Seeing young horses and young jockeys rise through the point to point ranks is one of the things trainer Leslie Jefford enjoys about being a trainer.
Based at Mead Stables, Payhembury near Honiton in Devon Leslie, and his wife Lisa, will have between 15 and 20 horses in training this season and are looking forward to the new season starting on December 1.
Leslie, who hails from St Ives, from a non-racing family, started his race riding career at 18, after a chance meeting between Pipe and Jefford’s then riding instructor saw Jefford join Pipe’s yard at 16. His first point to point ride was on Alfie Stuart’s MAXINE’S LASS, a mare who provided him with his first winner the following season. He rode around 220 winners in 18 seasons and was national point to point champion in 2000. He also rode all over Europe in the FEGENTRI series and travelled the world with racehorses.
He said: “ It is really useful to see the variety in the ways people train, there is always a different way of doing things and if it ends up with success on the track that’s great.”
At Mead Stables the Jeffords have just had another good season, including a hunter chase winner, after having their best season of 11 winners and lots of placings in 2011/12. Their best day at the races was a memorable treble at Bratton Down with SILVER COMMANDER, JEWELLERY and DELTA BORGET, and their favourite course would have to be Ottery St Mary, where they are rarely without a winner. Their aims for the coming season are to see the young horses they have in training come through and realise the potential they are showing, with the older horses maintaining the consistent form they have shown.
Leslie said: “ We are lucky to have good staff to work with and several keen young riders who should soon be successful. Jo Buck and Ed Barratt will be riding for us along with novice riders Emma Greenslade and Will Gordon. Alistair Harvey (Sue Trump’s grandson) came up through the ranks last year.
“It is good to see that there is more help available now for those just starting out in the sport. People are realising that they have to teach the youngsters more rather than relying on them to do it all themselves. It is great to see youngsters getting more chances.” To that end Leslie helps with the pony racing in the area when called on and instructs at the Pony Racing Authority training days.
At Mead Stables the facilities include a sand canter track where all the horses work and can be schooled if the weather precludes schooling over the fences out on grass, There is a wide selection of grass gallops and plenty of local all weather gallops which are used in extreme conditions. There is a horse walker and the horses are kept in large airy and modern American barn stables. There are also plenty of hills for a variety of roadwork.
The attraction of point to pointing? That would be watching young horses and young riders progress and the camaraderie of the sport which has seen Leslie and Lisa make a lot of good friends. Winners are always celebrated – witness the lady members of Delta Borget’s ‘Here Come the Girls’ syndicate who can always be seen sporting something pink (DB’s colours are predominantly pink) and celebrating with pink champagne!
You can read Carolyn Tanner’s trainer feature about Les Jefford on the national website: http://www.pointtopoint.co.uk/go/news/Leslie_Jefford.html