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Stable Talk with Gloucestershire racehorse trainer Martin Keighley

By GlosRacing  |  Posted: October 26, 2012

Injuy blow: Ian Popham

Injuy blow: Ian Popham

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What a rollercoaster week for us which begun with a great weekend at Cheltenham's Showcase meeting and ended with injury to our stable jockey Ian Popham.

Havingotascoobydo was our first runner at the Showcase and made his seasonal debut and return from injury in the BetVictor Chase.

He ran a big race and held every chance coming down the hill for the final time but lack of match fitness along with a bad mistake at the second-last fence proved costly and Alain Cawley looked after him as soon as he was beaten.

He'll strip fitter for the run and seems fine in his back after the race, which is a relief.

The Paddy Power Gold Cup is an option for him at the Open meeting back at Cheltenham in November.

Creepy ran in the bumper after winning his first race for us, a bumper at Fontwell, a few weeks earlier.

Danny Hiskett, my conditional jockey, took a valuable 7lb off his back and Danny was having his first ride at Cheltenham so it was a big day for him.

Creepy was unfortunately far too keen for his own good for the first half of the race where he refused to settle, but he still managed to stay on up the hill to finish fourth which we were all delighted with.

Finally, last but by no means least, Mark Caswell rolled back the years – 25 to be exact – to ride Sky Calling for us in the Charity Race following the bumper and raise money for Greatwood Rehabilitation Centre.

It was 25 years to the day when Mark had his final, and winning, ride at Cheltenham and hung his boots up but no one watching would have believed that as he looked very stylish, followed my riding orders to the letter by 'producing Sky as late as he dare' to pass Georgie Nicholls on a horse trained by her husband Paul just before the line.

Nark has been a good friend to my wife Belinda and myself for many years and is also our pest controller – his day job.  He's worked relentlessly on his fitness and, along with his partner Jane, have worked very hard fund raising with a final total of more than £3,000.

The scenes as he soaked in the long walk back down the shoot and into the winner's enclosure weren't too far off that at the Festival as he had hoards of friends there to support him and a massive roar before he declined the opportunity to do a 'Frankie Dettori dismount'.

David Nicholson's wife Dinah heads the syndicate that own Sky Calling and in winning Sky fulfilled a lifetime ambition for Mark Allen, who runs the syndicate as he has always wanted to lead a horse he is involved in into the hallowed winner's enclosure at Cheltenham.

Mark dedicated his ride to the memory of his partner Jane's father John who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday we were all still buzzing following Saturday's excitement but unhappily it was to be short-lived.

Ian, who missed last season after breaking his pelvis, rode Oyster Hill for us in the last at Plumpton in a National Hunt Flat race.

However, while having his girth checked at the start, Oyster Hill panicked and reared over backwards breaking Ian's pelvis again for the second time in 13 months in another freak accident.

It is absolutely devastating for Ian, who had worked so hard to get back from his last injury and you couldn't meet a more popular lad, as has been shown by the volume of get well soon messages I have received.

The news at the moment is a little more hopeful in that he may not now need an operation that he's been waiting for in hospital and it would be great if he was allowed home soon to recover.

So unfortunate and the whole team here wish him a very speedy recovery.

The Showcase meeting marked the end of an era as it was managing director Edward Gillespie's final one after he decided it was time to hand over the reins to someone new.

I cannot speak more highly of Edward (above) and the support he has given Belinda and myself since we have started training.

He is always delighted when we do well and I'm sure it makes it more special for him when we have a winner at Cheltenham as we both spent time working there, so we are part of the home team.

He is so enthusiastic in everything he does, has done a fabulous job at Cheltenham and will be a hard act to follow.

I haven't yet met his successor Ian Renton but it will be interesting to see how he leads the home of jump racing into its next stage, especially with big renovation plans on the horizon.

In the meantime Belinda and I would like to wish Edward a happy retirement, although knowing Edward he'll probably be even busier than normal!

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