Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The tragedy of Kauto Star

In response to the Kauto Star debate I feel compelled to offer a few thoughts.

I have two ex-racehorses.

Lord’s Bidding, by Auction House out of Lady Ploy, aged 10, trained by Roger Ingram, raced 13 times, highest flat rating 65, highest placing 2nd, winner of £2697 in prize money, retired at 4 with a tendon injury – and kindly given to me by the trainer and owners – because I had ridden him at home throughout his racing career and they knew how much I liked riding the horse.

Kings Troop, by Bertolini out of Glorious Colours, aged 9, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and then Alan King, raced 43 times, highest flat rating 86,  winner of 4 races, winner of £25,803 in prize money, retired at 6 and kindly gifted to me by the owners – and recommended by Alan – as I had a close association with the horse having ridden him at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and every Saturday for the two years thereafter.

In both cases, I knew the horses I was taking on. 

Lord’s Bidding currently competes at dressage at novice level (the 2nd one up) and is about to go to elementary (the 3rd one up), has just been registered with British Dressage and shows some potential in the sense that he looks good and moves in a nice balanced way.  It has taken me five years (with a lot of help) to get him to this and since I have had him, he has had many issues including a summer of extreme head shaking (that was so bad we thought he might have to be put down), concussion in both his front legs (6 months off) and about a million lessons to teach him (and me) how to make him go nicely.  He has always had a nice temperament albeit with a fast left spin when he gets stressed or doesn’t want to do something.
We tried eventing with him but due to his racing injury and the fact he simply didn’t seem that enthusiastic to ‘go’ cross-country I did not want to pursue making him do this at the cost of him breaking.
He seems to like dressage in the sense that he is very calm and is able to ‘turn it on’ in the dressage ring.  In Wales recently he won a dressage to music competition beating around 30 other ‘normal’ horses who had not come from racing backgrounds.
Every time he competes, especially on a level playing field with ‘normal’ horses, we are thrilled with the positives because we know his history and how far he has come. We also have low expectations for him - and the events he has been competing at are very low level on the Charlotte Dujardin scale of things!

If Lord’s Bidding went to Olympia he would get very excited but would eventually calm down.  I could not be confident he would be able to perform in that environment.

Most of the time, he lives out in a field with his best mate, Kings Troop, occasionally hunts in winter and we have a lot of fun hacking him around the countryside and riding to the pub!
He is a happy horse.  He has taught me patience.  And I have spent probably £30K on him in the last six years.

Lord's Bidding 
Trained by two of racing’s top trainers, Kings Troop raced on both the flat and over jumps so when he came to me I gave him some time off to chill out before I started retraining him.  I applied everything I had learned from Lords to him and he has always been eager, willing and just so very keen to get on with everything.  He seemed to take to dressage and at home is hard-working and talented.
He has some inevitable wear and tear from five years racing though and although he is sound, we have learned that he does not move that well and does not – and probably never will – have the same flowing paces as Lords, who raced a lot less.  He also has an issue with sticking his tongue out!  He did it throughout his racing career and this habit is very hard to break.  We have, and continue to try, bits, nosebands and gadgets to stop him doing this.  But so far we have not been able to.  And I am not going to force an ex racehorse in his second life to be uncomfortable and do things he doesn’t want to do.
He also gets very excited when he goes out, is extremely spooky out on his own and he bucks a lot with flies in summer!
He has competed at the lowest – prelim – level in dressage.  Sometimes he does a nice test. Once he did a test that was so awful that to an onlooker it would appear he hated every minute of it and I tortured him at home.

If Kings Troop went to Olympia I suspect it would blow his mind.

Most of time, he lives out in the field with his best mate, Lord’s Bidding, occasionally hunts in winter and we have a lot of fun hacking him around the countryside and riding to the pub!
He is a happy horse.  He has taught me more patience.  And I have spent probably £10K on him in the last three years.
Kings Troop
I know my horses inside out.
They have also proved to me that you cannot tell an ex racehorse what discipline it might be able to be good at.  The horse will tell you. In time. 

Neptune Collonges won the Grand National and now competes at dressage but started out at the very small mickey mouse events, in the same sphere as my horses to see if he liked it.  He seems to.
Comply or Die won the Grand National and I was at event with Verity Green, who now has him at home, a few weeks ago.  He is quirky and lively, so she is taking it very slowly with him and they are having fun together.

