THERE may be many furlongs left to run but Flookburgh’s Gemma Walton hopes time spent under the tutelage of renowned racehorse trainer James Moffatt can pay future dividends.
Five short months ago, the 23-year-old stepped out from the shadows of Moffatt’s Pit Farm Stables after making the decision to embark on a training career of her own.
Walton currently works reduced hours in a candle factory after giving up full-time employment – a situation which provides an income stream as well as time for training the two horses she currently owns with partner Jamie Latham.
One of these, Forge Valley, is likely to make his Cartmel debut during the next week as Walton gets set to further her point-to-point training career on home turf.
And having worked for a trainer who has clocked up nearly 100 winners since 2004 in both National Hunt and Flat racing, Walton hopes some of that magic will rub off.
“I learned a lot from James and his father Dudley, those two taught me everything I know about racing,” she said.
“But with the experience gained from working with them both, I thought why shouldn’t I go point-to-point and have a go and challenge myself.
“It was undoubtedly a big decision to leave but we’ll see how it goes. The ultimate aim is to have a full trainer’s licence in say ten years and make it viable.
“But having worked for a trainer I know how important it is to build the yard and build the business and that’s the intention as I want to do this for a living.
“At the minute it is still a hobby as I’m working to fund the two horses we have but if they run well, hopefully people will start noticing and we can get horses in that way.
“I fully intend to train for other people in future. For now though it’s a learning curve.”
Forge Valley is a bay gelding bought last August from Doncaster Bloodstock Sales, initially viewed as a rung on the ladder more than prized pedigree.
However, the ten-year-old has surprised in the races entered to date, with his next challenge likely to be the Hunter Chase at Cartmel on either Saturday or Wednesday.
And without wishing to suggest any odds, Walton believes Forge Valley, with Tom Greenwood in the saddle, is more than capable of making a wave or two in the right conditions.
“We just bought him as a cheap horse out the sales and something to get us used to point-to-point competition as it’s a lot different to under rules racing,” added Walton.
“But he ran for us for the first time in March at Corbridge and came second and has had another second-place finish and a third which we weren’t expecting.
“He’s a stayer and jumps anything. He’s a one-paced, big galloping horse and he’ll just stay all day.
“He prefers it when the going is soft as it slows everything down, whereas if it’s quick they just go flat out and he can’t keep up with that pace.
“We would be stupid if we didn’t go for Cartmel as it’s right on our doorstep. I certainly wouldn’t rule out him making an impression.”
# The traditional curtain raiser of the Cartmel racing season takes place on Saturday in the form of the North West Evening Mail Vintage Racenight, with the first race at 5.50pm.
The Totepool May Bank Holiday Fun Day follows on Monday with race one starting at 2.20pm, with a more relaxed fixture, Cartmel’s Picnic Day, taking place on Wednesday, also with a 2.20pm start.