!


Anyway, the yards opened at 08:30 so, with this in mind, I set my alarm for 05:30, with the aim of leaving home at 06:45. Having procrastinated, I left home at 07:00.  But, you know what?  It no longer bothers me if I arrive slightly later than planned …


Life has not been the same since early January, when a certain Richard Madden became the most important interest in my life.  I watched Bodyguard when broadcast last August/September so it was a slow burner at first, before suddenly hitting me straight between the eyes on the weekend of the Golden Globes; 05/06 January. Since then, I’ve lived and breathed him every minute of my waking day and sometimes more too – nothing much gets done, off-piste, and that includes my racing life! 


I am internet and social media savvy, and I am not naïve; recent paparazzi intrusion and resultant newspaper stories, along with internet trolling, has shown a total lack of respect for this very talented actor and it is very hurtful and unkind to him.  Having read many legitimate articles, and seen and heard him being interviewed on numerous occasions, I know Richard to be a very beautiful person, both inside and out, and my love for him has never wavered. 


Anyway, back to the diary in hand ... having left home, I joined the M25 at junction 22, travelling in an anti-clockwise direction to reach the westbound carriageway of the M4.  The latter motorway is still affected by road-works, with a 50mph in place between junctions 8/9 to 10; it’s being converted into a Smart Motorway.


I left the motorway at Junction 14, travelling via Great Shefford, East Garston and Eastbury to reach Lambourn.  I recall seeing two racehorses, being ridden near Eastbury; the traffic slowed to accommodate them.  Having cut through to reach the Wantage Road, I turned right and joined the convoy heading to Nicky Henderson’s yard at Seven Barrows.


There was a queue to get in; in fact around 5 separate queues!  It cost £15 for entry, plus £5 for a programme; with monies going to designated charities.  Having parked my car in the field above the yard, I walked down the hill to see the horses.  I began with the stables on the right-hand side, before progressing to the barns at the far end; River Wylde is nice.  I then travelled along the boxes towards the main yard – these included Follow The Bear, Pentland Hills, Mister Fisher and Verdana Blue. 


I headed into the main yard and discovered that Sprinter Sacre was being held by his ex-lad, Sarwah Mohammed, standing upon the grass area in the centre; evidently only special horses are permitted on the grass!  He looked so well and happy.  I toured around the loose boxes, finding Gold Present, O O Seven, Divine Spear, Whisper, Beware The Bear, Vyta Du Roc, Bobsworth (visiting for the day), Altior, Theinval, Buveur D’Air, Jenkins, Josses Hill and Mite Bite … and yes, the latter was being a bit ‘nippy’! 


I was having a problem taking a selfie with one of my favourites, Theinval, but fortunately a lady kindly took a number of photos for me (one of which is shown above).  I desperately want a selfie with Richard Madden; he’ll have to take the selfie for me, as he’s ‘King of the Selfies’ and I’m useless!  I returned to take a few more photographs of Sprinter Sacre before heading back to my car. 


I then drove back to Lambourn village; I turned right at the cross-roads, as the main straight was chock-a-bloc with traffic, and a lorry in particular.  I headed around the block in an anti-clockwise direction, to park opposite Harry Dunlop’s yard.  Having consumed a couple of cheese rolls, it will come as no surprise that I then headed to Jamie Snowden’s yard!!!  The stable staff accommodation situated next to the driveway was now complete, and there were four children’s ponies in the adjacent paddocks, including a painted cob.


EPDS Racing no longer have a relationship with the yard and, although Our Reward is still there, he is now a Heart Racing syndicate horse.  I did an extensive tour of the yard, taking many photographs – Timcoda, Kalahari Queen, Hogan’s Height, Alrightjack, Pacify, Legends Ryde, College Oak, an unnamed Jamie Snowden Racing Club Westerner gelding (I liked him a lot, a lovely nature), Lakeside Pearl, and Our Three Sons. 


Also the yawning Fact Of The Matter, Redbridge Gold, the previously mentioned Our Reward, Carntop, Scorpion Sid (who slobbered on my new camera!), Shantewe, Early Morning Rain, Chapmanshype, Etat Major Aulmes, Lyrical King, Richie Valentine, Adrrastos, Midnight Chill, Double Treasure, the black Floral Bouquet, Thebannerkingrebel, Some Day Soon, Between The Waters, Coole Well, Bucko’s Boy, Three Ways, Thistle Do Nicely (who may bite), Crown Theatre, Grange Ranger,  Filemon, King Vince, Amorlette, Falcons Fall, and Dans Le Vent.


