Thursday, 15 January 2015

A weekend away at Wellfield.

Good evening folks!

Where do I begin? After a near six-hour drive from central Scotland to south Wales, my friend Annette and I arrived to glorious wind and rain (having left the mother of all storms that destroyed both my garden shed and half of my yard fencing, and subsequently flooded poor Netty's house) at Wellfield Stud. Rachel was there to greet us, along with her friend Sarah G who owns a Thoroughbred mare called Ballyhollow (who won today in a 3m hurdle race at Ludlow - this is as close to a tip as you'll ever get from me so keep an eye on this mare).

Wellfield Official & Annette
Rachel didn't hang about getting us to work either - I was in my waterproofs and boots straight away to fetch Netty's favourite horse, Fish (Wellfield Official - Village Connection x Naughty Shady Lady x Falcon Seelster) from the field, and bring him in to the barn that is currently housing eleven horses in training. As if having eleven horses in training isn't enough, Roy and Rachel have a further nine horses split across another two barns. For anybody that doesn't class addition as their strongest point, and because I simply want to reiterate this for dramatic effect, that's twenty horses currently stabled in preparation for training. Admittedly, not all of those horses will remain at Wellfield throughout the summer, but that is still a tremendous number of horses to feed, muck out and exercise daily. I can understand why Rachel wanted to make good use of an extra two pairs of hands over the weekend! Of the twenty horses stabled, 19 of these are pacers and the odd one out is a French Trotter (Trendy du Closet) purchased by Roy as part of the Le Trot series that was formed last summer.

As I've already mentioned, Netty's favourite is Wellfield Official, or Fish, a winner of a heat at Appleby last May and second in the final, and also second in both heat and final of the Famous Musselburgh Pace in July. He is still a full horse, but a perfect gentleman nonetheless and a gentle giant with wee Netty. Every person who is friends with Rachel always seems to adopt a Wellfield horse, and in the same way that Netty has Fish, I have my boy Bruce (Wellfield Bruce - Village Connection x Atout A Leuhre x Handsome Sum), and I have also taken the grumpiest horse at Wellfield Stud under my wing - the gorgeous grey Wellfield Ghost (Village Connection x Newtown Alysia x Direct Current). He was the heat and final winner at Aberystwyth last summer, and the main reason Rasus (the Welsh language harness racing programme) visited Wellfield to record Roy, Rachel and Gramps (Roy's 86yo father who still jogs the horses, and even warms them up at the races if we're not fast enough to stop him) and the horses. As well as Trendy, Fish, Bruce and Ghost, there is also Alfie, Theo, Shadylady, Ruby, Posh, Dylan, Survivor, Earl, Benny, Busted, Baby, Dancer, Scary, Sporty, Annie and Rosie (all with the Wellfield prefix) stabled and potentially going into training this year.

We spent the remainder of Friday afternoon putting horses on the walker, mucking out, feeding and giving hay to the horses. We also found time to sit down with Roy for a cuppa and a catch up. I envy any yard that has somewhere with armchairs and a kettle situated within the same barn as the horses and the walker, I really do. It's my version of heaven!

Wellfield Ghost & me
For anybody who hasn't made the connection, or paid attention to my last post, Roy is the current BHRC Chairman. Since taking up the position I don't think his phone has stopped ringing or his computer stopped notifying him of new emails. He was good enough to sit down with me on the Saturday morning however and discuss some proposals that Smarty and I had written together. This also managed to get me out of mucking out duties, which I've definitely had enough of at home! The proposals included handicap changes, licence fees, championship race days and the make up of the BHRC, and true to his word Roy took all of the suggestions on board. I also discussed with him the possibility of British racing featuring more on, as I have been contacted by a gentleman named Steve Wolf about writing for the British section of the website. Roy was enthusiastic about this and contacted Jim McInally (the Vice Chairman) to notify him of my plans to write about them. It's really good to have the support of the people at the top, and in return for their support I'm putting myself forward and doing one of the few things that I'm actually good at - writing, and in turn generating publicity. All they asked each and every one of us for was to offer up our services, put forward our strengths and talents and all try to chip in to take the sport forward. So here I am, trying to lead by example. Join the revolution people!

Saturday night saw us celebrating Rachel's birthday with a meal and drinks in her local pub. Roy joined us later in the evening and despite what he may tell people, he instigated a level of drinking I haven't experienced since 2014...the party moved back to the yard and I kicked out the last person at 5am (that last person was Roy). I declared myself last man standing, for which he owes me £1.05, and went to my bed. Unfortunately I didn't see much of Sunday as a result of this...but you only live once right?! I am making an official public statement here though that I will not be drinking for the immediate future; I simply cannot go through that level of self-inflicted pain and suffering again.

Wellfield Bruce
On Monday morning when we ventured out to sort the horses, Roy appeared on the yard and declared that I was banned from Wellfield. No doubt the next time I see him, and every other time after that, he will make reference to this weekend just gone. In the same way that he refers to Rachel and me as his minders, and claims to be the safest man in south Wales because of us. Which is only slightly less insulting than Mr Fettah calling us the Pontypool front row...

We departed Wellfield Stud in the same wonderful wind and rain that we arrived in, and came back to the same wet and windy Scotland that we'd left. It's a trip I hope to make again next year!

Over and out,

#1 Scottish groom (although Netty gave me a real run for my money over the weekend),


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