Sunday 25 August 2019

Stable tour - Sam England

According to Wikipedia, Guiseley, West Yorkshire is responsible for producing the likes of Harry Ramsden, who once opened the 'world's biggest fish and chip shop' (it's now part of the Wetherby Whaler chain) and Tasmin Archer, who once sung about Swinging Satellites.

I'd like to add the name Samantha England, nee Drake, to that illustrious list, a young trainer quietly making a name for herself alongside husband and jockey Jonathan, with 43 winners (and counting) over jumps in less than five years.

Sam rode plenty of winners as an amateur and conditional but was soon training a few between the flags, and was essentially in charge of a handful of horses running under her dad's name in the early years (father Richard was a dairy farmer.)

Success was instant and the yard has recorded double-digit winners for the past three seasons, last term being their best both in terms of numbers and prize-money won.

There is no secret formula (according to Jonny, who wouldn't tell me even if there was!) but the quiet old farm on the edge of town is the ideal spot for horses who have struggled under tougher regimes at bigger stables.

The Englands have done a fine job resurrecting the careers of jaded types like Raktiman, Distime and Western Jo, buying cheap cast-offs and turning them into serial winners.

Crocks, mentalists, bleeders, they are all here. They each get the sort of care and attention not possible in the big factories down south, resulting in nine individual winners in the 2018/19 campaign.

Not wanting to stand still, the couple are investing in an equine pool which will be operational soon, exciting times for a trainer whose horses aren't always up to the stresses of traditional training methods.

They have a four furlong round gallop on the property which is sand-based with added carpet, and it looks like hard work. For faster work they are able to use the gallops of Sue and Harvey Smith in nearby Bingley, where Jonny spent time as a conditional recording a season's best 22 six years ago.

They have three easy-fix jumps to use on the sand gallop in addition to further schooling grounds and an outdoor arena for loose schooling and breaking. With plenty of space in which to turn them out, you can see why the place is full of happy horses.

Jonny says they've easily got room for 10-15 more and I suggest they'll continue to fill boxes if they keep sending out winners as regularly as they have been doing.

And with 'Saturday horse' Chef D'Oeuvre leading them into battle, it promises to be another successful season at Manor Farm.

The horses (in the words of Sam and Jonny)

An absolute legend, who won twice and was second three times last season. Has bled in the past which can affect their confidence and we try to let him do his own thing. We thought he was a soft ground horse but his wins came on better.

Wishfull Dreaming
Does really well just to get up in the morning as he’s very fragile with lots of wear and tear. We’ve never galloped him and is the sort of horse we had in mind when deciding to invest in the swimming pool. Owned by my Dad and has been really consistent, jumps well. (JE)

She’s had her problems and is another who should be easier to train in the pool, she’s nightmare about the place but as sweet as anything once she’s on the track. Has plenty of size and scope so will hopefully win over fences if we can keep the wheels on.

He’s been on the go this summer but he’s a horse I like, we always thought he’d be okay. Travelled well with me at Market Rasen but he emptied out in the straight and we may go back in trip for now. That was a decent race though. (JE)

Chef D’Oeuvre
We got him for a knock-down price because he was found to have a small problem after going through the sales ring. He’d been ridden positively his whole life so we tried something different and it paid off at Haydock. Not short of toe but stays well and he doesn’t ride like he needs soft ground despite having a high knee action. May start off in the Becher Chase and go from there – he’s a pleasure to have around.

Ask Paddy
Won three times for us over hurdles before picking up an injury, but he came back last winter and he jumps fences really well. Three times we’ve taken him to Wetherby and he’s run badly, so we’ll be keeping to sharp tracks.

The Linksman
Cost £1,200 and is barely rideable, we took ages trying to get him to settle but he wasn’t having any of it so I let him run away with me and he won twice. We were up against Knocknanuss on his chase debut and I shouldn’t have restrained him because he made a mistake and suffered an injury. Could be anything. (JE)

Gatacre Street
Only modest but I’d like to think we can win a race or two with him, probably on heavy ground and more than three miles. He was sick after he ran last time and we haven’t brought him back in yet.

Tara Mill
One we bought privately in Ireland and we were pleased to get hold of him. He was given a high handicap mark over here so we could be going straight over fences this season.

We bought him earlier this year for £1,500 but he looks a big, late-developing chaser so we probably won’t be rushing him this season.

Kings Coinage
A big horse who has been frustrating as he keeps getting niggly little injuries and currently has a problem with his coat that we’re trying to get to the bottom of. He wants good ground and we might try him on the all-weather.

Well Smitten
We’ve just bought him for £5,200 after he lost his form following a busy time, so we’ve turned him out and will be in later. He’s a nice looking horse who won first time out over fences and he looks well-handicapped on that run.

My Renaissance
Has won plenty for us but is getting his own ideas about the game. Basically loves Cartmel and places like that and we’ll keep going with him for now.


  1. Great stuff going to the smaller yards or is this a one off? I'm coming up to wetherby with John (book) first or 2nd meeting so I,LL buy you cup of t....

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