Destination Ditcheat for the latest stage of the tour, a day thast began with a foggy drive across Somerset- one special and welcoming county.
They came from North, South, East and West- and Ireland for good measure to hear the words of the Champion Trainer- his a well regimented parade with Dan Skelton- soon to branch out on his own where he will be a huge success, Long Serving and Hugely Respected Head Lad Clifford and Nicholls’ father Brian helping.
12 magnificent horses all set to run for their lives in a fortnight are paraded.
There is something homely about Ditcheat. The ‘Parade Ground’ is just yards from Paul’s office, the ‘Nerve Centre’ of the operation and the inviting Manor Inn- a short stagger away- is never short of custom, and no prizes for guessing the topic of conversation.
For Nicholls no ‘good thing’ this year but so many chances- outsiders Sam Winner and Tricky Trickster get mentions- but there is a feeling of excitement.
You can almost picture the scene each Festival morning as a parade of horseboxes meanders down the County Lanes bound for the Equine Olympics.
Silviniaco Conti and Zarkandar are in the same ownership and as you leave that most tranquil and slumbering of places- there is every chance you will meet a horse before human as you turn off the A 371, you wonder just what the party at The Manor will be like if they both collect the biggest Festival prizes of the lot.
Or where the Landlord will be able to go on his holidays.
Mike ‘Keep your halo Straight’ Vince