Saturday 26 December 2015

Season's Greetings

As the sun comes up on the Newmarket heath it reminds me why I chose this life. Horse racing is not a job, it's a lifestyle. It is not a game you play once in a while: when you're in it, you're in it. And I love it!
On Christmas' Eve it feels like the world slows down just for a little bit and that is great, it brings back childhood memories. But by Boxing Day it's all systems go again.
As a trainer I focus and I think forward, ammunition for 2016 is key. First step, fill up every box at Saint Wendred's , that is my goal that I'm always working on whilst getting some runners ready to debut on the All - Weather.
At the same time getting the yearlings ready to slot into their 2 year-old regime. It's exciting. 
The unseasonably warm weather makes the high tech heated insoles from Santa unnecessary at the moment. Great!  The days are getting longer as well, kind of :) 

From our family to yours I wish all readers Peace & Prosperity  

Thursday 17 December 2015

Yearling season

Every new arrival at Saint Wendred's gets their teeth checked right away, regardless of age. This time of the year all trainers are busy getting "their babies" going and cantering on the heath.
So, before bitting a horse, it's best to get their teeth done. Youngsters often have sharp points needing to be smoothed, and wolf teeth that may need to be extracted. The key is that you don't want them associating anything unpleasant or painful with having a bit in their mouth. This is why I like to tick this box before we do any serious lunging and long lining with them. It just makes it so much easier in the long run to avoid creating a potential problem.
In the above picture you see one of "my" yearlings being examined after having been sedated (it makes everyone's life easier this way).
Below is a picture of the same filly, who arrived at Saint Wendred's straight from the field with marked buccal cuts. This is not an uncommon occurrence and shows how important it is to keep on to of racehorses teeth (any for that matter).

Friday 4 December 2015

Farrier Friday

Wow, the wonderful time of the year, turned into the manic time of the year, and, before you know it: no blogposts in November.... I'll have to work on that one!

The next few weeks I will be focusing on feet, because as most of you have probably heard the saying: "No hoof, No horse" there is nothing more true than that.

As a trainer and vet you need to really build a good relationship with your farrier. Things need to be  discussed for every individual. As Erasmus said a very long time ago: "Praestat cautela quam medela".

Foot balance is everything in the equine athlete. Sometimes it takes us months to get the feet "right" or as close as possible.
Every equestrian discipline has it's own specific challenges and it's always an ongoing process to keep on top of things, there are so many different factors (multifactorial) that play into it e.g. the weather, the surface, the genetic disposition, nutrition and the day to day care.
Below is a picture of different shoes used for racehorses, so plenty to talk about on the Friday to come :)

Last but not least, never hang a horse like on that board, the opening should be facing up!

Wednesday 21 October 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's sales season, a very busy season

Who doesn't love the hustle and bustle of this time of year? Stephane and I have been jetting up and down the country and across (the chunnel) to our homelands to be present at some of Europe's greatest sales. The best one, of course, is right on our doorstep: Tattersalls. This IS one of the perks of training in Newmarket: being able to be up at the sales ground in the blink of an eye. .....
Last week we were lucky to welcome this new recruit and flag bearer to Saint Wended's . Exciting times ahead!

Here's a video link if you want to see the little lady strutting her stuff:

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Saint Wendred's Opening

The Newmarket Open Weekend is fast approaching. I hope you can come out and visit us at Saint Wendred's . Plenty of things to do:

Friday 28 August 2015

Newmarket Open Weekend

Saintly  connection for Newmarket’s newest training yard

A heathen saint associated with healing of horses will be invoked at Newmarket’s Open Day with the official launch of the town’s newest yard.
Saint Wendred's on Hamilton Road has been named after the little known woman saint by trainers Ilka Gansera  Leveque and husband Stephane.
It’s an appropriate association for Ilka, who is also a qualified vet and practices natural horsemanship after time spent with Monty Roberts.

The yard opening on Sunday 20 September will feature displays from sculptress Deborah Burt  and artist Michelle McCullagh, both members of the Society of Equestrian Artists.

Deborah will be displaying her acclaimed ‘Equus I’ horse’s head, inspired by the Horse of Selene from the Parthenon frieze and the Arabian racehorse Hidalgo. In advance of her solo exhibition in London in November, Michelle is donating a sketch for a raffle which also includes tickets to the following weekend's racing.

Ilka will conduct tours of the yard, with demonstrations by a farrier and a physiotherapist.
There will be the opportunity to join a racing syndicate.
Visitors  also have the chance to see one of the UK's top racing Arabian stallions, Storm Troupour, trained by Stephane.
Recently shipped from America, Storm Troupour is being aimed at the Shadwell Arabian Derby in Newmarket  on Friday 25 September,  part of the DIAR (Dubai International Arabian Races) programme. The UK Arabian Derby  is sponsored by Shadwell Stud and supported by HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  The UK Arabian Derby is the final race of our UK Arabian race season.
Newly-named Saint Wendred's is part of the yard previously owned and built by Bill O'Gorman, whose Seven Springs yard name also harked back to the healing springs nearby.
Local history has it that one particular well was an ancient heathen water source which became Christianised into St. Wendred's well because of the healing power of the water used for walking horses into. 
It was also in the holy water of this well that Etheldreda, foundress of E!y Cathedral, was believed to have been baptised after her birth in nearby Exning.  St Wendreda’s Church in March, allegedly home to the saint’s relics, is the only church in the UK to ears her name
Exning itself traces its history back to the Celtic Iceni tribe headquartered in Exning. They were noted for the export of horses,  the perfect forerunner for Newmarket’s modern role as the global HQ  of flat racingp
Saint Wendred’s can be found on the lower part of Hamilton Road, around the bend on the right hand side.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Mission complete

It's been a while since the last post due to "the move"; but in normal Gansera-Leveque fashion the wheels have been in motion. 
All of the horses settled in nicely from day one, and now finally all of the moving-boxes (human living quarters) are unpacked as well. Hooray!  Pictures are starting to go up on the walls too and it's as if we have always been here. Well, ... kind of.
What a great honour to be neighbours with the living legend Bill O'Gorman. I can not recommend his book enough, have a look online and order it , you will not regret it. 

We hope the first Saint Wendred's winner hits the track soon and the sales season can commence. Bring it on! We are chomping at the bit and rearing to go!

Saint Wendred's will have a little opening do during the Newmarket Open Weekend for all owners, supporters and friends near and far, so please make sure to drop in if you are about/ in town that weekend .

On my to do list: find a suitable boulder for the Saint Wendred's sign to be placed next to the entrance on Hamilton Road.  Suggestions anyone? I know: it never gets boring…… 
Oh yeah, and more about the name Saint Wendred's in future blogs. So stayed tuned!

Friday 29 May 2015

BORN TO RACE: Ilka Gansera-Lévêque jetzt auf Ex Darley Gelände

BORN TO RACE: Ilka Gansera-Lévêque jetzt auf Ex Darley Gelände: Die einzige deutsche Trainerin in England zieht um! Es ist eine vielversprechende neue Adresse, die Ilka Gansera-Lévêque ihren alten und ne...

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Nutter therapy

The great thing about being a Newmarket trainer are the facilities. All you have to do is show up and use them, no maintenance required….. 
So, last week we took two different horses (for two different reasons) jumping in the lose school. One enjoyed it , the other one didn't. Sometimes you have to think outside the box and when it works it pays off. 
The filly in the picture has been quite the drama queen from day one. The jumping gave her something to think about and she actually enjoyed it. Horses, just like people are creatures of habit, so routine most of the time is paramount when training racehorses. Every so often, you get a "nutter" that throws you a curve ball and you have to think of ways to get them to engage in the "conversation" i.e. training. Then it's a good thing to try and experiment with something different. If you are lucky the hysteria turns into contentment :)

