We are delighted to bring you the BIG Interview with Anthony Honeyball.
Anthony is a former Amateur & Conditional Jockey, who as quickly as he became a Jockey wanted to become a trainer…

In this interview, Anthony tells us about Desert Orchid, his time with Richard Barber & Paul Nicholls, how training has changed & Much more….

Anthony Honeyball

What is your earliest racing memory? 

My earliest racing memory, I think I was about 10 or 11, I was watching Desert Orchid being beaten at Wincanton by Sabin du Loir. I think it was probably pretty firm ground and near the end of his career

How was it growing up around horses & was it always something you were interested in being involved in once you had finished school? 

To be honest I never knew any different. I don’t remember learning to ride, and certainly never made any effort at school, knowing that I would be a jockey as soon as I left. I knew that I would never be anything else.
Then as a jockey, I knew that I would be a trainer fairly quickly. I’m glad that I became a trainer at such a young age (26), as it’s taken a long time to accumulate the contacts and get a foothold.

Did you have another career in mind prior to becoming a Jockey?

I did flirt with the idea of becoming a professional golfer. I have always loved all sports and from about the age of 8 up until I left school I invested a lot of time and energy into golf and I got quite good. But then horses took over

Having started as an Amateur with Richard Barber, how was the transition to Conditional Jockey at Paul Nicholls?

I was forced into becoming a Conditional jockey in January 2001, as Foot and Mouth had closed down Point to Pointing. The transition was fine as I’d ridden plenty of National Hunt winners as an Amateur, so I knew the system. Being with Paul Nicholls was actually easier in some ways – there was a really good routine at the yard – it was very straightforward, with more staff, mucking out a few, then riding 3 lots, then back to do evening stables.

At Richard Barber’s I learnt the graft and how to get horses really ready for a race. At Paul Nicholls’ he backed up that knowledge on different gallops, with a different routine and I also learnt how to run a yard

Paul Nicholls

How hard was being a Conditional then, compared to now & what do you think the main changes have been? 

There have been many positive changes over the years that i would have welcomed in my day – for example jockeys rightly have greater welfare support these days. The introduction of social media alone potentially adds more mental stress for the lads, from the comments that they get directed at them. The emergence of jockey mentoring and coaching is also a good development.

Was it always the plan to become a trainer? 

Once I was a Conditional Jockey, I very quickly realised that I wanted to be a trainer

Since you took out your license in 2006, how many horses did you start with? 

I started with 6 or 7 horses, and had my first winner in December 2006

How has racing or training changed since you started out?

  • There are far more syndicates and partnerships within racehorse ownership. We enjoy having them as part of the yard, and have put lots of successful syndicates together.
  • There is more racing now than there was when I started.
  • The Mares program has really developed
  • There are far more initiatives within the race program – more finals, series, GBB, grass roots qualifiers and the veteran series.

Who has influenced your training style? 

Richard Barber

When your looking to buy a horse, what do you look for? 

Firstly breeding – it would be a very small percentage of horses that I buy that are badly bred. Then athleticism and attitude. Size is not very important, as long as they’re athletic

What has been your most enjoyable day as a trainer?

Our treble at Ascot last season. Regal Encore, Sully D’Oc AA and Kid Commando. On a Saturday, and all on ITV. Also winning at Punchestown with Sully D’Oc AA last season – after the Irish had dominated at Cheltenham.
And my 3rd day would be Fountains Windfall winning at Aintree on Grand National Day.

Which race would you like to win, that you haven’t to date?  

I’d like to win any of the big Nationals. Also we’ve had winners at 2 of the big festivals and loads placed at Cheltenham. But it would be great to be able to say we’ve actually bagged one and had a winner at all 3 Festivals

Desert Orchid

If you could train ANY horse, PAST or PRESENT, who would it be & why? 

It would definitely be Desert Orchid – he won over any trip, on any ground and had legs of steel !

Do you have a race club that our readers, maybe interested in? 

We have the Wessex Racing Club running out of our yard – a small, fun, successful club

And Finally, 

Do you have a horse for our readers to follow…. 

Firestream is a youngster with great potential, unexposed, and nicely bred.

We would like to thank Anthony for his time & to Lucy, who made this possible. All the best to the team for the rest of the season & the future.

Interview – Rich Williams

Pictures –
Anthony Honeyball (Via https://ajhoneyballracing.co.uk/ )
Paul Nicholls & Desert Orchid (File)

Published – February 2022