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TEARS AND BEERS AT CHELTENHAM

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Magners Cheltenham Festival Roundup

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The Cheltenham Festival never fails to throw up emotion tales but this year set a precedent in the “weep stakes”. The magnificent Al Boum, provided Irish trainer Willie Mullins with a first victory in the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mullins who is the Festival’s most successful trainer with 65 winners over several decades, has made 26 attempts to win the Gold Cup, finishing second six times.

 

“I had resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup,” said Mullins, whose father Paddy Mullins trained Dawn Run to win in 1986.  It was also a first Gold Cup win for Irish jockey Paul Townend who has ridden for Mullins since he was 17 years old.

 

It was a number of formidable efforts by women which really stirred the souls this year. There was the winning owner of Klassical Dream, Joanne Coleman, whose husband had died from bone marrow cancer just nine months earlier. John Coleman who sadly never lived to see his horse race and had never had a Festival winner was there “in spirit” though. Joanne carried his ashes in her handbag. Another widow is the spotlight was trainer Kayleigh Woollacott, who had taken over her husband’s trainers license after he took his own life last year. Despite being one of the favourites, sadly it was not Lalor’s day to shine but we hope to see him back next year.

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Bryony Frost was our favourite winner of the week and had the crowds in rapturous applause, after making history as the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 (top-level) race over jumps at The Festival. The 23-year-old claimed one of the hardest fought battles to win by little more than a length over Charlie Deutsch and Aso, trained by Venetia Williams.

 

Frost’s reaction to her win was one of humility and empathy and made the front pages of several newspapers. Interviewed after the race, she reflected all the glory on her horse Frodon. “I can’t explain how much I love that horse. He is the most incredible battler. When he got overtaken two out, most horses would quit, but he grabbed me by the hands and said don’t you dare give up, don’t you dare not send me into the last, I want this more than you, now come on!”

 

“He would not lie down. It’s a lesson for us. Sometimes you might go down but you’ve got to get up and get going again, and at the last, he was just magic. Then when he got to the front he did his usual and took it all in. Just like I did.”

 

An hour later, Paisley Park claimed the G1 Sun Racing Stayer’ Hurdle, for female trainer Emma Lavelle and the horse’s owner Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind since birth. The following race of St Patrick’s Thursday was won by a bold front-running performance from Lizzie Kelly who said “I watched Bryony and thought ‘that was my game plan’. When Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore claimed another Grade 1 race, making that her second win of the week, it reminded us that, in the words of leading trainer, Dan Skelton “I think it is about time we stopped talking about lady jockeys and just call them jockeys”.

 

Indeed the sight of Blackmore on the winners podium in Ireland is a weekly one. The 29-year-old has claimed an incredible 84 winners in Ireland and currently sits a close second behind Paul Townend in the stake to become Irish Champion Jockey. Speaking after Blackmore’s victory in the G1Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said of the jockey; “We’ve been so lucky to have her. She’s a brilliant rider. What can you say- she just wins.”

 

There were record crowds every day for this year’s Festival with 266,779 people attending over four days. Willie Mullins won the Leading Trainers’ title whilst Nico de Boinville finished the week as leading jockey with three wins. Rachael Blackmore finished in an impressive sixth place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Murphy Racing

FEMALE FOCUS AT THE FESTIVAL

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We are proud of the fact that Horse Scout is an enterprise run by women. We not only love what we do both in business and in our equestrian pursuits, but we have never seen our gender as a limitation. So you could say that for us, every day is International Women’s Day. We also go to great lengths to provide as much coverage of great female equestrian athletes as we do. This week we will be championing the great female jockeys heading to The Magners Cheltenham Festival. Last year history was made when there were four female winners at The Festival, which really is the Olympics of Jumps Racing. The jockey entries have not yet been confirmed but we are expecting to see more girls on the cards than ever before including Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker who all won last year as well as Bryony Frost, Lucy Alexander and Rachael Blackmore who lies second in the Irish jump jockeys table. Will they go beat last year’s record by scoring even more Festival victories and take a share of the? Can Bryony Frost be the first ever woman to win the Gold Cup?

