Wed, 29 May 2019
TRAINER Harry Dunlop believes the village of Lambourn has improved vastly with the help of stables across the area.
Dunlop, whose Windsor House stables are located on Crowle Road, in the heart of the village, has been his patch since 2006.
“We have had some great times over the years here, we had our first Group 1 winner in Robin of Navan and I think we have had an array of group winners through the years.”
The likes of Roger Charlton, Nicky Henderson and Ralph Beckett have all spent time at Windsor House and Dunlop believes it’s a great place to be.
“From only a string of horses of between 35 and 40, it has served us really well and, like all these places, they’re historical and other people have been involved.”
Dunlop’s first winner came in November 2006, with a horse called Situla, and since then he has had some big names grace his yard.
And with a whole host of names currently trained by himself, he believes it can be a good year.
“Knight to Behold is in very good shape,” he said. “He ran very well behind a horse called Crystal Ocean at Sandown and we were really pleased with that.
“Oisin Murphy, who comes and rides him, was very pleased and we’re hoping to go for a French Group 1 called Prix d’Ispahan in a couple of weeks.
“For Robin of Navan, we’re looking at the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot and he ran a super race there, finishing third in a listed race.
Meanwhile, Dunlop admitted that Jackfinbar, who has not ran this year, is aiming for a Group 3 listed race over two miles.
The Lambourn trainer enjoyed a successful 2018 and hopes he can emulate that as the 2019 Flat season goes on.
“We had a great year,” said Dunlop. “Moneywise we earnt over £500,000 which included the races in France too.
“It would be fantastic if we could do it again. We have a nice bunch of two-year-olds but there are nice older ones too.”
And Dunlop revealed a couple of upcoming stars that could prove to be a success at Windsor House.
“We have a nice three-year-old called Pride of America who we really like and there is a filly that went to a barrier trial called Golden Lips, who is by Golden Horn who won the Derby in 2015.”
Despite there being a number of trainers within a small area, Dunlop believes the relationship is brilliant and it helps having Newbury Racecourse round the corner.
“There is a great community spirit within the village and Lambourn is on the up,” he said.
“In comparison to Newmarket which has about 70 trainers. But here, there are much less, we don’t have to queue and we have communal gallops which are owned by the Jockey Club estate.
“Newbury is a beautiful track and although they struggled financially at one stage, it has been improved,” said Dunlop. “They have updated the owner and trainers facilities, the saddling boxes and it’s a fantastic track to be involved with.”
Rachel Davies, assistant trainer to Harry Dunlop, enjoys ‘making a difference’ when working day-to-day in the stables.
Originally from Jersey, she has a degree in Equine Science and Thoroughbred Management from Oxford Brookes university.
After a placement year at Andrew Balding’s stables in Kingsclere, Davies joined the Windsor House family in October 2016.
“It is good being an assistant in a smaller yard because you get involved in a lot more and in the bigger yards it’s easier to miss things.
“I am involved with speaking to Harry, I get involved with the racing and I ride which I absolutely love.”
Davies has also passed her Cat A amateur licence course and enjoyed her first ride towards the end of last month.
“I had my first ride on April 28 which was absolutely amazing,” admitted Davies. “That is the plan, I want to do that as well as well as working here.”
From helping Dunlop with the entries to the general running of the yard, Davies has a great relationship with everyone.
“Harry is great to work with and so is Christina,” she said. “When you’re helping Harry, you’re making a difference I guess and the staff are brilliant.
“I’d love for us to have a few more [horses] because we probably have the room to have them.”
Davies spends time in the early morning mucking out before helping assist with things in the office.
And although she enjoys keeping busy, the break over the winter was a well-needed break.
“The jumps get a big break in the summer, we don’t necessarily get that break in the winter because there is still all-weather racing.
“We had a quiet few months over Christmas and into January which is nice for the staff.”
At 5.30am, work commences at Windsor House Stables, the yard currently owned by racing trainer Harry Dunlop.
Stable lass Autumn Georgia Webb is one of many early risers in Lambourn and she is still learning new things every day.
When asked why she decided to go down the racing pathway, she said: “There isn’t a particular reason at all,” she said. “I did work experience at Peter Bowen’s yard for two weeks.
“One of my friends recommended me to here and I have been here a year and learnt a lot in that time.”
At just 18-years-old, Webb partakes in both yard work and ride-outs on the gallops in the heart of Lambourn Valley.
“We come in, starting at 5.30am and muck-out between three and four horses of our own.
“Once we muck-out, we tuck-up at 6.45am and then we go up to the gallops depending on how many people are in.”
There are different times for each gallops visit and Webb explained that they all train differently.
“We’d normally have three or four lots every day, but if you go racing that day you wouldn’t have as many.
“Normally the first and second lots would be in Upper Lambourn and the third and fourth lots would be on fibre sand.”
And trainer Dunlop usually keeps the stable staff with the same horses as it allows them to focus on them more.
“Harry likes to keep you on horses that you ride every day so you can know everything about them because you can then obviously tell if they’re not feeling well or if there is some problem with them.
“Whereas if you change it every day, you may not see the problem, but we do tend to ride the horses that we look after.”
However, some horses are stronger than others and Webb admitted that some riders are paired with them.
“It also depends on your ability because there are some stronger riders and they’ll get the more advanced horses.”
After returning to Windsor House, work continues before breaking off until later in the afternoon.
“Once we have finished, we wouldn’t be back in until 4pm to do the evening stables which consists of mucking out, feeding and brushing the horses over.”