A week at Manor House Stables


Another week into the season and we have now had our first few runners on Turf, one of whom, Mr Macattack, was only beaten a ¼ length at Leicester last week. We have got plenty of entries across the next few days and I am looking forward to seeing how our runners get on as a barometer to the overall fitness of the team here at Manor House Stables.

This week, I thought that I would talk through the yard itself and how it all works operationally. Different trainers do things in many different ways and a lot of the time, their methods are dictated by the physical set-up of their yards and, obviously, the best methods that they have picked up during their careers. 

For me, Manor House is different to my previous yard in Lambourn where there were two distinct yards, each housing 45 horses. Here, we effectively have 3 American barns, each with around 20-23 stables, and a more conventional yard of normal stables. We treat each of these as self-contained units with their own tack room and each area is looked after exclusively by its own dedicated team, which includes the barn leader, 5 riders and 2 yardmen. We try to minimise cross over between the barns in order to reduce the chances of spreading infections between the horses, although I have mixed up each barn with a cross section of different horses, including 2-year old colts and fillies, as well as older horses, (colts, geldings and fillies) in each one.

In total, there are 87 boxes although there are actually 90 horses on site, three of whom live in field shelters with their own paddocks. In terms of the running of the yard, I think we have a ratio of horses to staff of about 3:1, which is pretty good, but you will understand that a lot of juggling needs to be done in order to ensure that the whole equine operation runs smoothly – two of the key guys that help in this are Colin Gorman, Assistant Trainer, and Andy Jackson, Head Lad. Both of them are constantly dealing with equine and training issues throughout the yard and I can only stress that it takes real teamwork to make the whole thing tick.

There is a pretty endless list of other people who are vital to the operation, including the travelling team, who are ferrying horses to the races or otherwise most days, not to forget the office who are fielding calls from owners, making entries and keeping the paperwork in order. As well as our own staff, we have daily visitations from our retained vets, based in Wrexham and the Farrier, keeping an eye on all our shoeing needs.

After all that, you might ask what does the trainer actually do? Well, funnily enough…you need the team around you to be able to concentrate on the horses, the work they are doing and, as they approach full fitness, what their targets might be. I do ride out occasionally to keep my eye in, but as a rule, you have to be able to take a step back from the constant action to make the right decisions, and of course, to keep in touch with my owners, letting them know how their charges are getting on.

A bit of an insight to what goes on here daily. Next time, I’ll have some film footage of the horses on the gallops, and probably talk about the routine and training programme for our 2-year-old’s – how we break them in, bring them on and, if they are ready, get them to the racetrack.  

Keep an eye out for our runners over the next few weeks.

All the best






Stalls Training - how difficult is it?

Hi Tom , quite often we see races delayed or horses that completely miss the break - presumably due to a lack of practice with the stalls procedure . As well as some video footage of the 2 year olds could you include some stalls footage . If you can't get them in then they can't race !

Michael Owen

Does Michael Owen ever ride? If do which is his favourite horse?

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