I’ve got a touch of third-itis at the moment with Nemo Spirit and Wolf Slayer both filling the minor place. Nemo I was very happy with – he’ll do better over further on softer ground, and it was probably quite a hot novice. Wolf Slayer was a liottle disappointing – I think she ran into a tartar but I’d like to have seen her finish second.

I’ll happily take third place today – Theophrastus goes in the Sussex National and is currently 55 on Betfair. He’ll definitely appreciate the longer trip – he is an out and out stayer and as far as we know it can’t be too long for him. I think he’d like it softer – I’d also like to see him in better form, but Nick says he’s well at home and we’ll just have to hope the last run was a one-off. He’s a lovely animal and I’ll back him as I always do.

Christmas was a hectic affair at the Black’s, as I imagine it will be for many years to come. It was just me, Jane and the four children on Christmas day, but we had my entire family for Boxing Day (25 for lunch with more arriving later) and Jane’s entire family on the 28th (16 round the lunch table). It’s lucky I have a big table – I have an enormous old one that came from a french monastery and it doesn’t often get filled.

My favourite funny bits :

We didn’t have a baby doll for the crib (girls too old now) but Dora found my old ‘farting santa’ from a few years back and took his hat off. With a blanket wrapped around him he made the perfect baby – except for the farts. He is supposed to fart only when made to do so with the remote control, but something was setting him off and he farted loudly every half hour or so during the day and night for the whole of the Christmas period. One night we went out and had a babysitter in – when we got back I had to sit there with a straight face while she told Jane about the strange noises that were coming from the other room while Jane tried to look concerned – “I don’t know what that could be…”.

Eddie is a great source for quotes – there are too many to recall but one stuck in my memory. He woke us up on Christmas morning, bursting in to our bedroom holding his stocking. “I am officially Mr. Smiley Face” he declared.