Dylan The Driver’s Adventures

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Follow Dylan and his horse Sprinter on their adventures this summer. 

I've never seen so many new faces at the races! Lampeter was a brilliant success. Lots of you came to visit me in the childrens tent and it was busy all day. I managed to slip away for a little while to drive Sprinter in his race. He came second so I was really pleased with him. It's great to get a rosette and it shows he's learning and getting better all of the time. Lampeter was the last of the Ceredrotian fixtures. There are a couple more race meetings left in Presigne and Almeley but me and Sprinter are going to finish on a high so he will being going out to the field in a couple of days. As this is his first year racing I don't want to push him too hard. Hopefully he will come back next year even better!!


It's been busy, busy, busy this month in Ceredigion. We had a wet and soggy Tanycastell meeting at the start of October, then we had the three days of the always fantastic Tregaron festival and now we have the Lampeter meeting just days away. Sprinter didn't like the wet too much at Tanycastell but its all good experiences for him. I didn't run him in Tregaron because I was so busy with the new childrens tent. Children could come along and enter a competiton to design their drivers colours, they could have a go on the model horse and pretend to be a driver and they got one of the brilliant Ceredrotian puzzle packs. It was great and the tent was really busy for all three days. Seen as it went so well we are going to do it again at Lampeter. Lampeter are racing on their new track for the first time this year. I have seen photos of it and it looks good. Sprinter is entered in a race there so we will see how we get on.


This week Sprinter will run at the Tanycastell meeting at Aberystwyth. There will be 16 races on the day and it looks set to be a great day. Sprinter is going well and I think I have a good chance this week so fingers crossed. It would be great to get a win on one of the Ceredrotian tracks. There will be heats and a final with plenty of local hopes. There is also a Free For All. Although it only has five runners I think it will be a really exciting race. The racing starts at 1.30 and there will be free donkey rides for the children. Ceredrotian will also be giving out their free childrens puzzle books. Sprinter and I appear in them and they are a really fun way to learn about harness racing. Make sure you pick up your pack from the caban. See you all at the races this weekend!


The Crock of Gold id the race for the best horses in the UK and Ireland. Loads of people have imported horses from America just to win this race. Wales have been a bit unlucky in this race in the past and although they have had horses qualify for the final they have never won. Ceredigion got off to a great start when Meadowbranch Josh won the first heat. He was against some of the best horses in the country including last years winner Stoneriggs Mystery. He ran a tough race and I thought he might get tired at the finish but he stayed on really well. In the second heat the favourite from Ireland Forafewdollarsmore beat the big Welsh hope Fool Around. Fool Around was second though so he still made it into the final. 

Tir Prince is a brilliant track and because it's so wide they can get 8 on the gate. They have 8 runners in the Crock of Gold final so that they can all line up together. It is such an exciting race and everyone is eager to see who will win. The two Ceredigion contenders drew well. Fool Around was on one with Meadowbranch Josh on two. Rhys drove really well and made the right moves at the right time. Coming into the space he just had to sit and wait for space and when it came Fool Around powered home to win. Wales had its first Crock of Gold winner and even better a Ceredigion winner!!


Sprinter ran well in his first race and I was very happy with how he did. There is tough competition in the Ceredigion meeting as people come from all over the UK and Ireland. We went to Amman Valley on Welsh Cup night and the race went a good time and he finished mid field. I want him to get as much experience as possible and I think he will improve every time he races. The Welsh Cup gets show on S4C's Rasus programme. The highlight of the night is the Welsh Cup final. It was great to see some Ceredigion contenders in the race, Rush Around, Ffynnon and Luck Matters. To make it even better Rhys and Luck Matters won the race in a dead heat with Gareth Price and Hilltop West Art. The two crossed the line together and it was impossbile to split them so that meant there were two happy owners!

Sprinter won't be running at Tir Prince next week but I am going up to watch as it's the Crock of Gold one of the best races of the year!


It has been such a tough decision deciding which colours I like the best but I have finally chosen this design by Ryan. I hope you don’t mind Ryan I’ve made them in my favourite colour, green, plus it’s also the Ceredrotian colours. I hope I am number one this weekend when I wear them for the first time at the Ceredigion Trotting Club’s two-day festival. I hope they bring me luck, as this will be Sprinter’s first race. To begin his racing career he will start as a maiden, once they win a maiden the horse becomes a novice and after winning as a novice the horses enter the money won handicap system. Once they win a maiden and a novice race they start with £0 as a grade 1. Grades go all the way up to a grade 12. You can win a set amount of money within each grade before you go up to the next grade.
It looks like there is going to be some really good racing this weekend. They have had a lot of entries from all around the UK and Ireland. The big final on the Sunday is worth £5,000 to the winner s there will be a lot at stake. You can watch the Saturday final live on S4C’s Rasus programme. Coverage starts at 5pm and they will be showing 6 live races plus highlights of what happened earlier in the day. Wish me and Sprinter luck for our first race!


