HORSE RACING: THE Sport of Kings isn’t exactly a sport you’d associate with working class people becoming involved in.
But that’s the aim for Marton-based trainers Tom and Gina Ellis, who hope to attract a new wave of horse racing followers through their affordable growing yard based on Oxford Road.
The pair, who have ridden hundreds of point-to-point winners between them, have recently expanded their yard to accommodate 32 horses – a far cry from their starting point of just six thoroughbreds two years ago.
But the extra hours and weekend sacrifices are starting to pay off for Tom and Gina, who hope a positive 2017/18 National Hunt season can allow them to attract even more horses to their growing yard.
Speaking to The Observer, Tom explained his passion for horses started at a early age – and by time he was 16, he was already race riding.
He said: “Me and Gina decided to set the yard up together and this is our third season now.
“We did struggle in our first year. But now we’ve invested time and money to build a big team of horses. We started with six, now we have 32.”
Heavy investment into an all-weather gallop facility, 18 new stables, and an outdoor arena ensures the future looks bright for the Marton pair.
Working six days a week, the team rise early – on the yard by 7am to be precise – before starting work on the gallops at 9am.
By 1pm, exercise work is done and followed by a period of rest before the horses are cared to and fed before sunset.
The work takes place in preparation to point-to-point racing’s biggest weekend in Easter.
Tom said: “Easter is the biggest time of year for us. There are meetings all over the country.
“Otherwise most weekends are the same for us.
“We enjoy trading young horses. We’ll buy them in as three-year-olds and if they start to win we’ll sell them. From a business point of view it’s how we operate as our owners pay half the price compared to under-rules trainers.”
One runner to keep an eye on this year is Vedettariat, previously trained by Ireland’s Willie Mullins.
Vedettariat is one to lookout for,” said Tom.
“We purchased him from Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci in Ireland. There’s some good form and the potential is there.
“We also have Holy Street from Alan King’s yard. He’s the sort that can improve and has form over hurdles.”