A recent yard visit to Linda Jewell’s to see what day in the life of the Kentish dual purpose yard is like, ahead of their first runner at Plumpton this season.
A family affair
I arrived at Linda Jewell’s yard, Southfield Stables, in Sutton Valence, Kent, at 10am, just in time for breakfast. One lot had already been out for fast work at a nearby gallops in Bearsted, which belongs to one of their owners. “It has a really long straight with a slight hill incline, so they [the horses] can really open up on there,” explains Karen, Linda’s daughter.
I immediately felt like part of the Southfield Stables family, with lads and lasses sat round a large breakfast table in Linda’s kitchen with fresh toast, local preserves and locally laid eggs being served up.
Karen explained to me that a typical day starts at around 7am “we start earlier in the summer to beat the heat but over the winter with dark mornings and potentially frozen gallops, we move it back a bit.”
Linda appeared from an office just off the kitchen and announced that Mab Dab (a Plumpton winner from Easter 2017) had just been entered for Monday (6th November).
After breakfast, the lads and lasses went back to the yard to get second lot ready (including Mab Dab). I stayed in the kitchen a little while longer to chat to Linda who told me they are getting quite busy with 18 horses in training of a 20-horse capacity. A few were still running on the flat but most of them are jumpers. Over the summer, some of the horses go home to owners whilst most stay with The Jewell’s, albeit off the yard so they can really relax.
Variety is the spice of life
Linda praised the course at Plumpton and the welcoming reception the owners receive. Whilst they have a few horses who like the course at Plumpton (2015 Sussex National winner Itoldyou, who will be campaigned for the January 2018 race and Madam Anna, who won a bumper last season, to name a couple), Linda believes running the horses over a variety of tracks is good for both them and their owners.
The facilities at Southfield Stables are superb, with the square shaped main yard facing inwards, so the horses can all see each other. They all have turnout facilities, some paddocks with a popular sand pit for rolling in! There is a walker, ménage and circular all weather gallops with hurdles on the turf in the centre. “We’re not over-jumping here at the moment as the ground is quite firm,” said Karen. However, the horses also spend time schooling over fences in the ménage, hack around the village all year round, school over cross country fences at nearby Bonfleur Cross Country Course and go to Camber Sands.
A Jewell in The Garden Of England
Back outside, across the lane from the yard, I walked onto the gallops and watched second lot come down from the ménage. It is a beautiful spot, surrounded by trees with changing autumn colours, a great covering of grass in the centre and a newly harrowed all-weather track. The team look
ed very smart in matching gillets, and the horses all looked in superb condition. Here, the 4 horses undertook some canter work, with Karen leading the field, under the watchful eye of Linda, who communicates with hand signals when the horses should up the pace, canter one more loop or come back to trot.
Life after racing
As well as assisting Linda with the racehorses, Karen also retrains them at the end of their racing career and finds them new homes for their owners. She has had a successful summer showing Kingscombe in ROR classes. Fine Tune, who also ran at Plumpton during his racing career, has just finished his first season eventing with Katie, one of the lasses at The Jewell yard.
Favourites are allowed
I was told that the lads, Ollie and Alex, were on their best behaviour during my visit. Resisting the temptation for a bit of banter, they happily had their photos taken by the lovely Sam, from Frog and Field Photography, around the yard and on the gallops. “They’re all on their favourite horses so they don’t mind,” said Karen whilst she glanced over Sam’s shoulder surveying the photos. Both lads, she explained, are desperate to race ride and have completed their BRS apprenticeships during their time at The Jewell’s. The rapport the staff have with each other and their horses is evident, with all the team contributing to feedback following exercise and making much fuss of the horses during and after work.
From my visit, it is clear why Linda and Karen have such a successful operation. A friendly but dedicated professional ethic, loyal owners and staff, and more importantly, happy, healthy horses.
Harriet Brown, Marketing Executive, Plumpton Racecourse.
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