Horses loose in barns and lucky onions — the secrets behind a champion’s yard

  • You might imagine a multi-championship-winning point-to-point yard to have pristine stables, a state-of-the-art gallop track and an ever-ending list of staff — but in this case, you’d be mistaken.

    Herds of horses residing in barns, raw onions to keep infection at bay and family members doing the bulk of the work — here are the three secret ingredients to jockey-turned-trainer Jacqueline Coward’s success:

    1. Natural living — and no vices

    Loose Housing for the horses at Jacqueline Coward family farm of Low Moor Farm in the village of Dalby near York in Yorkshire, UK on 11 th November 2016

    All horses live in herds in barns. Oats and hay are ad-lib and the door is open so that they can wander in and out of the field. A herd of seven geldings reside in one barn and five live in another. The main barn is sectioned off using electric tape for those equines who prefer their own space.

    “There’s a pecking order in the barns and I wouldn’t suddenly throw a new one in there — that’s how kicks happen,” says Jacqueline.

    None are prone to filled legs, stiffness or vices, something she puts down to the way they live.

    “It doesn’t suit them all though. Amicelli [2012 ladies’ open Cheltenham winner] hated it; he was miserable so he got his own box instead. It’s about knowing each horse and working out what is best for the individual.”

    2. Lucky raw onions


    A bright orange bag of onions hangs in each barn.

    “They’re Mum’s idea,” explains Jacqueline. “Supposedly the onions absorb bacteria and infection. One year they died and nothing ran well, then last season we put the onions back out and I had a good season. So now the onions are a must.”

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    3. Family and the farm

    It’s very much a family affair. Jacqueline’s mother, Cherry, trained 195 winners and is still hands-on with the horses.

    Older sister Samantha, who runs her own Beryle Crockery Hire business, is responsible for the office work and also rides out. Their grandfather, successful racehorse trainer Mick Easterby, lives nearby too.

    The Cowards moved into their Yorkshire farm in 2000. There’s no all-weather gallop track, but grass alongside the long country lane leading to the farm is ideal for fast work. Plus there’s 150 acres for hacking and schooling over fences.

    Jacqueline has been crowned Yorkshire’s leading lady jockey nine times and overall point-to-point champion once. She has ridden more than 150 winners and last season finished top lady trainer of eight or more pointers in her debut season as a trainer.

    Don’t miss the full feature in this week’s point-to-point special (24 November), which includes a full season fixtures list and much more

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