Ena Baie provided our first success of the jumps season on a highly emotional day for everyone at Manor Farm.
She was winning at Southwell on Monday afternoon just as my great friend and mentor Richard Barber was being buried at the top of his gallops at Seaborough.
I owe so much to Richard who died earlier this month at the age of 77. To have a winner on the day of his funeral was extra special. It was as if it was meant to be.
When I began riding out for Richard in the school holidays aged 13 I harboured ambitions of being a jockey. After looking at the size of my hands and feet he assured me I would be too big to make a living as a jockey.
Of course he was right though I did manage a few winners in Point-to-Points before losing my battle with the scales.
From the start Richard gave me a chance, encouraged me to be a trainer, helped me along the way with lots of sound advice and he was the one who opened the door for me to work as pupil assistant for Paul Nicholls at Ditcheat.
A few years later Richard welcomed me back at Seaborough as his assistant while we ran the satellite yard for Paul with considerable success culminating in the success of Rock On Ruby in the 2012 Champion Hurdle.
The following season I took out my own licence with the blessing and full backing of Richard who relished spending his mornings on the gallops.
He was a father figure for me, a master trainer, wonderful judge of bloodstock and full of wisdom and common sense which he was always prepared to share with me. I will miss him dearly.
Meanwhile we will continue to campaign Ena Baie over the summer with the hope that she can be progressive in handicaps.
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