Trainer Phil Rowley and jockey Alex Edwards have enjoyed success between the flags over recent years and they finished last season as the champion trainer and jockey.
As the new point-to-point season kicks off, H&H visited the pair at Phil's Shropshire base to discover the secrets to their success. Here's a sneak peek behind the scenes at their training set-up.
One to watch…
Levasseur is tacked up ahead of the morning lot, while Champagne Lilly (left) looks on. Phil names five-year-old Champagne Lilly as a horse to follow this season: “She is a pretty, talented filly, who took time to mature but is unbeaten to date,” he said.
In the office…
Phil takes a look at the diary and does paperwork in the on-site office once all the horses have been worked.
The farrier visits the horses at Rowley Racing at Poplar Cottage Farm near Bridgnorth in Shropshire.
Home sweet home…
Happy horses relax in the spacious and airy American-style barns at the yard, which used to be a sheep farm with only one shed. Phil has transformed it into a thriving training set-up, now boasting four barns with stabling for up to 65 horses.
Time for a bath…
Horses are washed down after morning exercise on the gallops.
A morning dip…
Champion point-to-point rider and the stable jockey at Rowley Racing, Alex Edwards, walks Now Ben through Mor Brook, a stream with a gentle current that runs through the farm: “We walk the horses up the brook and it cools their legs down, esprcially after cantering. It also helps the older horses to chill out,” said Phil.
All of the Rowley horses start their morning lots in the 20x60m sand school, which also has mirrors, doing some flatwork. Phil believes it is vital to build the horses’ core strength through flatwork — an influence of his dressage rider wife, Mel, who schools the horses weekly.
Catch up with the boss
Phil chats to his team of work riders during the morning, before heading out to the gallops.
Chilling in the field
The horses benefit from being turned out in the paddocks on the 75-acre farm following their work in the morning, allowing them some downtime.
On the gallops
Phil watches his string work up the five-furlong all-weather gallop set amid the stunning Shropshire countryside.
Don’t miss our ‘Point-to-point special’ in the 22 November issue of Horse & Hound, we visit Phil Rowley and Alex Edwards at home and more — on sale now.