 

National Hunt Racing has always been a sport contested by men and women. Yet of all equine-related activities, it has been the most challenging for women to make their mark in, over sports like Eventing, Dressage or Showjumping. There have been World Champions in all three Equestrian disciplines but there has never been a female Champion Jockey, in either Flat or National Hunt.   Maybe this is because racing is a sport where the boys massively outnumbered the girls. Some say there have been fewer opportunities for women to excel, with many trainers and owners favouring a male jockey over a female for reasons that include physical strength or because they don’t like seeing girls get hurt. Or maybe the female jockeys have simply not been as good as the men.

 

In the last five years, the tide is has turned and since Lizzie Kelly shot to fame in 2015 when she became the first female jump jockey to win a Grade One race when she won the Novices’ Chase on Tea for Two at Kempton Park in 2015. It is now a regular occurrence to see women first past the post. Furthermore, trainers are giving them rides on good horses and there are more female jockeys turning professional than ever before. It is perhaps significant that 10 time Champion Jumps Trainer, Paul Nicholls employs Bryony Frost as one of his leading stable jockeys.

 

There have been 14 winning female jockeys at The Festival in total but with 23 winners between them. The first woman to win at was Caroline Beasley who won in 1983 on Eliograty and Gee Armytage was the first woman to have two winners in one year. The first professional female jockey was Lizzie Kelly last year on Coo Star Sivola who she plans to ride again this year. Whilst the most successful female jockey to date is Nina Carberry with six winners in total.

 

Female trainers have had their fair share of Festival winners. There have been 27 winning female trainers over the years with 68 winning horses between them. The first was Jackie Brutton who trained Snowdra Queen to win in 1966. The most successful so far has been Irish trainer Jessica Harrington, with 11 winners in total, including training Sizing John to win the Gold Cheltenham Cup in 2017. Jenny Pitman was the first woman to train a Gold Cup winner, when Burrough Hill Lad won in 1984, one of two Gold Cup victories for Pitman. The second success came in 1991 when Garrison Savannah won, ridden by her son Mark Pitman. She was also the first woman to train the winner of the Grand National courtesy of Corbiere in 1983. Once again, an achievement she would repeat when Royal Athlete who in 1995.

 

One of the most popular female trainers of all time has to be Henrietta Knight, who trained the legendary horse, Best Mate to three Gold Cup victories and had seven Festival winners in total and over 700 winners throughout her career.

 

This year, there are a number of female trainers presenting some promising horses to the mix. Emma Lavelle saddles Paisley Park, one of the favourites for the Stayers’ Hurdle and Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae will be a decent contender in the same race. Small time trainer, Kayley Woollacott’s Lalor is a strong hope for the Arkle Trophy. Also seen on the entries list are Venetia Williams, Sue Smith (wife of Harvey Smith), Lucinda Russell, Rebecca Curtis and Horse Scout’s ambassador Amy Murphy.

 

Last year’s Festival really reinforced the Women’s Revolution in racing with so many female winners. You can see three of those Festival winners, Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker on this video, discussing what the sport and the win really means to them.

https://youtu.be/F0NOgtvXPCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from hopedeamer1-18

AP McCoy on being a dad, sporting idols and why he is coming to the Liverpool International Horse Show

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The rider line-up for the Theraplate UK Liverpool International Horse Show is always a star-studded one. It’s popular with the Whitakers, Harry and Peter Charles and Scott Brash is a regular. But this year, we can expect to see the whole McCoy family there. That’s AP McCoy- perhaps one of the best known and most loved jockeys of all time, plus wife Chanelle, daughter Eve and son Archie. Horse Scout’s blogger Ellie Kelly was lucky enough to interview AP and Chanelle recently and this is what they had to say…

 

“I was told I had to be in Liverpool by the 30th December by my daughter Eve. It just shows you how things change in your life when you start getting bossed around by your eleven-year-old daughter” says twenty times Champion Jockey, AP McCoy. Now retired from National Hunt racing, despite being one of the greatest figures in sporting history, he now finds himself “being dragged to shows and mucking out ponies!”

