My host here in the U.K. kindly set up a trip for this morning out to one of the Newmarket-based training yards, where I was able to walk the wall boxes to see all of the horses, and to watch a set of runners off at the gallops.
The morning was arranged with an up-and-coming young trainer who's achieved quite a bit of success and who has attracted a number of impressive owners. David Lanigan and his wife Amy were gracious and showed me a nice tour of their stable. David discussed differences in Thoroughbred training here in England versus in the U.S. -- he knows both sides well, having spent time at Walmac in Kentucky.
After watching a string of 12 of the Lanigans' horses warming up, we walked out to "the Ravida yard near the Heath over the Racecourse gallop" -- or some such decidedly British phrasing describing the small training yard where the horses were to trot for the next hour -- and all was lovely even given the cold wind and driving drizzle of 8:00 a.m. in Newmarket. David was humble and didn't point out that this was his second set of morning works -- we'd missed the added fun of cold and rain in the dark at 6:00 a.m. I learned that nice bit later in the day.
So neat to watch multiple sets of horses trot by -- early 2-year-olds, later-developing 3-year-olds, and a few horses that had already run a race or two were in this set. They were joined by the strings of several other trainers, each leaving a small gap between groups, and easily distinguished by the trainers' colors on the exercise riders' helmet covers and saddle sheets. What a site to witness as these small groups of horses assemble in the yard, each coming from a separate stable and many arriving by way of the public roads. Egads -- I wouldn't have believed how naturally even the youngest horses seem to take the routine.
The morning was capped off by another look at the remaining horses in the stable. There were many highlights -- a young half-sister to the dam of Big Brown ... five Dynaformer 2- and 3-year-olds ... a large handful of Dansilis ... a Rahy filly that looked astounding and is one of the stable favorites.