I then continued across the road to Warren Greatrex’s yard at Uplands; the yard is the former home of jockey/trainer Fred Winter.  I toured the yard, taking photos of Missed Approach, Portrush Ted, Gangster, Dicosimo, Miss Honey Ryder, Keeper Hill, Jackson Hill, Mulcahys Hill, Boite and La Bague Au Roi.


My final visit was to Oliver Sherwood’s yard, where I photographed Rayvin Black, before I returned via the main road to the field where the afternoon events would be held.  I popped to the portaloo, before finding a bale of straw to sit upon, adjacent to the arena.  As the bales were large enough to accommodate two people, I was joined by an older lady a short while later.  It transpired she was trainer Harry Dunlop’s mother-in-law!  She said she liked National Hunt racing best, and had visited Nicky Henderson’s yard earlier in the day too, but she wasn’t permitted to be disloyal to her son-in-law who trained for the flat!  She also asked me if I’d been to a point-to-point; no, never.


The presenters for the day were Merrick Francis and trainer Richard Phillips.


The first display of the afternoon was a parade of the Vine and Craven foxhounds; Harry Dunlop’s mother-in-law popped over to say hello to her grandson, William, who was taking part as a mounted hunt follower.  The pony William rode was a racing pony.  His mount was 18 years old and keen to get on with the job in hand; this meant that Harry’s wife had to lead the pony for the majority of the time.


There was a slight delay ahead of the second event, the Stannage International Stunt Team, because of traffic problems in the village; this had delayed those wishing to park ahead of the afternoon’s proceedings. 


The Equine Parade followed, in the main arena.  The parade was led by Sprinter Sacre, followed by Hunt Ball, Bobsworth, Buveur D’Air, Pentland Hills, Coneygree, Stormy Antarctic (trained by Ed Walker), La Bague Au Roi, and Toast Of New York led up by former jockey Jimmy McCarthy.  Trainer Jamie Osborne announced that ‘Toast’ was now officially retired, having encountered a number of niggling injury issues during his comeback effort.  Jamie Osborne’s whippet, Bobby, was also paraded; evidently she is a legend on the Lambourn gallops.


The next event was two heats of the camel racing – these were held beside the all-weather gallop which runs alongside the arena field.  I headed over to gallop; I stood at the end of the cordoned off section as it was the only place I could get a good view. 


Taking part were AP McCoy, Noel Fehily, Nico de Boinville, Brendan Powell Senior (who rode twice), Jamie Osborne, a lady rider plus A N Other.  John Francome was supposed to ride, but didn’t show for this particular event; hence Brendan had two attempts, but failed.  He would be leaving Lambourn the next day to take up a post in Ireland as Assistant Trainer to Joseph O’Brien; Brendan had announced his retirement ranks very recently, the role no longer paid.


The next event was the schooling over hurdles with top jockeys – including Jeremiah McGrath, Noel Fehily, Nico de Boinville and AP McCoy.


There was a brief RDA display, followed by a ROR display in the main arena. 


This was followed by the Camel Racing final, held in the main arena on this occasion.  The finalists were AP McCoy, Nico de Boinville, Noel Fehily and Jamie Osborne.  And there was no surprise that AP won the race … Merrick Francis joked, as he does every year, that AP has to win.  He’s even won races at the Open Day because of objections to the winner!


The final event was the Show Jumping – the McCoy family, the Osborne family, the Bradstock family, plus John Francome plus one.  Technically it wasn’t family, apart from the Bradstock’s Sarah and Lily.  The Osborne team might have been, but for the fact that Saffy Osborne was away competing in Ireland this particular weekend.  Anyway, it will come as no surprise that AP McCoy’s team won!!!


I believe Ed Walker won this year’s prize for best turned out yard!


Events over for another Good Friday, I walked back to the car park situated opposite Windsor House stables.  I ate the two remaining cheese rolls, as I’d been surviving on Fruitella sweets for most of the day.


I left Lambourn just after 17:00 and I wish I could give a description of my journey home … but I won’t, as I took a long diversion!  It was another of my wonderful ‘Magical Mystery Tours’ …  that’s ‘magical’ for me, and a ‘mystery’ to everyone else who doesn’t understand my need to do it!!!  But, despite not having a satnav, I wasn’t lost at any point!  I returned via the A303, M3 and M25, arriving home at 21:25.


I’ve either got dodgy new front tyres or they aren’t balanced properly, as speeds above 60mph cause a lot of vibration on the steering wheel of my car.  Although at over 80mph this disappears again … naughty me ... that’s too fast!





Click here for Lambourn Open Day photos index – hopefully this will happen at some point ... Maddenitis permitting!!!



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