Having recently welcomed former jockey David Stratton to our growing team of experienced industry expert Trainer Coaches, we caught up with him to discuss his impressive career and how he will be shaping the future talent of the racing industry in his new role with us.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your equine background?
“I’m originally from Bristol but I moved to Ireland when I was younger where I helped my dad train horses for point-to-points; a form of National Hunt horse racing for amateur riders, and a great training ground for many future stars. From as young as I remember, I always wanted to be a jockey. My mum, who was a good eventer herself, also ran a riding school in Ireland and so I was fortunate enough to be able to ride and train with the learners there.”
How did you begin your equine career?
“As I grew up I spent summer holidays on work experience at different yards. At fifteen I started an apprenticeship with trainer Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle Racing Stable, however, after being told I would be too tall to be a flat jockey, I moved to former top National Hunt jockey Charlie Swan’s yard. Charlie had just retired, having ridden the great Istabraq to three Champion Hurdles for Aidan O’Brien, and was setting up his own National Hunt yard. It seemed a great move to make and was a great learning environment. I spent six years there riding winners in point-to-points before moving back to England.
I joined trainer Mary Reveley before moving on to National Hunt trainer Alan King as one of his amateur jockeys. After I hung up my boots, I spent five years as Head Lad to the top dual-purpose trainer Ian Williams, at his state of the art Dominion Racing Stables in the Midlands, training both flat and National Hunt horses. I then returned to Alan King as Head Lad and spent nearly four years at the powerful Barbury Castle operation.”
What are your biggest achievements or successes so far?
“I am proud to have ridden a total of thirty-three winners and had the honour of riding three times at Cheltenham Festival – a childhood dream come true!
The biggest success of my career was being made Head Lad, aged 26, at Ian Williams Racing. We enjoyed many great years together, recording numerous successes including some really high-profile winners such as Wayward Prince, Weird Al and Il de Re.”
What made you want to become a Trainer-Coach?
“I have always wanted to teach, train and help young people. I honestly feel that I am where I am today because of the way seniors in the industry invested in me and the training I’ve received on the job from mentors.
Haddon Training always appealed to me, having worked with and mentored some of their learners in the past. I love that the ethos of Haddon Training is based on their desire to improve and enhance the skills of people entering the industry and their attention to detail is second to none. The apprenticeships they offer are informative, full of knowledge and easy to follow for young learners who are entering the working world. I knew I wanted to be a part of that experience.
I am looking forward to passing on my knowledge and the satisfaction of knowing that the future generation in this great sport are being trained well to achieve their ambitions.”
Will we still see you on the racecourse?
“I am very much still active in the racing world and ride out for racehorse trainers Sir Mark Todd and Roger Charlton. I enjoy maintaining my contacts in racing in an advisory role for sales, race planning and troubleshooting and will definitely always be a part of the racing world.”
Thank you so much David for taking the time to answer our questions. We know how much the next generation will appreciate your support and guidance!
Special thanks to Hattie Austin Photography and Dan Heap Photography for the use of these images.