Team Ditcheat's engine room
Team Ditcheat does not run itself – behind the scenes we have a fantastic and loyal team that keep everything in check and running along smoothly.
Assistant Head Lad
David is Head Lad at the Highbridge yard in Ditcheat. He has always been a keen follower of racing with his interest sparked by the family point-to-pointers from a young age. David also rode in six point-to-points before gaining a degree in History at Reading University, graduating in 2007. David then decided to pursue his passion for National Hunt racing and gained valuable experience when working under Malcolm Jefferson for three seasons. He later joined Team Ditcheat as a lad at the beginning of the 2011/12 season and was appointed Assistant Head Lad in July 2013.
Travelling Head Girl
Julia joined us in May 2022 as our new Travelling Head Girl. She has worked in racing for the last 15 years and spent the last three seasons as 2nd Travelling at Phillip Hobbs.
Julia has ridden in point to points and also evented. She admits to getting stupidly attached to horses in her care.
She is very much looking forward to being part of the team here.
Assistant Travelling Head Girl
Flo joined us in 2019 after spells with Victor Dartnall and Jonjo O’ Neill, She spent 2 seasons assisting the head lad at our Highbridge yard before taking over the Assistant Travelling head girl position just after Christmas 2021.
Flo had a good start to her new role with us when taking Stage Star to Newbury for his Grade 1 Challow Hurdle victory on one her first outings and will assist Julia with travelling our horses to race meetings up and down the country.
Sarah started in 2006 after four years as secretary to flat trainer Ralph Beckett. She assists Paul with entries, declarations and other racing arrangements. Sarah rode 36 point-to-point winners and still rides out most days at Manor Farm Stables. Having been lucky enough to partner Master Minded, Big Buck’s and Taranis up Ditcheat Hill in the past, Sarah’s current favourite is Cat Tiger.
Lina joined us in 2010 and manages the accounts at Manor Farm Stables. Lina has an equine background having worked in racing, point-to-point and eventing yards. She took time out when her children were born and used the opportunity to gain an accounts qualification. Racing is her first love and she was very happy to be able to re-join the industry in a more administrative role.
PA & HR Manager
Hannah re-joined the team in August 2015 having previously spent seven years working for Paul as a groom, looking after some top class horses including Master Minded, Celestial Halo and Al Ferof. Hannah’s new role is now more office and people based although she does find time to ride the 2020 Champion Chase winner Politologue, without question her favourite hour of the day. Whilst in the office Hannah carries out a number of duties from essential day to day tasks to making sure the staff are well looked after in any way they can be, she is a kind, caring approachable face around the yard and a massive asset to a big team like Paul’s.
Having spent thirteen years working for successful west country trainer Phillip Hobbs, in several roles from second travelling head girl to running his second yard, Natalie joined us in the summer of 2018 as a pupil assistant and amateur jockey. Natalie spends her time at top yard riding some high class young horses including her favourite horse Silver Forever. As well as being a hardworking and committed member of the team from day to day she also rides successfully in point to points. Natalie a qualified HGV driver occasionally takes horses racing and does a superb job representing the yard when required.
Conor arrived in Ditcheat in March of 2022 having worked for Joseph O’Brien in the past and latterly for our own Will Biddick. He has ridden winners between the flags and is brother to jockey Sean Houlihan. Conor works mainly from Highbridge helping David in various ways from ensuring all the morning work with the horses runs smoothly to feeding on his weekends. During afternoon stables Conor spends his time working tirelessly on both yards and on the gallops to keep everything to the standard that is expected at this yard. A lifelong racing fan, Conor also has a real interest in the bloodstock side of the industry.
Pre-training and breaking
A proud Cornishman, Will is now the winning most British point to point rider of all time and having set up his business in the autumn of 2016 has very quickly become a vital part of the operation with the Paul Nicholls team.
A Cheltenham Festival winning rider in his professional days in the saddle Will has a remarkable talent with young horses that gives all our unbroken or troublesome youngsters the best possible start to their lives in our care.
Will is now based in the village of Alhampton a mile south of Ditcheat, so is able to use all our facilities on a daily basis. Will has a wonderful nature with young horses and teaches them all the skills they need to have before joining us and embarking on their racing career.
Although Paul and Will have only worked together on this young horse project for three seasons, there have already been a lot of winners to come out of this system from Enrilo, the Grade 2 Winter Novice hurdle winner, Mcfabulous the Grade 2 Aintree bumper and EBF Final winner, to Confirmation Bias, Sabrina and Threeunderthrufive who all won bumpers in the 2019/20 season.
Paul generally buys future chasers when looking at young horses and as time goes on there is a firm belief that many more smart horses will be produced through this system with Will giving them the start in life they require.