Horses have always been a part of my life, and I knew as a teenager that I wanted to become a racehorse trainer.
In my teens, I used to go to York’s Ebor meeting with friends who had racing connections. This is where my interest and passion for racing began, and I was fascinated! I will never forget watching Music Boy win in the 1975 Gimcrack Stakes.
On leaving school, I joined Barry Hills as a lad; this was a good grounding for me. He was ideal to work for, as he was disciplined and had a no-nonsense approach to horses and staff. He was the sort of person you wanted to work hard for and he instilled in me the message that your job is what you make of it.
After a year with Barry Hills, I went to work for Robert Armstrong in Newmarket. Compared to Lambourn, it was a huge difference to be working at this large training centre but it was a great learning curve.
The love of the Lambourn Downs took me back to Henry Candy’s stables a year later. I worked as his assistant for three years. Whilst I was there, Henry trained one of the great racemares of the twentieth century in Time Charter. It was hugely exciting, as I watched her grow up from a yearling to become a Classic winner.
I learned a huge amount in these three years which gave me the prefect grounding to start training on my own. My friend Colin Brown said to me that his cousin Tom Marshall was ready to pack in training but if I was interested, he would leave me some horses, so I really couldn’t say no.
I got my licence in November 1983 but had my first runners in 1984. I remember my first year very well, as I had great success with Portogon and Mystery Ship, who won the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket, which was a big advert for me. I have trained in and around the Lambourn area ever since and have trained over 400 winners.
I am now based in Rowdown Stables in Upper Lambourn.
Alex started at Saxon House in December 2010. He began work in racing with Robin Dickin at the age of sixteen and after spells with several other trainers, he spent a year as Head Lad to Reg Hollinshead.
Early Racing Memory: “I used to watch the racing with my Dad and Grandad. We always used to go to Uttoxeter or Wolverhampton.”
Racing Highlight: “Getting a horse called Prairie Minstrel back to the course to win three chases. He had tendon trouble and the vets said he wouldn’t race again.”
Best Racing Memory: ”Istabraq winning his third champion hurdle. There are loads of highlights but I love watching a champion defend his title and he was a legend.”
Hobbies: Fishing, watching football, talking rubbish and eating biscuits.
Pet Hate: Slow people! “I hate slow walkers, drivers and slow workers.”
If his house was on fire, he would save his dog. “She’s a boxer-labrador cross and she’d be top of the list.”
Jodie got into racing after seeing an advert for a stable groom at Mick Channon’s. “I loved it and have been in racing ever since.” She has worked for a number of trainers in the Lambourn area and has been riding out at Saxon House for so long she can’t remember when she started!
Racing HIghlight: “When Tony McCoy finally won the National, because I backed him!”
Personal Racing Highlight: “Leading up Inya Lake when she won the Molecombe stakes at Glorious Goodwood when I was working for Mick Channon.”
Hobbies: High octane sports
Pet Hate: Going slow.
If her house was on fire she would save her family photos.
Got into racing after being told if he became a jockey he would be both rich and famous. “I was lied to on every count.” He joined Saxon House in February 2011 and has worked for many trainers both here and in the USA.
Racing Highlight: Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont stakes. “He won by 31 lengths in two minutes and twenty-four seconds. i.e he ran one-and-a-half miles at twelve seconds a furlong… Sprinters rarely do that over five furlongs!”
Personal Racing Highlight: “Any horse that you’ve been involved with, that you’ve ridden most of the time, winning a race or races: it’s a hell of a boost to one’s job satisfaction!”
Hobbies: Surfing “sadly a long walk to the ocean from Lambourn”, camping, reading and walking the dog.
Pet hates: “Racing For Change, the BHA, the lack of cohesive leadership in racing, trainers asking your opinion, then ignoring it completely, “I could go on… Oh the joys of being a grumpy old git”
If his house was on fire, he would save his wife and dog “They come as a package.”