Horse-racing and bed-making seem to be two activities where Wellington is world-class. Every lorry from Relyon announces its international status whilst the Pipe racing stables are better-hidden in the hamlet of Nicholashayne but no less successful.
Founder trainer Martin Pipe and his son David, currently head of the yard, invited members and friends of Wellington Business Association to see this incredible operation close-up.
Pond House stables has facilities to accommodate over 100 horses in training, although in the summer months that number drops by about half as the Pipes mainly focus on National Hunt racing in the winter and spring months.
From an on-site laboratory for blood-tests to a circular 14ft-deep swimming pool for horses, the yard boasts a greater range of facilities than any other stables in the country. There’s a full two-furlong covered training track as well as the well-known outdoor gallops adjoining the Culmstock road. Not to mention a robot horse, to train jockeys and entertain visitors [see photos]
Much of the oats and hay to feed to the horses is grown on Pond House land and each animal has its own highly-specific nutrition plan. “Everything has to be right for a hore to be in the condition to win a race,” explained Martin, who remains the most successful trainer in British racing, with 16 championships to his name.
Many of the Pipe’s owners have had racehorses with the yard for many years and become family friends. It’s a tough, competitive world but they manage to succeed on the track yet remain a warm, friendly family business.