Sally Randell and KillimordalySally Randell has just applied for her training licence. For the past year she has been assistant trainer at Andy Turnell's yard on the edge of Broad Hinton - soon she will be taking over the yard.
Turnell, who as a youngster was a star jockey and then became the quiet man of racehorse training, is still recovering from the stroke he had two years ago which paralysed much of his right side. He will be changing to a 'supporting role' at the stables.
He and his wife hit it off with Sally from the word go. He told the Racing Post: "I'm confident this will work. Apart from being a tireless worker, Sally is bringing new owners to the yard."
Turnell 'inherited' his licence from his father who trained at Ogbourne Maizey. But Turnell, who is now 66, moved his training establishment around England, before settling back to Wiltshire and his everyday view of the Hackpen white horse.
Sally had been training point-to-pointers in Wales and when she arrived at the Turnell yard just a year ago, it was empty. While Andy was recovering from his stroke, the horses had gone to other other trainers. Working together closely , Andy, his wife Gilly and Sally have re-built the yard and have been having successes - six winners in the 2014-2015 jump season.
There are now seven horses training in the licensed yard for the summer. In the winter Sally hopes to get that up to sixteen or seventeen.
Sally has completed her three modules at Newmarket's British Racing School. Also on her courses was another soon-to-be trainer from just the other side of Marlborough, champion jockey Richard Hughes.
On the all-weather circuit When Marlborough News Online was at the stables, Sally and amateur jockey Brodie Hampson were riding out the final two horses of the morning. Brodie was on the eight year-old Waddingtown Hero who has had two recent wins in chases at Ffos Las.
"Ffos Las has been good for us," says Sally with a smile. But looking closer at the results tables you find that Waddingtown Hero has come third-first-second-second-first in his last five races - providing quite a tonic for the yard.
Sally was riding the bay gelding Killimordaly - a six year-old named after a village near Galway. His Irish owner, Patsy Hardiman, died recently - very suddenly.
Sally Randell, Donnas Palm, Brodie Hampson His family are keeping Hardiman's other horse, the four year-old Any Destination. But Sally is now forming a syndicate to keep Killimordaly at the yard. He raced over hurdles last season and early in June he came second in a two mile seven furlong chase at Ffos Las.
Brodie, in the earliest of her twenties, has known Sally since she was eleven. Her father was Sally's detachment commander when they were serving with the Royal Artillery. And she met Brodie who kept a pony at the regimental Saddle Club when Sally was there.
They have worked together for five years and Sally believes Brodie has a great future as a jockey. She won her first ever point-to-point race and with six wins over jumps and under rules she came second in the 2014-2015 Amateur Lady Jockeys National Hunt Championship - behind Bridget Andrews.
Sally told us that one of best memories of her year at the stables was seeing the delight on Andy Turnell's face when Brodie rode Aristocracy to a three lengths victory in a hurdle race at Wincanton last November: "He thinks the world of Brodie."
Sally herself was no mean jockey and only announced her retirement earlier this year. In 2009, riding Oakfield Legend, she became the first woman to win Sandown's Grand Military Gold Cup. She won it again in 2014 on Bradley and again this year on Loose Chips.
Another boost to her year has been seeing how Andy made great progress in his recovery once the horses were back in the yard: "He's back to his old self."
He travels to the races with Sally, but gets pretty tired. Every week he goes to Oaksey House, the Injured Jockeys Fund headquarters in Lambourn, for physiotherapy - and he rides with the Lambourn Riding for the Disabled.
Sally says the Turnell training establishment is "A really great yard" and she is very pleased to be taking it over. It has 17 licensed boxes, enough paddocks for the horses to be turned out every day, an under-cover horse walker ("Great for the winter!") and a long all-weather circuit. Further down, the barn has sixteen more horses that Sally plans to keep for point-to-pointers.
