Laura and James

Both Laura and James rode from a very young age. Laura recalls that she was around four years old when she was first hoisted on a pony. James thinks he was even younger, he can remember feeling a wet squelching nappy as he attempted his first rising trot! Both progressed through Pony Clubs and competed in hunter trials and other equine pursuits that all young riders love. The passion stayed with them and when leaving school both Laura and James decided that horses would always be a part of their lives. To pursue these dreams they both moved away from their respective homes in search for success and fortune, this is a brief history of their journeys.


At just seventeen Laura moved to Jersey where she found employment at a riding centre. She showed such a natural aptitude that it wasn't long before she was spotted by one of the islands top race horse trainers who asked her to ride out for him. Jersey is not a very big island and it proved to be a little quiet and reserved for a confident young lady from Somerset!, Laura soon discovered that she loved the island and the riding but needed more of a challenge. She moved back home to Somerset and took up a full time position with Richard Tucker who trained national hunt horses at his stables near Wellington. This provided Laura with the grounding she was looking for, she settled in well but still had a burning ambition to race ride. After spending three years with Richard she moved on to work for Paul Leach whos yard was in West Bagborough, just outside of Taunton. Paul had been with Martin Pipe as one of his top jockeys during the golden years and he was part the team that consistantly won the trainers championship. Laura proved to be a capable pilot and was given rides on both the flat and jumps horses from the yard, in return she took the pressure off Paul by assuming the responsibility of running the yard in his absence.

Sadly after 8 brilliant years Paul closed his business and Laura was forced to make a life changing decision, should she seek employment with another stable or have a go at training herself? She decided to open her own yard and because of her connections she decided to start by training Point to Pointers. Three horses came with Laura via owners from the old yard at Bagborough and a friend called Ian Dowrick (point to point people will know him well) supplied the rest. Laura did extremely well during this period and had a lot of success including Hunter Chase winners at Aintree, Newbury, Exeter, and Warwick. In 1999 Laura met James and their relationship blossomed as they continued to train pointers together as a couple. More success followed and encouraged by new owners they decided to take out a full training licence in 2005, this coincided with them moving into their new house and stables at Rooks Castle, the rest is history as they say!


James fell in love with racing during a weeks work experience at Josh Gifford's yard near Findon, he enjoyed it so much that he stayed for 9 weeks, apparentley they couldn't get rid of him! This taste of speed and excitement madehim decide that he would like to become a jockey so he applied for various vacancies throughout the country. He was soon rewarded when Martin Pipe offered him a job at his Wellington stables. James soon found out that racing is a very competitive sport and although he loved the work his riding opportunities were very limited. There was tremendous competition for rides at this succesfull yard and being one of the youngest and probably the most impatient, he decided not to wait and moved on.

James heard that Richard Frost (father of Jimmy) was looking for a young jockey so he applied and was thrilled to be given the position at the Buchfastleigh yard. This was the opening he had been looking for and he worked extremely hard and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The following Point to Point season saw James establish himself as a rider going places and by winning the Novice Rider Championship he attracted the attention of a top trainer who made an offer he couldn't refuse!

The next season James joined Nicky Henderson as stable amateur, this should have been the start of a glittering riding career but unfortunately things did not go to plan. Following a nasty accident on the gallops James sustained a broke his leg and was out of action for several months. This was further compounded by a recurring shoulder injury, sadly the combination of these problems ended any chance of him riding that year. Time waits for no man and another amateur was installed at the Henderson yard, James got his life back together but decided that once again he would have to move on to get the rides he desired.

Over the next year the leg recovered but his dislocating shoulder was proving a big problem, James tried desperately to make the professional ranks but sometimes things just aren't meant to be! After spending time with David Barons, Andy Hobbs and Nigel Twiston-Davies, James had ridden a very respectable 30 winners in total, unfortunately one final shoulder dislocation prompted doctors to end his riding career. James could have fallen apart at that point but something good was about to happen to him, he moved back to Somerset and met Laura! They were soon married and James had found both his ideal partner and a perfect new career. He now trains horses rather than riding them, he loves this new role and says he still gets the "buzz" but it's not quite as dangerous!