Assistant trainer to mum, Camilla, and the expert eye that spotted ACED IT

Eliza Poulton

This piece stands as my official introduction into the horseracing community and I could not be more excited to get started. Throughout this series of interviews, you will hear from a multitude of different people from within the world of horseracing. Whilst these people have a wealth of knowledge about horses and what it takes to be successful in this industry, which has put them as one of the best in their field, I am coming to this with nothing more than a recorder and an open mind. Hopefully, the more people I speak to, the more I will learn about this amazing community and who knows, maybe I’ll find a new favourite sport.

The world of horseracing may look very glamorous and high-end to the average on-looker.
High stakes bids, elite thoroughbreds, champagne and cocktails, with the staple extravagant hats on show at the Grand National each year. However, behind the showcase, there is a dedicated community of people working day in and day out, in muddy knee-high wellies, to keep the horses you know and love on track. From training to breeding, conditioning and even sitting in trailers with horses whilst en route to a race, the people behind the scenes of the horseracing world really do it all.

I was lucky enough to sit down with assistant trainer Eliza Poulton (via zoom, of course) to try and get a glimpse of what life is really like day-to-day with these majestic creatures. After working as an assistant trainer at Camilla Poulton Racing since 2017, Eliza is well-versed in the world of horses and taught me a thing or three about what it truly takes to make it in this tough business.

Coming from a family of racehorse trainers and being surrounded by horses, what was your childhood like?

When my mum and dad got together, they had me quite early and started training pretty much as soon as I was born, so I’ve literally been in (the world of horseracing) my whole life.
School was nothing to me. I wanted to pull a sicky every now and then, just so I could be at home and ride my pony. I think I rode my first racehorse when I was about 9; my mum let me ride out, which was amazing. I just had a passion for it from the beginning and I’ve stuck with it for, well, thirty years now.

Are there things that you did that you thought were normal for most children but you’ve since realised weren’t?

I was quite lucky in the fact that in our little village, my friend who lived up the road was very ‘horsey’ as well. So, every day after school, or any free time we had at the weekend, literally revolved around the horses. There would be other teenagers out in the park and we’d be out playing on our ponies. Obviously, back then, we had no mobile phones, so every moment we had it was just horses, horses, horses.

Over the past 2 years, how has your job and the lives of the horses been affected due

To be honest, it didn’t affect us too much, it actually worked out in our favour. We are a small stable, so it was nice to have a bit of a break, without racing. We are also a working farm, so it gave us time to get cracking with the lambing and we let the horses have a nice 6-week holiday. When people have horses in training, it costs a lot of money, so, because we’re quite cheap for training fees, we actually picked up quite a few owners who wanted to save some money whilst their horses couldn’t run.

As an assistant trainer yourself, what benefits do you think there were in growing up around horses and being part of such a hands-on family?

When you’re surrounded by it, you learn so much about natural horsemanship. Even the little things like, whilst you may not be a qualified vet, there are times when you know to call a vet and times when not to. I think a lot of inexperienced people who haven’t grown up around animals would call a vet at the smallest inconvenience and cause a big vet bill for themselves.

But, when you grow up around it, you learn all the ins and outs of those little, finer details. People can go on courses now to learn, but it’s nothing like the physical hands-on stuff and I think that knowledge and experience is what brings people to the top level.

It is almost a given that children born into a racing family will work within the industry in some capacity. Do you think that this is a positive thing or that it pigeon-holes people into a career that they may not have chosen for themselves?

I think it is a positive thing because it’s a tough industry. It’s important that people have grown up around it and not just started randomly in their mid-twenties thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll be a racehorse trainer now’, just because they can. The younger you start, the better, because you’re absorbing all this information and learning all the time. It is difficult to get out of because you become very passionate about it, you fall in love with the horses and the thrill of a good day. I guess if you’re not in it, you don’t know what you’re missing, but I think those people coming through, born into racing families is definitely a good thing.

If you had not been born into horseracing, do you think you would have approached
the sport on your own?

Possibly. If I was still ‘horsey’ and had a pony. I’m quite a sporty person, so I probably would’ve gone the other way into sport and been more of an athlete. I used to be big into playing netball and I’m a boxer as well now. Just general fitness is quite big for me.

Some people may think it is only jockeys who get injured within the sport, but, during your career, have you ever been injured?

Oh, yeah! It’s a very physical job. Day in, day out, you’re surrounded by the horses and anything could happen. I could be feeding them breakfast at 7am and get kicked.

Finally, what one piece of advice do you have for people wanting to get into
racehorse ownership?

Always read up on your reviews and syndicates. Never go into the first one you see. Do your research and speak to other people who are involved. Don’t go in at the deep end, always get involved in the syndicate first, take a small share and build it up from there. Syndicates and racing clubs are the way forward.

About the author - Molly Raby

Molly Raby is a member of The Gold and Green writing team and recently graduated from Salford university. I have always had a passion for writing and that was furthered during my time at university as I studied English Language and Creative Writing. I have always been interested in journalism as a career and wrote a few pieces for the university newspaper which allowed me to find my voice.

I have been actively looking for journalistic writing opportunities, so once I came across Green and Gold Crowd Racing and realised they were in need of a journalistic content writer, I knew I couldn’t let this chance pass me by. I am extremely excited to begin working here and representing those within this amazing community to the best of my ability.

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