With the start of the point-to-point season on the horizon, Pauline and Doug Harkin had invited their owners to Blackgrounds Farm for their traditional pre-season open morning. They had also invited the AGA man, so I asked my colleagues from AGA Cookshop if I could borrow their rather smart AGA Iconic Mini.
They said yes and I set off for the Harkin yard in brilliant November sunshine, very much looking forward to meeting the owners, and hopefully finding one or two who wanted to buy a new AGA! There were lots of smiles as I ‘dismounted’ from the Mini – always an encouraging sign – although somebody couldn’t resist pointing out that ‘the Mini is quite small’, and ‘you’re quite a large chap’. That’s ok as I was thinking the same myself!
I love everything about Point-to-Point horse racing, but most of all I love the people, and I feel really privileged to be a part of this community. The quality of the people was highlighted by the warm welcome I received when I arrived at Blackgrounds Farm – not that I was expecting anything else. The friendly team and the owners were all genuinely pleased to see me (and the AGA car), and I’m hoping that some of the owners will be involved in our new National Championship for owners of open horses.
The plan was to work seven horses in a nearby field, and then put some of them through their paces jumping around the menage. Pauline was on Definite Dawn (aka ‘Bryn’) for Christopher and Clare Padfield, and their other horse, Out of Range (aka ‘Harry’), was ridden by one of the real characters of the weighing room, Dickie Barrett (I know he won’t mind me saying that).
We decided to leave the AGA Mini in the yard and I hitched a lift to the field with Christopher & Clare Padfield. On the way there Clare told me all about the ‘AGA Saga‘, she wanted a kitchen (and an AGA), but Christopher bought the two horses instead. Clare still wants an AGA … watch this space!
We had watched:
- Definite Dawn (Bryn) and Pauline Harkin (Christopher & Clare Padfield)
- Pontypandy (Ponty) and Pete Mann (The Duck Club)
- Popaway (Poppy) and Toby Betambeau (Rob, Roy, Henry, John Partnership)
- Wild Dove (Eeyore) and Esme Stanley (Jo Thame)
- Velvet Royale (Dolly) and Tara Rattray (Jo Thame)
- Out of Range (Harry) and Dickie Barrett (Christopher & Clare Padfield)
- We Never Give Up (Jess) and Jason Warren (The ‘We Never Give Up’ Club)
Hot drinks, bacon rolls, sausage sandwiches and Bucks Fizz were all served upon our return to the yard, with doughnuts available for those among us who are not watching their figures (that will be me then!)
One horse we had heard but hadn’t seen was Jake, that’s two time Cheltenham winner Doctor Kingsley, who also has a Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase 4th on his CV! It was almost like he was saying ‘do you know who I am?’, so Doug brought him out to strut his stuff – he looked in great order – and as you can see from the photo below he obviously recognised the AGA man!
The bond between the pair is there for all to see and the Foxhunter dream lives on, one thing is for sure, he loves that Cheltenham hill (as does Doug!).
Clare has chosen her AGA colour and I expect the Padfields to rack up some points in the AGA Dual Control National Open Horse Championship so she may even win one. Having said that I think she’ll have one anyway so I’ll be expecting a call at some point during the coming months as we conclude the ‘AGA Saga’!
Doug brought one more horse out to meet the AGA Iconic Mini, and despite the fact that he wasn’t tacked up this didn’t stop Doug hopping up onto his back for a quick pic with the Mini! This horse is as yet un-named so I think we all need to be extra nice to Doug and Pauline as we try to persuade them that an AGA themed name would be a great idea … we could even run a competition! ‘Iconic AGA’ or ‘AGA Saga‘ sound good, or how about ‘AGA Total Control‘, or even ‘The AGA Man’?
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Pauline and Doug, their friendly team, and their wonderful owners. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and I look forward to seeing all of you in a field at a point-to-point horse race meeting very soon. You never know, I may even have met the winner of our new Owners Championship this morning!