 

Eve who is an avid young showjumper and clearly a chip off the old block will be competing in the mini-major competition, together with a number of young riders competing alongside celebrity showjumpers. The mini major will feature approx. 14 pairs of kids paired up with top professionals all in fancy dress. Previous pros that have competed in this class include the very fast GB rider Matt Sampson, John Whitaker, and the UK’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick.  The class will be the feature of the afternoon performance on Sunday 30th December.

 

“Eve is mad excited about going to Liverpool and I was told I had to be there so I’m flying back from Leopardstown especially” says AP. “She really loves competing and she’s got plenty of bottle which you can’t teach a kid. I see certain traits in her as I have- she’s not a great loser and she gets upset with herself. Even when it goes wrong or I shout at her, she comes back for more. No matter how much a parent gives their kids they can’t give them nerve and desire, that has to come from within. You can feed it and nurture it but at the end of the day it has to come from the kid.”

 

AP talks about the importance of having sporting idols and watching those riders in order to improve.  For Eve, Nick Skelton is her hero.

 

“I took her and a friend up there last year and Nick and Laura Kraut gave them a riding lesson. For her, it was the best thing ever, she was more interested in him than she was in me.”

 

“We’ve planned the Christmas around it” says an excited Chanelle. “We have no expectations, Eve does of course. But I think it’s a brilliant experience for kids to feel the pressure of the big day when they are young. It really prepares you for the later in life and when you do go into the working world, it helps if you know those emotions already.

 

“She’s very conscious of impressing her dad which is nice but we had to sack AP as an instructor because of that clash of personality” she laughs. “AP and I were very relaxed as to whether she was into ponies or not, it had to be something that came from her but she really loves it and she wants to be the best. It’s lovely that she is so ambitious. It must be in her DNA that she is not satisfied taking part, she wants to win.”

 

“Nick Skelton is her hero, she once asked me if Nick was too old for her to marry. She was so in awe of him when she went up for a lesson. She had lots of questions for him and I thought well isn’t it great that she’s got an icon like Nick rather than some social media influencer.”

 

Chanelle talks about the differing emotions she feels when watching her daughter show jump in comparison with watching AP race.

 

“Watching Eve, I feel excited. With AP it was a different emotion because with being a jump jockey, injury was very much part of the course, so you’re always worried. Watching my daughter showjumping is so enjoyable and I get quite emotional when she does well.”

 

Even though I don’t miss AP riding because I’m so grateful that he has retired in one piece and he doesn’t have any severe injuries but I think we would miss the buzz if we had nothing. Whereas now, there is not a nicer weekend for me where we load up the lorry and head off to show.

 

www.liverpoolhorseshow.com

 

ROYAL ASCOT: What Meghan Markle should know.

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300,000 people from around the world will flock to Royal Ascot this week, making it the third most attended sporting event in the UK.

 

It is one of the premier race meetings on the global horse-racing calendar since racing began. It draws the best bloodstock, jockeys and trainers from around the world and is probably the most famous fashion parade in sport. For centuries, Royal Ascot has been “the place to be seen” on the social calendar and the fashionistas, networkers and socialites arrive in their droves, some scarcely seeing a horse.

 

Because Horse Scout is all about sharing our enviable contacts and insider knowledge, we bring you hot-off-the press Royal Ascot insight, directly from ITV’s racing PR team. So here’s a few things you probably don’t know about one of the greatest sporting events on the planet.


