Neardown Stables/Four Acres
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1964-1970 Jack Dowdeswell
Jack Dowdeswell, born in Berkshire on 27th May 1917, was one of six children in the family. At the age of 14 he went to Ted Gwilt's Saxon House stables in 1931 with an eagerness to learn and a keenness for hard work. He was badly treated by Gwilt, who exploited his position as trainer when he should have seen it as a caring, supportive role. Jack viewed it as slave labour, being made to work for 14 hours a day, with little respite and no real chance of escaping the shackles of an apprenticeship. In the end Jack survived and had the last laugh when he declined Gwilt's offer of a pay rise after he had qualified, choosing instead to work for Captain Bay Powell at Albourne, where his natural riding skills were fully appreciated, and Jack began to thrive. The Second World War came at an awkward time for Jack, but he completed his National Service in the Royal Horse Artillery, serving in Italy and North Africa, and after the War had ended he was able to resume his riding career, winning at Wye for Captain Bay Powell on his first ride back. Jack married Betty, his lifelong partner, and the couple were blessed with two children, Michael and Liz, who has been of enormous help in constructing the History of Lambourn Racing Stables. In the 1946-47 season he won the National Hunt Jockeys championship and then began to chalk up wins in some of the most high-profile jump races of the day. He won the 1947 Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree with Good Date trained by Captain Bay Powell, and Jack also partnered the horse in the 1947 Grand National but fell. The year 1954 was a good one for Jack, landing the 1954 Imperial Cup at Sandown riding The Pills 20/1, and winning the Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival with Hipparchus for very supportive owner trainer Peter Rice-Stringer. The next year Jack was successful in the Queen Elizabeth Chase at the much-lamented Hurst Park on Limb of the Law for owner Mr E Bee. For all of his successes in the saddle, Jack fared badly in the Grand National, riding in it 7 times and failing to complete on every occasion. He first rode Second Act 100/1 in the 1939 National, falling at the 9th fence, but partnered the same horse in 1940, falling at the 14th fence. The 1947 ride on Good Date saw him fall; he fell at the first in 1951 on Cadamstown; he fell at the 23rd fence in 1954 on Ordnance II 18/1; he was brought down at Becher's Brook in 1955 on Roman Fire 66/1, and finally in 1956 he fell at the 26th fence on Armorial III when 20/1. In 1956 Jack suffered a bad fall on Le Captain at Buckfastleigh on Whit Saturday, seriously damaging his spine and forcing him to retire from race riding. Undeterred, he set about the task of preparing himself for training, working for Commander Bisgood at Stork House, and by the early 1960s he was full prepared to launch his training career. In August 1960 Jack, described by newspapers as a 'fearless rider over the sticks' applied for a National Hunt trainers licence, moving to Delamere on Folly Road in 1961. He remained at Delamere between 1961 and 1963, and then built 22 boxes at a new stables he named Four Acres. He remained at Four Acres for 7 years before the Honourable Ben Leigh took over in 1972, renaming it Neardown Stables. The number of boxes increased to 50 between 1977 and 2001, and then further increased to 80 boxes when Ian Wood was in charge in 2001. Jack's first training success was on Wednesday 11th January 1961 at Plumpton in the Worthing Novices Chase with Nasserling, However, he had an anxious wait because there was an objection and Stewards Enquiry before the objection was overruled, leaving Jack to celebrate.

Having started with just a single owner and National Hunt licence in 1961, Jack gained 4 owners in early 1962 and a string of a dozen horses, encouraging him to successfully apply for a Flat licence in January 1962. One owner in particular, George V Keeling, sent Jack on a spending spree to the Newmarket Sales where he bought him Powder Rock for 1250 guineas, and Crown Imperial for 710 guineas, both horses winning races in 1962. In truth, Jack's training career did not hit the same high spots as his 359 victory riding career had done, so in 1970 he retired from the training ranks. He started a steam-cleaning business for stables, but still tried to ride out as often as possible despite previous injuries. When Jack left Four Acres, he, wife Betty and their family went to live in Lavender Cottage, Upper Lambourn which was owned by David Nugent and Lady Eliza Nugent, fondly remembered as a lovely lady.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the 1830 map shown above.
Jack helped in training a few of David's horses in the yard next to the Cottage.  One horse, Fort D'or, was in the Guinness Book of records for being the tallest racehorse at that time. When David Nugent stopped training, Eliza wanted to set the Dowdeswell's up with another house despite Lavender Cottage being huge, and she told them to look for a house in the village and when found one, they remained there for life, until Betty sadly died Christmas Day 2015. Jack lived a long, successful life and died peacefully in his sleep at Newbury Hospital on 16th June 2011 and was buried in Upper Lambourn cemetery.

