JUST a few yards from Rose and Sam Loxton’s cottage are eight modest stables housing a handful of former top-class chasers, now turning a dab hand to the point-to-pointing and hunter chase game.
The majority are ex-Paul Nicholls horses, now reaping the benefit of a “freshen-up” courtesy of the couple’s more rustic set-up, situated on their dairy farm in the scenic Somerset countryside.
Rose gets her horses extremely fit for racing and when I see first-hand the rolling hills they have access to, I understand how. A short hack down the lane takes them to a field, which drops down into a steep valley. Three times up the valley is the usual routine for these horses and although Rose quips it is “no Nicholls’ Ditcheat hill”, it is impressive.
In a separate field, there is a line of well-built homemade chase fences (“Sam cut down a tree”), used to hone the jockeys and horses before raceday.
As the horses were formerly trained by Paul, Rose finds the common misconception is that they are trained at his Ditcheat yard.
“Naturally, people assume that we use Paul’s facilities,” says Rose. “But actually, working them on the grass like this does wonders to freshen them up having been in training at a top National Hunt yard. They get excited when they see the gallops now.”
The husband-wife duo don’t employ any staff, opting to ride and muck out the horses themselves. On a usual morning, they both ride out two lots each, before a “gang” of amateur jockeys from Paul’s yard make the six-mile trip to ride out for the Loxtons on their lunch breaks.
During the morning H&H visits, this includes Natalie Parker, who has paired up successfully with Virak, and Angus Cheleda, who won Larkhill’s Coronation Cup aboard Chameron. Angus has also struck a chord with the David Maxwell-owned pair, Monsieur Gibraltar and Shantou Flyer.
IN November 2018, Rose’s life was hit by a bombshell. In a bizarre twist, a freak fall off one of her horses, Earth Leader ultimately saved her life. The accident resulted in Rose breaking her tibia and fibia in her leg, plus a collarbone and some ribs. The break was bad enough that she required muscle from her thigh to be grafted onto her lower leg. However, it was a revelation from the CT scan at hospital that would prove life-changing. It showed up a cancerous cyst on her ovaries.
“I had no obvious symptoms really; I put being tired down to working and being middle-aged, and didn’t think anything of my sometimes bloated tummy,” reflects Rose, who had to wait for her bones to heal before beginning chemotherapy in February last year.
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April 02, 2020