As 2015 has drawn to a close it’s time to look back on the old year and look forward to the new one.
We started our adventure/leap of faith in January and initially things were tough, finding a place to live and even opening a bank account took patience and much effort ! Not to mention getting to grips with the 24 h clock for some – I stand guilty as charged ! Without three months of payslips as proof of income we were unable to rent a flat, without proof of an address we couldn’t open an account etc., etc. Fortunately our landlady Mme Rondelé attested that we were living in a stable so things could progress (we must also thank her for recommending excellent vets, farriers, osteopath’s, hay merchants etc, her help was invaluable). After our stay chez Hammond we were able to rent a flat in a newly converted stable block at Thierry Doumen’s quite close to the yard where the horses were, we can’t thank him enough for his kindness and help.
I have more French than Debbie but she is more personable so as a team we work well together, making up for each other’s weaknesses and as a result I feel we have been accepted and treated in many quarters as one of their own, although the head waiter (Fred) in our usual lunchtime haunt The Chasseacourre has taken to kissing Debbie’s hand and calling her ‘Princess’ !
Good results were a long time in coming, all horses needed three runs to get a French handicap mark and this often resulted in them running in tough conditions races! Our stats now read 5 winners from 50 runners and 92,000€ in prize money with a string of only six horses at any one time.
A special mention must go to Flying Cape, our flag bearer this season, he has given us some great days racing and finished his season by winning at Deauville in December pushing his prize money over 50,000€ for the year, not bad for a horse rated just 61 in the UK. We must thank our apprentice Jack Duern who always believed in the little horse.
December has involved a move up in the world from Rue Charles Pratt to Voie de la Grange des Prés, albeit still in Lamorlaye. We now live in a flat above the horses, the boxes are first rate and built at a time when money was not a concern. We have plenty of space and exist in a veritable oasis of calm and once again Ruggle the terrier is master of his own estate and all he surveys.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those owners who have supported us, namely;
- John Marriott
- Neville Chapman
- Paul Shaw
- Mark Round
- Geoff Lucas
- John Evitt
Also those who have worked for us;
- Jack Duern (good luck with your UK season)
- Amie Karlsson (all the best for your new job with the Swedish Ministry of Education – one day she’ll be running the country I’m sure)
- Michael Finegan (it seems like he’s part of the furniture now and has built up a good relationship with the highly challenging Tree of Grace, much to my relief !)
2016 begins with the 6 week Cagnes Sur Mer meeting for which a team has been well prepared (it’s like a grown up continental Pony Club camp with prize money attached).
Thereafter, who knows? We’d love to share the best that French racing has to offer to a few more owners but if not we don’t mind because we’re having the best of fun.