All change with some exciting new projects – and the music has improved as well!

If you’ve read any of my blog posts during the last 6 months then two things will be clear, 1) I enjoyed my time at G&T Racing, 2) I didn’t really like listening to Radio 1 every morning. Three months have passed since I last sat down to write a story so a few gaps need to be filled in, and, as you will see, it’s not just the music that has changed as I’ve been clocking up the miles. It has all been worth it as I have some exciting new ‘stuff’ going on, plus, and I can listen to Popmaster again on Radio2!

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I had plenty of fun with the team at G&T Racing, I miss them and the horses, but not the early starts!

The first change occurred in mid-March when a very good friend had a chat with me about doing some social media management and PR work for her. I didn’t need to be asked twice and my answer to Claire Hardwick was a very big YES.

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A morning on the gallops with this happy bunch was a great way to kick off a busy April!

There’s rather a lot going on at Claire Hart Equine and it’s exciting to be involved, we’ve crammed plenty of good stuff in since that day in March and we kicked April off with a morning on the gallops and a day at the races – all part of an auction prize that Claire had donated to Chipping Campden Cricket Club for their Summer Ball!

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We had breakfast and a glass of fizz in the day room before heading off in convoy to Kingston Blount Point-to-Point racecourse.
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L-R: Jake Patterson, Richard Patterson, Charlie Dee, Sally Patterson, John Mears, Joanna Mears

The sun shone at Kingston Blount, Creepy and Charlie Dee duly won their race and winning betting tickets were brandished with delight. The celebrations continued in the lorry park with more fizz and I think it’s safe to say that our quintet of auction prize winners enjoyed their day!

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The cup was literally overflowing!

Three days prior to our super Saturday we took Creepy and Tilinisi to Chris Loggin’s so that they could pop a few schooling fences. That was an interesting trip in more ways than one…

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Creepy and Charlie in flying form.

As we followed the horses across the field towards the schooling fences I was asked a question by Christina Dee, “Do you just do horsey stuff?” (or words to that effect). My answer was that as much as I enjoyed the equine world, I would jump at the chance to break out of that bubble and get stuck into some additional work that was completely removed from hosses! A seed was sown – more of which later.

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Clifton-on-Dunsmore was our next port of call after Kingston Blount, where we watched Sam Canning and Sand Artist finish 4th in the Open Maiden (for Horses & Geldings only).

After Clifton-on-Dunsmore a top secret trip to Lambourn was our next adventure as Claire had been asked to ride Vincitore in the Foxhunter at Aintree by Ripper Rippon and Saskia Karina Baharuddin. Vince had been ruled out of the race in 2015 at the last minute, having made the trip to Liverpool, so Claire was pretty keen to renew her partnership with a horse that she used to train.

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Ripper brought Good Egg to school with Vince (who was electric) and it brought back memories of my days as the AGA man – both Vince and the Egg won AGA sponsored races!

We kept the pics and video from the schooling session under wraps until the night before the big race, although it’s fair to say that Claire was pretty excited at the prospect of tackling those huge Grand National fences.

My next port of call was Plantation Farm in leafy Hampshire, which isn’t just a point-to-point yard, it’s also a specialist breeding centre for thoroughbred and sport-horse broodmares and a dedicated veterinary rehabilitation facility. It was a fascinating and informative few hours and I’m very keen to work with Richard and Kate Bandey, I think we could do some good stuff together. Bandey also serves up a pretty mean poached egg!

Aintree was next (chauffeured by Martin and Jane Wanless) and it was every bit as good as it promised to be, we ALL had an amazing day, especially Claire, who already has one eye on another spin in the race next year! On a personal note, I had some very good news from Christina Dee following on from our conversation a couple of weeks earlier. Things were about to get a lot more interesting!

Mollington on Grand National day was next up and it was the first part of a double header on the hottest weekend of the year so far. Much fun was had, particularly by the large Hardwick support team in the lorry park!

The second part of the double header was at Guilsborough and the ‘Hardwick Happy Club’ were out in force as they had two runners to cheer on. One of them – Middleton’s Minx – only went and won, so for the second day on the bounce the words fun, Hardwick and lorry park appeared in the same sentence!

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Sam Canning and Middleton’s Minx find a good use for the cup!
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Tracey and Christina looking very formal ahead of their trip to Zhengzhou, China.

I had a midweek meeting with Christina Dee to chat about doing some work for her with the Forest School Learning Initiative (something that I’m very excited about). I also took some formal photographs of Christina and her colleague, Tracey that were sent straight off to Zhengzhou in China, ready to be displayed inside and outside of the venue ahead of a keynote conference speech by Chris (Chris was relaxed about the speech but was not so keen on the formal look).

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Earcomestom (Rachel) is nearside and Tilinisi (Claire) is farside.

It was back to Lambourn again last Thursday with two youngsters who were due to run at Hereford this weekend (Earcomestom and Tilinisi), although that fixture has now bitten the dust so a day in the garden beckons on Saturday for me, but there’s always Whitfield on Sunday!

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A trip to Lambourn also means a stop at the kebab wagon near Burford, although I passed on the cheesy chip and sausage wrap this time!

A trip to Kimble kicked off our Easter weekend and it resulted in a winner for Claire when she won the Club Members race (in a dead heat) on Little Chip for the Plantation Picnic Club. Some more jolly pics in the lorry park followed, before Claire dashed off to watch Sand Artist and Sam Canning at Dingley.

We had a very sociable day with Pippa and Tony Ellis, we were chauffeured there and back, and we had a nice picnic with plenty of gin at the back of the car. I even had time for a little snooze on the journey home!

A short trip to Paxford finished off the Easter weekend, it was a decent day and very sociable, but the small fields took the shine off it a bit (boring, according to my lovely wife), and we had to wait until the last race for the biggest field of the day (7 runners).

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The last race on the card was the most competitive and it was won well by Velvet Cloud (grey) for Pauline and Doug Harkin.
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Stephen Spencer-Jones and Claire off to find Loose Chips and The Real Snoopy.

This week has been no less busy and we managed to cram quite a lot in during my latest visit to Fern Farm, including an equine swimming session and a dressage practice! There was also a visit from a gentleman known as ‘Spud’ (Stephen Spencer-Jones), but there will be more of that in my next blog post. Let’s see if I can keep up now!

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