Horse racing and stabling may go back to the monks of Jervaux Abbey who were reputed to be the first horse breeders in Wensleydale.
Did King Richard III exercise on ‘Low Moor’? Or is it down to the Middleham racecourse that opened in 1739. What ever the reason Middleham is known for its stiff winds, ‘High Moor’ and strong air and being a great base for Racehorse training and stables.
Set high in Wensleydale, trainers, jockeys and horses alike can enjoy sensational scenery also enjoyed by many visitors. It is common place to see the horses on the gallops or if you stay in bed and breakfast or a local hostelry you may be woken by the early string on its way to exercise on the common land that is the Moor.
Gaitowners were those who have grazing rights over the land and they caused problem and injury to horses in the holes left by grazing cattle. Horses are now such a large part of the economy in Middleham that sensible arrangements have been created to allow the exercise and training to tackle place on undamaged ground.
Issac Cape of Tupgill Park stables may have been the first trainer to be based in Middleham. Many famous racehorses have been trained here including Derby winners Pretender 1869 and Dante 1945 and St Ledger winner Theodore. Another trainer Neville Crump turned out three Grand National winners from his famous yard Warwick House Stables, Sheila’s Cottage 1948, Teal 1952 and Merryman II 1960. More results and history from 1800 on Yorkshire Racing.
There are fifteen Jockey Club-licensed trainers in and around Middleham. Eight of them have their stables in Middleham and the others are at Coverham nearby. Between them the trainers have in their charge over 500 racehorses.
Middleham online has details of places to stay and other interesting things to do and helped compile this list of Stables:
Warwick Lodge Stables – the home of George Moore – National Hunt and Flat trainer with over 600 winners to date – another who played a leading role in Middleham’s racing revival.
Manor House Stables – where Patrick Haslam trains – with runners all year round on the flat, jumping and especially renowned for his successes on the All-Weather.
Wynbury Stables – Ferdy Murphy’s well known National Hunt yard at West Witton – with a string of successes including Cheltenham.
Ashgill Stables – for 42 years the yard of Ernie Weymes and now his son John Weymes has taken over the reins already with many successes. The yard has been re-furbished and restored and can boast excellent facilities as well as being handy for the Equine Pool and Gallops.
Kingsley House – probably the best know yard here today, home of trainer Mark Johnston. With around 160 horses in training and winners of some of the most prestigious Flat races in the world. Their logo says ‘Always Trying’ and they are doing just that – putting Middleham firmly on the racing map since arriving here in 1988! He is the first trainer ever to have 100 winners in ten consecutive Flat seasons!
Castle Stables -The home of Kate Milligan – small yard with successes in National Hunt racing.
Sharp Hill Farm – Kate Walton’s – another small but very successful yard.
Oakwood Stables – The yard of Micky Hammond.
Glasgow House Stables – Chris and Judy Fairhurst train at this famous old yard ~ which in 1822 sent out the first four in the St Ledger!
Sharp Hill Farm The yard of Chris Thornton – with modern American Barn style stabling
for 27 horses with excellent facilities and private access to Middleham Moor gallops
High Beck, Brecongill, Coverham. The yard of young trainer Jed O’Keeffe former assistant
to Micky Hammond.
Ashgill Yard 2 – Andy Crook’s yard.
Spigot Lodge – the home of trainer Karl Burke.
Thorngill, Coverham, Middleham – The yard of James Bethell
Brecongill, Coverham, Middleham – One of the oldest training yards in Middleham dating from the 18th century and where Sally Hall has trained since 1969
I have had many happy weekends with the family staying around Middleham and if you choose to visit take time out to sample local hospitality.