The North of England Newspapers which make up the "Northern Echo" and "Darlington and Stockton Times" asked me a while ago to join their racing team as a regular columnist. Having eventually agreed to write a few words for them fortnightly I thought I better tap away at the key board and write 'something' about 'something', just in case they decide to start this coming week. So, with Cheltenham around the corner I read every inch of the Racing Post, devouring the supplement and Ruby Walsh's excellent and amusing article about his time with the great Willie Mullins team. Particularly interesting - and amusing was the idea that Willie was once so careful that "making a decision whether or not to buy a new wheelbarrow was an important one". Ruby was of course refering to the evolution of the yard from a small farm yard with a few horses to the global national hunt power house it has become, thanks to Willie's skill as a trainer, sheer determination, vision and his desire to keep on upgrading his yard as well as the horses in his care and staff who take care of those horses. I don't know Willie Mullins very well, but he sounded very sweet when he called me one evening a few months back after he was concerned that an imposter pretending to be him had made contact with me on twitter. It was all quite amusing and we enjoyed a bit of banter, as racing folk tend to do, so this year I will be willing Willie's horses on during the greatest jumping festival on earth.
While reading up about team Mullins a picture of a water treadmill on the Hoofington Post page caught my eye. Apparently another great trainer in his day "Michael Dickinson" is resuming his career as a trainer in Maryland and has just purchased a "revolutionary salt bath " aka a water treadmill. Michael Dickinson was always considered to be way ahead of many of his colleagues and was always looking for ideas to improve his horses and his training methods, much like Willie Mullins, Aiden O'Brien and so on, its good that on the water treadmill front at least, we are in good company.