Racehorse owner Gordon Hall might be missing going racing in the UK at the moment, but he is being kept busy courtesy of his construction company, which has been drafted in to convert warehouses and buildings into critical care wards during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Work aside, Gordon’s passion is as an owner, seeing his horses flourish in their respective disciplines, and he and his wife, Su, may very well be among the luckiest horse owners out there.
Within the space of 12 months, Gordon and Su purchased, just by chance, a showjumper and a racehorse, who would both reach the highest echelons of their sports.
“I have always been involved in horses and rode as a teenager, but then didn’t get back into riding until my 40s when I started hunting alongside my wife and family,” says Gordon, who is now a master of the Readyfield Bloodhounds (pictured, below).
“I would watch the racing on TV during Saturday afternoons. Kauto Star was the first racehorse that I followed closely and got me into the sport. Then at a hunting charity boxing night, I got chatting to a friend about wanting to own a racehorse, and he suggested we go to Ireland to have a look at some.”
In Ireland, the pair looked at around 20 horses before coming across a “tiny bay horse” called Truckers Lodge.
“He had won a point-to-point and looked lovely, with a really nice walk. But they wanted £120,000 for him and I said ‘no chance’ – it was way out of my budget,” adds Gordon. “So we left and went to look at some other horses. But as we were about to head home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the little bay horse. So we met the trainer at a pub for a drink and managed to get the price down to something more reasonable.”
The son of Westerner made the trip across the Irish Sea and was put in-training with Tom George, winning on his under Rules debut in a bumper at Chepstow in April 2017.
At the end of the 2017/18 jump season, the couple moved the now eight-year-old to Paul Nicholls’ Ditcheat yard in Somerset. ‘Trucker’ continued to flourish and went on to win his biggest race to date, the Midlands National, in March under Lorcan Williams – having also finished second to Potters Corner in the Welsh National in December.
“He’s a little horse but he’s as hard as nails,” muses Gordon. “He’s never been out of the top four in his racing career to date. Under Rules, he’s had 15 runs and won six of them. In total, he’s won over £107,000 in prize money for us.
“We’ve really hit the jackpot with him as our first racehorse. I know friends in syndicates who have had more than 20 horses, none of whom have been even nearly as good as Trucker.”
The gelding’s trainer now has his sights set on the Grand National as the ultimate aim, which Gordon describes as “equally terrifying as exciting”.
“Trucker is a lovely, staying type but looks like a show pony – he’s diminutive like Tiger Roll. It has been crazy from the start and he’s provided us with so much joy. My gut instinct was definitely telling me something in Ireland when I couldn’t leave him behind.”
His success as an owner was only strengthened when he got involved in showjumping, again by chance.
“I met Graham Smith and his wife, showjumper Holly Smith, through hunting with the Readyfield Bloodhounds a few years back,” exlplains Gordon. “When Holly unfortunately broke her leg, she lost many of her owners and was in bits. Su and I decided to get involved in the yard as owners, and one day a lady brought Hearts Destiny to Graham and Holly’s stables. She trialled him for a week and it was clear they clicked straight away.”
‘Ted’ has taken Gordon and Su around the world as owners after they bought him for Holly following the trial period, jumping against some of the best horses in the world and winning at grand prix level, while also competing on Nations Cup teams.
“He’s a big horse, standing at 18hh, but Holly has spent time on him. We live close to her yard in Leicestershire and she will often hack over on Ted for us to spoil him with mints,” adds Gordon, who has purchased a few more horses since and is always on “the lookout” for more.
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“All of our horses come back to our 200-acre farm for their summer holidays – their shoes come off and they have a nice break. We fell into both sports as owners, but have been so lucky with the success we’ve enjoyed and met some great people along the way.”
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