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
Kate, or Nutty as she is affectionately known, started with Paul in 2009 working as a full-time member of staff before heading off to Harry Fry’s to become travelling head girl. After a successful stint with away, Kate returned to Ditcheat in December 2016 to take up the head travelling role for Paul and has not looked back since.
She works some incredibly long hours throughout the entire year getting the horses to and from the races safely, ensuring their health and well being when they are away from the yard. Kate loves her job dearly and has an admirable passion for the horses she works with be it at Taunton on a Monday or Ascot on a Saturday she brings the same work rate and enthusiasm to her tasks. When not at the races Nutty works hard at home and can normally be found feeding her favourite horse San Benedeto polo mints.
Assistant Travelling Head Girl
Trudie, who has worked in racing now just over a decade first started working for Paul in 2008 where she worked as a full time member of staff riding plenty of good horses including Zarkandar. After a five-year stint with Paul, Trudie wanted to see more of the world and gained experience summering in Australia and France before spending four years with Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins.
Ditcheat, however, was never far from Trudie’s heart and she returned in 2018 to take up the role as assistant travelling head girl. When not at the races or transporting horses around the country Trudie rides out at home and looks after several horses including her absolute favourite Grand Sancy.
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 formerly rode out daily at Manor Farm Stables. Having been lucky enough to partner Master Minded, Big Buck’s and Taranis up Ditcheat Hill on occasion, these days she prefers her office chair and eventing as a hobby with her own horse!
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 the last 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 Getaway Trump. As well as being a hardworking and committed member of the team from day to day she has struck up some excellent partnerships with Virak for Rose Loxton between the flags and Southfield Vic in hunter chases last season. Natalie a qualified HGV driver occasionally takes horses racing and does a superb job representing the yard when required.
Charlie, 23, arrived in Ditcheat in July of 2019 having worked for Jonjo O’Neill and Charlie Longsdon in the past. He has ridden winners between the flags and ridden a small amount under rules but has really found his niche in what he is doing now. Charlie 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 Charlie 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 Charlie has an excellent knowledge of the sport and has very quickly become a popular and important member of the team.
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.