AN impressive training operation at Robins Farm Racing Stables, near Chiddingfold, is about to swing into action, with Olly and Hetta Stevens expecting to have their first runner for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani in the next few days.
The couple, along with the inmates at the stables previously occupied by Peter Winkworth, have impeccable racing pedigrees.
Olly (33) previously worked for Jessica Harrington, James Fanshawe and Bob Hess, as well as with Ed Peate, breaking and pre-training horses for top Newmarket yards, before going to America where he worked for leading trainer Kellyn Gorder in Keeneland, Kentucky.
Hetta (31), was pupil assistant to Henrietta Knight, assistant to Rae Guest and won the Alex Scott scholarship for assistant trainers, taking her to join Michael Dickinson in Maryland. She later moved to Kentucky, working for Dale Romans before moving to Kellyn Gorder, where she met Olly.
With Gorder they supervised barns and oversaw the training of up to 80 horses.
Their return to England was prompted by the birth of their twin daughters in February last year - otherwise they would probably have started training in their own right in America.
Olly had met Sheikh Fahad’s racing adviser, David Redvers, in the States and when Sheikh Fahad bought the impressive Robins Farm Racing Stables after former trainer Peter Winkworth retired, Redvers made the couple an offer they could not refuse.
They are now well settled in the 50-box yard, with a network of all-weather and grass gallops and superb stabling facilities, with 35 horses currently in training and room for more.
Their new team there includes pupil assistant Billy Jackson-Stopps, travelling head lad Simon Humphries, and head lad Gordon Gallagher.
Hetta and Olly have already added new turn-out paddocks, specifically designed so that horses can be turned out to get the sun on their backs safely, at any time.
A high speed treadmill is being installed for more fragile horses, and also on the way soon will be a chilled sea water horse walker and a solarium.
There are some impressive inmates who could reap rich rewards in the coming season, and Jacob Cats, previously trained by Richard Hannon, heads the list.
Rising four, the Dutch Art colt has run just once but is highly thought of.
Olly said: “ We like him a lot and he will go for the Hunts Cup this year and could be globe-trotting taking in the Arlington Heritage.”
Their first runner is expected to be Hard Walnut, a Cape Cross filly, previously trained for Qatar Racing in Ireland by Ger Lyons.
“She had some maiden runs in Ireland, but in very competitive races, and was placed at Leopardstown. Jamie Spencer will be riding her and we hope to run her at Wolverhampton on either January 12 or 13, and ease her into a successful season,” said Olly.
Local jockey Harry Bentley will also have some rides for the yard when he returns from Dubai at the end of March.
Amongst other horses are a nice filly School Fees, rising four and previously with Henry Candy, a Berlin filly rising three, and a promising three-year-old, The Art of Racing. Old stalwart Safari Mischief, a winner for Peter Winkworth from the yard, is now Olly’s hack and lead horse for youngsters.
Robins Farm Racing Club will have two horses running in its colours of navy with yellow start and yellow cap this season.
Ten shares of £5,000 each cover both horses, and offer an affordable way of becoming involved, giving double the racing interest with all costs paid.
Some shares are still available in this flexible scheme, which has the back-up of a another horse to run if one is sidelined for any reason. It is guaranteed to offer plenty of fun and quality racing this summer.
For more details about Robins Farm and ownership contact www.robinsfarmracing.com