Pointing: young trainer Chloe Boxall is going places - with her string of six horses
With the point-to-point season in full - if wet - swing and with racing again at Barbury Racecourse on February 9 (The Vine and Craven meeting), Jake Exelby visits young point-to-point trainer Chloe Boxall in Lambourn.
Chloe Boxall is a young point-to-point trainer who has an impressive strike rate, with three winners and three placings from just seven runners in the previous two seasons.
After a successful riding career in Britain which resulted in 11 winners between the flags and eight under rules, she moved to America to ride there before re-entering the pointing arena in 2018.
Having saddled just three horses in the past two campaigns, she has expanded her string to six at her Lambourn yard this year, so I decided to find out more about a lady who is clearly going places.
Chloe has lined up an impressive string of work riders when I arrive at Coppington Stables: “I moved here in the close season having had a smaller yard before. I’ve got the best of both worlds because, although I train in Lambourn, I’m at the other end of the village to most of the yards. So it’s quiet and away from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to use the excellent facilities!”
Chloe is on board Always On The Ball and I’m also greeted by professional jockey Mark Grant (Enjoy Responsibly), former Oliver Sherwood conditional turned amateur again Harry Beswick (Rock N Bell), Sherwood’s assistant trainer Andy Llewellyn (Draft Pick) and “my head girl” Janine Hamilton (Chicoria).
Janine - who has worked mostly in flat racing, travelling horses round the world - is keen to play down her role in the yard: “I’m just a friend of Chloe’s who drives her to the races and helps out when needed.”
Chloe grew up in Lincolnshire: “I’m not from a horse-y family, but was interested in horses from a young age and it wasn’t just a passing fad. Steve Gollings was advertising for a weekend girl when I was 15, then I joined him full-time when I left school – I had no interest in anything else.”
Chloe’s introduction to pointing came through the legendary Jill Dawson, for whom she also worked: “Jill taught me a lot. I joined her around the time of Upham Lord and had my first ride for her on Thunderpoint in 2005. He was an old schoolmaster who I bought for just £500, but he broke down, which wasn’t a great start.”
When Chloe left Lincolnshire, she went to work for David Gandolfo, for whom she eventually became head girl: “He had pointing contacts and also gave me the chance to ride under rules.”
Indeed, Chloe had more rides on professional tracks than she did between the flags and cites her win on Kings Troop, owned by Henry Ponsonby and trained by Alan King, at Newbury in 2012 as her career highlight.
“It took me a long time to ride my first winner,” Chloe smiles. “I think I was at the top of the Racing Post ‘cold jockeys’ list!” Her debut success came on Candarli in December 2007 and the pair won three races that season: “He was tiny, but brilliant. He really got me going.”
Chloe’s Category B licence enabled her to ride against professionals and she had two winners in that arena. “It was a good buzz,” she smiles. “I liked riding under rules – it was more professional. In points, you might have 18 runners with 17 wanting to make it and you could more or less do what you want. Having said that, a nice ride in a Ladies Open is better than a yak under rules!”
Successful associations with Geoffrey Deacon and Kate Buckett – trainer of Armoury House – followed, before Chloe moved to Oliver Sherwood’s yard as pupil assistant.
She obviously got the hang of training quickly, as her first winner came back in 2012, Bellosguardo at Chaddesley Corbett: “He was a fun horse who was also placed in a couple of Hunter Chases. I enjoyed training, but was focusing more on riding at the time.”
Which was why she waited nearly six years to have her next runner, Santa’s Secret: “He was ex-Oliver Sherwood and was given to me. Having him got me the training bug back, then Andy got It’s A Sting and decided he wanted to be a jockey. “I got the bug too,” he laughs. “And now I’m assistant to Chloe as well as Oliver!” “Andy comes to ride out every day,” she confirms. “I couldn’t do it without him.”
Chloe admits she doesn't want to train under rules: “I love training pointers, taking older horses like Net Work Rouge and getting them to enjoy racing again, and I’d also like to have Hunter Chase winners. I wouldn’t mind having 20 horses and it would be nice to have more owners."
"Syndicates are a good experience if you don’t want a full horse, although it’s difficult to convert people from interest into actually taking part!” Chloe is also keen on the increasing presence of young horses in point-to-points.
She admires the strides that fellow young trainers are making in these directions, laughing: “If I could be anywhere near as good as Tom and Gina (Ellis) and Fran and Charlie (Poste), I’d be happy.”
Talking of happy, Chloe reveals her secret to keeping her horses sweet. “We treat them as individuals,” she advises. “We turn them out, do different things every day, canter them on grass verges, pop them over logs…”
Chloe’s love of the amateur side of pointing clearly influences her first priority, should she be in a position of power in the sport: “I’d have more of the Grassroots Hunter Chases restricted to point-to-point keepers. It’s so hard to win them – and the likes of Paul Nicholls have so many other races they can win!”
Chloe is a big fan of the allowance for novice riders in Opens, and the increase in Novice Riders races, although one innovation she would like to see is more Mares races, while another bugbear is entry fees.
“They can be ridiculously expensive and, although it’s good to win a nice trophy, prize money hasn’t changed. It cost me £80 to enter Chicoria in two races at Barbury. And you often have to enter at multiple meetings in search of the right ground. Cocklebarrow is good – you just pay £25 to enter, then another £20 to declare to run.”
“Mind you,” she concludes. “We don't do it for the money. I come in here at 5.30 every morning and the horses all greet me by whinnying and neighing. There’s nothing better!”
Chloe’s Six Stars
Always On The Ball
"An ex-Irish pointer who was second twice in Maidens then went to Charlie Longsdon’s, but lost his way. Ran at Bangor-on-Dee at the weekend and should come on for that run and be able to win."
Won three hurdles and a chase and, unusually for a Presenting, he’s a mud lover, so will run where it’s soft. "He’s a perfect Novice Riders horse – I like to give young lads a chance – and ran well enough at Barbury and Bangor-on-Dee."
"He is one! [Clue: it’s a spoonerism]. He’s got a high cruising speed, but doesn’t quicken and is a bit of a monkey. He’s like a teenage boy – you have to kid him not beat him! Coming from James Ridley’s yard, I’m not going to improve him, but he’s sound and, while he’s no world-beater, he should win a Restricted. Made his debut for me at Larkhill."
Ex-Oliver Sherwood and rated over 130. "Andy will ride him early in the season and we’ll try to qualify for Aintree – Harry would ride him there. Has won over two-and-a-half miles and been placed over three, is very handsome and jumps for fun."
Net Work Rouge
Injured after his second win but has come back in now and should be ready to run at Easter. "He’ll run in Novice Riders races and hopefully qualify for the series final at Edgcote, which was the original plan last year."
Rock N Bell
"An unraced eight-year-old who’s been in training but is very fragile and has had all sorts of problems. By Laverock and another owned by Bart. He’s got a nice attitude and we just want to get him to the races in one piece."