Trainer Tim Vaughan’s team is mainly made up of jumps horses at his base in the tranquil countryside of south Wales. He has trained more than 800 winners since he set up at his Pant Wilkin Stables, near Cowbridge, 13 years ago.
In 2012 he became the youngest trainer to reach 100 winners in a season. Here he reveals what visitors to his yard during National Racehorse Week can expect to see and he gives an insight into the workings of his yard.
Tim Vaughan has opened his yard for National Racehorse Week and there’s spaces available. Book here.
Why did you want to get involved with National Racehorse Week?
It’s really just to assist in the process of making the public aware of what we do with the horses while they’re in our care. The more people who can be made aware of all the love, nurturing, care and attention that all our horses get, the better.
What can visitors to your yard expect to see on the day?
It’s going to be a normal day’s work so everyone who comes to visit us can see everything that goes on. We’re going to do four or five lots and everything that goes with it.
I’ll be taking the visitors up to the gallops to show them how we work the horses. I’ll explain how we train them and why we train them the way we do.
I’ll explain the differences between training a young, immature horse who would have less work than a bigger, fatter gelding. Those kind of things. Our job is to do the best by every horse and giving them the care, love and attention they need to fulfil their absolute potential.
How many different people in all varieties of jobs work at the yard?
There’s so many. As well as the riders and yard staff we obviously have the vet come in regularly and the farrier to make sure their feet are all good.
Then there’s the chiropractor, the dentist, the transport drivers and we have dressage people come in as we do a bit of that kind of flat work to help the horses.
What’s the key to training racehorses and how important is their welfare?
I relate everything to humans. If you’ve got a human who doesn’t want to be there and they’re dragging their feet around the yard, just one sour apple, it upsets the whole regime. It’s the same with horses.
You’ve got to have them mentally enjoying life, wanting to come up the hill for you and wanting to thrive. You’ve got to have a happy horse who is healthy. If a horse is physically well, thriving and enjoying life then you get the best out of them.
How do the horses’ personalities differ and how do you tailor your training to accommodate the different traits of your horses?
There’s all sorts of personalities. I always say that training horses is like having a squad of rugby players.
What I try to do is tailor the staff to the horse. If I’ve got a highly‐strung horse I’ll put a laidback rider on him who’s going to be like ‘whoa boy, what’s all the fuss about, life’s too short, chill out’ and give them a pat down the neck, trying to relax them.
If I’ve got a lazier horse I’ll usually put a more highly‐strung member of staff on who’s going to go ‘come on, we’ve got work to do, let’s get on with it’. That’s how you work out the personalities as we’re trying to get the best out of them all.
How do the horses relax at home when they’re having a break between races/training?
They can go out in the paddocks or we’ve got a great big sandpit for them to go out in to. There they can have a roll and generally chill out. Then we take them to the beach on certain days.
We’re lucky that we’re not too far from the coast and there’s some wonderful beaches around here in south Wales. We take them hacking around the place as well, which they seem to enjoy and it gives them a freshen up.
When horses retire, how important is it they are given a good home?
It’s absolutely paramount. My life is their life so we have a duty to make sure they’re well looked after when they finish racing. They work hard for us so they deserve to be nurtured in their retirement.
We’ve had horses go on to do all sorts of things ‐ dressage, ‘racehorse to riding horse’, general hacking horses, eventers, showjumpers, all sorts.