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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Timing of snow fall wasn't the worst

SNOW GO: Leopardstown racecourse in Dublin was closed due to snow. Pic: Justin Farrelly
SNOW GO: Leopardstown racecourse in Dublin was closed due to snow. Pic: Justin Farrelly

The last few days have been a pain in the backside to put it mildly, but it could have been much worse.

Cabin fever certainly set in over the weekend and I only managed to get out of the house for the first time yesterday but I definitely wasn't as badly off as some who lost water and power.

In all different sectors there has been some Trojan work put in by staff to try and keep things as normal as possible and the horse racing industry was no different.

Due to some really bad drifts of snow, I haven't been to Jessie's since Tuesday but thanks to a lot of hard work from her staff, the horses didn't miss a day all week.

There was one bad day when a lot of the staff just couldn't get in but Jessie has got a lot of workers living nearby and on site so they were able to keep most of the horses exercising in the indoor schooling arena.

So when Cheltenham comes around next week we'll be very grateful for the hard work carried out last week.

In fairness to Met Éireann, they got the forecast spot-on so Jessie, and a lot of trainers, had the foresight to bring some important pieces of fast work forward for the Cheltenham horses so that they didn't miss any important preparation.

I'll be making a rare appearance in Jessie's on a Monday as I'll go in this morning and have a chat to her about the week ahead but the horses will work again in the early part of the week and then in the second half of the week they'll work for the last time before setting off to Cheltenham.

To be honest, it took a lot of effort to clear snow and keep gallops going and everything like that and there's 150 horses in Jessie's at the moment so they've had some busy mornings as not all the staff were able to make it in every morning.

From the point of view of Cheltenham Festival preparation, this would have been a lot worse for everyone if it had arrived a few weeks ago.

Take the Red Mills Chase day at Gowran Park for example. If we'd have lost that meeting horses like Our Duke and Presenting Percy wouldn't have got another run in before Cheltenham and that would have been much worse. Everyone was prepared for this.

Sizing John was to go for a racecourse gallop and possibly school at Leopardstown this afternoon and again, it would have been nice to get him away for a day but it isn't the end of the world.

He has won a Gold Cup and went four Grade Ones in a row without defeat at the highest level so he's a good enough jumper and it's not like he's a novice that needs the experience.

We won't lose any sleep over not getting him away and Jessie has a fine schooling strip at home and he'll have a pop over them this week and that'll be perfect for him.

With the replacement fixtures and plenty of work to be done with the horses, it is going to be flat to the boards this week, providing that the thaw doesn't bring about new problems for racecourses to deal with.

It's an exciting time of year and it's better to be busy than not. Hopefully we'll be back racing later this week.

Sitting at home and not being able to get out of the house was a good excuse for me to watch last year's Cheltenham Festival again, and relive the Gold Cup especially. I don't need much of an excuse but this was certainly as good a reason as any!

What will be interesting at Cheltenham this year is how much it dries out over there between now and then. Some of the pictures show that they got plenty of snow themselves and the drifts left their mark on the hurdles and fences, and it is odds on now that the week will start on soft ground.

Again, there's nothing we can really do about that and the horses will be well used to running on that sort of ground, but the way Cheltenham is, between the drainage and the make up of the track, we could easily start on soft ground and by the middle or end of the week it will be back to good ground, so we'll just have to see what happens.

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