Hugh Rowan – The Final Gamble

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is another piece in my Horse Racing History series. I feel like this may be a shorter one again, but I find these stories so interesting so I have to share!


Hugh Rowan was an Australian born massive gambler in the 1930’s and 1940’s who would bet up to £100,000 very single day, regardless if he won or lost. Norman Pegg, a racing journalist at the time described him as ‘an eccentric who lived by his wits’ as well as suggesting that he ‘must have made lots out of confidence tricks on rich and gullible people’.

Hugh Rowan was a strange character who would pay his West End hotel bill two years ahead and was such a believer in absolute cleanliness that he would have three baths a day, as well as washing himself another four or five times. He often annoyed hotel staff by throwing any soiled clothing like socks and shirts out of his room and into the corridor. He packed his belongings in a clean white pillowcase because he said dirt could not collect in the corners.

Hugh Rowan had no knowledge of racing form, in fact, in his own words he ‘did not know how to read form’. Those who knew him said he rarely watched racing at all, even when he had £50,000 on a horse.

In 1947, things went from bad to worse for Hugh Rowan. The Royal Ascot meeting left him in over £90,000 worth of debt. Within a few days he had settled £60,000 of the debt with various bookmakers, however he had no way of raising the additional £30,000+ so he opted for drastic action instead.

A few years earlier, something similar had happened, where he lost a large amount of money and this resulted in him threatening suicide. He disappeared from the betting and racing scene for a while, with many believing he had in fact, killed himself. However, he burst back on to the scene, as if he had never left and nothing was ever spoke of this incident or what had happened or where he had disappeared to.

This time, he retired to his hotel room where he decided to end it all. Racing journalist Norman Pegg writing ‘he was around 80 years of age, his powers had declined and his money and credit were gone. He sent a note to a friend saying he was going to commit suicide’. Hugh Rowan also spoke to a porter and told him he would be called in five minutes time and to bring something with him to untie knots.

Hugh Rowan’s hotel room door was forced open and he was discovered dead. However, not due to suicide, there was a rope nearby, but not touching him. A later post-mortem examination showed that he had in fact died of heart failure, probably due to the stress of the situation he had landed himself in.


A short one and a little bit of a darker one today, but when I read it, I wanted to share it. The lesson to learn here is that you should never gamble beyond your means. If you are to gamble then keep it sensible and make sure you know when to stop. As cliché as it sounds ‘when the fun stops, stop’. Do not allow money and gambling to push you as far as it did Hugh Rowen.

Thank you for reading and I will see you all on Wednesday evening (07/04/2021) for a brand new post!

Is Hollie Doyle the Greatest Female Jockey of our Time? #VoteHollie

Hi Guys!

Today’s post is one I am very excited for. As, I think everyone knows by now, tonight is the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Awards and we have one of our very own, Hollie Doyle, up for the big award, so it is only right we all come together to support her and push for her to win. It would be incredible to see Hollie win as well as being able to boost our sport and the females within a male dominated sport. So of course, today’s post is all about Hollie Doyle and what she has managed to achieve in her short career so far.

Disclaimer: The facts, figures and stats are all from different sources online and I have simply compiled them altogether into one post, I have tried to use multiple sources to ensure all facts are as accurate as possible. I apologise if anything is incorrect. Please feel free to tweet me anything that may be incorrect so I can change it. At the time of writing this post 20/12/2020 all of the figures are accurate according to my online sources used. So with that being said… Let’s jump right into it.

Hollie Doyle was born on October 11th 1996 to parents Mark and Caroline, who both played a part in horse racing, so it was always meant to be. Mark being a former jockey and Caroline who rode in Arab horse races. From a very young age, Hollie became a part of the Herefordshire Pony Club and rode her first pony race at the age of nine.

At the age of just 16 on May 5th 2013, Hollie had her first ride under rules in a lady amateurs race, winning on The Mongoose at Salisbury in the 5:20pm for David Evans. And it seems that from that day on, there was no looking back for Hollie. That same summer, she went on to sit her GCSE’s’ before joining David Evans’ yard in Wales. She also spent six weeks in California that winter.