Monday 13 April 2015

Stephane's press release

New Arabian Racehorse Trainer in Newmarket

Newmarket trainer Stephane Lévêque is to become the UK's newest Arabian racehorse trainer, swapping thoroughbreds for purebred Arabians as an upsurge in the sport gathers pace.
With just a small number of Arabian trainers in the UK, Stephane will be only the second in Newmarket, offering owners the unrivalled benefits of 2,500 acres of prime racehorse training facilities with 17 miles of artificial gallops and 50 miles of turf.
The trainer, currently working with thoroughbred racehorses, is going back to his early beginnings in racing to set up as the town's newest Arabian trainer and tap into an international racing network.
His move comes as the sport is set for a major boost in the UK with more races, new races at some of the UK's top courses, better prize money and a higher profile.
Currently based at stables on Hamilton Road with Stephane’s wife, trainer and practising vet Ilka Gansera Lévêque, the couple's training partnership is planning a move to a luxurious new yard with scope to expand.
Stephane's first job was with Arabians when he came to the UK from his native France.  He then worked with Arabian horses in Dubai and UAE before moving to Newmarket as a work rider for the Godolphin thoroughbred operation.
"A recent visit to Abu Dhabi identified the need for more Arabian racing trainers in the UK and this is a really exciting move for me," he said. "I am looking forward to combining my years of experience with both Arabians and thoroughbreds for the best results.
"Arabian horses are a little different.  The purebred Arabian is an independent creature, an opinionated horse, and it needs a different approach.
"Arabian stallions like the Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arab and Byerley Turk were the basis for our modern thoroughbred, so an upsurge in Arabian racing in this country brings the story of the racehorse full circle."
The UK authority for the sport is the Arabian Racing Organisation and its Racing Manager Amanda Smith commented: “I am delighted to welcome Stephane to Arabian Racing in the UK.  He is perfectly situated in Newmarket, the home of British racing and I am sure he will be a successful addition to the trainer’s ranks.  I look forward to seeing his results on the track this summer”.
Goodwood is staging its first Group One Arabian race in August as part of the new Qatar Goodwood Festival, a £400,000 race as the first leg of the Qatar Arabian Trip Crown.  The second leg will be the Qatar Arabian World Cup at Longchamp as part of the Arc festival and the final leg will be the H.H. The Emir's Sword in Doha in February 2016 with a $1million prize awaiting any horse winning all three races.
In November, the opening meeting of the Abu Dhabi season includes the world's most expensive Arabian horse race, HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (The Nation Day Cup) with prize money of €1.2million.

The British season opens on May 2 with an Arabian race day at Wolverhampton, followed by summer fixtures and races at Taunton, Lingfield Park, Hereford, Newbury, Chepstow, Bath, Sandown Park, Windsor and Huntingdon.

Monday 6 April 2015


                                                                Welcome back!
I hope the "normal folks" among the readers had some peaceful couple of days. For us race-trackers it was business as usual. Except for maybe trying to squeeze in a church visit….  

The racing season is under full swing now and there is no time mosey about.
Before we hit the track for morning workout, each horse gets their legs stretched: in the above picture it looks like Stéphane is stretching himself as well. That can't hurt! There are a lot of other neck and limb stretches to help activate the horse's core, which we have found to really make a difference. It's things like this that make our job so interesting.
Horses are quick learners and they actually enjoy doing their exercises once they figured out what it's all about.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Professional athletes

Racehorses are professional athletes. We do a lot to keep them sound and happy.
 In the pictures you see an example of kinesio-taping. This is a sports taping method that promotes the healing of traumatised tissue and muscles. 
You may have seen this  on TV before (on the sports channel), because it is commonly used in all types of sports: tennis, rugby, soccer etc.. 

I was first introduced to it (on myself) years ago when I was working in New York. I used to get my left shoulder taped on a regular basis due to an old riding accident: a horse flipped over on top of me causing a dislocated left shoulder. pretty painful…

Now kinesio-taping is getting more and more established in the equine world. I've been wanting to do the course for ages, who knows maybe this year I will be able to attend. Time is of the essence! 

My friend Jo Gapp, an equine vetphysio and veterinary nurse, who I worked with during my time at Rossdales was one of the very first to tape horses in Newmarket. Of course it was one of MY trainees. Jo offers a variety of different therapies, the taping is used in conjunction with other methods.

