Ashforth's Angles: A day in the life of a trainer

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson: two leading trainers who experience the highs and lows

Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson: two leading trainers who continue to experience the highs and lows of the sport

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By David Ashforth 7:55pM 25 OCT 2016 

How It Works: The Trainer (with a bow to Ladybird Books).

The trainer looks after racehorses. He gives them nice warm bedrooms and cereals for breakfast.

Before the trainer has his own breakfast he and his staff take the horses out for their morning exercise. They trot around a barn clockwise and then anti-clockwise, to teach them which way to go when they reach a racecourse.

Outside, the trainer watches the horses run up a hill then walk back down again. They run up it again and walk back down again. Afterwards the trainer tells a rider that he or she went too fast or too slow. Sometimes the trainer takes the horses swimming.

The trainer notices that his best horse is limping. He calls the vet and then phones the horse’s owner to tell him that his horse won’t be able to race for six months. The trainer doesn’t feel like eating breakfast.

Off to the track

In the afternoon the trainer joins one of his horses at the racecourse. He chats to the owner and gives the jockey his instructions. Then the trainer watches the race with the owner.

Afterwards they go to the unsaddling area to meet the horse and rider. The trainer asks the jockey why the horse didn’t run faster? The jockey provides several explanations. Later the trainer asks why he stayed at the back when he’d told him to be near the front?  

The trainer takes the owner to a bar and buys him several drinks in the hope that it will put him in a better mood. Then the trainer goes home and asks what has gone wrong while he has been away.

In the evening the trainer goes round the stables feeling all the horses’ legs to make sure they are all there. Horses have four legs although they do not always all work properly.

The trainer tells some members of staff to bandage some of the legs, in the hope that it will help.

Before he goes to bed the trainer looks to see if there are any suitable races for his horses to run in next week. There is one but it is 400 miles away.

The phone rings

After he has gone to bed the phone rings. It is a journalist. The journalist hopes that he hasn’t woken the trainer up but as he has expresses the hope that he won’t mind if he asks him a lot of questions.

In the morning the trainer decides who will exercise which horse. He draws up a list. Some horses are ill, as are some riders. He throws the list away and draws up another one.

Just as he is about to leave the house his phone rings. One of his owners tells him that he will be sending a horsebox to collect his horses. He feels that they should have been running faster.

The trainer points out that the owner has not paid any training bills for four months. The owner complains loudly about the postal service.

The trainer faces another day.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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