I remember reading about an author who spent some time with Roy Hodgson, in order to research the character of a football manager who featured in a novel he was working on. The problem was that all Roy Hodgson wanted to talk about was Irish literature so the writer came away with little insight.
It wasn’t quite like that when I spent this morning with South Molton trainer, Richard Woollacott, at Nethercott Manor Farm. However, having done his research he knew of my interest in politics and Richard was as keen to discuss political issues with me, as I was to hear about training horses from him. But without a doubt, I learnt more from a short time in his company than I would from hours of watching races and studying the form book.
Richard was as generous with his time, as he was engaging and open. He also exercised an admirable patience in answering my series of what must have appeared very stupid questions. I got to meet Grade 2 winner Beer Goggles, who now looks set for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January and the beautiful Born to Size, for whom there are understandable high hopes. Unfortunately the last remaining share in him was not within my budget.
I watched how a riderless horse dramatically responds to quite subtle body language from a trainer and then stood in the middle of the barn as the horse completed a series of jumps around me. What struck was how much closer I felt to him and how better I could study his movements in this naked environment, when compared to the bustle of a race track.
I suggested to Richard that Brereton’s fall, in his only runner at Ludlow yesterday, must have brought them back down to earth after Beer Goggles’ win at Newbury on Friday. He responded philosophically: “There are far more downs than there are ups”. They have Jepeck running tomorrow at Exeter, a horse I remember from his Pointing days, and I wish another up for him and his team.