The horse which cost half-a-crown
Betty Dowdeswell, wife of former top jockey and Four Acres trainer Jack Dowdeswell, was always keen on bargains and loved going to the races. However, at Newbury one day she was chatting to Gwyn Morgan, an Oxford bookmaker who owned a gelding trained by Dowdeswell named Horsepath Lad, telling Morgan that she had always wanted to own a racehorse. Morgan said he was fed up with Horsepath Lad, who had never been placed despite costing 1000 guineas, and that she could have the horse for half-a-crown. Betty jumped at the chance, the deal was sealed by the shake of hands and half-a-crown was duly paid to Morgan. Horsepath Lad, shown opposite and below, went on to win for Betty.

1947 Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree GOOD DATE 100/8 trained by Captain Powell and ridden by Jack Dowdeswell
1954 Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival HIPPARCHUS 100/8 owned and trained by Peter Rice-Stringer and ridden by Jack Dowdeswell
1954 Imperial Cup at Sandown THE PILLS 20/1 owned and trained by Peter Rice-Stringer and ridden by Jack Dowdeswell
1955 Queen Elizabeth Chase at Hurst Park LIMB OF THE LAW 9/1 owned by E Bee, trained by Tom Yates and ridden by Jack Dowdeswell
I am grateful to Liz Beard for the photo above showing the celebration after Horsepath Lad's victory owned by Betty Dowdeswell and trained by husband Jack.

1961 Worthing Novices Chase at Plumpton NASSERLING 7/4 fav trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by Tim Brookshaw
1961 Lydney Novices Chase at Cheltenham DOMINIE 5/4 fav trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by P Pickford
1962 Newtown Hurdle at Newbury CROWN IMPERIAL 6/1 owned by George V Keeling, trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by P G Madden
1962 Summer Stakes at Chepstow POWDER ROCK 11/2 owned by George V Keeling, trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by C Moss
1962 Bredon Hills Handicap Chase at Wincanton PANISSE 3/1 owned by George V Keeling, trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by Michael Scudamore
1962 Summer Handicap at Manchester POWDER ROCK 7/4 fav owned by George V Keeling, trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by Doug Smith
1966 Shylock Handicap Hurdle at Stratford BADMASH trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by D Barrett
1967 Yorkshire Main Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster BADMASH 6/1 trained by Jack Dowdeswell and ridden by Jeff King

1972-1974 Honourable Ben Leigh
Benjamin Chandos Leigh, born in Stoneleigh Abbey, Kenilworth,Warwickshire in 1941 was the son of Lord Leigh who owned the family seat at Stoneleigh and was a permit trainer. Ben was educated at Cothill before going to Eton, where he was cox of the Eton VIII when they won the Ladies Plate at the Henley Royal Regatta. After leaving Eton he joined the 11th Prince Albert's Own Regiment of the Royal Hussars, serving for some time in Germany. Having a similar interest in racing to his father, Ben joined Captain Tim Forster as assistant, where he partnered Rueil to victory in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown in 1965. He left Forster to join Freddie Maxwell as his assistant at Lambourn House before launching his own training career in 1972 when he was based at Neardown Stables. He had early wins with Menu at Doncaster and Deauville Dave at Warwick, but admitted that his fastest horse during his 3-year spell at Neardown was Brer Rabbit. The horse was purchased for 5000 guineas as a yearling for Mrs Paul Arnold and Mrs David Towill and landed an almighty gamble when backed down from 16/1 to 8/1 to win the Beckhampton 2-y-o Stakes at Newbury. Ben later sent the horse to the continent, winning a major race in Milan and remaining on the continent. Ben left Neardown at the end of 1974 to work in equine insurance, and was replaced by H Williams.
1965 Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown RUEIL 11/2 owned and ridden by Ben Leigh and trained by Captain Tim Forster
1972 Stakes race at Doncaster MENU 4/11 fav trained by Ben Leigh and ridden by Robert Edmondson
1972 Stakes race at Warwick DEAUVILLE DAVE 11/8 fav trained by Ben Leigh and ridden by Brian Taylor
1974 Beckhampton Two-year-old Stakes at Newbury BRER RABBIT 8/1 owned by Mrs Paul Arnold and Mrs David Towill, trained by Ben Leigh and ridden by Robert Edmondson

