The View From The Office

Every Monday we will be taking a step into the office at Lodge Hill to get some behind the scenes insight from secretaries Ella Mahon, Lucinda Gould & Izzy Meyrick. In this first instalment they discuss what the job of a Racing Secretary entails, and the exploits of the yard at last week’s Aintree Grand National Festival…

My name is Lucinda, and on behalf of myself and my office-based colleagues Ella & Izzy a warm welcome to the first instalment of The View From The Office! Between the three of us we have been working at Lodge Hill for several years and have seen the place grow from a small yard with a handful of horses, through celebrating several Graded victories and two Cheltenham Festival winners, to the sizeable operation it is today. Ella, Izzy and I would like to bring you behind the scenes from a different perspective, and spill the beans on the weekly comings and goings from inside the hub of the yard.

Our vet Paolo considering a career change!


Ours is a particularly varied role and the job title Racing Secretary perhaps does not do it justice – we can be a travel agents, rapid response paramedics, HR managers, agony aunts, photographers, tour guides, chauffeurs, sponsorship liaisons, syndicate managers, work riders and the most vital of job of all…tea makers! Suffice to say there is never a dull moment in the office, and no two days are ever the same. Luckily one thing we are not responsible for, unusually, is entries and declarations; Dan takes sole responsibility for this and it’s is something both Ella & I are particularly grateful for!

This time of year might seem like an unusual time to many to kick off a blog like this now that Cheltenham & Aintree are over and many of our better-known horses are winding down. However my colleagues & I would like to bring you a little insight into what goes on during the ‘quieter’ Summer period – although with the ever-expanding Summer syndicate Rio Gold Racing Club it’s unlikely that it will be much quieter! It is also timely that our literal view from the office should be the subject of our first office blog.

As I type I am sat looking out of the window and the first face I see is the lovely Virgilio. On Saturday at Aintree ‘Gilly’ was Team Skelton’s first runner to line up in the Grand National, which was exciting and terrifying in equal measure. Virgilio is quite possibly one of the most popular horses on the yard, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we waved him off to Aintree on Saturday morning. A few of the girls who work in the yard gathered on Saturday afternoon to watch the National together, and whilst many of the runners were getting quite revved up by the time post time rolled round, it was great to see that Virgilio was his usual laid-back self, taking all the sights & sounds of the big-race build-up in his stride. 

The view from our office – Virgilio

Settling towards the rear of the field, we all had our hearts on our mouths as there was a little bit of trouble in front of Harry & Virgilio at the first. They safely negotiated it however and popped the next four fences nicely. As the field streamed over Becher’s our eyes were trained on the green, red, white & blue of his colours, and we gasped as we saw Harry & Gilly crumple on landing. To make matters worse, on the second circuit the fence was bypassed and we then watched the closing stages in a heightened state of anxiety. Five long minutes later our phones sprung to life with a group message from Dan that all was well, and both Harry and Virgilio had come back safe & sound. He returned to the yard that evening none the worse for his close encounter with the Aintree turf, and is now stood bright-eyed as he is always is with his head over the door taking in the busy life of the yard.

The yard’s horses acquitted themselves superbly over the course of the three days at Aintree, coming mighty close to landing an elusive first Grade 1 for the team and there were plenty of positives to be taken from the meeting. The three mares Rene’s Girl, Roksana and Momella ran belting races on their first attempts in Grade 1 company, and honourable mentions go to the likes of Shantou Rock and Oldgrangewood who also found themselves in the winners’ enclosure. We will now look forward to Cheltenham’s two-day April meeting, swiftly followed by Ayr, Punchestown and Sandown, so there is plenty of organising to be done before any of us get a Summer holiday!   

Until next week…


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