The Royals

  • The Queen first attended Royal Ascot in 1945 at the age of 19, and has had 23 winners there since
  • Ascot is the only place at which the Queen has ever been seen running in her life
  • In the earlier days of her historic reign, she used to gallop down the track in the early mornings before racing started – In 1960 she finished fourth to other members of her party of seven in an unofficial ‘race’
  • Her reign has seen many years of social change, even at Ascot – until 1955 divorcees were not allowed into the Royal Enclosure
  • Every day The Queen and her procession travel down the straight in front of the stands at precisely 2pm - this year, Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, is hotly tipped to make her Royal Ascot debut

 

The Fashion

  • There are four enclosures at Royal Ascot, the Royal Enclosure being the most prestigious. Each has their own strict dress codes
  • The last few years has seen the rules relaxed somewhat and last year, jumpsuits were successfully introduced in the Royal Enclosure
  • However, banned for the first time were gentlemen’s ankles and socks are now compulsory for men
  • Every year the bookies bet on the colour of the Queen’s outfit – and this year they no doubt will be doing the same with the Duchess of Sussex. ITV’s fashion expert, Mark Heyes thinks she will be “low key, sleek and elegant in a pastel shade.”

The Food and Festivities 

  • There is a 100-year waiting list for one of the coveted ‘picnic’ parking spots in the Royal Enclosure’s Car Park One
  • There are more than 100 bars and food outlets around the racecourse and 225 private boxes, with 39 professional kitchens operating during Royal Ascot
  • There are three miles of festive bunting – which is over half a mile further than the longest race
  • 60,000 finger sandwiches and 80,000 cups of tea are consumed across the five-day week of Royal Ascot – that’s almost the same number served at the three garden parties the Queen hosts at Buckingham Palace each year
  • 56,000 bottles of champagne, 44,000 bottles of wine and 21,000 jugs of Pimm’s are drunk at Royal Ascot each year, which together is just slightly less than the 128,500 bottles of mineral water.  Over the Wimbledon fortnight they drink a mere 29,000 bottles of champagne but 230,000 bottles of water
  • Despite the festivities, Thames Valley Police described Royal Ascot 2017 as a “well-behaved event” for the 300,000 racegoers

Horse Scout will be playing Paparazzi and if you are lucky enough to join the fun, please do tag us in your snaps and tweets.  at the end of racing you may want to join in the communal sing-song with a huge gathering around the bandstand.

If you can’t make it this year, you can join the BAFTA award-winning ITV Racing team at the times below. This is why you should tune in:

  • Every race live and unrivalled access to the horses, jockeys and connections
  • Fascinating racing features including ‘AP McCoy meets Aidan O’Brien’
  • Coverage of the Royal procession every day – who is there and who’s wearing what
  • The best fashion around the course from vintage to high street to high end with ITV fashion experts, Charlotte Hawkins Mark Heyes

 

Tuesday 19 June:
ITV4 – The Opening Show- 0930-1030
ITV – Live Racing – 1330-1525
ITV4 – Live Racing – 1520-1800

Wednesday 20 June:
ITV4 – The Opening Show -0930-1030
ITV – Live Racing – 1330-1800

Thursday 21 June:
ITV4 – The Opening Show – 0930-1030
ITV4 – Live Racing – 1330-1800

Friday 22 June:
ITV4 – The Opening Show -0930-1030
ITV4 – Live Racing – 1330-1530
ITV – Live Racing – 1520-1800

Saturday 23 June:
ITV4 – The Opening Show – 0930-1030
ITV – Live Racing – 1330-1525
ITV4 – Live Racing – 1520-1800

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Galloping in Style towards the Cheltenham Festival

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Galloping in Style towards the Cheltenham Festival

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“For me the boys winning at Cheltenham was as big a highlight as winning in Rio” Nick Skelton announced after “Superb Story” gave his sons Dan and Harry, their first Cheltenham Festival win.

“It’s the Olympics of the horseracing world” claims leading trainer Dan Skelton

The Cheltenham Festival is so world-famous, it has become known as simply “The Festival”. This year it runs from Tuesday 13th to Friday 18th March and it should be etched in your social calendar. Tickets start at £40 but because we regard our members so highly, Horse Scout will be giving away two pairs of tickets this year. Stay tuned to our Facebook page  and our Twitter for more information.

This four-day spectacular attracts the finest horses, jockeys and trainers in the world of Jump racing and remains one of Europe’s most prestigious sporting events. In fact it is fourth best attended event in the country and the £4.5 million of prize money makes it one of the biggest prize funds in UK sport.