1976 H Williams
H Williams began training as a dual-purpose trainer at Stork House in 1972 and continued for the next 4 years, although his wins were predominantly in minor events. However, he did have one claim to fame during his time in Lambourn, for he was responsible for Rag Trade as a 7-year-old when the chaser had not won any races in his career to date.  Rag Trade, by Menelek out of The Rage, was bred by Ian Williams, son of Evan Morgan Williams who partnered Royal Mail to Grand National success in 1937, and sent to Stork House. He won the 1973 Sapling Novices Chase at Ascot when ridden by Bob Champion, who also rode a Grand National winner, Aldaniti, in the famous 1981 Grand National. Williams thought him good enough to contest the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and was to be partnered by owner Ian, but on the day he was withdrawn, the race going to Foreman 11/2, trained by Harry Thomson-Jones and ridden by Bill Shand-Kydd. In 1974 Rag Trade was transferred to the stables of George Fairbairn and won the Langley Chase at Hexham, partnered by Michael Dickinson. In 1975 Rag Trade was purchased at the Doncaster sales for 18,000 guineas and sent to be trained by Arthur Pitt for a stab at the 1975 Grand National, finishing tenth, and last, ridden by John Francome. Later that year he won the Midlands Grand National and Uttoxeter. He won the 1976 Welsh Grand National prior to winning the 1976 Aintree Grand National at 14/1, defeating the legendary Red Rum in the process. Unfortunately, in 1978, when 8/1 favourite for the National, and partnered by Jonjo O'Neill, he pulled up lame after the 21st fence and was euthanized. H Williams departed Stork House in 1975 and transferred to Neardown Stables vacated by Ben Leigh.

1977-1978 Patrick Haslam
Patrick Haslam was born on 10th January 1948 and took out his first trainer's licence in 1971. He began training at Lynchets, Upper Lambourn, training on both the flat and National Hunt. Indeed, one of his two main claims to fame was that he trained a winner at every racecourse, although Ffos Las and Chelmsford City opened after he had retired. He transferred to Neardown Stables in 1977 where he remained for a year, and then left Lambourn in 1979 to take over at Pegasus Stables, Newmarket, replacing Michael Jarvis. He won the Bunbury Cup in consecutive years in 1983 and 1984 with Mummy's Pleasure, and the 1983 Richmond Stakes with Godstone. In 1984 he achieved a Royal Ascot success in the Royal Hunt Cup with Hawkley. He departed from Pegasus Stables at the end of the 1988 season, moving to Middleham in North Yorkshire. Thus, he achieved the second of his claims to fame, which is that he trained in all 3 principal training areas in the country, Lambourn, Newmarket and Middleham. He died on 14th October 2017 after a long illness.