I was on the Ceredrotian stand again over the weekend at the Welsh Game Fair in Carmarthen. Due to the weather, there wasn't as many people at the show as usual but there was still plenty of people for me to have a chat to. Our stand was next to a manmade pool where they were doing fishing demonstrations. After being at the show for the weekend and hearing the demonstration throughout the two days I think I could be a bit of an expert on fly fishing! We held another prize draw to win tickets to one of the Ceredrotian race meetings, which was really popular and got plenty of people over to our stand. The winner of the tickets was a lady from Bridgend and I really hope she enjoys her day at the races. Lots of you came to design my new driving colours and here are my favorites. Now I have the really tough decision of deciding which one I like best from all the trade stands I've been to. The one I pick will be my new colours for the year!


Unfortunately, the weather has changed a little bit. The sunny weather has gone and instead we have rain and I was a bit worried about the Walton race meeting. I set off in the jeep and trailer with Sprinter and it was pouring down but when we got there, people were already out on the track working out and the rain seemed to have calmed down a little bit. I harnessed Sprinter up and got out on to the track to see what it was like. Walton track is a little bit up and down so I wasn't sure how well Sprinter would take to it. I took it slowly for the first few laps and he didn't seem to bothered by the track. Luckily, Gary the farrier had come to my house in the morning to put some grass nails in Sprinters hooves. Grass nails are nails with slightly bigger heads than the nails you usually use to put a shoe on. We put them in to give the horse more grip. After jogging him round for a few laps, I asked him to sprint for a quarter and then took him back to the trailer to wait until his qualifier. When it came to his qualifier, he was much better on the gate and I settled mid division. After the first lap I has a quick glance at my stop watch to see how we were doing for time. I knew I could get to the finish within qualifying time but would need to pass a few horses. I asked him to go passed a couple of horses down the back straight and I was then able to get back on the rail. I stayed there until the home straight before I asked him to pass the horse in third. I was very pleased with how he went so I went back to the stewards after his qualifier. They then scan the horse to find his microchip number to make sure it is the right horse. They also sign Sprinter's passport to say he has qualified. Now all I need to do is pay his race fees to the British Harness Racing Club and he will be a racehorse! 


Another great day on the Ceredrotian trade stand this time at Aberystwyth and Ceredigion County show. It was a lovely sunny day and a great excuse to be outside. We were right next to the main ring so I got to watch some of the classes. Peter Davies, one of the Ceredrotian crew was showing his shires. I have to say I’m glad Sprinter’s not that big otherwise I’d never get the harness on him!
I met some lovely people and answered many questions about harness racing. I hope to see lots of you at the races this summer. Once again you designed some fantastic colours and here are two of my favourites.


Sprinter made his first trip to the races at Leominster and I was really happy with how he went. We left for the races at 8 o’clock Sunday morning and made the 3 hour drive to Leominster. I wanted to get there within plenty of time so that I could work him out and see how well he behaved. I’d also have time to change any equipment if necessary. I’m glad I did leave early as lots of people got stuck in a traffic jam and missed the start of the races!
When we got to the races I tacked him up and headed out to the track. The races can be very different for the horses, there is a lot more noise and lots more things going on. When you’re out on the track warming up all the horses are going different speeds. Horses that are going slower go on the outside to allow those that are going faster to use the inside of the track. He got a bit worried when some of the faster horses came passed him but he got used to it after a couple of laps. Once he had settled I took him back to the trailer to wait until his qualifier.
We were in the first qualifier, which gave me less time to get nervous! He drew 3 on the gate which meant he had horses either side of him and one behind him. I let him get up to the gate at his own speed, I didn’t want to rush him as this was his first time. In the straight I got him into position and as the gate left I eased him out of the gate and found some space on the rail. I sat in third place and followed the front two horses round. Coming into the straight I asked him to go alongside the horse in second. He didn’t quite manage to get passed and finished in third. I was very happy with how he went but don’t think he’s quite ready to race yet. I will take him in another qualifier at Walton on Wednesday 12th to give him a bit more practice on the gate and over taking other horses.


