Jimmy Frost: Lockdown but racing continues

Bryony Frost in the saddle

Bryony Frost in the saddle - Credit: Archant

Yes despite lockdown the Government has agreed that elite sport can continue. There have been additional measures put in place to ensure safety to all attending the courses which mirror the guidance issued by the BHA when racing returned in July.

Racecourses will not be able to provide hospitality of any kind, including restaurants, cafes and bars and no more than two owners per horse may attend the event, complying with the restrictions that limits social mixing between households.

Owners may arrive 45 minutes before the horse runs and must leave the course and head home as soon as possible following their last race.

They are rules for racing in England only.

It appears the decision to allow racing to continue behind closed doors in England – with a limited number of owners attending – recognises racing’s status as an elite sport.

The press release issued by the BHA states: “Racing’s participants and owners have acted with great responsibility and professionalism since the sport resumed on June 1. Strict controls have been in place and there is no evidence that the virus has been transmitted at a meeting behind closed doors.”

Needless to say we are delighted with the Government’s decision. During lockdown Bryony was not included in any of the various Government’s financial help packages so we all sighed with relief when we heard the news.

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Last weekend was another big one in the local racing calendar and one in which Bryony has had much success in hr emerging career. It was the longstanding Badger Ales Silver Trophy day at Wincanton on Saturday and ride rode one of her favourite horses, Present Man, on whom she has won this race twice previously.

The old horse, though, was competing against some promising younger horses and the combination of his age and the weight that he was carrying meant that even though he ran very bravely, well and gallantly he just missed the first four.

Bryony is currently going through one of those runs all jockeys go through with every ride being close but not quite getting the treasured first place. With the outstanding form of her main stable, Paul Nicholls, we are optimistic that will soon change.

At home the calling ducks we were given in the summer are now happily established and walking around our land making lots of noise. Every morning when we open the back door they greet us excitedly.

We are not sure whether they are happy to see us or because they know they will soon be fed. Either way it always raises a smile.

Oscar the owl, which is the owlet Bryony rescued at the start of the year, hand reared and set free in summer, has started to return here to Holybrook, perching on our stone table which is close to the house.

When he was young we would whistle at him and he would hoot back. All these months later and he hasn’t forgotten. It really is heart-warming.

Like the ducks, dogs, cat and horses, all are enviably unware of the madness that is going on in the world around them. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I am coming back as an animal.

Finally, I just want to say that we said goodbye to Nikki’s stepfather, Tom Gilbert, on Thursday. He fought a two-year battle with cancer and he will be sadly missed.

Until we catch up again next week, remember to be kind to each other and when its dark look out for the stars. These bad times will pass.