For me this is the great tragedy of Kauto Star who raced 41 times, won 23 races and earned £2.3m in prize money.
This ‘once in a lifetime’ racehorse was sent, against the advice of the trainer and those who knew the horse best, to ‘do dressage’ to someone who did not know him at all.
He may have been relaxed and talented when they schooled him at home – and he was probably extremely well looked after.
But he was never seen without a neck strap in public.  And his display at Olympia was simply painful to watch. 
After 'retirement', he was sent very quickly on the glory circuit to look good at a sport the owner felt he should do.

It was said Kauto Star ‘did dressage’.   

But I do not think he ever competed at dressage at all.

Lords and Troops in the field at home

Monday, 26 January 2015


My first blog offering for 2015 is going to be a rather unprofessional affair, based not on what I’ve been achieving via my work life, but on my own personal loss.

For the last eight years of my life – so pretty much the whole time I’ve been working for myself, and working largely from home - I have had the wonderful companionship, joy and affection of my most beloved dog Tess.

She decided to depart this world in the first week of January this year, leaving me desolate, stricken with grief and so terribly afraid.

Writing is a hugely cathartic thing so the reason in penning this blog is for me as much as for anyone reading this and to pay tribute to Tess, who was so much a part of me, everything I did and who I have become.

Tess was a joyous individual – always happy, full of boundless amounts of energy, adoring of affection, and in turn comforting, kind and hilariously funny.  For eight years I looked after her, and she looked after me, and anyone who worked with me, or socialised with me, all got used to the idea pretty quickly that wherever Liz went, then so did Tess.

I have always been a driven individual, which in the earlier part of my life, meant I was always dissatisfied with what I was doing and looking for the next thing.  
Tess taught me about the simple things in life – walking on a beautiful day, looking down rabbit holes, lying by the fire and just being content in the moment and totally at rest.  
She made me less materialistic and happier to be outside, she made me love to be at home and more content in my own company and she taught me that just sitting and staring is a perfectly acceptable and fulfilling way to spend time.

Having largely spent the last eight years alone, her importance in my life was more that of a beloved child than ‘just a dog’ and her death has been like a physical pain to me – shocking, debilitating and draining me of all my energy and joy in the world.

To get through it, I have tried to be brave, a quality I admire so much in others, and although failing shockingly at times, taking an example from others I know, or have known, has been of great inspiration.

My family have, as always, provided an unbelievable strength and constancy, my friends have been unswerving in their loyalty and patience, and Barrie, my partner, who I admire so much in all things, has had to bear the brunt of my suffering and yet been infinitely kind and never once told me to shut up or pull myself together.

I have also read a lot about grief, which is so much part of life, and have found strength in the words of others.  CS Lewis articulated the feeling that grief is like fear.  And for me this has struck a particular resonance.  Known as a happy and ‘sorted’ individual, in the last few weeks I have wavered between sadness, insecurity, terrible anger at the world, a crippling inability to do anything and terror in facing the world and everyday life without the stabling and comforting influence of my dog.

Some may find it trivial, and almost comical, to be so brought down by the death of a mere animal but I make no apologies for this blog.  My great friend Jilly Cooper, known publicly for her huge affection for animals, has been a great comfort to me and said to me just after it happened that only people who can love so deeply, can in turn suffer such a deep sense of loss.

So as I pick myself off the floor and look towards the future and a happy life without Tess, I leave you with this.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry, 
I am not there; I did not die.

Liz Ampairee, January 2015

Monday, 8 September 2014

Warriors - all....

Due to a lack of time to string a sentence together, my latest blog offering of the projects I’ve been working on will simply be in quotes and pictures (which will probably be more interesting than my usual blurb anyway!)

