You might remember Katie Bailey as the rider who started off Nip Tuck during her five years as stable jockey for Carl Hester.
But, after taking ‘Barney’ up to prix st georges, she left two years ago to set up on her own. Having also started the competition career of Goodmans Supernova, now ridden by Spencer Wilton, she is in the rare position of having competed half of the Olympic silver-medal-winning team horses, and ridden one of the others (Valegro) at home.
“It’s amazing seeing Barney at the Olympics; I’m really proud,”. she says.
The horse helped her gain recognition, and “really taught me a lot – he’s such a big, sensitive horse”.
Moving from an established base with Carl to strike out alone has not been smooth sailing.
“I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ve had some challenges,” she concedes.
Having moved yards “a few times” Katie is now settled with eight horses on a yard in Broadway, Gloucestershire. Reflecting on the past two years, Katie admits it hasn’t always been easy, as “horses change, owners change” — Katie has both lost rides and taken on new ones — but “it’s all for the good, and I suppose it keeps me on my toes!”
Finding reliable staff who want to stay has been the biggest challenge — Katie is currently advertising for staff to join her team. “I currently have people doing bits and pieces, but finding people who want to stay and not move on can be difficult.”
She is currently doing all the riding herself, before teaching a few days a week or helping Sandy Phillips in the afternoons.
But without access to the top level horses on a yard like Carl’s, Katie admits she “does miss the riding”. She has some promising younger horses coming up through the ranks, including her own five-year-old Hillgrounds Wolkenhall (Wolkenderry x Sandreo), who she will compete tomorrow in the novice silver.
With the freedom of running a yard comes more pressure; “it’s more stressful on your own, and there’s more responsibility – everything is on you.” However, it has its advantages: “I do like being my own boss – I can have a cup of tea when I want!”