Brodie Hampson & Donnas Palm at the Cambridge Harriers Point-to-Point, Cottenham December 2014 (Photo copyright Racehorse Photos) On the day we visited Sally, yard manager Gerald Burton and his son Sam were away on training courses. Sam is just turning sixteen and joins as a novice aiming to be an amateur jockey.
Sally has just appointed Emma Owen to look after the yard's admin and publicity, and she too has been at the Racing School. And Kate Leahy is joining the team soon.
And then we are introduced to Donnas Palm - an eleven year-old grey gelding with a history and now quite a magisterial presence at the yard.
Beginning in 2008, Donnas Palm raced in Ireland and chalked up six wins and three seconds in his first 13 outings. Ridden by such well-known jockeys as Paul Carberry and Barry Geraghty, he won eleven races under rules. Racing in England from April 2013 onwards was not such a success.
He is now trained by Sally for point-to-pointing. In that first race in Ireland at Navan he was ridden by Nina Carberry, so it is fitting that Brodie Hampson has been racing him recently.
Brodie says he is an 'absolutely straightforward horse'. There is, however, a 'but'. If he finds himself in the 'wrong position' with other horses in a race "He simply tries his best to stop." Brodie now has the measure of him and Sally hopes he will be at the yard for the rest of his days.
Thanks to Racehorse Photos for use of their photo of Brodie Hampson and Donnas Palm.
[Click on photos to enlarge them.]
Riding down to the start (photo by kind permission of Betfair)Victoria Pendleton - the 'golden girl' of British cycling - started riding just nineteen weeks ago and at Newbury Racecourse on Thursday evening (July 2) she took part in a charity race - her first outing in public. The flat race, The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake over one mile and five furlongs, was the first on the evening card raising funds for the Key4Life charity.
She said afterwards that she was thrilled with her first ride in a race. She finished eighth in a field of eleven on the eight year-old bay gelding Mighty Mambo - trained by Lawney Hill at her Oxfordshire yard and for whom Victoria is now riding out.
As one seasoned racing correspondent put it: "Few novice riders would even begin to contemplate anything like a public race and fewer still would have sustained such enthusiasm in the face of the inevitable tumbles and petty humiliations that horses deliver." (Chris Cook, The Guardian.)
The walk from the weighing room: Victoria and Charlotte PlunkettPendleton and Mighty Mambo got away rather slowly from the start. But she made some late progress: "I gave him too much to do. There's a really long straight here and I thought some horses would blow out so I wanted to bide my time. It was over too quickly. I wish I could do it again."
The charity race was won by Oratorio's Joy trained by Mr J.A.Osborne and ridden by Maisie Turner, with Charlotte Plunkett (Barbury trainer Alan King's PA) second on Uriah Heap - trained by her boss.
Safely on board - watched by Alan King (at right) The age range of the riders taking part in the charity race was staggering. The youngest was Jacob Jelfs (aged 20) - he rides out for trainer Charlie Hills. And the oldest was Sir Mark Todd (aged 59) New Zealand eventing star based just over the Marlborough Downs at Badgerstown. He almost certainly has more Olympic medals than Ms Pendleton.
The challenge to Victoria Pendleton from Betfair proved to be one she could not refuse. It was not just a challenge to switch from bicycle to horse, but to become a race jockey.
Once she had retired from competitive cycling after the London Olympics, she had been looking for a challenge - perhaps a challenge a little more atuned to her skills and love of speed than Strictly Come Dancing. Betfair provide it: they wanted to find "an unexpected and entertaining perspective on horse racing, while also profiling the skills, athleticism and courage faced by jockeys every day."
Training is hard work: riding out (Betfair photo) Victoria & AP McCoyBetfair assembled a team of experts to make sure Victoria could reach their ambitious target. The team included chef d'equipe of the British eventing team, Yogi Breisner, trainer Lawney Hill, para-dressage rider Tamsin Addison, champion trainer and Betfair ambassador Paul Nichols. Oh, and she had some words of wisdom from another retired champion - AP McCoy.
