Gemma has retired from riding due to the various injuries that are inevitable for a jump jockey that does not lead a charmed life, but continues her involvement on the training side.
Andy was a jockey much longer ago than Gemma, but now contents himself with the occasional local triathlon. He also has advanced skills in terrier and chicken herding.
Despite the successes on the track in 2017/18, we did not have luck with riding arrangements. Firstly Will Featherstone gave up the uneven battle with the scales, and then Tommy Dowling suffered a serious back injury. Page stepped into the breach very successfully, and after having landed her second amateur title, she turned professional at the start of June 2018.
Marina joined us in 2014, following in the footsteps of her brother (Jymmy) and sister (Anca). She has a similar eventing background in Romania and she too has enthusiastically joined into the routine of a racing yard
Another returnee, Natalie worked at Shovelstrode in the past, but left to start a family. She has now returned on a part-time basis, and her experience of the way that we work is invaluable. She also puts in a shift or four at the feed shop.
Katie started with us in 2009, and despite the occasional short past absence, she is still with us in a part time capacity at the weekends when she rides out as well as pitching in around the yard. She is studying for a degree in psychology.
Serena was with us full time then left briefly for a non-racing career. She is now back part-time and as well as riding out, she can offer sterling assistance with the horses working off injuries as she is studying to be an equine physio.
Charlotte has lots of riding experience in a non-racing context, such as appearing at the Horse Of The Year Show, and mostly rides out for us, as well as schooling. We might even see her riding in a point-to-point in the not too distant future. You will definitely see her leading up most of our runners on course.
Olivia, who is currently a year 10 student, comes in at the weekends and basically turns her hand to whatever is needed to keep the yard running smoothly. Whether that be keeping the horses turning over on the horse walker, making sure the hay is topped up or untangling vast lengths of hose, Olivia is on the case.
Melissa is also at the yard only for weekends. She finished her GCSEs last year, where she fortunately passed in herding chickens out of the way of horses, judging even portions of hay by weight without using scales and deicing water buckets (even in summer).
Sophie is one of our weekend work riders, a role she also has for Mark Usher. Last year she had her first charity race ride, at Newbury.
Richard has been our equine dentist for the last four years, which is a mere trifle compared to...
Tony has done about twenty years as the Shovelstrode farrier. Maybe it is time to put an overnight tent for him in one of the paddocks.
They sit in the middle of the horse walker and entertain the horses whilst they are doing their turns. At least we hope that is the case, and we have received no complaints from horse or hen.