By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)
One of the rising stars of the training ranks is Katie Scott. Based in the Scottish borders, she is having her best year by far, sitting on a total of seventeen winners, already eight more than in 2021.
Horse racing is something that has always been a part of Katie’s life, “When I was younger, my parents had point-to-pointers and I grew up through the Pony Club. We’d have common rides in the Borders, going to the point-to-points and it just sort of developed from there. I started helping out at Alister Whillans, who trained locally, going to the races, riding out at weekends and it then sort of followed on from there”.
Training was first a hobby before Katie decided to commit, “I started off training point-to-pointers in the afternoons after my job and that sort of took off and became full time and I thought, right, do or die, either take the plunge and go under rules or you’re gonna be stuck doing this forever. So, then, we made the plunge, applied for a licence and started off from that”.
The location of Katie’s training base means that Kelso is her closest track, but she has ended up being more flat-orientated, “Our two, sort of, luckiest tracks have ended up being Musselburgh and Ayr”.
“I think Ayr is very fair,” she elaborated, “I don’t think you get a lot of hard luck stories around there, flat or jumps. I don’t think you’re hugely hindered by the draw on the flat and I think the jumps as well – it’s a big, flat, galloping track and I really like it”.
Katie and her team’s success at the track continued with stable star Gweedore, who won the opening handicap on Ayr Gold Cup Day under Jason Hart, who Katie uses as much as possible. That was Gweedore’s ninth win for Katie from thirty-six starts and it was an important success for the team as it was live on ITV Racing. “We love him to bits,” Katie said, “He’s very hardy. He’s fantastic, but it’s just finding the right race for him”.
This appears to be an issue for many trainers lately, “There are piles of horses balloted out in class six races and all these have paying owners that want to run. It’s getting to the end of the season and they all feed hard done by because their horses are just going to be standing in a stable”.
The race programme is a highly debated matter and Katie offered her opinion, “I know some trainers are pushing for cutting three-hundred races and I think that’s a bit extreme. I think the plan that was put forward with more racing at the bottom and building it up as a pyramid might work for the horse population the way it is. A lot of the races you see empty, especially in the North, are those 0-90 grade. There’re too many options for these above average horses and they’re all avoiding each other”.
“I think sometimes it is quite hard, certainly the way the programme book works, it ends up like there’s voids in races or low runners, but when you take a step back, from my point of view, and I might be wrong, but it’s not totally to do with the lack of horses but the lack of planning. So, there’ll be like four races for one horse in a week and then nothing for three weeks so that horse will run once, whereas if those races were spaced out, it might run every week and I think that programme building could have a lot to do with sort of improving the racing nationally”.
Katie is very good at keeping her horses fit and running consistently well throughout the season. Gweedore has shown this, running thirteen times with three wins and four places. As well as Ayr, he graced the winners’ enclosure on ITV earlier on in the season when he won the Silver Arrow at Musselburgh on seasonal reappearance. This is significant for Katie as, “when you’re a small yard, people question whether you can get a horse fit off a long break, we had him spot on that day and he came out and won really well”.
Colinton has been excellent for Katie this season, too. He won three of his first four starts in 2022 and one of those victories was at Catterick, “We’ve had a lot of luck at Catterick, which is totally different [to Ayr] – it is really undulating and, with your draw, you need a bit of luck”. Colinton won going away that day and, since then, he has won a good race at Haydock and finished an admirable fourth at Musselburgh off top weight in a Sunday Series race.
The Sunday Series is a concept Katie is in support of, “It is an absolutely fantastic initiative. We started off the year with two, sort of, eligible to run in it. Then, we ran them both, one was placed and one wasn’t, but they both ended up being too highly rated so, I dunno. Hopefully, we’ll have some for next year”.
Looking at the upcoming National Hunt season, there will be a few horses for followers of the Scott yard to keep an eye on, “We’ve got five or six jumpers in, no flag bearers for us at the moment with our jumps lot, but we’ve got a couple of nice handicappers. We got a new one at the sales what hopefully might go on and do well so that’s exciting”.
I met Katie at URSA Major Racing’s ‘Owners’ Day’ at York Racecourse and she trains two horses for the syndicate. Far From A Ruby has been a credit to the racing club and her win at Ayr in August was impressive. An exciting daughter of Gutaifan, Justathimble, will be running in the Battenburg colours in the upcoming weeks. Her dam won six races and this filly looks like she will be good fun over the winter.
Katie was extremely complementary about syndicates and racing clubs, “When you look at the cost of having a horse in training, if it wasn’t for clubs and syndicates, it’s very elitist, whereas this opens the door for anyone, really, to get involved. You know, you could have a share in a horse for the price it costs to go to the pub for a pint on a Saturday night!”
I would like to thank Katie for talking to me and end with her advice for someone looking to working in racing that, I think, applied to life in general, “Work hard and stick at it. I think sometimes you have to remember that bad days are a bad day and you have to move on. I sort of think that the life we lead, the job we do, the highs are very high and the lows are very low. Sometimes, you just have to sort of try and stay in the middle and enjoy the good days and you have to learn to deal with the bad days”.