It's Sprinter's big day this Sunday. He will go to Leominster to run in a qulaifier. I'm really excited about it, all of the hard work will (hopefully) be paying off. It looks like it’s going to be a nice day as well, so that will make it all the better. For Sprinter to be able to qualify he will be against several other qualifiers. Sometimes there are also horses that have raced before in qualifiers either because they have to re-qualify because they keep making mistakes in races, or they have not raced in a year or more. Sometimes there are also horses who have come back from injury and people doing their provisional driving tests. To become a driver you have to do three provisional drives and a test to show that you are able to control the horses and are aware of what others are doing in a race. You also have to do a spoken test where they ask you questions, for example the distance you should give before you come in front of another horse after you have overtaken him.
Sprinter is likely to be against 6 or 7 horses. He will be given a position to be on the gate which he will need to be on. To qualify he will need to show manners behind the gate, pace throughout and pace a mile within a certain time depending on the track and weather conditions. I am confident that he will make it round in the time but as this is his first time I don’t know how he will react with the gate and having other horses around him. I will let you know how it all goes. Wish me luck!


I had a great day at Builth small holders on the Ceredrotian stand. We had loads of people come and ask us questions about harness racing and hopefully some of them will give harness racing a try this summer. There was a competition to win free tickets to the races which was really popular and a great way to get talking to people. There was also a model horse and carts which gave kids the chance to sit behind the horse which was great fun. My favourite bit was the children's challenge to design me some new racing colours. There was some fantastic and really colourful ones being designed. After we have been to Aberystwyth show and the Welsh Game fair I am going to pick my favourite and they can be my new racing colours. Here are a few of my favourites from Builth:


Well Tregaron races were fantastic, it was great to be back racing again and see all my friends. We were really lucky with the weather, it had been dry all week but then on Saturday it decided to rain! I’m pleased to say that by Sunday it was lovely and dry so that we could get racing. Tregaron gets a lot of competitors from around the UK and Ireland so the locals knew there would be plenty of competition. The Laidler team were very impressive and won four races! The locals didn’t let them have it all their own way though. Ronnie John from Ffairhos won with his horse Lakeside Pan and Rhys Evans from Tregaron got two 1st, two 2nd and a 3rd. one of his wins was on Home Habana who is owned by Glyn Davies who owns the field where the races are run. He was in the open preferred handicap for grades 8-12. In open preferred races there are no trails. The horses line up on the gate depending on how much money that have won. The horse with the lowest money gets to go on the inside. There were only four horses in this race but it was my favourite race of the day. Coming down the home straight all four horses could have won it and it was a battle to the line. Darren Owen, the commentator called for a photograph and there was only neck and a nose separating the runners. Lets hope all the races in 2013 will be this exciting! Michael O’Mahony who I visited earlier on in the week got a 2nd with his horse. He ran home really well but couldn’t quite catch the leader. Infinatey won the heat and final, a well-deserved  winner for Marc Jones and family. They bred the horse themselves so it made winning that bit more special.

As it was a bank holiday on Monday I made a trip to Talgrwn Stud. They are very busy at this time of year foaling horses. They have cameras in the stables so that they can watch the mares all day and all night. Richard is a vet so if any of the mares are having trouble he is there to help. A mare is pregnant for around 11 months but a lot of the mares are overdue. The cold weather has made the mares want to hold on to their foals for a little bit longer. They have had foals born already though and I got to see them all running around outside in the sun. They don’t just foal mares at Talgrwn they also help mares to get in foal. They use artificial insemination. They have loads of different stallions you can use and you don’t have to travel it can all be done from one place. It’s a scientific process but Talgrwn stud make it all look easy. It was great to see how our racehorses start off their life.


Its the first race meeting of the season this Sunday at Tregaron. I am really excited to see all my friends and see who's horses are going well. I've heard that they have 100 entries so there should be some brilliant races. Racing starts at 2 o'clock, they will have a few qualifiers before hand and then the first race will be underway. One of the highlights is the Senior Dragon, a race for four year old horses. One of my friends Rhys Evans has a horse in this called Baby Rosa. She won the Little Welsh Dragoness last year as a three year old. When they are two and three the Dragon races get split for colts and fillies but when they are four they race against each other. This will make it a bit more of a challenge for Rosa but I still think she will do very well.

I went to visit my friends Michael O'Mahony and Mike Evans over the weekend. They both train from the same place in Penuwch. They train horses as their job and at the moment they have nine horses each. They boh have one horse racing in Tregaron. Mike has Meadowland Tom and Michael has Hilltop Skipper. Michael will also be taking Ceirion Baroness to qualify. To help Sprinter get used to being around horses more I jogged him with one of Michael's other horses. This was a brilliant learning excercise for him. He spent some of his time behind the other horse and some side by side. Being with another horse gave him a lot more to think about but he took it all in his stride and behaved very well.

