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.
Mike joined his Father at Saxon House at the end of 2015 and played a key role in the move of Mark Usher Racing to Rowdown at the beginning of 2016. Since leaving School he has worked at Kingwood Stud and as a Pupil and then Assistant Trainer to Brendon Powell, Luca Cumani and Henry Cecil.
He is Manager, and effectively trains the horses, in the successful Mark Usher Racing Club.
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.”
Ellie joined Rowdown in 2017 having previously worked for David Evans in Wales; she has ridden eight winners under Rules; she is a key person in the sympathetic handling and breaking of the younger horses.
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 and for Rowdown 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.