The trip down to Harry Fry’s yard had gone well enough. The odd stretch of motorway as busy as you would expect on a Saturday, the odd crash holding us all up, one in particular catching my eye, a Scania tractor unit sticking out the back of a Range Rover, a group of people on the hard shoulder hopefully none the worse for that experience.
The weather had been superb until we got to within about 20 miles of the yard, when it absolutely sluiced it down and those small country lanes that inevitably surround racing yards were running like Niagara, we, and everyone else on them, creating a log flume effect and ensuring the car now needs a valeting!
We knew we would be arriving a little later than planned originally and picked up a few bits for dinner on the way, making sure our main meal had been enjoyed at Gloucester Services, the sister service station to Tebay, the one we use when going to Scotland. If you’ve never used it, do….different class to your usual stops on a motorway.
On arrival we headed straight to Viv Barber’s kitchen. She was peeling apples ready for stewing and the aroma was already wonderful. Apparently Richard Barber loves home made apple sauce!
First thing Viv does when you arrive is put the kettle on. She is a brilliant host and we sat around her kitchen table talking horse racing, whilst enjoying a brew and that smell of stewing apples.
After an hour or so of chit chat my eyelids were starting to give signals they wished to close and with Sunday going to be an extremely long day….7-00am start, breakfast at 8-00am, prepare for the raffle draw, meet and greet those coming down to say hello, the draw at 10-30am, stable tour, then that long drive back….we went to our room, set the alarm, crashed and before we knew it, 7-00am had arrived.
If you ever get a chance to stay at Viv’s place…it’s actually set in the yard, which Harry rents from them….do. Superb location and the best Breakfast in “B&B” by a million miles, the eggs fresh from the hen!
We were not going to need lunch after it, I can tell you.
As we sat there eating we saw Harry, his daughter Ruby on shoulders, heading off to stables, notes in hand and the way the yard is tiered meant that you could later see two heads bobbing along in the opposite direction, just above the lower boxes.
The draw was scheduled to take place at around 10-30am as Harry had a telephone interview at 10-00am and again at 11-00am with the Racing Post. I thought I had a busy schedule!
After breakfast Karen and I went back to our room to await the arrival of John, his wife and Jeff Garforth, who had a longer drive back to Yorkshire than I did to Merseyside, once the morning was over.
The Tombola was well turned in the intervening period and the 000’s of tickets inside were well separated and mixed.
Dave Adams of CHLOF arrived first, he having come down to invigilate and note our prize winners. Jeff, John and his wife arrived soon after and I left them with Karen whilst I headed over to Harry’s office to see if he was still good for 10-30am. He was on the phone doing that first interview so I chatted to Jamie Turner and advised that because the weather was so unsettled, Viv had kindly offered us use of her kitchen for the draw to take place.
Jamie said he’d let Harry know what was going on as soon as he was finished so I went back to our room, grabbed the Tombola and invited everyone to follow me into the kitchen.
It was actually set up perfectly for the draw, a large table set to one end and a comfy seat for our invigilator.
Jamie joined us and invited us all into the yard where Liam Heard was waiting with Sam I and we all enjoyed a good walk around him. Pictures taken, we all retreated back to Viv’s kitchen and not long after Harry and daughter Ruby arrived to start proceedings.
Ruby was getting increasingly curious and knowing Harry was in a bit of a hurry to prepare for his next interview, I suggested we crack on, first ticket out to be the winner of the share in Sam I.
Well, no sooner had he drawn our winner than Ruby decided the gig was hers!
I closed the door on the Tombola, gave it a spin and as Harry went to draw the name of our second prize winner, Ruby jumped in and took his place.
After spinning the Tombola at the speed a centrifuge would have baulked at, she decided that rather than one ticket being drawn, a fistful might be better and Harry intervened, advising her that she could only pick one at a time and so she shook her fist into the box until just one ticket remained in her hand, which she handed to Dave.
This went on until all 10 tickets had been drawn and gave everyone present a good laugh, as can be seen on the front cover picture!
News that a recent visit by JP and AP MCoy, who had arrived by helicopter, was given to us and as we went round the stables those famous green, white and gold colours were up outside more boxes than had been the case the last time we had visited.
If owners arriving by helicopter to see you are a sign you are on the up, then Harry Fry is most certainly one of the trainers whose star is in the ascendancy because that’s two who have avoided driving through those country lanes to see him recently, preferring instead to drop in, quite literally.
Paul and Clare Rooney also had to request a landing spot not so long ago and again, their colours were not being shy on our walk around the boxes!
We were introduced to old stars, new stars and you only have to see the ammunition Harry has at his disposal now, to know he is going to enjoy a very good season.
Again I would just like to thank all those that purchased tickets for their support in this project and I’ll be keeping everyone up to speed on how your garden grows!