Last week, we witnessed Thanks Be, trained by Charlie Fellowes, ridden by Hayley Turner, end the 32 year wait for a female jockey win at Royal Ascot. We thought now would be a great time to find out more about Charlie and gain some insight into his success.
How did you get into horses?
“By Watching Chanel 4 Racing from the age of 6/7 years old, I became obsessed with it, and my mother was involved in a racing syndicate too so had shares in racehorses.”
What led you to your current role?
“I wanted to be a jockey, but I became too tall !! Franki Dettori was always my idol”
What has been your favourite moment in your career?
“Winning the Lexington Race in Flemington, Australia on Derby Day with Prince of Arran, the atmosphere was amazing. There was so much pressure on us to win that day to enable us to get into the Melbourne Cup which was being held just a few days after, and this was what the trip to Australia was all about.”
Let’s talk about Royal Ascot- Talk me through the moment
“My Royal Ascot win was magical in more ways than one. Thanks Be, the filly was a 33-1 winner, it was also Simon’s, one of the owners of Skyline Thoroughbreds, 33rd birthday,and it was 32 years since a girl had won at Royal Ascot.
We went there thinking she would run very well, as in - be in the top 10! The day before everything was going against her, the ground was drying up, we had a bad draw and we were way out of the weights! So there was no pressure and I wasn’t nervous about this race. I had a sense of relief after the race, and this was my (our) first Royal Ascot win! It was just magic!”
Do you have a favourite horse, past or present?
“My past favourite horse would be Society Rock, trained by James Fanshawe, and then Wet Sail, he was the first horse that I bought for myself. He was my first and only Breeders Cup runner, he was just cracking. Present favourite would have to be Prince of Arran.”
Has your job ever led you to meet someone famous?
“Yes, I’ve met Ant and Dec. They had a horse in training with James Fanshawe when I worked there. They are great guys, such fun, and just the same in real life as you see them on the TV”.
What piece of equipment could you not be without?
“My Golf Clubs, I try to play Golf once a week, as this is my down time a way of relaxing. My handicap is 10.”
What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
“My parents telling me to go to University first before I did anything else!”
What is your least favourite part of your job?
“Driving, I hate it lol”
Who is your best Friend?
“At Home my dog Maggie and at work my favourite horse Prince of Arran.”
What is the strangest/funniest thing that has happened to you during your career?
“When I was working in Oz for a trainer, we had two runners at a small race track, the first for Sheikh Mohamed and the other for Coolmore. The jockey for Sheik Mohamed came out in the wrong colours but no one noticed until the jockey got to the start!! So they had to drive the correct colours down to the start and the jockey had to change into them whilst on the horse lol, it was so funny!”
What advice would you give someone wanting to make a career out of training?
“Don’t do it!! Lol. But seriously you need patience and lots of it, and get as much experience as possible from other trainers, I did five years just with James Fanshawe!”
What is the secret to spotting a superstar?
“I like and look for depth in a horse, a deep girth, big strong engine (ie bum), a good hind leg and strong neck, they also have to have a good attitude and be enthusiastic. If I’m buying from the sales then I want to see great attitude because if they don’t want to put in the effort at the sales, they won’t want to put the effort in on the gallops either!”
On Saturday just gone you won yet another very prestigious race, the Northumberland Vase, tell us about this?
“Carnwennan, has been a lovely progressive horse, he’s turning into a very smart stayer, but this day he really really impressed me, and the future looks really exciting.”
Why did you start feeding SPILLERS?
“Firstly, because James Fanshawe fed it and had great success on SPILLERS and secondly, Kathy Lawson, my private yard nutritionist swears by SPILLERS! It’s a winning success.”
What ambitions do you still want to achieve in your racing career?
“I want to train as many Group 1 winners as possible, as I want quality wins not quantity. I’d also really love to go back and win the Melbourne Cup, as we were so close last time!”