Mongol Derby August 2014
Copyright Richard Dunwoody
“There are two problems here; One: they serve vodka in mugs. Two: we are stupid enough to drink them!” German rider Alex Piltz

2nd September 2014 - Warrior is awarded the animals VC’, the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all the animals who served in WW1
Brough Scott receives the PDSA Dickin Medal from the PDSA Director General at The Imperial War Museum
“Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War.  Recognising him with an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting and poignant tribute not only to this remarkable animal, but to all animals that served.”
Steven Spielberg

Focused by Andrew Nicholson - launches at Burghley 4-7 September 2014 as Andrew achieves a historic hat-trick on Avebury

Andrew and Avebury deliver what Captain Mark Phillips describes as a 'masterclass' in Cross Country riding
“I didn’t scorch him away like I usually do, but knew what I had to do around the second part of the course – and he always goes better if I ride him like I stole him!”
Andrew Nicholson

Gary Witheford: If Horses Could Talk to launch on 21st September 2014 at the Newmarket Open Day
Brujo in 2014 as Jilly Cooper comes to visit - not looking quite so 'sad' now!
 “He was the saddest horse I had ever seen. He was called Brujo and he was a big Andalusian colt tied to a concrete wall down in Spain with barbed wire round his nose and a boy alongside with his arm in a sling. They said the colt was crazy. That he had tried to kill the boy. That all he did was buck, buck, buck. That he was going to be shot for meat that evening.” 
Gary Witheford

PHILIP BLACKER ‘Farewell, Leicester Square’ - An exhibition of bronze friezes - a perspective from one hundred years on, 5th – 16th Nov 2014, Thompsons Gallery, London
“The inspiration for my WW1 friezes come from a variety of sources. A couple are inspired by paintings, notably by CRW Nevinson and Paul Nash, but mostly they come from poems, letters, songs and books.” 
Philip Blacker

And finally... When I’m not working…..Balder Succes, Barbury Castle, August 2014

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom” 
Helen Thompson

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A sizzling summer!

The music in the video above sums up wonderfully not just our fabulous event at Barbury at the beginning of July, but my summer in general – which I seem to have spent in a ‘Benny Hill’ type fashion chasing around the country – but having a lot of fun along the way!

As soon as I touched down from a sizzling few days in Ibiza (just love the place – makes me feel young again!) we were off to the St James’ Place Barbury International Horse Trials for the JCB Champions Challenge on the Saturday and Laura Collett and Ed Chanin dressage display on the Sunday, both as part of Barbury’s celebration of the IJF, their charity of the year.

To see the top riders in the world racing each other over rustic jumps – and having so much fun in the process – was a real highlight of my working year and then a dressage display from injured jockey, Ed Chanin (who is paralysed down one side of his body) made us all feel pretty emotional – and proud.  We had a few issues with the sound system just a few minutes before Ed was due to go on, so he had to change his routine at the last minute.  A top rider may have thrown their toys out of the pram at this point, so for Ed with his disability not even to bat an eyelid but to go and perform a routine he hadn’t practised for a few years just demonstrates what an amazing guy he is and what an inspiration to us all.
Laura Collett on Kauto Star with Ed Chanin on My Rubicon
Francome (in his 1970's breeches!) and Zara go head to head in the water
It was fantastic that Andrew Nicholson won Barbury for the third consecutive year in a row on his amazing horse, Avebury – and we used the event to announce that his book, Focused, will be out at the end of the summer.

We have used such incredible pictures, many of them never seen before, to tell the story of Andrew’s life and whilst the book is definitely not a ‘sex and secrets’ type autobiography, we hope that people will appreciate what we have tried to do.  This is to tell Andrew’s story in his own understated way, through his horses and through the pictures from his life, and to deliver his take on how to make it to the top when you come from humble beginnings and how to make it pay having had no early privileges that set you on your way.  As Captain Mark Phillips says in the intro to the book “If Andrew Nicholson says something today, you are a fool if you don’t listen” – and we hope that this sets the tone for what the book is, and why people will enjoy reading it.  For more info, see https://www.dropbox.com/s/bgkkcf2cmt18ubs/Press%20Release%20NoCrop%20LowRes.pdf 
A young Andrew shows us how to jump!
A few weeks ago, I showed this pic to John Francome (once himself a top young show jumper – before he became a jockey) and he said that in spite of all the years that have passed and his four decades at the top, Andrew’s style over a fence has changed little since these early days in NZ and that the natural talent he has is something you can’t ever really learn…

Former Horse & Hound journalist Catherine Austen has co-written the book with Andrew, she has done a great job, and we look forward to launching it officially at Burghley at the beginning of September, where we will have daily interview and signing sessions with Andrew in the ‘Celebrity talk’ area.

