The clatter of horses’ hooves has echoed through the lanes of Greystoke for almost 50 years. But these aren’t Sunday morning hacks or even gymkhana ponies. The village stables has been home to stars of the Grand National winners Lucuis and Hallo Dandy. The stables are run by the Richards family, a legendary name in jumps racing. When the great Gordon Richards died in 1998 after training more than 2,000 winners, he was succeeded by son Nicky, and now a third generation of the Richards dynasty has taken up the reins. Jo is the assistant trainer to her dad and despite summer being the ‘off-season’ for the jumps, the stables is celebrating a recent winner at Perth.
The stables has about 20 horses working at the moment, but that will expand hugely over the coming weeks. “This is our quiet time, but we’ve had a bit of a start with our summer jumpers” she says.
“Over the next couple of weeks we will start to bring the horses in to the stables from the outside fields and we’ll start conditioning them. We have about 20 in now but we will have up to 75 for the winter. A lot of ours will be ready for racing in mid-October.”
The stable has high hopes that it has another superstar in the making with Eduard. Two years ago, he was second at Carlisle to subsequent Hennesey and Grand National winner Many Clouds and finished fourth in the Ryanair at Cheltenham.
He missed the whole of last year with injury, but Jo is hopeful of a flying return this autumn. “We will work our way through the season and hopefully he will end up at Cheltenham again” she said.
Jo is up at 5.30am and puts the horses to bed around 8pm. It’s a long day and one that fewer people seem interested in than in years gone by. She says “We are struggling to get the stable lads and lasses that we need, but it’s a problem lots of stables have.
“You have to be dedicated and to love horses, we are very pleased with the team we’ve got, but we need to increase the numbers a little bit.”