1979-1984 Reg Akehurst
Reginald Peter John Akehurst, born on 4th July 1929 in Folkestone, started his racing career as apprentice to Doug Marks, partnering his first winner, Grand Refrain, at Plumpton on 25th February 1953. Although he did fall short of a century of winners, he was much better known as a trainer, launching his training career at Russley Park, Baydon in 1967, but within a year he had moved to Hillcot where he trained his first high class horse Gold Rod, owned and bred by Lottie Dickson. Gold Rod won the 1970 Greenham Stakes at Newbury, ridden by Lester Piggott, and the Prix du Moulin, earning him a rating as one of the best milers of 1970. He ran 31 races in his career, being placed on 26 occasions, including in the St James' Palace Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 1971 Goodwood Mile and 1972 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. He was unfortunate to be foaled at a time of Brigadier Gerard, My Swallow and Mill Reef, for he twice chased home the Brigadier, and was also third in the famous inaugural running of the Juddmonte International Stakes, then known as the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, when Roberto defeated Brigadier Gerard. Reg and his wife Sheila had a son, John in 1961, and in 1972, when John was 10, Akehurst and his family left Hillcot and moved to Bourne House, Lambourn where he remained until the end of 1978. In 1979 Reg moved to Upper Lambourn to take over at Neardown Stables, replacing Patrick Haslam who decided to move to Newmarket. After winning the 1973 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot with Doleswood, his flow of winners decreased and he had a relatively unsuccessful 6 years at Neardown, moving his string to South Hatch, Epsom in 1985 where he was significantly more successful. He was recognised as a master with handicap horses, landing the 1989 Lincoln Handicap with Fact Finder, the 1995 Wokingham Handicap with Astrac, the Royal Hunt Cup on 2 occasions, firstly in 1994 with Face North, and then in 1997 with Red Robbo; the 1987 Ascot Stakes with Inlander, and again in 1996 with Southern Power, and the 1996 Queen Alexandra Stakes with Admirals Well. As a dual purpose trainer he had his successes over the jumps as well. He won the 1992 Finale Junior Hurdle with Dare to Dream and the 1996 Aintree Hurdle with Bimsey. His best success over the larger obstacles was in the 1990 Welsh National with Cool Ground ridden by Luke Harvey. He did enjoy further handicap victories in Epsom, notably the 1993 Ebor Handicap at York with Sarawat, and Urgent Request in the Northern Dancer Handicap at his local track, but Reg retired in 1997.

