The small town of Penrith rests in a truly beautiful part of the country. On the edge of the Lake District, and less than 20 miles from stunning Keswick, the area attracts around 15 million visitors each year. The natural beauty of the countryside inspired famous writers William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
Just a few miles West of Penrith, lies the small village of Greystoke. With a population of less than a thousand, one of the best known locals resides just a stone’s throw from Greystoke Castle. National Hunt trainer Nicky Richards is the son of Gordon W Richards. His father trained Lucius to win the Grand National in 1978, and repeated the feat in 1984 with Hallo Dandy. When he died in 1998, Nicky took over the stables.
With stunning views over the Cumbrian Fells, Richards trains in the Greystoke Castle estate. His most successful horse to date is the mighty grey, Monet’s Garden. Winner of the Old Roan Chase on three occasions, along with the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, Monet’s was a powerful front runner who attacked his fences with relish. It’s some coincidence that his father’s most successful horse was a similar front running grey, the wonderful One Man.
Already with 23 wins from just 78 runs, this looks set to be an exciting season. Nicky has several very promising types with the ability to win big over the coming months. Eduard finished a close second to Many Clouds on his seasonal reappearance, giving the winner 6lbs in the process. Very highly thought of by his trainer, the horse is set to contest Graded races at around 2m 4f, with the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March the likely long-term target.
Another stable favourite is Duke Of Navan. He started his chasing career with a win at Carlisle, defeating Urban Hymn in a thrilling finish. He jumped impeccably and can dominate in the North before taking on the very best novice chasers later in the season.
Richards will also have high hopes for novice hurdler Chidswell, who impressed when winning recently at Ayr. He’s sure to make a terrific chaser in time, but should make his mark over hurdles during the winter.
Very much the powerhouse stable in the region, Greystoke are not the only successful Jump racing team in the Penrith locality. Just five miles south, in the village of Hackthorpe, Dianne Sayer is causing a stir at Town End Farm. With a mere 20 horses at her disposal, she has already managed to accumulate a stunning £100,000 in Prize money this season.
Baileys Concerto is without doubt the stable star, and a large contributor to the yards success. He has a stunning seven wins from his last eight starts. His victories have come at northern tracks with three of the wins achieved at Perth. Dianne rode 50 races as an amateur jockey, before switching to training in 1996. Her daughter Emma is one of the stable jockeys, though Brian Hughes is entrusted with the ride on the stable star.
The season has started wonderfully well for the trainers from Penrith. Whilst Dianne Sayer will be revelling in the yard’s current success, Nicky Richards and his Greystoke team will be striving for more. Monet’s Garden brought great times to the stable, and with the current crop of promising horses, he will be hoping for yet another winter to remember. In the words of Wordsworth himself: “Come grow old with me. The best is yet to be.”