Sunday 25 November 2018 4:26 pm

Day in the life: Racehorse trainer William Knight on auctions, conditioning and the ups and downs of racing

I’m a public racehorse trainer based on the Angmering Park estate in West Sussex and I train about 50 horses for outside owners – individuals or syndicates, who are involved for both business and pleasure. I see myself as part of the entertainment industry.

I am either sent horses to train by owners, or I go to auctions with my brother Richard, who is a bloodstock agent, and buy horses we like with view to helping them reach their full potential on the racecourse. Of course there is a certain amount of luck involved, but also an art in selecting the right horse.

Owners watch the races but also come to the gallops to see their horses in our 6,500-acre estate on the South Downs.

I have around 20 staff who work with the horses. A usual morning starts early at 6.45am, when the first group of around 15 are taken out and exercised for an hour each and fed.

That process goes up until about midday when the horses are then rested through the afternoon, except when they’re racing which means travelling across the country to various meetings.

When not racing the horses have evening stable time between 4pm and 6pm, when they are brushed, groomed, hayed, fed and watered.

This is also the time when any veterinary needs will be looked at, or the physio will assess some of the horses. The horses are then put to bed for the night at 6pm.

However, we have runners most days, even through the winter, so there’s plenty of action at the stables.

On a race day the horse will be fed at 5.30am, lead out to stretch their legs for 20 minutes before getting in the horse box to travel. We like to get to the course four or five hours before the race to prepare and leave an hour afterwards to unwind before journeying back.

I do a bit of everything, so spend time in West Sussex as well as travelling to and from races up and down the country.

It’s a 24/7 lifestyle – you can’t close the office door on a Friday and come back on Monday morning as horses require a lot of attention and weekends are busy with race meetings.

We tend to buy horses as yearlings, so have to develop them right from the beginning. They need breaking in – to get used to the saddle, the bit in their mouth and the rider of their back – as well as teaching them to canter, gallop and finally race.

Horses are brought along gradually, generally racing three or four times per year to begin with. It’s also about building up fitness levels through conditioning to make them stronger physically and mentally so they are ready for their first race. It’s like a child building up towards a first football match.

We are in it to win races, but there are difficulties and disappointments. Things go wrong and there are ups and downs, but it makes it all the sweeter when success comes, like when one of my horses, Illustrious Blue, won the Goodwood Cup in 2010.

William Knight is the trainer of the Crowd Racing London Knight Crowd which offers a range of racehorse ownership options and exclusive social events for people in the city. To find out more: https://crowdracing.co.uk/product/london-knight-crowd/

 

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