Buying a thoroughbred from the sales ring and turning it into a top-class racehorse is no simple feat for a racehorse trainer — it takes hard-work, commitment and some perseverance.
Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Denise Lewis witnesses this first-hand when she goes behind-the-scenes at the renowned racing yard of Sir Michael Stoute in Newmarket — racing’s headquarters in Suffolk — and finds out what the winning formula really is.
“The more time I spend with these incredible athletes, the more I love the sport,” says Denise, who owns racehorses as part of a syndicate.
“Being able to go behind-the-scenes with one of the biggest names in the racing and discover just how these incredible equine athletes train, recover and prepare for big races is what I love the most,” she says.
With around 120 horses in residence at Manor Farm Stables in Somerset, it’s a 24-7 job for Champion National Hunt…
So what does it take to produce a champion racehorse?
“It’s a very long and slow process,” says 10-times champion trainer Sir Michael. “After being bought at the sales it is about four or five weeks before we ride them.
“Then there is a lot of trot work before we canter them. It is a very steady progression and takes observation. Science is being introduced into racehorse training, but there is a lot of intuition and horsemanship,” he adds.
“As an athlete I understand the attention to detail and care that goes into training. Speaking with Sir Michael about the training process really emphasised for me the similarities between my own training and that of a racehorse,” says Denise.
“There is a whole team working together to ensure the horse — as an athlete — is in the best possible condition come raceday and the excitement around big days like QIPCO British Champions Day is palpable. It’s these similarities with my own experience that have really drawn me to horse racing,” she adds.