We visit Neil King's Barbury yard and meet up with new Assistant Trainer, Hetta Stevens
Hetta Stevens is the new assistant trainer with Neil King at Barbury. The Wroughton trainer is also aiming to build on success with jockey Bryony Frost over the Winter. Bryony showed up at Neil’s Ridgeway Racing yard at Upper Hersdwick Farm on the Marlborough Downs on Sunday.
He had invited guests and owners to view the stunning location overlooking the downs at the start of Racehorse Week this Sunday. Hetta Stevens has recently joined the team and lives half a mile down from the yard with her own yard,breaking in new horses.
“Assistant trainer is somebody who assist the trainer with the day to running of the yard, organising staff and horses and overseeing general training. “I am originally from Norfolk but found my way here after relocating from Surrey where I trained racehorses with my ex-husband Oliver Stevens. “We trained for Qatar racing to a high level and did well for a couple of years. “I came here to set up my own business and wanted to get in to the proper racing side of things.
“At this time of the year I take in yearling racehorses from the sales and teaching them how to take a rider for the first time. I try to work closely with owners and trainers.
“Each horse has its own unique personality. Some want hugs - others don’t want to talk and it is getting to know each individual horse. Some require confidence others don’t and it my work involved figuring that out.”
She is in the vanguard of attracting more owners to the successful yard. “All owners are fabulous - we’d like more please!”
The day saw all the horses in training at the yard paraded out, but Neil King’s introduction to the 100 strong crowd was tinged with sadness. He broke down when explaining that the much-loved Lil Rockerfeller died from a heart attack moments after finishing 2nd in a race at French racecourse Auteil. He won 11 races in all.
“He is so missed,” Neil said, choking back the tears. “He was such a good friend to me.”
The full staff complement was also out on show, with new hires in conditional jockey Kai Lenihan and Bradley Paris-Crofts hired in as racing groom from Emma Lavell’s yard.
Rebekah Duffy, 19, only learned to ride a year and half ago. She’s now a racing groom at the yard. Both her brothers are in racing - one Point to Points, the other in stud farm. “I went to Racing School last year at Newmarket. It is a bit different out working but I am loving it. “They have looked after me so well here and hopefully one day I’ll be a jockey. I’d love to race in the Grand National one day.”