As previously mentioned in an earlier blog, we will also have lots of activity around the Gary Witheford book, If Horses Could Talk, co-written with Brough Scott.  I’ve just finished reading it, and it’s truly excellent – shocking, sad, inspirational, but most of all, it makes you want to understand horses better.  Anyone who owns a horse, or is interested in them in any way, should read this book. 

Do come and see one of Gary’s demos (Malton Open Day 31st August, Newmarket Open Day 21st September, Cheltenham Countryside Day 14th November).  Plus if you didn’t see them, have a look at the two pieces Channel 4 did on Gary during July Cup week (links below)

I paid a flying visit to the Isle of Wight a few weeks ago, where we unveiled a statue of our old friend ‘Warrior’ at Carisbrooke Castle – almost 100 years to the day that he stepped on to one of the first boats to France in 1914 and within a stone’s throw of the place in which he was born and which he died and spent most of his 33 years of life (with just that little interlude on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918!).

Brough and I toast Warrior!
This incredible Philip Blacker bronze has been paid for by proceeds of the book, Warrior: The Amazing Story of a Real War Horse – and there will be more very exciting news to follow about Warrior in a few weeks time!

This week I was back at Goodwood for our annual pilgrimage as a guest of sponsor, Markel, and to see the ‘duel on the downs’ which started with Frankel vs Canford Cliffs four years ago, and has not disappointed since. This year’s renewal was a tactical affair with Hughsie on Toronado striking first blow but the sublime Kingman (loaded by Gary Witheford!) displaying his scintillating turn of foot as he tracked him down in the dying strides of the race.

We also had a bit of fun taking some pictures with jockeys William Buick and Sam Thomas to publicise our event at Olympia on 19th December where the IJF will be the benefitting charity.  The Markel Champions Challenge for the Injured Jockeys Fund will be the first class on the Friday evening and feature a team of flat jockeys take on a team of jump jockeys with a celebrity show jumper on each team….

Sam Thomas and William Buick get into the spirit of Olympia!
Once again the autumn looks set to be a busy one at equestrian events all over the country, but I shan’t be complaining.  It may be hard work organising it all, but it’s also incredible fun and a real privilege to spend time with so many extraordinary people.

One of my own ex-racehorses is also set to go eventing in the autumn (although not at Burghley!) and now capable of doing dressage to a basic but consistent level, we have gone back to basics with his jumping to encourage him to jump out of his stride rather than to lock on and hurdle everything as fast as he can! It is also really interesting to put into practice some of the techniques I have been witnessing first-hand with my work with Gary Witheford and to start asking questions as to the accepted way of doing things, and then modifying them to try ‘Gary’s way’!

Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard has been such an incredible help to me in so many ways in the last six months, and I have been delighted to re-pay the favour as she embarks on her own business venture with SMS equestrian, her own riding school and no mean feat to achieve at the age of 26.  I know she will be a huge success in this area and can’t recommend her enough for anyone living in the Wiltshire area.  She has a FB page  - https://www.facebook.com/smsequestrian?ref_type=bookmark – with a website set to launch in the next few weeks (www.smsequestrian.co.uk).

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The gloves are off for Barbury!

Throwing down the gauntlet!
We love this picture of AP and Zara which we took last week to promote The JCB Champions Challenge at the St James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials in a few weeks’ time.

It has been great fun working with the team at Barbury on behalf of the IJF and our line up for the 5th July is a pretty awesome one with AP, Dickie Johnson, Sam Twiston-Davies and John Francome for the jockeys, taking on Zara, William Fox-Pitt, Mark Todd and Laura Collett representing the eventers with a team of show jumpers (yet to be announced) and the winning hunt scurry team from earlier in the day.
We took our sponsor, JCB, on a site visit a few weeks ago, and I was completely blown away by the amazing course that Nigel Bunter’s team at Barbury have built.  In spite of the fact that I ride out at Barbury every Saturday, I haven’t actually been that close to the cross country course before and the fences are not just huge, but really beautifully thought out and designed – with the famous Stonehenge fence, quite a lot of water and even a dinosaur…
Plus there is a sizeable lake in the main arena and it could be quite exciting/interesting/a little bit hair-raising watching the jocks and the others tackle that at speed racing against each other!
To get special priced IJF tickets for the Saturday or Sunday (Ed Chanin and Laura Collett IJF dressage display), ring 01672 516125 and quote code IJF14.

