In just a few short weeks life has changed completely, and possibly in some aspects permanently. No doubt like you, we wait anxiously for the national situation to improve and some sort of normality to return.
In the meantime in addition to training and caring for racehorses we've become schoolteachers, bakers, cleaners, repair experts and have picked up all the other 1001 tasks that lockdown has thrown up. It's sometimes frustrating, often rewarding and on many days we feel busier than ever (if that's possible)!
Whilst there's not much racing news compared to March & April in a typical year, we've been anything but subdued - and we want to share with you what actions and steps we have taken to safeguard the business and be ready as soon as racing resumes.
In the early stages of lockdown we enacted our continuity plan in order to ensure we can continue as a business and safeguard our team members. We acted in line with guidelines from the NHS, HM Government, The National Trainers Federation and British Horseracing Authority. These steps involved actions such as turning the horses out to pasture, and having to furlough our team until June 1st. We had to ensure owners were kept informed and our paramount responsibility was the safety of stable staff coupled with maintaining our high standards of horse welfare.
The next phase is about being ready for a return to racing as soon as permission is given from authorities and stakeholders. It is looking possible this will be a 'behind closed doors' return sometime on or near July 1st. With this in mind some horses will come back into training on June 1st with a small number, perhaps seven, returning May 1st with an eye on summer jump meetings.
Lastly, we've made a conscious effort not to be downhearted, and to make the most of how fortunate we are to be doing the job we love in such beautiful surroundings - those of you who who follow us on social media may have seen a few examples, including the ones below.
Our heartfelt thanks go to our stable staff, our fantastic owners and wonderful suppliers - none of this would be possible without them and with a glimmer of faint light at the end of the tunnel we have every reason to be grateful to them.
As ever, give us a call if you'd like discuss any aspect of ownership or find out more about life at Condicote Stables.
Judging by this footage, the horses haven't a care in the world. Here they are enjoying the lockdown sunshine recently
Star shines at Uttoxeter
Our last win before racing was suspended was at Uttoxeter on March 14th, where Solstice Star took the laurels in decisive fashion in the 2m7f Marston's Brewery Lady Riders' Handicap Hurdle, with Lilly Pinchin on board.
The duo stayed mid-division in the early stages before making gradual headway to lead 3 out, making further ground all the way to finish ahead by 17 lengths.
We were delighted to give connections Foxtrot Racing another winner, which surely won't be the last for Solstice Star
Dates for your diary
May 1st - Summer jumpers back in training
June 1st - Majority of the string back in training
July 1st - NH racing planned to resume
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We were extremely saddened and shocked to learn of the passing of long-time friend and former owner Paul, who lost his life to Coronavirus.
Our thoughts go out to his family and especially his wife Geraldine and we send them all our love.
Paul was a generous and very popular man, loved life and he & Geraldine were inseparable and absolutely lived life to the full so we hope that in time those wonderful memories will help heal some of their pain.
As if any of us needed it, a stark wake up call to us all to take this awful disease even more seriously than we already were.
Martin combines his love for his horses with a passion for film making in this stunning footage shot recently which includes some fantastic aerial photography
Harley joined us as a very shy teenager but was one of the most naturally gifted riders we've seen - some horses he simply gelled with that no-one else could and he had such empathy with horses. His work ethic was always superb and we have so many amazing memories from his six years with us and he only left us last summer to work with great friend Max Comley when Max set up on his own.
We still kept in touch especially because, after looking after and riding stable superstar Any Currency for a few years, he was gifted him by his owners after he retired and he was doing a fabulous job in retraining him to become a show jumper and we loved hearing all about him. His death was a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with his family. We plan a celebration of his life here, with their blessing, when we are able and he's left memories we will never forget.
We received so many messages from well-wishers to the yard, we aren't surprised about how popular he was.
Thanks so much to Louise Brown, Racing Welfare’s Chaplain who visited us to talk to the team. Such a help and a support and we all really appreciated her visit. We've said it before but we are so very fortunate to have their support at all times.
Winner, Winner, Eggs For Dinner
With the prospect of lockdown approaching we acted quickly to purchase our own chickens and, whilst we were originally settled on 4 chickens (so we could each name one!) that has since grown to 11 and, as soon as the newer 7 start laying too, Freddie & Harry aim to sell the eggs regularly and make some pocket money!
The four original chickens are Rhode Island Reds and are named Eggy, Nugget, Blondie and Chucksbury and they were joined by two white 'Sussex' chickens - Meghan and Harriet, two Rocky Rhodes - Blackie and Rocky and finally three more Rhode Island Reds, two who the boys are deciding on names for but one, thanks to a Twitter suggestion, is named Cluckle Street (after our rather enigmatic multiple winner Buckle Street who will always be remembered very fondly by us for helping Belinda win her York Charity Race)!
I cannot tell you how much fun these chickens have brought us during these strange and unprecedented times - even without the added bonus of producing delicious eggs! Freddie and I thoroughly enjoyed making their houses and smartening up the area they now live in which is on the left of you as you leave our Owners' Car Park and head into the yard - as soon as you are allowed to visit us again, you will see for yourselves!
Martin, Belinda, Freddie, Harry and all the team at Condicote Stables