In these strange times, we’ve all had to adapt to the situation we’ve found ourselves in. This is no different for BetVictor Brand Ambassador, Jamie Snowden.
We’ve caught up with the Folly House maestro to find out what life is like behind the scenes at Lambourn just now, and to find out how the trainer is adapting as he looks forward to racing post-Coronavirus in July.
During the first week after racing was cancelled, we were in a slight state of limbo. We backed off all of the winter horses and began roughing them off. We spent about ten days getting the babies over poles, barrels and baby hurdles just to get them jumping regularly, and then backed off them as well.
By the end of March, all of the winter horses and the majority of the youngsters were all out in the field. We have had them out by day in the sunshine but it’s still been pretty cold at night, so they have been coming back in to be rugged up and fed.
It can be a bit of a worry having horses out this early as the spring grass hasn’t really come through yet, but at least it’s been warm during the day. So, by giving them plenty of hard feed and by rugging them up at night, at least we’ve managed to cut the costs for the owners whilst maintaining high standards of horse welfare.
In these rather strange and scary times courtesy of the #coronavirus and after 10 days of no racing, I thought you may like to know how life is at Folly House on @LambournGallops as we end what has been our best season to date. @BetVictor #StaySafe #HealthIsWealth pic.twitter.com/A26G2c2CTs
— Jamie Snowden (@jamiesnowden) March 30, 2020
After getting the news at the end of April that jump racing would not resume until July, we obviously had to make some immediate changes. We had around 20 horses earmarked for racing in May, so we made the decision, basically overnight, to back off absolutely everything.
We decided to send 9 of those horses off for their early ‘summer holiday’, so that has left us with a string of 11 summer jumpers. However, they were all too far forward so we’ve backed off them too, and they’ll be out during the day and back in at night for the whole of April.
We are therefore only riding out three horses every morning – two babies and one lead horse, and we’ve scaled the team back to just three members of staff and furloughed the others. Not really the way I intended rewarding them on the back of our best season to date!
We’re now getting stuck into all the odd jobs that you might forget about when you’re going at full speed – steam cleaning, painting, weeding, mending…… The yard will be spick and span when racing does resume!
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 7, 2019
Looking ahead to next season – we had a tremendous start to last season – and we’ll be two months behind when racing does start again, so we’ll need to re-align our targets. We had nine winners last May, and a further four in June. It’ll be a bit different this summer, but we’ll have to play the game accordingly.
It’ll be interesting to see how the summer sales differ from previous years too. Some of the prices have been over-inflated and perhaps the coronavirus might reset the clock slightly….. and there could be some opportunities to be had as a result.
We tend to buy store horses and pointers, but we also buy some off the flat as well. When buying a store, I firstly look at the individual before the pedigree. I check to see they have all the right physical attributes, their confirmation is correct, and if I feel they will develop into a racehorse.
I then see if their pedigree backs it up. If they have the individual presence and a pedigree then they tend to cost a lot of money. So, sometimes something has to give. If we like the look of a horse, we feel it’s best to trust our own judgment.
I like to be ‘hands-on’ when it comes to buying horses but over the last few years, I have worked closely with Tom Malone and we have bought some lovely horses together, including our Cheltenham Festival winner!
If anyone reading this would like to get involved in a new partnership we’re setting up this summer, please do get in touch with me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, having had a bit of time on my hands, I’ve produced a short video clip of all of our 46 winners this season in a picture montage – if you have a couple of minutes then do have a watch to relive some good days:
BetVictor and Jamie would like to send our very best wishes to all of our customers during this tough time not only for sports, but for society as a whole.