Behind the scenes at the Cheltenham Festival with Zoe Moore-Williams!

 In Blog

Racing Groom for Philip Hobbs, Zoe Moore-Williams gives us the lowdown on her run up to the festival and final preparations for the horses in her care. Be sure to check out our Instagram this Thursday (14 March) for her Stories takeover and behind the scenes insight!

Festival time

After months of build up and anticipation, the climax of the National Hunt season is finally upon us. We have a number of runners on each day of the festival including a few with decent chances. There is definitely a real buzz around the yard as we make final preparations to the team. Most of the horses have had their final pieces of work and schooling sessions at the end of last week. They are all feeling and looking fantastic, it’s a real credit to the whole team at Sandhill.

I have just the one runner on Thursday, Wait For Me (or Nemo as he known at home) in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. He is a horse with plenty of ability but we’re hoping we don’t get too much rain. He’s going well at home and is spending 20 minutes in the solarium each afternoon to make sure he is feeling in tip top condition before the big day! He is quite a sensitive horse so I keep everything straightforward with him on a race days to keep him as relaxed as possible. However he knows what’s happening from the moment I go into his stable with his bandages and travel sheet, there’s no fooling him!

One of our most exciting chances of the week is Defi Du Seuil who is currently favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase on Thursday. I spoke to Izzy who rides and looks after Defi every day, she also looks after Ozzie The Oscar who will run in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase on Friday.

Defi & Ozzie

The Festival is such prestigious event that we all aim for! Trainers, owners and grooms especially crave for a runner to cheer on whilst soaking up the amazing atmosphere.
I feel very privileged to look after and ride Defi Du Seuil and Ozzie The Oscar. As you can imagine making sure they’re prepared, fit and as healthy as possible can be stressful during the lead up as you dread for anything to go wrong before the big day.
I like to take it easy with them before their run; the amount of work doesn’t change however I make a conscious effort to keep them relaxed at home.
Defi and Ozzie are usually impeccably behaved arriving at the races and to plait in the stable. They both tend to get excited in the saddling box and parade ring… for this reason Defi in particular has his own special routine to avoid him getting too unsettled. It’s the most nerve racking time watching your horse running but then it’s such a rewarding feeling to be with them in the winners enclosure, it’s a feeling you just can’t replace.”

Good luck!!

A huge good luck to all stable staff this week who will be working hard both at home and at the races to ensure their cherished horses are prepared and turned out to perfection.

On Thursday I am looking forward to doing a social media takeover of so keep an eye on their Instagram  page for exclusive behind the scenes access of a day in the life of a racing groom… and what better place to do it than on the greatest stage in National Hunt Racing!

Bryony Frost