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First Dates on the Gallops – Meeting your horse for the very first time

Written by

In The Paddock Staff

Posted on April 4, 2018

One of the greatest pleasures for any racehorse owner, big or small, is the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see your horse in work or in play at the stables.

We caught up with Will Gatenby, a winner of a share in one of the successful and ever‐popular Racegoers Club Owners Group syndicates in a competition run by Great British Racing.

Last week, he visited the Jackdaws Castle base of top trainer Jonjo O’Neill and here’s what he made of the experience. “I’ve been a follower of horse racing for a long time, and I love to go racing whenever I can, but this was my first‐ever visit to a stable,” he said.

“It was quite a long drive for us to get down there, but it was worth every mile because the facilities were fantastic and I found myself in awe of the yard and all of the riders and horses we saw.

“When I won the competition, I got a share in a horse called Marmalade Mist and although we had a couple of occasions when she was about to get to the track, it hasn’t worked out and recently Jonjo took the decision that in his view she needed more time and just wasn’t ready to be a racehorse.

“I think the plan is now for her go back to her breeder, but we got to see her at the yard and meet her. I guess the experience just goes to show how hard it is to even get a horse to the track.

“But Jonjo has already found us a replacement, a lovely bay filly called Call The Midwife, and we saw her both in the indoor school and outdoor school and watched her do a couple of loops around. She’s only recently arrived at the yard from Martin Jones, who breaks in a lot of horses for Jonjo.

“We also had the opportunity to see some of other facilities, like the amazing equine swimming pool he has, and to meet some of the best‐known horses in the yard, for example Minella Rocco.”

Gatenby’s working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, enabling him to go racing on some of the sport’s biggest days. Living in Pontefract, he is a keen visitor of the local racetracks and also plans to head to Newmarket for a first visit to 2000 Guineas day next month.

The question is now whether or when he will get to go racing as an owner for the very first time, with Call The Midwife hopefully lined up to make her debut in a bumper by the end of the summer.

“Ownership is something that I hadn’t really looked at closely before, although I got to meet some of the other owners in our syndicate at Jonjo’s and my impression was certainly that everyone was very friendly – even if I did feel a bit young!

“We were taken up to the owners’ room at Jackdaws Castle at the end of our visit and it was an impressive place. We certainly felt as if we had been well looked after – it’s something I think we could get used to!”


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