Inverurie trainer Jackie Stephen has put some of her stable stars back on the easy list because of the coronavirus turmoil.
Jackie, Britain’s most northerly trainer at her dual-purpose Conglass Farm yard, is usually preparing her string for better ground conditions in spring.
“With no National Hunt racing likely last month, we decided to give several horses a holiday,” said Jackie.
“It was particularly frustrating as most of our horses have been waiting for the ground to dry out and now it has, we have been unable to get them racing.”
The lockdown forced Jackie and her husband Patrick to reassess daily duties and workloads.
“Unfortunately, we were also forced to furlough all our part-time staff,” she added.
“That was better than laying them off, which was the other alternative as we suffered reduced income.
“We have four staff and have had to furlough three of them.
“Hopefully when we have a clear idea of how and when jump racing will resume we will need to get all hands back on deck to get the horses which are on a break back fit again.
“It’s amazing how quickly they get out of shape.
“The British Horseracing Authority have stopped jump racing until at least July 1. Although disappointing, the announcement has at least given us a degree of clarity.
“We then turned away more horses and kept only horses that might run on the flat and ‘out-and-out’ summer jumpers.
“Fortunately, I took out a combined licence so we have the option of running them on the flat. The BHA are hoping to get flat racing up and running sooner than National Hunt.
“Early May has been a target although last week’s government announcements may alter that.”
The stable received a new arrival in the shape of Wolfcatcher, a bay gelding by Kings Best and Miss Particular.
The eight-year-old has settled in well since arriving from Ian Williams’ Alvechurch stable.
Jackie added: “Wolfcatcher was bought for syndication with the Perth Gold Cup in mind.
“That option was obviously ruled out but hopefully that race might still be staged later in the year if the fixtures are extended.
“Wolfcatcher is a good jumper and shows a very willing attitude. He’s an athletic individual and has done nothing but please us since his arrival.
“There are shares still available in Wolfcatcher as there are in most of our horses.”
Other inmates still in work are stable stalwart Amilliontimes, new novice hurdler The Great Georgie, Drogon, Kilfinan Bay, Bermondsey Belle and youngsters Look Sharpish and an unnamed Kalinisi gelding.