Charlie Longsdon casts an anxious eye towards the skies, writes RUSSELL SMITH.

Rain is falling on his Hull Farm Stables at Chipping Norton as he prepares to host his annual open morning.

A check on the forecast on his mobile phone reveals that the dark grey clouds should soon roll by on the back of a fresh breeze.

And by the time the trainer instructs eight horses to head 200 yards up a nearby track to school in front of a crowd of around 300 the inclement conditions have eased.

A wind of change has also blown through Longsdon’s yard during the summer.

Visitors soon get to see a new two-furlong circular gallop, which the 39-year-old handler believes will be a “fantastic addition to the facilities and give the horses a bit more variety in their work and schooling”.

The appreciative audience are then treated to a jumping exhibition in the outdoor school, featuring firstly Coologue, Ely Brown, Orange Nassau and Bob Tucker followed by The Lizard King, Crazy Penguin, Nightline and Tjongejonge.

Coologue is partnered by Marcus Foley, the Oxfordshire-born former champion conditional jockey who is now operating as a freelance schooling rider after calling time on his pre-training business at Broad Hinton, near Swindon, after finding it was “flat-lining”.

Returning to his home village of Lew, near Witney, Foley’s arrival at Hull Farm comes after Longsdon parted company with stable jockey Noel Fehily at the end of last season, with the Irishman’s commitments elsewhere often making him unavailable on big days.

Longsdon says: “Marcus has a wealth of experience and as well as the schooling he will also help teach the young lads.”

They are conditional jockeys Gareth Malone and Tom Humphries, while the trainer plans to use the best jockeys available, concentrating on a small core of Richard Johnson, Aidan Coleman, Daryl Jacob and Fehily.

That policy has paid dividends so far with Longsdon already having 20 winners on the board this season as he targets getting back to the 78 he posted in 2013-14 after dropping down to 50 last term.

Back in the yard, with the weather improving all the time there’s no sign of it raining on Longsdon’s parade as the trainer gives the lowdown on half of his 80-strong string.

Star billing goes to Kilcooley, who provided the yard’s biggest success last term when landing the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell and is now the trainer’s highest ever rated horse at 161.

The six-year-old will have the top staying hurdles as his target.

“We will see how he goes and if he is not ready to take on the Cole Harden’s of this world then he will go novice chasing,” says Longsdon.

He believes Kalane, winner of the Listed EBF & TBA Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Finale at Newbury in March, is “extremely well-handicapped”.

And he also feels Drop Out Joe, Our Kaempfer and Pendra can land big handicap prizes, while 12-time winner Grandads Horse could be aimed at the Crabbie’s Grand National.

A Vos Gardes, Wilberdragon, Promanco, Midnight Shot and Monbeg Charmer head his band of exciting youngsters, while he picked out Western Miller and Scorpion Princess as ones to watch out for in bumpers.

By now Longsdon’s yard is bathed in warm sunshine.

And with a stable packed full of potential winners it seems the outlook is equally bright.