1983-1990 Rod Simpson
Rodney Simpson, born in Putney on 16th September 1945, son of a Merchant Navy man and a barmaid, moved to South Croydon early on in his life. Whilst he did not have an upbringing involving horses, and was not all that keen on his school days, he had an ambition to join the Royal Horse Guards. During his teens he lived barely 15 miles from Epsom Racecourse, but it was his PE teacher, Mrs Bassett who gave him the chance to ride his first horse, and it was thanks to her that he contemplated working in racing stables, initially hoping to become a jockey. He spent 5 years as an apprentice with Cyril Mitchell, who trained at Heath House, Burgh Heath, and was even given a few rides, but he knew that he was never going to make the grade as a jockey. His first ride, on 22nd June 1964 at Folkestone was aboard Ramillies in the Stayers Handicap, but it was unplaced. He had spells with John Hooton, Alec Kerr and Maurice Zilber, gaining experience at each in readiness for his own career as a trainer. He launched his training career in an unconventional way, training for Dr Tom Wade and his wife Thelma, the first of more than a dozen stables he was to train at. A number of stables later he grabbed the chance to lease South Hatch Stables, near Epsom, replacing former champion jockey Scobie Breasley, who was taking over as manager of Ravi Tikkoo's horses, and Rod enjoyed much success during his time at South Hatch. The yard already celebrated prominent winners in the past, notably the 1943 Epsom Derby winner Straight Deal (SR 2051) 100/6 winner owned by Miss Dorothy Paget, trained by Walter Nightingall and ridden by Tommy H Carey, so Rod was aiming high. He won the notoriously difficult handicap, the City & Suburban at Epsom, with African Pearl in 1982, and then hit the jackpot with Bajan Sunshine in the 1983 Cesarewitch, taking some fancy prices from 66/1 downwards along the way. But he immediately suffered two body blows; straight after the Cesarewitch owner Paul Green decided to take Bajan Sunshine away from Rod and move it to the successful Martin Pipe stable to carve out a jumping career. The second body blow followed shortly afterwards when Rod had to up sticks from South Hatch and head for Neardown Stables, Lambourn, which Reg Akehurst had just vacated. He won the valuable Queen's Prize at Kempton with Fortune's Guest, who had run well in the previous years Cesarewitch behind stablemate Bajan Sunshine, and did loyal owner and newspaper tipster Tony Stafford a couple of favours with his horse Tangognat, winning a maiden at Kempton at 20/1, and then just 4 days later landing the Magnolia Stakes at 6/5. Tony and Rod realised that Tangognat was a Triumph Hurdle horse in the making, sending it to Cheltenham on New Year's Day 1986 to win the Steel Plate Trial Hurdle at 3/1 in the hands of Peter Scudamore. Whilst at Neardown Rod struck up a winning relationship with multi-millionaire owner Terry Ramsden who was terrifying the bookmakers at that time. Terry owned Brunico and Rod decided to aim high with him by running in the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at the 1986 Chester May meeting. The horse duly won at 33/1 and Rod was so pleased that he punched Wayne Jackson, the 32-stone minder of Terry Ramsden. No offence was made, and none taken, but Rod had contemplated lifting Wayne up instead, but thought that was a step too far. In 1987 Rod decided to target Pinctada at the William Hill Horse of the Year prize awarded to the horse which won the most races during the year. In 1985 Chaplins Club had won the prize after winning 8 races, but Rod fancied his chances in 1987. The horse began the season winning a couple of Hurdle races at Windsor and Bangor to ensure that the horse was fit before the Flat campaign began. In June and July the horse ran up 5 straight wins, two at Lingfield, and one each at Beverley, Brighton and Haydock before the run came to an end at Pontefract when Pinctada was beaten into third by Cheerful Times. It was a valiant effort, made all the more difficult because Pinctada had to have soft ground, but he just came up short. Terry Ramsden, who owned Neardown Stables, leasing it to Rod Simpson, made his money buying and selling Japanese warrants and through his Edinburgh based company, Glen International, but after the Black Monday Market Crash on Monday 19th October 1987, Ramsden suddenly found himself in a financially challenging position. Rod knew that his own future at Neardown was in the balance and decided to buy it for £330,000. After the market crash interest rates began to increase to such an extent that Rod found it difficult to meet mortgage payments, relocating to Foxhill Stables, close to the Wiltshire and Berkshire border.
1982 City & Suburban Handicap at Epsom AFRICAN PEARL 5/1 owned by Jim McCaughey, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Bryn Crossley
1983 Cesarewitch at Newmarket BAJAN SUNSHINE 7/1 owned by Paul Green, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Brian Rouse
1983 Harewood Handicap at York AMARONE 7/1 owned by Mr V Advani, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Simon Whitworth
1984 Queen's Prize at Kempton FORTUNE'S GUEST 9/4 owned by V Advani, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Simon Whitworth
1985 Ruth Wood Maiden Stakes at Kempton TANGOGNAT 20/1 owned by Tony Stafford, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by K Radcliffe
1985 Magnolia Stakes at Kempton TANGOGNAT 6/5 owned by Tony Stafford, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by K Radcliffe
1986 Steel Plate Trial Hurdle at Cheltenham TANGOGNAT 3/1 owned by Tony Stafford, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Peter Scudamore
1986 Ripley Novices Hurdle at Sandown BRUNICO 5/2 owned by terry Ramsden, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Dermot Browne
1986 Haywards Pickle Stakes at Doncaster BRUNICO 9/4 fav owned by terry Ramsden, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Tim Thomson Jones
1986 Group 3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester BRUNICO 33/1 owned by terry Ramsden, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Brent Thompson
1987 Londesborough Handicap at Beverley PINCTADA 7/2 fav owned by Excite Ltd, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Simon Whitworth
1987 Brooke Bond Choicest Tea Handicap at Lingfield PINCTADA 13/8 fav owned by Excite Ltd, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Tim Tomson-Jones
1987 Palace Handicap at Brighton PINCTADA 7/4 fav owned by Excite Ltd, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Simon Whitworth
1987 Kaltenberg Diat Pils Apprentice Handicap at Lingfield PINCTADA 8/11 fav owned by Excite Ltd, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Mark Gallagher
1987 Paddock Handicap at Haydock PINCTADA 4/6 fav owned by Excite Ltd, trained by Rod Simpson and ridden by Simon Whitworth

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1991-1997 John Akehurst
John Akehurst, son of trainer Reg Akehurst and his wife Sheila, was born in 1961 and was destined to spend his life in racing. He began working for Fulke Walwyn at Saxon House stables, Upper Lambourn before moving across to Stan Mellors. Although he had a limited riding career, riding just one winner as an amateur, he was always more likely to carve out a career as a trainer. He was assistant to his father and in 1991 he took over at Neardown Stables where his father had spent 6 relatively unsuccessful years compared with what Reg achieved later in Epsom. When father Reg retired John took over at Epsom where he trained his most high-profile winner, Capricho in the 2002 Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. He also enjoyed a Group 3 win with Capricho in the Holsten Trophy in Hamburg, and a Pattern Race win with Mac Love in the 2004 Supreme Stakes. Like his father John was good with handicappers, landing the Ladbroke Handicap at Newmarket in 2001 and 2002 with Marsad. John was ill for some time and sadly died aged 51 at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Surrey on 14th March 2012.

