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Racking Up The Winners With Natalya!

January has been a much better month for me than December. I’ve had 5 rides since my last blog, 3 of which were winners and two placings.

2022 began heading to Ampton in the G&T lorry with 4 horses and the dream team assistant trainers Jack Andrews and Sam Davies-Thomas, whilst the bosses headed up North with Gina riding at Alnwick. I felt to be in with a chance here with Blazing Tom in the Ladies and Fox Valley in the Novice Riders. It was a beautiful winters day and the bright sun shining low caused problems for the stewards with fences being omitted in the first and last races. Who’d have thought the sun would be such an issue in early January!!!

Only 2 other horses alongside Tom were declared in the Ladies; Killiney Court and Back Bar, the latter being the one to beat after his impressive seasonal debut beating the 2021 Aintree Foxhunters winner Cousin Pascal. The flag dropped and Back Bar made the running with my plan to follow. We popped the first however, Tommy made a slight mistake at the second which was a bit of a sit tight moment…. We then got into a rhythm but Back Bar did not seem to be travelling his usual self and after a circuit, I took it up with Killiney Court and it pretty much stayed like that for the next circuit where Back Bar was pulled up. We came down the hill the last time and Killiney Court looked to be travelling well but Tommy winged the third last which gave us a couple of lengths advantage turning in and got another good jump two out. I gave Tommy a squeeze and he came alive. At the last, VERY fast, another good jump sealed our 20 length win….

Onto the Novice race, Fox Valley was to round up a productive day for the G&T team who had 4 winners so far with Master Templar winning the maiden under Will Thirlby and Gina having a double at Alnwick. Ellie Callwood also had a 2nd in the Veteran Condition race on her own Wounded Warrior. The Novice Riders was a 6 runner race and the plan was to sit handy and not take it up too soon. I ended up sitting in fourth as three took each other on in front. Fox jumped well and travelled foot perfect the entire race. A good jump at the first down the hill got me to the front upsides Occupied (eventual third-place horse). The third last was omitted with the low sun issue so it was a long way until the penultimate fence. A good jump two out saw us hit the front earlier than I had liked however I committed and it paid off, with her winging the last and going onto win by 4 lengths.

This was my first ever double and it was even more special to have done it on these two horses with my parents and sister there to see and enjoy it too! Fox hasn’t been an easy horse for me, we’ve had our ups and downs but I’m delighted for the Signy and Marriage families who have been very good giving me plenty of opportunities.

The following weekend I went to Higham to ride the ex Dan Skelton trained Longhouse Sale (aka Mouse) who is now trained by Simon and Joanna Andrews. We were unsure of his fitness levels as he’s solely trained and hadn’t run since summer 2021. Azzuri pretty much made all and bolted up in the end giving Heidi Palin her first winner! We tried to track her, we jumped and travelled really well but a combination of not staying 3 miles and his fitness got the better of us after a blunder 4 out. We ended up being well behind so I pulled up before the last, but there will be plenty more days for him!

Bawnmore went back to Horseheath after being a good second on New Year’s Eve. He gave me another good ride to finish third and was not beaten by much. Unfortunately, the ground conditions didn’t suit and it all happened a little too fast for him. I was never happy with the way we were travelling and he didn’t jump as well as he can. Hopefully, there will be some rain before the next time he runs.

My latest ride was on Blazing Tom at Charing in the Ladies Open. I got quite uncharacteristically nervous before this race for some reason and for the first circuit things were not going as smoothly as I liked. He was jumping great but I never felt to be travelling, constantly niggling him along to stay with the front two. Thankfully there was no need to be concerned as we started to make headway at the 10th as I tracked Sparkleandshine until a good jump four out took us into the lead. He started to go clear after two-out, going onto win by 20 lengths….

I never thought this time last year we would have won all 6 of our starts together but the hard work put in by all the team is proving fruitful.

Between racing, a few of the girls from the yard and I manage to squeeze in a night out after racing in Cheltenham which has definitely put me off late nights drinking anytime soon…

Work at G&T racing has been very busy getting the stores ready for their racecourse debuts. We travelled up to Sheriff Hutton to give them a racecourse schooling session the day after the meeting. They are coming along nicely and we should see the first few run by the end of the month. I haven’t managed to get away to ride out in other yards with being so busy at home but I did manage to have a morning at Olly Murphy’s. I have been going to Olly’s when I can for the past four seasons, it’s a great yard to work in and it’s nice to have a catch up with everyone when possible. Not enough hours in the day!

This weekend is looking rather quiet racing so I am going to head home to see the family. We will catch up next month!

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