In 2014, Hollie moved on as an apprentice jockey to Richard Hannon’s yard in Wiltshire. In August 2017 Hollie won her first listed race on Billesdon Bess in the Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury, whilst still being an apprentice, before riding out her claim in November of that same year.

In 2019, Hollie set a new record for winners ridden in a British season by a female jockey, with an incredible 116 victories, passing the record of 106 which was set by Josephine Gordon in 2017.

On June 19th 2020 Hollie had her first ever win at Royal Ascot when she won on the 33/1 shot Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes for trainer Alan King. Shortly after, on July 9th 2020, Hollie rode her first Group race winner on Dame Malliot in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket for trainer Ed Vaughan. That same month, Hollie was named as a retained jockey for owner Imad Al Sagar, who she went on to win the Rose of Lancaster Stakes on Extra Elusive for only a month later, becoming Hollie’s second Group race win.

The season didn’t stop there, Hollie continued to break records and become a public figure very very quickly. On August 29th 2020 Hollie rode five winners in one day at Windsor, making her the first female jockey to ever win five races on the same card in Britain, another incredible achievement which threw Hollie into the spotlight once again. Not long after this, on October 14th 2020, Hollie rode her 117th winner of the season, breaking her own record from 2019. Only a few days later on October 17th Hollie became the first female jockey to ride a winner of Champions Day at Ascot winning on Trueshan at 11/1 in the Long Distance Cup for trainer Alan King, this was very shortly followed by Hollie’s first ever Group 1 when she won on the 16/1 shot Glen Shiel in the Champions Sprint for trainer Archie Watson.

In November 2020 Hollie was named The Sunday Times Sportwoman of the Year as well as finishing fourth in the Flat Jockey’s Championship which is the highest ever ranking for a woman.

Overall, a pretty incredible season for Hollie Doyle, who on December 1st 2020 was announced to be one of the nominees for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award – Which goes ahead TONIGHT starting at 8pm on BBC 1, all votes will be cast once the show starts so make sure you watch the show to find out how you can make your vote count!

Now we’ve summarised how incredible Hollie Doyle is, I feel like we should back it up with some facts and figures, so lets jump into those! Again, I do want to emphasise that these facts and figures are from a range of sources and I have tried my best to ensure they are all accurate and correct, if there are slight differences, please do message me privately so I can correct those!

Hollie Doyle has had 3302 starts in her career, winning 422 of those and placing in 745. So if we break it down, that means Hollie has won 12.78% of her races and placed in 22.56%. Meaning she has won or placed in 35.34% of her career rides.

I don’t think this will come as a surprise to many, but the majority of Hollie’s wins in her career have came for Archie Watson. She has had 550 rides for Archie Watson, winning 112 and placing in 140. Followed by Richard Hannon, who she has rode for 332 times, winning 37 times and placing 79 times.

Following on from that, Hollie’s best strike rate is actually best for John Gosden, who Hollie has rode for 8 times, winning 5 times and placing twice. Therefore her win strike rate working out to 62.5%, her placed strike rate to 25% meaning her over all win/place strike rate is 87.5% when riding for John Gosden, quite extraordinary figures.

In terms of prize money, Hollie has won the most prize money when riding for Archie Watson, (using Google’s current exchange rate so this may vary). She has won 2,623,776 AUD which is around £1,478,580.42. Swiftly followed by Richard Hannon, who she has won 804,783 AUD which is around £453,520.57. And thirdly, Alan King, who Hollie has won 712,445 AUD which is around £401,485.20. Overall, under rules, since 2013 Hollie has won 8,937,837 AUD which is around £5,036,752.69.