I'm hoping that I will be able to make a trip to see my friends Gwenan and Richard Thomas at Talgwrn Stud next week. They have a number of mares there getting ready to foal and I would love to see some of the new arrivals and get you some pictures.

See you at Tregaron!


Sprinter had a visit form the dentist this week. The dentist puts a special head collar on each horse so they keep their mouths open and to make sure the horse doesn’t bite the dentist! The dentist checked his teeth to make sure there is nothing loose and files them down so that they are not sharp. Anna the dentist did mention that there was a few bits of wood in his mouth which means one thing, he has been having a little chew on his stable door! He can be a very mischievous horse some times. As this is the first time Sprinter has been to the dentist he had his wolf teeth taken out. Wolf teeth are small teeth that horses don’t really need. The dentist usually takes these teeth out because they can sometimes cause problems. Seen as Sprinter was very well behaved for Anna I gave him an extra carrot for a treat. He will get a couple of days on the walker now seen as he had his teeth out.

His jogging is also going really well. He won’t be ready to take to Tregaron on 5th May. Hopefully he will be ready to go towards the end of May. For him to be able to race he will need to qualify. To do this he will have to show he has manners in the race and will have to go a set time depending on the track. I am hoping that I will get to visit some of my friends who also train horses so that I can get Sprinter used to being around other horses. Racing really is get close now!


The vet has been to see Sprinter and he has now had the first of his flu and tetanus injections. To be able to race every horse must have up to date vaccinations. The vet has to sign and stamp the horses passport to say it has been done. When Sprinter is ready to race I will need to send a copy of this to the British Harness Racing Club office so that they know his vaccinations are up to date. As this is the first time Sprinter has had these injections he will need another one in a month, then he will have a third one after the racing season is finished, after that he will only need one every year. It’s a really simple thing to do and it doesn’t hurt the horse.
His training is coming on really well. I have been riding him round the roads and he is getting very good at it. Riding him on the roads has got him used to loads of different things and sounds. This should help him when he gets to the races. Gary the farrier will be back again on Friday so it’ll be time for him to have a new pair of shoes. Once he has his new shoes on it will be time to start jogging him in the cart. The dentist will also be here next week so it will be another busy week but we’ll be one step closer to getting to the races.


Sprinter love’s his new shoes! Since having them on he has been able to start doing some training. For the first couple of weeks he will go on the horse walker, this is a machine that gets the horse to walk round in a circle. It is often used for pre-training. Standardbred’s are really easy to ride and Sprinter loves going out for a bit of a hack so every couple of days I’ll take him out for a walk on the road. This is really good for him because it means he’s not doing the same thing everyday, and living in Wales there a plenty of hills around which will really build up his muscles.
I have been brushing Sprinter everyday and he is really starting to coat out now. I use a rubber curry comb in circular motions to get his hair off. I have used the clippers to trim his ears and cut a small part of his mane just behind his ears where his bridle will sit, this is called a bridle path. You do this to help the bridle sit more comfortably and it helps him look a bit tidier.
Things are going to get much busier over the next few weeks, Sprinter will need to see the dentist and the vet to get his flu jabs. There is lots to do to get him ready for the races!


Right it’s time to get Sprinter in from the field and get him into training ready for the season. I’ve given his stable a spring clean, put in some nice fresh bedding, a bucket of clean water and a big handful of hay, so it’s all ready. It took me a while to catch him in the field but I got there in the end. He has been living a few miles from the stables so I brought him home in the trailer. He hasn’t done much travelling before but he needs to get used to it if he’s going to be a race horse.
I took his rug off before he went in the trailer and it looks like I’ll have to do a lot of brushing. He’s had his turnout rug on all winter but he’s still pretty hairy. For now I will put two rugs on him in the stable to get some of his hair off. Horses grow more hair in the winter to keep them warm. When he starts doing more work he’ll get very hot with so much hair so I need to brush him every day to get him to coat out.
Once I unloaded him from the trailer, I hosed down his legs and picked out his feet to get rid of all the mud. I needed to get him ready for Gary O’Grady the farrier. He's been busy putting new shoes on Sprinter so that we can start training him. He needs to have shoes on so that his feet don’t get sore. I’m really excited for the season ahead now, I can’t wait for me and Sprinter to be at the races!
 

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