It is a common mistake to confuse the owner of a horse with its trainer, or assume that trainer and owner are bound to be the same person. It seems logical to assume that the person closest to the horse, the one rising at ungodly hours of the morning to go for a practise at the track, the one most in tune with the horse's moods and needs, should be the one owning the animal. In reality most trainers are hired by the owners of a race horse to help the horse achieve its racing best. A successful trainer of race horses will be able to generate certain amounts of price money for the owners of a horse, and by extension building a reputation for him- or herself that will ensure employment for a long and prosperous career.
While the owner will reap the lion's share of the financial rewards if a horse wins a race, the trainer is harvesting track credit. As it takes a long time to build a reputation as a trainer and the early years are bound to be a struggle, the trainers who emerge on top with a stream of winning horses in their wake will never have anyone doubt their passion and commitment to the sport.
A high class race horse trainer will often have his own stables to house and train his or her charges for the upcoming seasons. Some training set-ups are almost reminiscent of a boarding school for talented race horses. This is another factor that makes a trainer's reputation imperative to his or her success. To gain sufficient access to a future trainee the trainer must hold the complete and unwavering trust of the horse's owner. In a profession that relies so heavily on word-of-mouth and proof of ability, it is no wonder that trainers of race horses take exceptional pride in their work.
Legendary trainer of race horses Jonjo O'Neil was the first trainer to take 100 wins in a British season in 2002; a fact that demonstrates quite clearly the prowess and talent of the man. Just to make it a little clearer, O'Neil broke his own record and led his charges to 106 wins in the 2007-2008 season. Since he started his career as a trainer in 1986, O'Neil has produced a steady stream of champion horses at his Jackdaws Castle training stables. Most recently, O'Neil-trained Wichita Lineman took the win in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham. As it is almost impossible to read a race card without coming across the name Jonjo O'Neil, it will be easy for you to keep your eyes open for horses trained by this exceptional teacher.
After a lifetime spent in the horse racing industry (as a jockey, private trainer and now independent trainer), Ferdy Murphy's stable - Wynbury Stables - is currently located in West Witton, outside Middleham. Murphy's charges achieve an average 60 wins per season, including highlights such as Another Promise (Winner of the Swordlestown Cup Novice Chase, Grade 1), Hot Weld (Winner of the Scottish National, the Betfred Gold Cup Chase, and the Letheby&Christopher National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at Cheltenham), and Paris Pike (Winner of the Ladbroke Casinos Scottish Grand National).
This iconic trainer of not one but two winners of the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree, began his illustrious career as an amateur jockey in the 1970s. His training facility in Naunton, which he runs with co-trainer and established jockey Carl Llewellyn, attracts owners from across the United Kingdom. Amongst Twiston-Davies' successes in his over twenty years as a trainer are Tipping Tim (Winner of the 1992 William Hill Chase), Fundamentalist (Winner of the 2004 Royal & Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle), and a current favourite Imperial Commander, who -after a long and successful history at Cheltenham - is hailed as one of three potential candidates to take the win at the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Specialised in National Hunt horses, Nicholls maintains lavish training stables in Ditcheat, county Sommerset. He has trained over 1500 winning horses, won the Cheltenham Gold Cups four times and was awarded the honour of British Jump Racing Champion Trainer also four times. With a list of clients including legends such as Denman, first at 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup and strong contender for the title in 2010; Kauto Star, Denman's staunchest competitor and winner at Cheltenham in 2007 and 2009; and Master Minded, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2008 and 2009; it is no surprise that Nicholls is one of the most sought after trainers of his day.
'Mrs P' also dubbed 'The Queen of Aintree' is undoubtedly one of the most important women trainers in a sport that remains a predominantly male domain to this day. She was the first woman to train a Grand National winner, her champion Corbiere in 1983; a feat she almost repeated in 1993, when Esha Ness was first to cross the line during the race which was declared void. However, in 1995 Pitman finally achieved her second win at Aintree, taking the lead with Royal Athlete. Until her retirement in 1999, Pitman worked tirelessly to prove her worth in a challenging environment, paving the way for young female trainers. In 1998 she was awarded the OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her services to the sport of horse racing.