The racing scene is always a cultural melting pot but The Festival epitomises that more than most, attracting the real racing enthusiasts from all walks of life. When you put 260,000 people together with common ground- a passion for horses, the countryside and great sporting action, it can only result in one thing- a fabulous sense of occasion.

The festival commences with Champions Day on Tuesday 13th. It includes a packed seven-race card including the most important 2 mile hurdle race of the entire jumping season, the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

Wednesday 14th March is Ladies Day and this year the competition is for ladies only and is all about bringing colour and style to The Festival. There is the chance to win a brand new MINI ONE CAR from W.O. Lewis and Sytner Solihull, as well as other splendid prizes. Whether you want to flash your finest fur, parade your best hat or give a nod to your favourite horse’s colours, get ready to #ColourMeMarch.

St Patrick’s Day on Thursday 15th March draws the luck of the Irish to Cheltenham. The whole of The Festival has a strong Irish flavour to it but on Thursday, it is loud and proud and you can enjoy Irish music around the course throughout the day. As well as the ambience, the racing is top class with the JLT Novices’ Chase, the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Steeple Chase to enjoy.

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The climax of the entire jump racing season is Friday’sTimico Cheltenham Gold Cup. This really is the golden crown of jump racing and never fails to  be the greatest spectacle.  The Timico Gold Cup is a race associated with the elite of the sport and nothing can rival the Cheltenham roar as the horses charge up the famous hill.

The Festival really does offer something for all (erm adult) interests. As a Cheltenham die-hard for a decade or so, I aim to indulge in the whole social landscape. Perhaps what I love best, is weighing up horse flesh in the paddock. Usually I swap notes with one of the many Irish folk, who seem to know more about the nags than their own flesh and blood. We will talk breeding, handicaps and ground conditions, then I’ll head down to the course to throw some bad money after good at the bookmakers. Although rarely the Tote, as a like supporting the little guys who are stationed near the track. There is something quite antiquated and ironically pure about swapping cash for a betting slip with a man in a tweed cap and a cockney accent.

I’ll often try to latch on to someone, to get an invite into to Owners and Trainers for spot of people watching and a great afternoon tea. If I am lucky enough, I’ll be invited to a box for more champagne and the best the views of the course and the race.

You can expect food and drink for every taste. There is a generous scattering of champagne bars and about every ten paces- another Guinness watering hole. So be aware of wobbly drinkers if you’re wearing your best cashmere. That sticky brew could ruin your day as well as your wardrobe.

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The selection of cuisine options, is nothing short of a sensory odyssey. New for this year is The Theatre @Festival, a Pan Asian Theatre restaurant experience situated on the third floor of the course facing suites, giving guests unrivalled views over the final fences of the racecourse and offering a unique culinary and visual feast.  Designed to offer a premium but casual environment, relaxation and attention to detail are the order of the day along with simply exquisite dining influenced from the continents of Asia to the foothills of Cleeve Hill.

Michelin star chef, Albert Roux is back in his popular Chez Roux Restaurant. And there are eleven other top quality restaurants on offer, over The Festival with a range of different packages available to suit all requirements and most budgets.

No sporting event would be the same without the inevitable burgers, pies and chips. Do not knock it when you know it really is the only way to help stave off tomorrow’s hangover.

For many seasoned racegoers, a picnic in the car park is a big part of the day. Cars start to arrive as soon as the gates open at 10.30 and the pop of champagne corks can be heard within minutes. The downside is that you might pull the short straw to become designated driver and the traffic coming into Cheltenham is historically horrendous.

The Cheltenham experience would not be complete without losing your senses- and your savings, in the Shopping Village. There are 70 stands with a unique boutique feel, mainly involving fashion, art and gifts. This is the place to discover exceptional pieces you won’t find on the high street.

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To book tickets visit www.cheltenham.co.uk or call 0344 579 3003.