Onto Hollie’s favourite UK racecourse – statistic wise, she has had the most wins at Wolverhampton, riding 472 rimes with 66 wins and 105 places. Meaning Hollie has won 13.98% of her rides at this venue and placed 22.25% times meaning overall she has won/placed in 36.23% of the rides she has had at Wolverhampton. In second place is Lingfield AW where she has had 367 rides, winning 59 times and placing 91 times, meaning she has won 16.07% of her rides, placed 24.80% times with an overall win/place percentage of 40.87%. And finally in third place, Kempton Park AW, where Hollie has rode 414 times, winning 45 times and placing 77 times, meaning she has won 10.87% of her rides here, placed 18.60% times with an overall win/place percentage of 29.47%.

Something I found interesting and wanted to just add in was the horses Hollie has had the most wins on. In first place is Tigerfish who Hollie has rode 18 times, winning 6 of those times. Secondly is Maystar who Hollie rode 12 times, winning 5 of those times and placing 4 times. And thirdly is Harrison Point who Hollie rode 9 times, winning 4 times and placing twice.

I have tried to keep this post as neutral as I possibly can using statistics alone to show who Hollie Doyle is and how her facts and figures line up. However now I will give a little bit of my opinion and I would love to hear yours over on social media!

I think Hollie is a credit to our sport, this year especially she has brought a new audience to our sport, she has been the face of British racing as a female in a male dominated sport and she is living proof that if you want to do something, male or female, you can do it if you put in the hard work and dedication. As a female myself, I find it inspiring to see Hollie doing so well in a sport that for many many years has been dominated by men, she is showing young girls that it is still possible to succeed in a sport like horse racing and I think that is so important. I have met Hollie a few times, cold nights at one of my local tracks Wolverhampton and she has always got a smile on her face, always willing to stop and talk to anyone, sign things, take photos, nothing is ever too much trouble for her and I love that about her. I am the same age has Hollie, literally born 3 weeks after her, and I could never imagine riding horses to the level she does, I have nothing but admiration for her and I feel truly inspired by her in terms of following my dream and doing what I love. I think we have a future Champion Jockey on our hands and personally I cannot wait for the day that she is given that crown.

I would love nothing more than to see Hollie Doyle win the Sports Personality of the Year Award 2020 and I think she truly deserves it. I will be voting and getting behind her and I hope everyone else can too. As soon as a live link is available via BBC to vote online I will share this on my social media as well as adding it to this blog post so we can all get behind her and vote for her to win.

Again, I love these sort of posts where I can dig into someone’s story and facts and figures and I will be doing many many more in 2021. If I don’t post before, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year, as much as possible in the current circumstances and I will see you all very very soon in my next post!

An Interview with Amy Murphy

Amy Murphy

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing to you an interview with the brilliant, quickly up and coming trainer Amy Murphy. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What’s your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Amy: On the flat, my favourite day would be the Tuesday of Royal Ascot and National Hunt, it would be the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.

Me: What’s the goal for you and the team? Grand National, Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, what’s the dream?

Amy: My goal as a trainer would be to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. For the team, more realistically, my goal would be to constantly hit and better the targets we set at the beginning of each season. In doing so, I would hope that we can then improve the quality of horses in training.

Me: If you could train one horse that is currently in training elsewhere, what horse would you choose and why?

Amy: Enable, for obvious reasons. She is everything that you would look for in a racehorse.

Me: Do you ever get any down time? What’s your favourite thing to do when you do get some spare time?

Amy: The best down time for me is having a relaxing day with my family and friends with a glass or two of champagne. 

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Amy: I would ask them to take the time to visit my yard and see first hand the five star care and attention the horses get and then tell me whether they still think the horses are suffering from cruelty.

Me: Kalashnikov is one of the most loved horses over the past few years, how is he? Where do you hope he goes next season?

Amy: This National Hunt season did not go to plan for Kalashnikov. However, he has had a period of rehab and will now have a long summer break out in the field with the other National Hunt horses. I would expect him to be back in the early part of the Autumn 2020/2021 season.

Me: What’s your favourite race course to visit?

Amy: My favourite flat track would be Chester and my favourite National Hunt track would be Fakenham for the friendly country feel you get.

Me: What is your ‘horse to watch’ that you train?

Amy: A horse to watch for the future would be Rudaina over middle distances on a flat galloping track.