A colleague sent me a linked-in message last week to point out that I’ve been working for myself for eight years this month, something which I find pretty hard to believe!  When I first set up on my own in 2006 I had two beauty / fashion clients, one private island (for those suffering from addiction – later the casting venue for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar!) and one horsey TV venture.  My original plan, was to slowly move away from the world of beauty and fashion, that had formed my career to date, and move more into horse racing where my passion lay, albeit with little experience at grass roots level.  So to be doing exactly that eight years later, and still I hope with as much enthusiasm as ever, gives me a real sense of fulfilment. Quite simply, I love it!

One thing about having your own business is that it is very hard to leave and take time out, especially when it is so continually busy, but it is important to try and switch off and remind myself that another world exists, so I am heading abroad for a few days of sun, sea and R&R next week. I am also planning a trip to the Somme battlefields in September, which is something I have always wanted to do, and which also ties in nicely with the First World War work I am involved in with both Philip Blacker (exhibition in November – more on that later) and our old friend, Warrior, ‘the horse the Germans could not kill’.

On the 9th July at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight we will unveil a Philip Blacker statue of General Jack Seely on Warrior. The proceeds from Racing Post’s very successful book, Warrior: The Amazing Story of a Real War Horse, have enabled the Seely family to commission this statue as a permanent memorial to this amazing horse in the place he was born and died some 33 years later.  When I go to France in September I will visit the site of the cavalry charge at Moreuil wood, which was led by General Jack on Warrior in 1918. There will also be another really exciting announcement about Warrior later in the year. This horse seems to have so much continuing lives!

My own amazing horses continue to give me so much satisfaction and I was absolutely thrilled to take them both out to do dressage a few weeks ago, both doing two tests each and scoring over 60% in all four.  For ex racehorses with ongoing issues, to get them to such a level – however lowly it is – is one of my greatest achievements of the last few years.  Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard, who has given us so much of her time in recent months, has done such an incredible job on working on both our skill and our confidence and I hope to be able to repay her efforts by helping her out as she sets out on her own business venture. Exciting times ahead!
My lovely (we got there in the end!) Lord's Bidding

My eager-to-please (even if tongue out as always!) Kings Troop!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Much missed

The Racing Post books teams descended on Lords Cricket Ground on Wednesday evening for the annual British Sports Book Awards.
We were thrilled that Brough Scott’s Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius picked up best Racing Book.

The book is an absolute masterpiece, and critically acclaimed as one of the best racing books ever written.  I sent Brough an email yesterday which said:

“If HRAC is up there feeding hip berries to his fillies he will surely have realised by now that you immortalised him in a way that nothing else ever could.”

If you haven’t read the book, you simply must – the way Brough writes and the homage he pays to Henry’s genius, whilst at the same time not shirking some of the disasters along the way, is pure literary brilliance.

I finished my email to Brough by saying:

“Incidentally, I still have the rose petals in a sherry glass in my office that he gave me the first time I went to WP - although I do not have the courgette he also gave me..!”

I shall always treasure those memories of spending time with Henry, him showing me proudly round his beloved rose garden, and being on the reciprocating end of his wit and kindness. He had such an extraordinary gift with both people and horses, and when you were with him, you always had this sense that you were in the presence of someone special. 

He was not a flawless man, but he was a great one.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Out and about...

A few weeks ago, one of this year’s winners of the Martin Wills Awards, Laura McKibben, wrote to me and said “I’ve been looking at your blog, and wow, you have the dream job!”
This made me think and it would be true to say that during the last few months, which have been really challenging for me personally, my work has been my solace and my joy and the one thing that has kept me motivated to get out of bed in the mornings.  I am always so busy that I rarely have time to think, so I thank Laura for giving me affirmation that I am extremely fortunate in what I have chosen to do for a living!

I met Laura, and the other winners of the 2014 Martin Wills Awards (http://www.willswritingawards.co.uk/) at the Craven meeting in Newmarket and spent an action packed few days with my wonderful friend, Jilly Cooper, who was kind enough to present the awards this year.  As well as an evening dinner at the Jockey Club rooms (stunning), Jilly and I managed to squeeze in a morning visit to David Simock’s yard to see one of Jilly’s favourite horses in training, the 5 year old colt, Caspar Netscher.  He is a Group 2 winner and the horse who went to stud but came back again due to subfertility – being bought back by the same owner he had before for what was probably an inflated price! (a typical Jilly heart-warming story!).