 

By Ellie Kelly

Amy Murphy fires off big win with Kalashnikov

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Amy Murphy fires off big win with Kalashnikov

Photo from hopedeamer1-3

Horse Scout Advocate Amy Murphy, scored one of her biggest wins yet in the Betfair Hurdle, held at Newbury last Saturday. In filthy weather conditions and freezing drizzle, the gallant Kalashnikov dug deep to pull off a decisive win under Jack Quinlan.

It was an exciting race and Britain’s richest handicap, worth £155,000. Kalashnikov took up the lead approaching the last and despite clearly not enjoying the stamina-sucking ground, the horse responded to his jockey’s encouragement. Just five years old, he showed maturity and class beating off Bleu Et Rouge, trained by Irish champion trainer, Willie Mullins.

Photo from hopedeamer1

Speaking to the Racing Post, Amy said “It’s great to have a horse of his calibre this early. Huge credit goes to my team at home, we’re only a small but they’ve been churning out the big winners over the last few weeks and hopefully people begin to take note.”

Jack Quinlan is Amy’s main stable jockey at her base in Newmarket and she speaks highly of him. “Jack is underrated, he only needs the right horse and he can go and do it. He’s formed a partnership with this horse from day one and he’s been the making of him too” she said.

The horse, who is owned by her father Paul will be heading to The Cheltenham Festival. The plan is not set but he will probably be entered for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. An excited Amy said at Newbury, “I think we will stick him in the Supreme, he’s given us no reason to go anywhere else. The better ground will suit him 100 per cent. He’s got this beautiful action. Look at him, there’s not a bother on him.”

Photo from hopedeamer1-2

25 year old Amy is not only the youngest trainer in Britain but she is one of the few female trainers to be making her mark on this heavily male populated industry. We may be experiencing a change in the tide as the National Hunt season has seen a number of big wins by female jockeys such as Bryony Frost and Lizzie Kelly. Amy’s recent impressive form, despite holding her trainers license for less than two years, further reinforced the talents and horsemanship of the fairer sex.

By Ellie Kelly.

Photography by Steven Cargil.

NEW FEMALE TALENT FOR HORSE SCOUT: AMY MURPHY

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“There isn’t much life outside horses but I’ve never been one for shopping anyway” confesses racehorse trainer Amy Murphy. A familiar tale among Equestrians. Ellie Kelly caught up with Horse Scout’s latest advocate about racing dreams, being a woman in a man’s world and unhealthy eating habits.

At 24 years, many young people are still working out what to do with their life but Amy Murphy was already making waves in the racing world. Last August she gained her trainer’s license, departed from the security of a job as Assistant Trainer and set up a race yard, becoming the youngest trainer in Britain.  Her first season got off to a phenomenal start with nine winners and 12 placings from just 30 runners.

Amy Murphy Racing

Training racehorses was the dream from her early pony-mad childhood days. “I was in the Pony Club and did a lot of hunting but I was bitten by the racing bug” Amy explains. I started riding out for local trainers at 15 years old and I became fascinated by the training, buying, management and everything else involved in the industry. I loved the perfectionism and attention to minor details that could be the difference to winning or losing. So I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

Amy’s racing pedigree is excellent- her father Paul is a highly regarded breeder of Flat and National Hunt horses and she grew up on Whychnor Park Stud in Staffordshire deeply entrenched in the world of racing. “Whenever dad had a runner I was always sick that day so I could go to the races,” Murphy laughs. “But Dad was clear with me and told me that I had to get an education before I went into racing.”

Amy Murphy Racing

This started at Hartpury College where Amy completed a course in Equine Science. On finishing here she went straight into getting practical experience. ”I wanted to learn from the best” she says. This included a job with trainer Tom Dascombe before a winter spent in Sydney with leading female trainer Gai Waterhouse. On her return, Amy was then offered an enviable position as Assistant Trainer to Luca Cumani, arguably one of the best flat trainers in the world. This was followed by a stint with one of the best known National Hunt trainers, Nicky Henderson.