Me: What’s your favourite race to look back on as an owner, rider or trainer?

Amy: My favourite race to look back on would be the Betfair Hurdle, again for obvious reasons.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding discussions of banning the whip?

Amy: With regards to the whip debate, I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, I feel the whip should not disappear as, if nothing else, it is an aid for correct measures in a race.

Me: What is your best piece of advice for a young person following their passion, whether that be in racing or something else?

Amy: My advice would be to follow your dreams and make sure you get plenty of hands on experience in order to make sure your dreams become a reality. Also, never be afraid to ask for other people’s opinions and advice.

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Firstly, as always, I want to say a massive thank you to Amy for taking the time out to speak to me. Personally I think Amy is a trainer to watch, she is a brilliant trainer, a lovely person and overall just a great female ambassador for our sport.

I really hope you all enjoyed this interview and I shall see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Danny Mcmenamin.

An Interview with Georgia Cox

Georgia Cox

Hiya guys!

Today’s post is with the lovely Georgia Cox who is currently an apprentice jockey for William Haggas, she has gave a cracking interview with some brilliant, detailed answers and I thoroughly hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Georgia: Theydon Grey’s hat trick on the Knavesmire definitely stands out in my mind. looking back now wish I had of enjoyed those days more, as I know now more often that not things don’t always go to plan or as perfectly as we did. Sheikh Ahmed’s yellow and black silks have always been my favourite, having been able to ride a lot of nice horses for him and his team. So, bringing any of their horses  back to the winner’s enclosure means a lot to me. I have always loved watching Mtoto’s replays who of course is also the sire of the great Shaamit and a huge part of Somerville Lodge history!

Me: If you could ride any horse, that you never had, past or present, which horse would you choose?

Georgia: This is probably a biased answer but for me it would be Sea of Class. If anyone had read the newsletter I wrote, they would know my thoughts about her greatness. She had a breathtaking presence, an extraordinary aura and gumption beyond belief. She was just completely unique.

Me: What are you opinions surrounding the discussion of banning the whip?

Georgia: This topic has been done to a death. For me it’s about as boring as Brexit and the question “what’s it like being a girl race riding” Nothing annoys me more than our sport getting a slating. I have felt a smack by other riders during a tight finish so I know that it does not hurt. Unfortunately, horses can’t speak English so you use actions to explain the game, it’s used to keep them going, to cajole them into line. It’s similar to a boxer getting a slap/receipt from their coach. It’s a means to get them to concentrate. These horses weight 500kgs, the stick is air cushioned and it lands on the thickest bit of flesh when their adrenaline is at a high. They are naturally flight animals, but often when I’m waiting to get the leg up in the mornings, my horse will play with my stick, I could rub it all over their face without them flinching. If they associated it with pain, there is no way I would be able to do that, ill-formed and uneducated perception of the stick is ancient.

Me: You ride for William Haggas, as an apprentice jockey, What is it like working for him?

Georgia: I walked in to Somerville Lodge fresh faced at 16 and very shy. Once I started to find my feet, my passion grew stronger and talking about the horses is how I found my voice. 98% of my vocabulary might be horses but that’s when I’m most confident doing what I love. Our horses have everything they could possibly need from: treadmills; salt boxes; vibe plates; 5 horse walkers; spa’s; physio’s; top class farriers and vets and heat lamps fitted everywhere that is possible. So much thought goes into these animals everyday rituals. Having been nearly 7 years now I know a lot of their pedigrees first hand which I find particularly interesting finding the traits they pass down their family. I know our yard like the back of my hand and everything gets done to the highest standard. Somerville Lodge is where the attention to detail and organisation gets taken to another level our horses certainly live the riches life.

Me: What is your favourite race course and why?

Georgia: I have had some great days at York in the past. The facilities there are top class, it’s a very fair track and the best horse always wins. It’s topped off by always having a good atmosphere too. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Me: What is one race that you’d love to win?

Georgia: The Derby is the race that every jockey dreams about winning. Even people who are not into racing know about how prestigious the Derby is.

