Stable Talk with Martin Keighley
Snow, snow and more snow!
Frustrating but luckily the forecasters were right and we were ready for it when it arrived in the early hours of last Friday.
This meant that I did a few hours on the tractor keeping the gallop free and then my gallop man took over when he started work, which resulted in us being able to still use it.
This was great as we were able to do fast work as normal on Tuesday, which was a relief.
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However, for a change on Wednesday, the horses cantered in the snow and they absolutely loved it.
I've not been able to turn them out in the field, though, which we normally do every day, as our turnout fields have been a little bit frozen underneath and it wasn't worth the risk.
This has meant that the team have been getting done a bit earlier than normal and we have been able to do plenty of team bonding – sledging on our big banks below the yard.
As well doing plenty of sledging over the weekend, my son Freddie's school at Temple Guiting was shut on Tuesday and Wednesday which meant more sledging!
That was lots of fun, but I really feel for the team at Cheltenham and hope for their sake that racing goes ahead this weekend, be it on Saturday or, after special dispensation from the BHA, on Sunday.
I don't have entries but that doesn't stop me hoping it is on.
When I worked on the groundstaff team at Cheltenham and we'd all gone to the extra trouble to put the frost covers down and still lost the meeting it was so frustrating.
The team there this week have apparently cleared snow off the top of the frost sheets not once but twice, so they deserve a bit of luck with the weather now.
Although everyone naturally thinks of the team outside in all weathers working on the track, it is also the team in the office that you have to feel for after an abandonment.
My wife Belinda was secretary to the director of sponsorship Peter McNeile before our children came along and she knows the disappointment of the team having to phone sponsors, cancel trophies and the hospitality team cancelling all those hoping for a wonderful day in the various boxes and restaurants.
It is a difficult call as to when a meeting is called off.
As trainers we obviously want it to be given best opportunity for it to be on and the clerk of the course's job is one I wouldn't want!
Call it off too early and everyone moans it hasn't been given every chance of being on, but call it off late after horses, jockeys and hospitality guests who have travelled a long way have arrived at the track then you are possibly criticised too.
It's a thankless job but let's hope the weather is kind and Simon Claisse and the rest of us are rewarded with the fabulous card of racing that it promises to be.
I have a few entries over the next week and am just praying the promised thaw arrives and we manage to get some racing.
Seymour Eric, who has won both his starts for me so far, has two possibilities, as does Monty's Revenge who won on Boxing Day.
Both shouldn't be inconvenienced by the predictable heavy ground.
Other horses that may run include a newcomer Merlin's Wish, who has won his only point-to-point, and the mare One More Cookie who was third in her first novice chase recently.
I'm finding myself watching the weather forecasts even more than ever at the moment and getting shouted at by my sons Freddie and Harry for interrupting their programmes on Cbeebies to look at the weather!
Champion Court is in great form.
On Monday I took him out of the Skybet Chase at Doncaster tomorrow in which he was generally favourite with the bookies as I didn't want him to have a slog in heavy ground and top weight if the meeting went ahead.
Instead I have chosen to run him at Kempton Park on February 8 in a graduation chase and that will give him just short of five weeks to freshen him up for the Festival.
I'm obviously hoping we can get his head in front after some hard races in defeat.