Interview with Olly Stevens
Olly is one of Britain’s most talented young trainers. With the backing of Sheikh Fahad he looks destined for the top. Here he gives a fascinating interview exclusively to The Racegoers Club...
If you weren’t a trainer what would you be?
As a teenager I used to Race dinghies to an International level. If I hadn’t such a passion for horses I might have pursued a career related to that. The RYA manage an excellent elite youth development program so it is no wonder that so many of my sailing contemporaries are now Olympic Medalists.
Other than horseracing, what is your favourite sport to watch, and to play?
I love to watch cricket, I’m a terrible player though. I thought that the coverage of the Americas cup and Olympic sailing was fantastic. If it didn’t clash so much with flat racing I would love to sail at the highest level again.
Please give us a playlist of your favourite five songs (and artists)
Wonderwall – Oasis
Baby’s Got Sauce – G Love and Special Sauce
Waggon Wheel – Darius Rucker
Hard to Be a Hippy – Willie Nelson and Billy Currington
Wessex Boy – Frank Turner
Your favourite TV programme/film?
Mexican food and Vodka & Tonic
Favourite holiday destination?
Kentucky either for Derby week or the Keeneland September sale. I’ve never had a beach holiday but we’re off to Fuerteventura for a week in February so I’ll let you know
Favourite and least favourite subject at school?
I loved economics at school. It all seemed to make sense. Latin was compulsory and I didn’t enjoy it much however in hindsight it was probably a good thing to have learnt and helps with veterinary terms!
Ideal dinner party guest?
Someone like Sir Ranulph Fiennes who has a great list of experiences and clearly a good sense of mischief too!
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?
And now for racing…
How old were you when you first sat on a horse?
2 or 3.
What attracted you to becoming a racehorse trainer?
Growing up in Newmarket I thought it was the most glamorous thing. As a boy trainers seemed like Hollywood stars, assistants seemed to all drive sporty cars and have pretty girlfriends, at the races it all looked like one giant party. A spell with Jessica Harrington in Ireland taught me that this was far from the reality but I still had a great passion for horses and winning so I kept going with it.
What is the best horse you have trained?
Lightning Thunder is rated the highest at 110. Prior to this, as an assistant I was lucky enough to be involved with KY Derby winner Super Saver also Belmont and BC Classic winner Drosselmeyer, These were nice horses to be around.
Your most memorable racing moment?
Winning the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot. It is without doubt the greatest race meeting on earth and to win there with our first runner was too good to be true. I still can’t quite believe it.
How many horses will you have in training this season?
Which horse are you most looking forward to training this season and why?
Gamesome is as good as any horse I have ever handled. If he can get a mile we are in good shape.
If you could train any horse, past or present, which would it be and why?
Arazi. I never get bored of watching the replay of his BC win.
Who is your racing hero and why?
My wife Hetta. She tolerates my bad moods, gets a great tune out of horses on work days and is an excellent judge. It is very much the two of us training the horses, a second pair of eyes is hugely valuable and I wish that joint licenses were issued in this country.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
To make fewer mistakes: Last year our strike rate plummeted from around 20% to 15 % towards the end of the season. I liked it better at 20