1998-1999 Kevin Bell
In 1998, after John Akehurst departed for South Hatch, Epsom, Neardown Stables was purchased by Ian Wood and his wife Joyce, who put Kevin Bell in charge while Ian learnt the training ropes as his assistant. Kevin remained for two seasons before moving down the road to Upshire when Ian Wood was ready to train in his own right.

2000-2012 Ian Wood
Ian Wood, born in Scotland circa 1948, was hooked on racing when he saw the massive Roman Warrior win at Ayr in the 1970s. Ian had an early career as a financial expert, working in credit consultancy, before deciding to follow his dream and apply for a trainers licence. He did have horses with Lester Piggott and Alan Jarvis, but had limited training experience when he took the plunge. He began training at Neardown Stables in 2000, replacing Kevin Bell, and soon began chalking up the winners. In his second season he had high hopes for the filly Celestien who won the EBF Vyner Fillies Stakes at Doncaster and was aimed high in the 2001 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but tragedy struck when she fractured a hind pastern and had to be put down. When Wood moved out Charlie Mann purchased the stables and began a complete overhaul of the stables.
2001 EBF Vyner Fillies Stakes at Doncaster CELESTIEN 9/4 owned by John Purcell, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Jamie Spencer
2001 Chessington World of Adventure Stakes at Windsor PRINCESS ALMORA 20/1 owned by B J Tutin, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Fergus Sweeney
2001 Bet Direct Fillies Handicap at Windsor PRINCESS ALMORA 11/4 owned by B J Tutin, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Darryll Holland
2001 Tote Quick Pick Handicap at Kempton PRINCESS ALMORA 12/1 owned by B J Tutin, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Paul Doe
2012 British Stallion Studs Fillies Condition Stakes at Windsor THREE CROWNS 11/1 owned by Miss Jacqueline Goodearl, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa
2012 Moulton Nurseries Fillies Handicap at Yarmouth RIVAS RHAPSODY 9/4 owned by D Hefin Jones, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Michael J Murphy
2012 Rolland Gorringe Fillies Handicap at Brighton BUTTON MOON 8/1 owned by Paddy Barrett, trained by Ian Wood and ridden by Seb Sanders

2013-2019 Charlie Mann
Charles James Mann, born on 3rd April 1958 in Dumfries, left school aged 15 to join the Newmarket stable, Flint Cottage, run by Peter Poston. After a period with Poston he became an apprentice at Boroughbridge, Yorkshire under the guidance of Tony Gillam, partnering his first winner, La Valse, at Southwell in the Burton Joyce Novice Hurdle.

His promise was recognised by Nicky Henderson and Charlie moved to Windsor House Stables, Lambourn in 1979. He turned professional and always dreamt of winning the Grand National, or the equally thrilling Czech equivalent, the Velka Pardubicka. Sadly, he attempted the Aintree Grand National 4 times, each time on a seeming no-hoper; in 1981 on Tenecoon 100/1 he was unseated at the 11th, the open ditch; in 1983 on Williamson 100/1 he was brought down at The Chair; in 1986 on Doubleuagain 500/1 he was knocked over at the 17th; in 1987 on Lucky Rew 500/1 he was unseated at the first and thought, enough is enough. He did record a number of wins in high profile races, not least the Mercedes Benz Chase, the Fullwell Chase at Kempton and the Geoffrey Gilbert Hurdle, but although he had retired from English racing in 1988, he was still able to ride abroard. In 1994 he contested his beloved Velka Pardubicka, the Czech Grand National, partnering It's a Snip 7/1 and finished a creditable second to Erudit. Undeterred, he returned the next year on the same horse, winning the 1995 Velka Pardubicka on 10-year-old It's a Snip 7/2 joint favourite. By the time of his Czech victory, and after riding 149 winners, Charlie launched his training career in 1993 at Newlands, Upper Lambourn, straight after a period assisting Cath Walwyn.
Within a year he had moved to Kings Farm, Upper Lambourn, remaining there between 1995 and 1997, and then purchased Whitcoombe House from 1998. It was at this point of his career that he trained his most successful horse Celibate, winning many Handicap Chases, culminating in a victory in the Grade 1 BMW Chase at Punchestown in 1999, having previously landed the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury. Whilst at Whitcoombe House he won a number of high-profile races with Moral Support, Katie's Tutor and Moon over Miami. In 2013 he took over Neardown Stables and transformed it. After his move to Neardown his most successful horse was Morney Wing who won a number of important Nationals, including the 2017 Sussex National at Plumpton and 2018 London National at Sandown, while Like the Sound captured the 2019 Somerset National at Wincanton. After Charlie retired Neardown was taken over by Oliver Sherwood.
2015 Live Casino Handicap Chase at Haydock MORNEY WING 7/1 owned by The Steeple Chasers, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Denis O'Regan
2016 David Keith Memorial Handicap Chase at Fakenham MORNEY WING 7/1 owned by The Steeple Chasers, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Harry Bannister
2017 Sussex National at Plumpton MORNEY WING 12/1 owned by The Steeple Chasers, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Paddy Brennan
2018 Prince Carlton Handicap Chase at Fakenham MORNEY WING 9/1 owned by The Steeple Chasers, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Josh Moore
2018 Betfair London National at Sandown MORNEY WING 12/1 owned by The Steeple Chasers, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Rex Dingle
2019 Somerset National at Wincanton LIKE THE SOUND 16/1 owned by Stg Racing Partnership, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Harry Bannister
2019 Kiff & Anne Collier Memorial Chase at Taunton LIKE THE SOUND 9/2 owned by Stg Racing Partnership, trained by Charlie Mann and ridden by Harry Bannister

