There are many children who wish to spend every waking hour of their lives galloping ponies round fields, jumping logs, streams and any obstacle that crosses their path. I was one of those absolutely horse-mad kids, longing to become a jockey one day, like the next Frankie Dettori or AP McCoy. So, as a former professional jockey, I’ve put together some top tips for these horse-mad children who want to be the jockeys of the future:
All posts by Sam Smith
We’re now well into the summer racing season, with grand scale events including the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot behind us. The Derby, as usual, delivered an exhilarating spectacle, with Australia scooping the title, making history for trainer Aidan O’Brien as he scored a hat trick – winning the Investec Derby for the third time in a row. Royal Ascot was also filled with excitement as Leading Light secured an epic win in the Gold Cup, beating the Queen’s horse Estimate at the post.
With 60 registered flat and national hunt racecourses in the UK, it’s no surprise that we have one of the best horse racing industries in the world. Some of these courses are more challenging than others, so I’ve put together a list of some of the five most difficult courses, thinking about them from a racehorse trainer’s point of view:
Home of the famous Grand National, Aintree is renowned for being a tough course. Featuring some of the most notorious fences in the country, steeple chasing at this Liverpool-based racecourse certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted! From a trainer’s perspective, I’d want any horse that entered the National to be naturally built for jumping and going the distance. The horse would also need to be experienced at racing, with several jump races under its belt.
The Grand National is also notorious for having a real element of pot luck, with the favourite often not completing the course and the underdog being the winner! In fact, the biggest ever number of finishers was 23 out of 40 runners past the post in the 1984 race.
So you’re thinking of investing in a racehorse? Then welcome to the captivating club of the ‘sport of kings’ – you won’t regret it! Horseracing is one of the most exhilarating sports, and can provide a hefty return on investment. But if you’re still a little apprehensive on whether or not to invest, or you’re not sure what to expect, then this article is for you.
I’ve answered a few concerns that prospective racehorse owners might have on what to expect once they buy a horse:
Investing in a racehorse can not only make you rich, but you can also have a lot of fun along the way! Hundreds of people invest in the ‘sport of kings’, which offers the ultimate status symbol. And you don’t have to be super rich to invest in a racehorse either – there are several options available, such as syndicates, which means you won’t have to part with bundles of cash.
I’m pleased to announce that on Sunday 8th June 2014 I’ll be hosting a very special open morning at my West Sussex training yard, for racehorse owners. The event, which will take place in Pulborough, will feature special appearances from champion flat jockey, Richard Hughes, and this year’s Grand National winner, Leighton Aspell. After the open morning, guests are invited to follow me and the team on to Goodwoord Racecourse for that afternoon’s racing fixture.
Guests attending the open morning will be offered the chance to meet my top racehorses including American Spin (who recently broke a track record at Kempton Park Racecourse), Echo Brava and Bobby Benton.
Most people know what a racehorse trainer is, but few know the exact ins and outs of our working days. Being a trainer is no easy feat – but it’s a job I love, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Not only do I get to work with some of the world’s most majestic animals, but I get to witness their development into winning racehorses. So, how exactly does a usual day work for me? Here’s a basic outline of a typical day as a Sussex based racehorse trainer.
Last Saturday, April 5th 2014, the world watched as Pineau De Re beat both the odds and two of the highest-profile jockeys in the race to claim this year’s Grand National champion title. The race was particularly exciting for me to watch as my friend and neighbour, Leighton Aspell, rode Pineau De Re to victory.
I was elated to see Leighton win as I knew he truly deserved it – just the weekend before we’d been at a pony club event together with both our families, so what a contrast! Leighton rents a yard next to our West Sussex home and stables, and is often the first person I see each morning as we both go out to feed our horses.
In my previous blog this month I listed what makes a champion racehorse, from their pedigree to their personality. But owning the right horse means nothing without the right training facilities if a racehorse is to become a champion.
I have trained many winning racehorses and already this year we have recorded three wins and over 20 2nd places, with our horses consistently in the frame. Drawing the best performance from each one means getting to know each horse well. Every horse is an individual and it’s important to provide a training programme which reflects this.
With the Cheltenham Gold Cup just behind us, it’s an important time to reflect on why the racehorses that win the festival are just so superb on the track. Myself and many other owners and trainers have pondered this all important question. What does it take to be a winner? I think it’s down to a number of reasons, but mainly, the secret to success lies ultimately in physical raw talent of the horse, pedigree and consistent training.