Amy Weaver is currently the youngest female trainer in British horseracing. Geoff from SoccerX went to meet her:
Running a yard at the headquarters of racing at 29 years old – does it get any better?
Well hopefully! Obviously some Derby and some Oaks winners…onwards and upwards! It’s great, I’m really lucky to be in this position of having a yard full of horses in Newmarket on the best training facilities in the country. I’ve got some nice owners and nice staff and hopefully some nice horses as well.
You’ve obviously come a long way in a short space of time, how significant do you think your time was at the British Racing School in preparing for your life in racing?
It was really good, a really good background starting off, learning all the basics, the fundamental aspects of looking after horses and the basic day to day level riding – it’s really important, you need to know how everything happens from the bottom to the top so you can make sure that your staff are well organised and doing their jobs properly, and the Racing School are really good. Their development programme nowadays goes on and on from Head Lads courses to Assistant Trainers courses to Jockey courses and now they do a Trainers course as well, so I feel they looked after me through my progression.
What’s the reaction been among your racing peers – obviously you’re in illustrious company here in Newmarket?
Newmarket is a bit of a team – last week Sir Michael Stoute won The Derby and the next day everyone says ‘well done, well done’ and Newmarket’s had a winner, everybody’s had a winner. The other trainers are really helpful, we share gallops sometimes – if you’ve got a specific horse at home you need to gallop and you don’t have any companions for it, they’ll share a gallop with you, put horses in stalls together, trip to the races… everyone’s really friendly.
You’ve worked in France and the USA, are their approaches to the sport different or pretty similar?
It’s amazing, you can do lots of different things, training horses, getting fit in different ways, there’ll always be a new idea or a difficult horse who’ll challenge your ideas and you’ve got to think outside the box as to how you’re going to train it and how you’re going to get round any issues it might have and I think that’s what we love about horses – it’s problem solving, it’s a bit of a puzzle looking after the horse and trying to work out how you’re going to get the best out of it and I think working abroad you pick up a few new techniques and hopefully see something different.
Do you think your time with Michael Bell helped you to gain credibility within the sport?
Yes definitely, I think you need to work with a good trainer to learn the things to do right. He is a really good guy to work for, very laid back. […] He taught me lots about the horses and looking after staff and the owners, and hopefully I’ve taken some of that into my own training now.
You’re not from a racing background per se are you, so what or who inspired you to enter the sport?
From as young as I can remember I was really interested in horses – not really riding horses, it was in racing. My mum would take me, there are stories about me watching the TV when I was a kid and betting with pennies. From a young age it’s always what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a jockey until one day I sat on a horse and realised it was a lot harder than it looks and not quite the same as riding on the back of the sofa, so then I decided being a trainer was easier, although now I’m not so sure!
I know you’re friends with top female jockey Hayley Turner, I’m sure she’s a constant source of support to you?
Yes, what she’s done in the sport is amazing, an she’s really done well to make her mark. She’s broken through a lot of boundaries – everyone just regards her as a jockey now, she’s not a female jockey, she’s just one of the rest of them and the biggest compliment is when people tell her she rides like a man. She’s been a great friend and a great help.
What sort of form is the yard in at the moment?
We started the season slowly this year and didn’t have many runners on the all weather in the winter. We had a lot of breeze-up two-year-olds coming in and some of them were coughing so we held back with the horses and went easy on them. We’ve had a few runners – had a third over hurdles the other day which was nice, first time over jumps, hopefully things now are starting to pick up. We’ll have a few runners in June and hopefully a few winners soon.
I guess your objectives have to remain realistic according to the resources available to you?
Yes definitely. You can only train what you’ve got and you have to get the best out of a horse. You can’t really train a horse to be better than it’s produced to be, so you just have to nurture that talent hopefully and get the best out of them.
What’s your message to people considering syndicate and part ownership?
It’s a bit of a happy family atmosphere here; I’ve got a good team of staff and a good team of owners […] they chat to the lads and pet the horses and see them on the gallops […] you’re welcome at any time and on days out racing we try to have a good time!
To watch the video of the full interview please go to www.soccerx.co.uk. To find out more about Amy and her work see www.amyweaverracing.com
Coming soon: Amy Weaver TV! Amy’s online TV will be about giving viewers a real taste of life at a Newmarket stable, and features high profile guests from the racing world.