Me: What would be your horse to watch for the next season or two?

Georgia: It’s hard to pick just one right now, so many unexposed raw types with so much potential especially at this time of year when they are all coming back in from their winter holidays. Strengthened up, fresh and raring to go. The dream is very much intact for all. They are getting back into their individual routines suited best for them so we are all hoping that ducklings have turned into swans and their top class pedigrees shine through.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Georgia: As mentioned above, I’ve been at Somerville Lodge since I was 16 so I can only say based on our yard and if every yard is like ours, no one would dare question the welfare of our horses. We look after our horses better than we do ourselves,  the minute details never go amiss for each individual horse. I know every single one of our horses from sight, pedigree, conformation, character and racing form. These horses are the best looked after animals in the country. If you ever look through the photos in our phones you’ll be swamped with so many photos of horses. They truly are the apple of our eyes.

The racing photographers and twitter pages (like Racing tales/Micheal Harris) should also be commended as pictures can say a thousand words, the moments captured between grooms and horse you can see the love in there eyes. Good twitter pages should be shown support by the likes of itv racing to get more people hooked deeper into the history of the sport.  I think all the yards should be more transparent and you will find more video gems like the Harry Bentley in the stalls to go viral, as things like that happen constantly everyday.

There are so many stories in racing that should get made into movies like Frankel is great but I’d love to see one on the great Sir Henry Cecil himself and how inspiring his journey was. To hit the heights that he did, to then go between 2000 – 2006 not having a single group 1 winner in 2005 only trained a dozen winners to go from 200 horses shrank to 50 how he came back from that is an inspirational story that everyone could do with!

Racing tickets should be cheaper and there should be more competitions for people to win tickets/ merchandise. We are always happy to see more young people to cherish the roots of racing instead of just going for the music concert after. All the good that our sport does could do with being exposed more. There are so many issues with social media and young people these days. Horses are an escape from that. They don’t judge you, they don’t care what you look like or how many followers you have. You see when you have such a strong passion about something, it gives you something to focus on, when other in life is going wrong it’s something to turn too, perhaps even a sense of purpose and direction in life, these days so much of our lives are consumed into staring endlessly at our phones that seem to takes over so much of our lives. when social media gets to much you can always count on the horses to be there waiting for you, they are always happy to see you and can only be good for mental health.

These equine athletes earn us a living and none of them owe us anything. Every horse that comes through our yard, I follow their journey after they leave wherever that might be that they go to. I have many pictures of them in retirement. They give us a reason to get up in the morning. I, like so many others would be lost without these animals. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. A contagious, infectious, addictive lifestyle. It’s a passion like no other. It’s a game like no other where adrenaline is on tap. It’s living in the fast lane. We are the sport of kings and we shall drown out the nonsense.

Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Georgia: Royal Ascot has to be the pinnacle of the sport. Five days packed full of top class racing. So much history and so many superstars, human and equine, have passed under that tunnel. It is where dreams are either made or shattered. It is something that every jockey owner, breeder and trainer want on their CV, a Royal Ascot winner.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or otherwise?

Georgia: If you have a passion for something, follow it. Mine has taken me all over the world and led me to a pretty exciting life. I believe having a good work ethic can get you anywhere. Life is a marathon not a sprint but have your blinkers on to remain focused and un-distracted from your goals. The quickest way to get somewhere is a straight line after all. Having good people around you is important, as a support system but also to inspire you and help you achieve your best. It’s not what happens in life, it’s about how you deal with it all. Be humble and laugh it off!

Me: You have previously ridden in the Queen’s colours, how special was that for you?

Georgia: It’s something I’ve always dreamed of and hugely proud of, to be able to put her majesty famous silks on, has been an absolute honour and I wish there to be many more times ahead yet!

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Interviewing Georgia was fantastic, she is so open and passionate about the sport it is incredible to see. So firstly, as always, I want to say a massive thank you to Georgia for taking the time out to have a chat with me and answer some questions.

I really hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I did writing it.