Big Brother contestant Isabella Farnese has spoken about how much she missed her horse while in the house, and will always want to ride work no matter what opportunities her new career path presents.
The 23-year-old winning jockey and work rider, who also shows her Welsh section D stallion Taraco Firecracker, left the show last week following a surprise “twist” eviction by housemate Cameron.
“I really missed it [being around the horses],” said Isabella, who trained at a racing college and has a win at Chelmsford on her record. “I visited my horse a couple of days ago and he’s so beautiful.
“He doesn’t always eat well and when I was in the house I was worrying about him — I kept stroking a little orange horse statue they had saying ‘good boy Cracker’ because I missed him so much.”
Isabella, who is based in Great Yarmouth, is more usually found getting up at 4.30am to ride four lots for trainer Charlie Fellows, but decided to pursue a more glamorous path.
“In racing, people kept saying to me that I shouldn’t be doing it and should be doing other things,” she said. “I wear make-up while I’m on the horses and I’m known as being a bit glam and fluffy even though I ride out.
“I previously got on to a show called Survival of the Fittest but I didn’t end up going through with it, and then I just thought ‘I’m going to apply for Big Brother’ even though I doubted I’d be chosen from all the thousands of applicants.”
Despite turning up to auditions “sweaty and shiny-faced and smelling like a horse”, Isabella was offered a spot on the show but initially declined because her grandfather was facing heart surgery.
“I was originally supposed to go in from the beginning but couldn’t,” she explained. “Then the producers called me on launch night saying they still wanted me, and I was given just 48 hours’ notice before going in.”
She described her time in the house as “hard” but something she would “do all over again”.
“I have such a busy life outside, I have to do this, do that, get Cracker in,” she said. “Inside the house there is nothing to do and you don’t even know what the time is, it’s like you’re in a Sims game. It’s an environment that’s designed to encourage you to bitch.”
Isabella said she was nervous when she left the house over how she would be received as she had no way of knowing what edits had been shown.
“I was mortified when I first saw my bio and I thought ‘what have you done to me Big Brother!’ But I think they did that on purpose so I could prove it wrong.
“When people first meet me they say I have a frosty and stuck-up aura, but I’m so far from that and I feel like that showed through,” she added. “I only had one nasty message out of thousands.”
Isabella has worked in the racing industry since she was 16, riding for trainers including Sir Michael Stout and Ed Walker, and said she spoke about it a lot while on the show.
Viewers have joked that they are voting for Tony the Shetland pony to win the Channel 5 reality television show
David Bellis took a selfie with his three-year-old son on a public footpath, which was “photobombed” by a horse in
“I spoke about people thinking it’s cruel and explained that where I work the horses all love their job — they’re not forced to do anything and if they need a break, they get turned out in the field. I listen to the horses, if they buck I know they’re feeling well. They are bred to run; that’s what they love doing. They are treated like kings,” she said.
Isabella is hoping the show will be the gateway to new opportunities and already has some offers in the pipeline.
“I’m hoping one day to be involved with something like Made In Chelsea, I’d love to be on that. I’d also like to do some equestrian modelling and I’d love for Cracker to get some work too! He’s like a Barbie pony.
“No matter where life takes me though, I always see myself going back and having a few days on a racing yard every week.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.