Jilly and Caspar Netscher
It was also great to catch up with Mike Marshall, who was Assistant Trainer to the late Sir Henry Cecil, and who was always so welcoming to me whenever I was at Warren Place during those heady days when Frankel graced our racecourses.  Mike is now working for Martyn Meade and I’m sure he will be a huge success there.  Along with new Irish trainer, Paul Duggan (formerly Alan King’s head lad and now starting out on his own – first winner yesterday!), Mike is one of the people I admire most in racing and who I would send a horse to, had I the spare millions….

Jilly and I once again stayed at the Bedford Lodge Hotel, which has become like a second home to me, and had a fascinating, highly illuminating and hilarious few days.  I have known Jilly for a good number of years now and as well as being brilliantly successful in what she has achieved in life, has been such a wonderful and supportive friend to me and a real kindred spirit. 

I also took Jilly to meet the ‘horse whisperer’, Gary Witheford, as Racing Post are publishing a book on him in the autumn (https://www.facebook.com/notes/liz-ampairee/racing-post-books-to-publish-gary-witheford-life-story/10152316065109694)

This book is one of our most exciting for the autumn made more so as the sublimely gifted Brough Scott is writing it.  Gary’s road has been a rocky one – from an abusive childhood to a troubled youth – but finding salvation and ultimately redemption in this amazing gift he has with horses.  I have been spending some time with Gary and his lovely wife Suzanne at their yard near Marlborough, and cannot emphasise just how strongly I am in awe of what he does, and the way he does it.  Anyone who owns a horse, or has even the remotest interest in horses, should read this book.

My work with the Injured Jockeys Fund continues apace in this, their 50th anniversary year, and I was thrilled with the final results of the DVD that we have made to showcase their work – see link on the homepage http://www.injuredjockeys.co.uk/This DVD has been a long time in the making and we are extremely grateful to our friends at IMG (who produce Channel 4 Racing) for working with us so patiently on this.

C4 Racing continue to be so very supportive and a piece they did from York races last week has already had a dramatic effect in terms of money donated to help find the £3.1 million needed to build Jack Berry House, the IJF’s second rehabilitation and respite centre set to open in Malton at the end of this year.

Waterproofing work for the hydro-pool at Jack Berry House

I have been working with Nigel Bunter and his team at Barbury Castle on their International Horse Trials, 3-6
th July, (http://www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk/) for which the IJF are the benefitting charity.  On Saturday 5th at approx. 4.30pm in the main ring we will host a Celebrity Challenge at which the top jockeys (including AP McCoy and John Francome) will take on the top eventers (names to be announced next week), the top show jumpers and a special hunt team.  They will ride against each other over a set of obstacles (including some water) in a hunt scurry style class and it is set to be highly competitive and loads of fun!  On the Sunday, we will then host a dressage display featuring Laura Collett riding Kauto Star, and injured jockey, IJF beneficiary and para-dressage rider, ED Chanin.  Anyone wanting tickets for the Horse Trials or a VIP lunch on both days do ring 01672 516125 and quote code IJF14 for special prices.

I can’t wait to see Kauto back in action (apparently last year he was a bit on the lively side!) and this is especially thrilling for me as I have two of my own ex-racers at home, one of them being Kings Troop, having himself come from Barbury’s resident trainer, Alan King, and before that, from Sir Henry in Newmarket.  Everything in my life always seems to be connected in some way! 

My two continue to surprise me, although for anyone with, or thinking about, taking on an ex racehorse, especially one with miles on the clock (Kings Troop ran 42 times over five consecutive seasons on both the flat and over jumps), patience is the one thing that is needed over everything else.  Just as soon as they start to come right, you then have to back off them again and give them time.  The satisfaction I get from mine though far outweighs the frustration that is part of the deal, and I have spent quite a few of my recent spring evenings sitting with them in their field watching them graze in this beautiful place we live and contemplating life...  Happiness for me outside such a busy work life is in these very simple things…!

Kings Troop on his first XC outing!