2019-July 2020 Tom Ward
Tom Ward launched his training career in 2019 after being granted a licence on 1st August 2019. He worked for a number of trainers, both in England and abroad, to gain the necessary experience to train in his own right, assisting Richard Hannon for 4 years before he branched out on his own. Prior to that he had worked for Alain de Royer-Dupre in France, Mark Johnston in Middleham, John Ferguson in Newmarket, John O'Shea in Australia and Kiaran McLaughlin in USA. In August 2020 the brand new Whitehouse Stables, Lambourn, was ready for occupancy and Tom and his wife Alex moved in. Alex took a different route in preparation for her new career, working at Tweenhills Stud in the marketing and Nominations departments, but also worked with dressage horses. In their first season at Whitehouse Stables they achieved 30 winners and are likely to go from strength to strength as their string increases in size.

Summer 2021-June 2023 Oliver Sherwood
Oliver Sherwood was born on 23 March, 1955 to Nat & Heather Sherwood, who owned a 2000 acre farm in Essex which contained the Marks Tey point-to-point course. Nat was Master of the East Essex Hunt, and both Nat and Heather were successful point-to-point riders in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so it was no surprise that Oliver and younger brother Simon enjoyed being surrounded by horses. After completing his compulsory education, firstly at Wellesley House prep school, followed by Radley School, Oliver rode as an amateur rider, amassing 96 winners and being crowned champion amateur in 1979-80. In 1979 he gained his first Cheltenham Festival success partnering Venture to Cognac in the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle, while the next year he rode Rolls Rambler to victory in the Christies Foxhunters Chase. One of his favourite horses as a jockey was undoubtedly Venture to Cognac, trained by Fred Winter, which provided him with his third and final Cheltenham Festival victory in the 1984 Christies Foxhunters Chase, and which a year earlier had given him his sole ride in the Grand National when unplaced behind the Jenny Pitman Lambourn trained Corbiere ridden by later fellow Lambourn trainer Ben de Haan. He hung up his riding boots in 1984, successfully applying for a trainers licence, and launching his training career at Rhonehurst Stables. After occupying the historic Rhonehurst Stables for over 35 years Oliver transferred to Neardown Stables in Upper Lambourn in Summer 2021, renting a yard owned by ex-trainer Charlie Mann who retired from the training ranks in 2021. In June 2023 Oliver announced that he would be retiring.
Top 5 Neardown Stable horses of all time
BRUNICO (1986 Ormonde Stakes)
BAJAN SUNSHINE (1983 Cesarewitch Handicap)
MORNEY WING (2018 London National, 2017 Sussex National)
FORTUNES GUEST (1984 Queens Prize)
AFRICAN PEARL (1982 City & Suburban Handicap)
© John Slusar 2023

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