For my second morning in Newmarket I was up at the crack of dawn, well maybe even before the crack, to meet Amy Murphy and ride out with her and her team.
I’ve followed Amy’s career for a while and loved seeing her fantastic run of form after the first lockdown and I was keen to visit her whilst in the area as the youngest of the trainers I’ve visited so far and the only female. It’s clear from the outside that she has some serious passion, determination and dedication, which is something I seriously admire and something that is integral to success in racing. Having been in training for just over 4 years now and growing from 8 boxes in another trainers yard, to now having 40-50 horses in her own facility is really special.
I wondered how Amy’s typical use of the facilities in Newmarket would differ from that of Phil Mcentee and other flat racing focused trainers in the town. Granted Amy does train horses for both codes, but the horses of hers that have caught the hearts and imaginations of many, are mostly the National Hunt horses and I was lucky enough to ride out with two of those horses for first lot; Kalashnikov and Jamessaintpatrick.
Almost a racehorse.
In my previous two Newmarket blog posts, I touched on the future of racing with Rob Speers and the ultimate tour guide, Phil Mcentee. Well Amy, without realising gave me a lovely tie in of the two for my first ride with her, as I saddled up an as yet unraced 4 year old, bay gelding, Beauvallon Bay and we headed out from Amy’s yard on Hamilton Road, across town via the horse walk to the Bury Side of town where we worked the three horses on the Long Hill Polytrack, which is 7.5 furlongs with a gradual bend and incline.
With Amy onboard Kalashnikov and Eddie on Jamessaintpatrick, we worked the horses twice up this stretch with a walk and trot back to the bottom each time. Then headed back to the yard, giving the horses a good trot and walk cool down, before they were washed off and turned out in paddocks for a while.
It was so interesting to see the town from this perspective, seeing the hundreds of horses are riders pulling out of their yards in near darkness, to crack on with their work as the sun rises. Much like having the tour of the town by car with Phil, I got a completely different perspective onboard a horse with Amy.
I’ll be sure to update the post when this lovely horse is named and makes his way to the track. He had a lovely balance and cadence to his paces and is surely growing into a lovely horse. Even if my experience is mostly with show jumpers and eventers.
The Role of a Trainer.
As well as working on these Newmarket pieces, I’m currently working on a piece that delves deeper into the role of a Racehorse Trainer and what that actually entails. The more time I spend visiting yards, the more I realise there’s no simple answer. Because trainers really do do everything. Amy is a prime example of this.
Quick as a flash when we got back to the yard, Amy was out of the saddle and into the driving seat of the horsebox, off to Doncaster Races.
Before leaving she invited me to stay and ride out second lot with the team, on two year old Nightfiori, who is owned by Amy herself and currently looking for new owners.
This meant that I got to see a different part of the Newmarket Gallops.
Heading straight out of the covered exercise area on Amy’s yard and into beautiful surroundings with multiple gallop tracks at hand. Warming the horses up at the trot to the Southfields Round, a 6 furlong round canter track, for two laps before going up the Rubbing House 8 furlong polytrack with dog-leg bend.
We then walked the horses back to the yard and again, washed off and turned out into the paddocks.
It was a wonderful experience to see all of these different facilities with Phil and then to ride them with the Amy Murphy team. It’s incredibly interesting to see the differences between how sprinters and stayers are trained differently. With Amy’s horses being trained in a way that is much more familiar to me and how I would increase my horses fitness for eventing, with stamina at the forefront of the work.
I also feel like the more racers and racehorses to be, I ride the more I’m learning about what is a desirable feel from the horse. I know what I want to feel from my own horses in their training and exercise but it really is a completely different way of riding and a different type of movement and has taken some getting used to. Hopefully I’m slowly getting there now.
Amy and her team reached 100 winners back in August and within reaching this milestone were a host of interesting and diverse horses across all codes.
One mare that totally embodies that is Really Super, an amazingly tough mare who has captured the hearts of many, particularly Pupil Assistant Connor Fox. Super has won on the flat, over hurdles and over fences and it’s versatile horses like this that I absolutely adore. Afterall, Grumeti was a similar type of horse.
Much like I’ve touched on the future of racing with the horses, it’s people like Connor that are the future of training and ensuring the sport is in good hands. His hard work, passion and care for the horses in his care can be seen in everything he posts on social media.
I’ll wrap up here and leave you with a video with some clips from my helmet camera, from whilst riding out with Amy and her team.
And as ever thank you to everyone who reads my blog, sends kind messages and donates (through my ‘About‘ page) to help me keep doing this, from now until Christmas I’ll be forwarding 20% of my donations to The Injured Jockeys Fund, to give back to the sport that we love. I love spreading the message of how much these horses mean to the people that look after them before, during and after racing. An extra big thank you to Amy and her team for having me along.
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