Racing Staff Week - Sophie Brown and Amroth Bay
In the second in our series of features marking ‘Racing Staff Week’, Sophie Brown tells us how she juggles her racing job with looking after two former racehorses and how she came to have Amroth Bay, now aged 17 and still winning in the show-ring.
When and how did you get your former racehorse? I got Amroth whilst I was working for Dan Skelton in 2014. He was my favourite horse there and I looked after him and rode him everyday and he was also the first winner I ever led up! When he retired Dan and his owners very kindly gifted him to me as I had always said I would like to have him when he retired.
What was he like when he was a racehorse? When he was in training he was an absolute dude! He was my favourite ride although sometimes cheeky (being an older horse then at 11, he knew how he could get out of work!!) Although a total dude he is after all a thoroughbred and is sharp and could whip round at the smallest of things, which he did on my very first day working at Dan’s, he was the first horse I rode on my first morning and he dropped me in front of everyone!
What was he like in his early retraining? During the early part of his retraining I put him out in the field at home for about four months as I was so busy racing and wanted him to have a little break before we got going with him. When I brought him back into work it was like he’d never been off work! He’s such a laid-back character that he took to it like a duck to water! We spent quite a lot of time with him on the lunge and on the Passoa before I started with his flat work. He did everything we asked of him with ease!
Does he have any funny quirks? Apart from him being spooky sometimes, he is very straight forward. Not much bothers him and I really don’t worry about a lot whilst on him, however, he cannot be left on his own in the stable yard or in the field without seeing another horse! He gets very stressed and it just isn’t worth the risk of leaving him alone as could hurt himself from his weaving.
How do you juggle working in racing and looking after your former racehorse? I am very lucky that I keep my boys at home where we live and they live out most of the year. So they are super handy to deal with during the early mornings and late nights! I am also very lucky that my boyfriend (John Kington) is a jump jockey and if I’m away racing he is on hand to feed them! I just make sure that I have a plan from day to day where I’ll have them in a routine that will fit round work commitments. With them being super laid back I can ride them whenever I’m not racing and I don’t have to worry about them being too fresh!
What has he achieved and has your partnership exceeded all your expectations? Right from day one Amroth didn’t owe us anything, so whenever we went to a show and came home with any type of result it was an achievement. However, right from the off, ‘Fats’ has been nothing but a winning machine! He has won several RoR classes which every time we have been delighted with. The thing that has exceeded all our expectations is qualifying for Horse Of The Year Show this year. We never in a million years expected him at the age of 17 to do that! (Editor’s note: Amroth finished 2nd at HOYS in the SEIB Working Show Horse Class)
What plans do you have with him? Our future plans are to keep competing in RoR classes, such as the Challenge and Veteran classes. He will have the winter off as usual (he loves to get fat, fluffy and filthy!) and he’ll come out at the beginning of the season to try and pick up his qualifications for the RoR champs!
Have his racing contacts kept in touch with you and follow his progress after racing? I often email his owner/breeder with updates of his results and with pictures from his recent shows to keep them in the loop. I also keep in touch with Grace Skelton (Dan’s Wife) who is always so delighted to see him doing so well in his second career!
Why do you love thoroughbreds? I love them because they are so intelligent. They are super quick learners and have seen so much life whilst in training. Although some take more time than others, they are so worth the time and effort you put into them as they always give you their all.
What is your usual routine when you already have such an early start? My morning routine is my alarm goes off at 5 am ish. I’ll head off out to the boys and give them their breakfasts, and usually turn them out if they haven’t been out over night. I usually leave for work at around 5.40/5.45am ready to start at 6.30am. Depending on whether I’m racing that day or not I’ll be back home for around 1.30/2pm most days where I’ll ride them and muck out etc. However, if I’m away racing that day I will either do them when I get home or if I’m lucky Johnny will have got them in for me! It is a lot trickier in winter with the dark mornings and dark evenings but they are so worth it! The trick is to have a good support system around you especially when you’re someone like me who has two former racehorses to compete and a veteran pony who you also compete most weekends!
RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.
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