Trainer Feature: Dean and Emma Summersby

Based on the Devon & Cornwall border, close to Roadford Resevoir, and just a few miles outside Launceston, is situated the training yard and small holding, owned by Emma and Dean Summersby.

Emma and Dean have stock consisting of 7000 free range laying hens, suckler calves and a small string of race horses. On asking Emma what her history is with Point-to-Pointing, she replied: “My father was a huntman, and moved to the Lamerton Hunt when I was just six months old. I hunted most Saturdays at the age of four, and thoroughly enjoyed my childhood, being surround by horses and hounds.” Emma added: “Learning to sit tight in sticky situations, whether it be a naughty pony, or an enthusiastic hunt horse was essential.” Dean’s reply to the same question, was: “We always had ponies at home when I was a child. My sister Nicola was into Pony Club, and my mother was into eventing. But I was always into going faster! Dean added: “I was a regular hunter with the Lamerton, until I travelled away to college, after which I worked as a game keeper. Emma and I met when I came home, and I was soon whipping in for her father, Tony Boon.”  Having always wanted to ride point to point Dean added: “The three of us were so keen on Pointing, that we clubbed together, and bought a horse called Cargo Flight in 2001, and we haven’t looked back since.”  Dean rode for nine seasons, thoroughly enjoying the experience, and he learnt a tremendous amount.

When asked on their philosophy on training, Emma replied: “We adopt a fitness, fitness, fitness attitude. If you haven’t put the work in at home, you won’t get rewarded on the track.” She added: “We like to keep the horses clean and free from coughs and bugs as much as possible, without confining them to barracks, and as fresh as possible, by breaking mundane routine. We turn them out as much as possible, which is their free time, take them hunting, hunter trialing, or on a simple family fun ride, to keep them relaxed and enjoying their work.’  “Greenock was a prime example of this, he was in a large yard, running under rules and had lost his way, but once he came to us and went hunting, and riding out on the moor, seeing a different life, he regained his love for racing, resulting in two wins Point to Point, numerous placings, and a very good second in a Hunter Chase at Exeter.”

The couple have a 7am start at the yard, feeding the horses before they attend to the hens, which they let out and collect the eggs. The other stock then get fed, before the couple start mucking out. The school run starts at 8am, when Emma takes their two daughters, Ashleigh, 12, and Charlotte, 10, to school. Riding work follows. “We like to ride the horses ourselves, so that we are able to compare how the horses are progressing, and can then pick up on a horse that isn’t quite performing as well as it has been.” After ridden work, they then wash the horses off, or brush off as necessary, and give them a haynet, allowing the horses their quiet time. Afternoons consist of grooming, skipping out, watering, hay, feed and rugs, in between collecting the girls from school and seeing to the chickens, checking the horses again last thing at night.

The yard’s success last season, included a double from Indian Dancer and Mausefalle at Trebudannon, of which they are very proud. The previous season they had a double at Great Trethew with Cherry Vine and Parazar. With only a handful of horses in their yard the couple are delighted with their achievement. “Mausefalle was bought by Dean last season from Doncaster, for owner Mike Bickell. After a couple of encouraging runs, he went on to win his Maiden comfortably at Cothelstone. He followed that win up with a second in a Restricted at Trebudannon,” said Emma. “He went on to win at the next Trebudannon meeting, and his form finished up as 2121 at the end of the season. We hope to aim him at Hunter Chases next season.”

The wet weather was a major factor to many horses last season, and the yard’s Parazar was one of the horses affected by the conditions. Owned by Hugh Trerise and Mike Malseed, Emma explained:

Parazar would rather gallop a road than feel his feet go in the mud. He finished the season safe and sound with a couple of fourths. And, after the previous season going to Cheltenham Hunter Chase Evening, running creditably, and giving all connections a super experience, he didn’t owe anyone anything, and has now been sold on.

Bathwick Breeze was meant to run, but due to a bout of colic at the end of February, he never quite came right. This was a real shame, as we had high hopes for him – he had won the Lamerton members’ race in a very exciting close finish in 2012 [The meeting being cancelled in 2013]. He is now retired and is being spoilt to death by my mum.

Indian Dancer, bought by Dean from Ascot, and owned by Eileen Worth, Belinda Fuller and Dean, was probably one of our proudest achievements. He’d never been on a race track before, and was very green. He could be quite a lively ride at home, and tested us on many occasions, but rewards were reaped in the end. With every run, he improved and learnt a lot, and, thanks to Darren Edwards‘ patience and horsemanship, Indie finished the season off with a win, and two thirds. He will be back this season, to hopefully carry on where we left off.

This season we hope to bring Cherry Vine back after 18 months off. She was proving to be a real tough mare, with two wins under her belt, before she sustained an injury at Flete Park.

Flood Tide is another addition to the yard, having been impressed with his few runs in 2012, we are keen to see what he has to offer.

Turnstone has also joined the yard, he is unraced, and a big, strong, good looking gelding, and we are looking for full or part owners for this season for him.

Emma added: “We also have room to take other horses in to be trained, or we are happy to look for new horses at sales for owners if required.”

In summary their motto is ‘Family run, Professionally done’, with everyone contributing in some way. Ashleigh and Charlotte, are a great help on the yard, from tack cleaning to mucking out. The girls’ favourite thing is turning the horses out to a high standard. Emma plaits the manes, Ashleigh does the tails, and Charlotte brushes and paints the hoof oil. The best turned out money is split between them at the end of the season. Emma added:” We have regular following of my Mum, Linda Boon, and two very good friends Carol and Alan Pike, who always provide a super picnic for the day’s racing. And they lend a hand whenever we need it. Our owners are a very important part of the process, and we are extremely lucky to have very loyal and understanding ones.”

She also said: “Jockey Darren Edwards is a big part of the team – knowing when to sit and wait, when to push and shove, and when tactics are the key to the race. The yard have also used Michael Heard and Bryony Frost, both great jockeys, who both listen to instructions. Farrier David Lawrence does a wonderful job on the horses’ feet and Katherine Davis, Equine Physio, is a massive part of our team. Horses are just like people, if you are suffering with a back, shoulder or neck problem, you can’t perform at your best.”

Ashleigh and Charlotte both have ponies of their own, Toby a 14hh Skewblad and Archie a 13hh palomino. “Both girls love hunting, and once racing is over it is their turn to attend local shows for jumping and gymkhanas,” Emma added.

“We’re always on the look out for new owners and horses, so please contact us for more details and come and join our happy, friendly team.”

Contact details are : Dean 07812190482, Emma 07910238887


Photo credit: Thank you to Marcus Bath, of Baths Photographic for the use of his copyrighted photos. For more of Marcus’s work please see: