Leading showman Robert Walker’s Cheshire yard may not be top-notch and modern like you might expect for someone producing consistently top results, but Sandy Brow Stables is steeped in history
1. Sandy Brow Stables was set up in 1905 by Lord Wavertree. He founded the National Stud 10 years later by donating his bloodstock to the British Government.
2. The property is split across two yards and there are 48 stables in total, with post-and-rail paddocks in between.
“I try and keep the number of horses we have around 25,” says Robert. “I’ve always said I will never fill all 48 stables because I like to be hands and I don’t want to miss things.”
3. The outdoor arena. Robert keeps his horses’ work varied with flatwork, popping a pole, cantering and hacking.
4. Before this building was converted into a house, the 1887 Grand National winner, Game Cock, lived in the end stable. The James Gordon-trained thoroughbred, who was ridden by Bill Daniels and owned by E Jay, hacked to the race and stayed overnight, before winning a handicap and coming home the next day.
5. A translucent ceiling on the barn means plenty of light filters through. However, all of the stables are due to be knocked down next year so that the owners can build on the land.
“I’ll be sad to leave as there is so much history here. We want to stay nearby — Cheshire is home now,” says Robert, who was born in Yorkshire.
6. Robert’s son takes his two-year-old sister for a ride. Sam, 11, is on his hunting pony, Timmy, while Izzy rides Mrs P. Robert was a keen Shetland pony racer when he was eight.
“My first ride was at Kempton Park and I fell off,” he recalls. “My pony, Ben Nevis, had asthma and wheezed a lot. There weren’t as many rules then so you could really race and it was a lot of fun.”
7. Robert’s hunting roots are evident around the yard, including a fox weather vane above the stable entrance and a fox-head door knocker.
8. Sandy Brow Stables is surrounded by busy roads and hacking is limited, but Team Walker has a sandy canter track to help keep horses fit.
9. The family’s home is on the right of this picture, with direct access out on to the yard.
10. Photographs of successful show horses adorn the walls outside the utility room and inside the house.
Don’t miss the full interview with Robert in the current issue of Horse & Hound magazine (24 September 2015)