Sunday's are usually relaxed on the yard as the horses have a day off unless they are racing later that week, but today there is an extra excitement as the Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday.
We have two entries that are likely to run; Big River on Tuesday in the Ultima and Mighty Thunder on Thursday if he gets in to the Pertemps. Mighty needs five horses to come out and we will know on Tuesday if he gets to run.
Both horses are fit and well, they ran last month and since then have been in our routine, cantering, working, schooling and having sessions on the water treadmill. Now that we are in the final few days their work is tapered and we pay special attention to the little things.
The sure thing to reduce performance is pain or discomfort. A boot rub, grazed heel, cut mouth or saddle gall will ensure that the horse will not move as well and under perform. In the next few days we are looking to reduce risk of such small but awkward situations.
By having a team of staff who have time to concentrate on each horse we are meticulous in our stable management. Riders take care to tack up carefully and now it is more important than ever to ride the horses correctly keeping them balanced.
We also use Stefi Duff to check the flexibility and softness of the horse's muscles and the girls on the yard and the riders will stretch the horses legs a couple of times a day. Jaimie, Stefi's sister, knows how to give basic massage pre race and at all times the horses are kept warm.
There are many other small things; taping feet to prevent shoe loss, drying off the horses after work and making sure all feed troughs are spotlessly clean, it all adds up and before the ultimate racing festival it is most important than ever.
To see our two Cheltenham bound horses behind the scenes check out our Facebook page Lucinda Russell Racing where Jaimie is going to be posting over the next few days. Good luck Big River and Mighty Thunder.