In these pictures you see taping of the lumbo-sacral area: the "engine" is behind, so most problems originate there as well… I have found that the kinesio tape sticks best in the summer months, when horses don't have to wear stable rugs , you usually only leave it on for a few days anyway.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Lamont Racing

Lamont Racing ( was one of my biggest supporters last year. I owe more than a thank you and a blog post to Craig and Eilidh McClymont. 
It all started with a Sunday morning phone call (around 6 o'clock) with some unknown country code. It was Craig calling from his work in Kazakstan. Between the bad connection and the scottish accent I thought it was a prank. But, it was not candid camera! 
To this day I still sometimes have difficulty understanding Craig; that's easily blamed on me being German…
 This year as well as last Lamont Racing has joined up with  the London Market Racing Club on a few horses in training with myself in Newmarket. Two very exciting prospects are the french bred fillies we bought at the Osarus sale in La Teste. The flashy bay filly pictured above has a phenomenal stride on the racetrack as well as the mind of a racehorse.
A french satellite string is in the works.
A big thank you to LMRC and Lamont for their ongoing support!

                                                                                                 Let the racing season begin

Sunday 8 March 2015


                                                                       It's a Girl!

Tosca, my good filly, had her first foal in the early morning hours of February 21st at Clementine Stud in Normandie France. This is a picture of the filly by Maxios on day 4. She is still unnamed, but a few names starting with T are floating around in the room: Traviata, Tenacity …. . 
Tosca was my first runner and first winner on her lifetime debut, she owes us nothing. She beat listed fillies multiple times, she taught me a lot. We put our money where our mouth is:  I bought her at  the BBAG yearling sale, brought her back to Newmarket and we did all the ground work got her going and sent her all the way back to Baden Baden for her debut in the fillies sales race.
We are very excited to be part of Maxios' first crop, he is a picture of a racehorse with an unbelievable pedigree. There is a great website just about him:
More baby pictures to come!

Friday 6 March 2015

The ultimate fan

Most of the pictures in this blog come from the lens of Michael Smithson, one of the greatest racing fans I know. 
To me Michael is the "official" Newmarket photographer, it feels like I've known him all my life. Racehorse photography is Michael's passion, I don't think there is a yard in Newmarket that he hasn't taken pictures for. Of course the Simcocks come first! 
Michael has been there for all my ups and downs, driven to race meetings with me all across the country , except for Redcar …. :)
Love for horses is what got me into horse racing , from the first time I went racing with my family who are avid racing fans,  I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Passion is what keeps us all going in this game, riding out the lows, working long hours, braving the cold and the dark rainy days. Always looking forward, believing in yourself and living your dream.
So, a big thank you to the fans that love this sport for it's beauty ; not just odds and numbers, because it's so much more than that.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Angel Rosa

Spring is finally here! The days are getting longer, exactly what we need: the more daylight the sooner we can pull out and train. I love to be the first one on the heath, if I were on the other side of town I would beat Clive Brittain to the punch :) 
It's been a quiet winter racing wise for me. Only Angel Rosa, the filly that I'm riding in the picture above, ran twice for us in 2015 so far. 
From the outside looking in one would never know what an accomplishment that actually was. So I figured this blog would be a good venue to tell the readers about the unsung heroes and success stories that don't necessarily make the headlines.
Angel Rosa changed hands a few times before she was sent down to me in Newmarket by her lovely owners, who basically acquired her out of pity. Their faith and perseverance made it possible for her to run after 462 days off the track.
"Angel" does live up to her name, it was her that "brought back" two of the best and highly respected riders in Newmarket. One had suffered an open fracture of the tibia the other multi knee ligament damage with avulsion fracture of the medial femoral condyle.

As a great horseman in Kentucky once told me: 

                              "If you look after the horse, the horse will look after you"

Monday 23 February 2015

From dawn until dusk: the life of a racehorse trainer

Here we go: I'm starting my blog. Have been thinking about it and been TOLD to do it for a long time. So, ….. enjoy!