Gainsborough Stud is a feature of Woolton Hill and yet I, like probably many, know little of what lays behind the wonderful manicured flower beds. Consequently, I thought I would do a feature on the stud and I went to see Jacqui Ballantyne, who runs the office, to have a chat and try and share a little of what happens there.
The stud, which comprises of just over 100 acres, was originally purchased in 1982. It was first Gainsborough Stud Management but was later taken over by the extensive Godolphin Management Company Ltd which is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
Even though the ownership has changed, the name Gainsborough Stud remains, and horses are bred at Gainsborough Stud to race all over the world and a plaque in the grounds show which horses born there have won the prestigious ‘Group’ races.
There are around 30 mares resident there at any one time and the busy time for the 6 stud people working there is between January to May when the mares have their foals. The timing of this is critical as horses are given ages in the year of birth and they need to be as old as possible for when they start racing from the age of 2.
Below is a picture of the immaculate foaling area:
All of the horses born at Gainsborough Stud will be raced on the flat. The foals will be moved to other studs to grow and mature, once they are around 6 months old. They then move on to Godolphin trainers, who are based around Newmarket, when they are around 2 years old.
When I asked about Open Days, Jacqui explained that given that the horses are highly strung and sensitive, there is an obvious ‘health and safety’ aspect to protect the horses and unfortunately, given this, they are not able to have open days for the community. They do though try to work closely with local schools and provide supervised, educational tours, through the Racing to Schools programme.
As a request from those at the stud, please be aware that loud noise and, especially fireworks, can cause obvious distress for the horses and Jacqui asked that people think about this when planning fireworks outside of the normal time on 5th November or New Years Eve, and they would really appreciate being made aware (telephone number 253273) of any event so they can try and take appropriate measures with the horses.