After less than a year training from her base Hamilton Stables in Newmarket, Amy has already amassed 27 horses with 12 owners- a mix of Flat and National Hunt horses. These include a Middle Eastern Royalty and Amy is just setting up an affordable racing club “so people can enjoy the social side without huge outlay” she explains. “It’s a small operation at the moment but my dream is to get the business off the ground and eventually be a big trainer with 100 horses” she says “In the short term it’s about keeping my horses healthy and fit”.

And being a woman in a heavily male dominated world? “It just makes me more determined” she states. “It’s certainly never put me off. Although racing is changing and woman are proving they can do it, both as trainers and jockeys.”

Amy Murphy Racing

A typical day starts around 5am and finishes around 6pm and Amy rides out on the gallops with the other stable staff. Unsurprisingly, Amy’s year round season allows for few days off. “It’s seven days a week most of the time but I take the odd Sunday off, which I like to spend with my family” she says.

As well as training and overseeing the day-to-day running of the yard, Amy deals with much of the admin and promoting the business. “Horse Scout will be a great asset to my business in terms of marketing and building up my network” she says.

LAST BOOK YOU READ- AP McCoy’s Autobiography.

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY- A Coffee with lots of sugar.

GUILTY PLEASURE- Galaxy chocolate. WHAT COULD YOU NOT

LIVE WITHOUT- My Labrador puppy, Milo.

BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER SO FAR- There are so many! Obviously all the trainers I have worked for but also my Dad, Paul Murphy. He has been a real mentor, particularly on the business side.

PHILOSPOHY-  You never stop learning. Anywhere I go, I walk in with open eyes.

To find out more about Amy Murphy or her racing club visit www.amymurphyracing.com

Amy Murphy Racing

 

 

Horsey? You should know this!

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Paddock Side… National Hunt Racing, by Horse Scout racing  specialist Penny!

National Hunt is divided into two sections, hurdles and steeplechases. There are also races called ‘bumpers’ which are flat races for jumpers. However, for the purpose of our paddock observations I am ignoring these.

Quite often horses that have not shown any promise on the flat will be schooled and sent out to try their luck over hurdles. Many also start their career as hurdlers and remain so, or go on to steeplechase. A good example of this was Desert Orchid, a very famous thoroughbred that most of us will have heard of whether we are into racing or not.

Dessie (as he was affectionately known) began his career in 1983 over hurdles and had enough success to warrant being rated top class although he was not setting the world alight.  In 1985 he was switched to steeplechasing and it was then that a star emerged.  This discipline suited him so well that he became and remains one of the greatest chasers of all time.

He was a natural front runner, it was not in his nature to be a follower, a spectacular jumper, fast, accurate and immensely scopy – and had a will of iron. Giving up or giving in was not in his remit. What did we see as he walked around the paddock?

A big upstanding grey with a beautiful head, kind honest eye, good length of rein, deep chest (heart room) and very powerful quarters (big engine). His gait was active, straight and balanced with well engaged hocks, generating an ease of movement that belied his size.

In short, exactly what we are looking for in a horse that has the potential to outshine the rest.

So is that it then – well no. The good jumper comes in many guises and it is by no means a given that s/he will so obviously fit Dessie’s description. We can’t discount the compact or rangy, workmanlike or flashy, if the overall confirmation and attitude is good. When it comes down to it only one thing is going to make a good national hunt horse; it’s jumping ability. No matter how fast between fences, how balanced on the flat or how good it’s staying power, if the horse makes jumping errors ground will be lost and at worse, mistakes may result in a fall.

A little anecdote:

The Duke of Wellington’s famous horse Copenhagen, who was a grandson of the great racehorse Eclipse (and himself successfully raced), survived countless battles as a war horse. The most well known of which was the battle of Waterloo, where he carried the Duke for 17 hours without respite. After Copenhagen died, the Duke was quoted as saying, “There may have been faster horses, no doubt many handsomer, but for bottom and endurance I never saw his fellow”.

By bottom, he refers to Copenhagen’s courage – something our top class jumper must possess. Remember Desert Orchid’s ‘will of iron’.