With well over 40 winners and almost half a million in prize-money on the cards already, the team at Michael Owen‘s Manor House Stables are enjoying a vintage season. H&H visits the Cheshire yard to meet Michael and trainer Tom Dascombe — and to find out what the daily timetable looks like for the team.
5.30am: Horses fed.
6am: “I come out and have a cup of tea,” says Dascombe. “Make sure everyone’s at work, liaise with the head lads and make sure all the horses have eaten, which horses haven’t, why haven’t they eaten? Have they got a temperature? Every horse has its temperature taken morning and evening. Any horses that ran the day before are trotted up to check they’re sound.”
7am: First lot followed immediately by second lot. “We tend to keep it in the order of older horses, then two-year-old colts, two-year-old fillies then fourth lot is sick, lame and lazy! So fourth lot have probably all gone for a swim during first lot and they go for a trot as fourth lot.”
Around 9.30am: “The lads stop for breakfast after second lot and that’s when we do all the race declarations [48hr ahead of the race] and five day entries — the deadline is 10am for decs and 12 for entries. I talk to Lizzie my secretary, giving her an email dictating to the owners that ran yesterday and the ones we’ve got declared to run in two day’s time — and I need to answer the phone a lot!”
12pm: After third and fourth lots, the horses have their second feed of the day then it’s time for them to have a rest.
12.30pm: Lunch. “Michael will come out of his on-site office and he and I will go out for lunch at one of our fantastic local pubs and we’ll chat about horses.”
4pm: Staff come back and they each have four horses to look after. “They might have one swimming, it might be in the spa, go out in the paddock — or going out for a pick of grass if they can’t be turned out. We tend not to worry too much about brushing them over, picking their feet out — they should be tidy from the morning anyway. I like them to be doing stuff rather than standing there being brushed which isn’t going to make any difference to them. It makes more sense than just standing there making them look pretty. Then they’ll get mucked out.”
6pm: Third feed of the day
10pm: Final feed. “Then I go around turning all the lights off. We leave the lights on till then all the year round so they always think it’s summer. It helps with their coats. My favourite time of year is winter, breaking the yearlings and getting them going,” says Dascombe. “That’s when you’ve got all the dreams of ‘This could be’ – and then the reality sets in that actually none of them are as good as you thought! But that’s the exciting time.”
To read the full interview with Michael Owen, see this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (24 July 2014)