At 34-years-old, Victoria had been riding bicycles since she was three-years-old and had only had the occasional holiday pony ride. Her record made her Britain's most successful woman Olympic athlete, so she certainly knows about the hard work and dedication the change of saddles would involve.
[To enlarge click on image]The Betfair challenge aims to get Victoria ready to take part in the Foxhunters Amateur Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. On the way she will have more charity races before she goes to the British Racing School to see whether she qualifies for an amateur's licence. And before the end of 2015 she hopes to be able to have some point-to-point rides.
Betfair's Mark Ody, is more than hopeful she will make the Cheltenham race: "With Victoria's Olympic pedigree, our support network, a lot of hard work, we're all hugely confident that we'll be cheering Victoria on in the Foxhunters Amateur at Cheltenham Festival 2016."
The George Frewer Charity Race at Newbury (sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation) was in memory of George Frewer, who died in a freak accident on what would have been his 17th birthday. His passion was horse racing. To date over of £450,000 has been raised in his memory.
Kauto Star and Laura Collett in July 2013Kauto Star - the gelding who won races and racegoers' hearts - has been put down after falling in the paddock and suffering severe neck and pelvis injuries.
The British eventer Laura Collett announced his death on Twitter.
The 15-year-old had been retired from racing in 2012 and Laura Collett had successfully retrained him in dressage.
Kauto Star and Laura gave a dressage display at the Barbury Horse Trials last year. And in March they appeared together in publicity for Channel 4's Cheltenham Festival coverage - along with Denman, Big Bucks and Masterminded.
Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice. He won 23 of his 41 races, including five King George VI Steeplechases.
Kauto Star's owner, Clive Smith told BBC Radio 5 live: "It is really devastating - he was looking fit and well at Laura Collett's yard. The main injury was to the neck, as it gets worse it attacks the spinal cord. He also fractured his pelvic bone. A really sad time indeed."
"He had a great talent for never giving up. He wanted to win. With jockey Ruby Walsh riding him, he put this massive effort in at the end of races. He had a heart of a lion."
Richard Hughes and the championship trophyRichard Hughes will be moving away from his Marlborough home (well, Collingbourne Ducis really) sooner than planned - he wants to get started as a trainer this autumn. Yet he still wants to be champion jockey - for the fourth year running.
In his Racing Post column (Friday, June 26), Hughes revealed he had completed his formal training to become a trainer, his yard just over the border at Danebury in Hampshire was ready and he was looking forward to buying his first horses at the July sales: "I cannot allow my training career to be jeopardised by my championship ambitions."
Hughes is currently on 37 winners for this flat race season. That puts him level with Silvestre de Sousa. But Ryan Moore is ahead with 47 victories.
Following his Racing Post column, Richard Hughes is no longer odds on to win the championship. He is now a 5-1 chance.
"The truth is, I absolutely cannot wait to train. I had thought I would aim to kick off next year, but my thinking has changed and my ambition is to saddle my first runners in September or October." He stresses he is still a committed jockey - and wants to win the championship: "...I'll continue to give 100 per cent to every horse I ride."
Hughes will be training on the site of Stockbridge racecourse. This has a long and formidable history - but it is pretty ancient history.
The racecourse closed in 1898. You can still see a small reminder of the abandoned Victorian stand which burnt down some decades ago. Racehorses have been trained at Danebury for many years - its stables boast a Derby and a Grand National winner. Though the Derby winner was Andover in 1836 and the Grand National winner was Playfair in 1888.
Hughes will be taking over Ken Cunningham-Brown's Danebury yard: "Ken would love nothing more than for Danebury to get back on the map and to one day rival Manton - and it could, because it really is that good."
It has 300 acres of grass gallops, a one-mile peat gallop, a one-mile woodchip, a round half-mile sand gallop and a five-furlong straight gallop going through the woods.
Richard Hughes already has promises from several owners that they will send horses to him. He rounded off his column: "I hope you can tell how eager and excited I am. I love being a jockey, but I know I will love being a trainer every bit as much."