Profile - Tracey & Michaela Williams
Point to Point racing has changed a great deal over the past 30 years with the sport becoming less based on its traditional roots of a farmer having a home bred hunter to race at his local course and if good enough to perhaps run in a Hunter Chase at the nearest National Hunt course. Participants now usually have a close link with a National Hunt stable either as a rider or for the horse to have moved down from the professional ranks to the amateur world of point to pointing. Trainers or keepers as they are now known have changed their methods of getting their horses fit with the added costs of all -weather gallops, horse walkers and water treadmills as well as using physiotherapists and other equine professionals to look after their horses.
Not all keepers have followed that route and some have maintained the more tried and tested routes to get a horse fit and have used the facilities that are available to them to good effect. One such keeper is Tracy Williams based at Toomer Farm, near Henstridge on the Somerset/Dorset border. Tracy with her partner Michaela have been involved with the sport for many years and on a recent visit to her stables Tracy reminisced about her first venture into owning a point to pointer and how it has developed over the years into the business that she and Michaela now run together.
Tracy’s father Ken had an involvement with horses but after Tracy moved to Somerset to milk cows for Colin Tizzard, she acquired a horse called Perky’s Pride who was trained by Colin’s brother Alan and was ridden by Alan’s daughter Charlotte. He won two Open races and a Confined race in 2005 and was useful in his day. Now at the age of 27 he is still resident at Toomer Farm and is still fondly looked after.
After that initial success Tracy and Michaela who had worked with Alan decided to branch out on their own and train the horses themselves. Horses such as Coverdale who won at Ideford Arch, Louis Pasteur who won the Hunt race at the Quantock meeting in 2016, Earth Storm who won the same race for their landlords Peter and Sheena Doggrell in 2020 and the mare Faraway Star who has won three races for them have advertised their training skills using the facilities that are available at Toomer Farm. They principally use a four and half furlong hill on grass on the farm to get the horses fit together with a horse walker and some schooling fences which were obtained when Chipley Park were changing their fences.
Both Tracy and Michaela combine their training of the horses with other roles including milking and working in a local store but with the support and sponsorship of Paul Kimber and Donna Walters who trade as Crossroads Pet Supplies much of their energies are put into the horses under their care. Paul and Donna are the parents of conditional jockey Harry Kimber based with Colin Tizzard and their daughter Alice is now working for Tracy and Michaela. They also have the services of Vicki Stroud and Courtney Scott who are very important members of their team.
Tracy talked through the horses they plan to run through this current season: -
Faraway Star. Now a 12-year-old who has won three races for them over her career and has given three different riders their first ever winner including the success for Paige Topley at Larkhill when overturning the odds-on Captain Buck’s in 2020. This is likely to be her last season and it is hoped that they can find another race for her before her racing days are over.
Festin D’Un Soir – Placed for Tom Ellis in a Maiden race at Flete Park last season having previously run in Ireland. Acquired as a result of an advert placed on Facebook and looked unlucky when unseating Arron Butterfield at Knightwick two from home earlier in the season. Did not appear to appreciate the testing ground at Buckfastleigh but with better ground a Maiden at least looks to be within his grasp.
Spike’s Princess – An 8-year-old mare acquired from Brian Barr. Has had little racing in recent seasons but there are hopes that she will be able to run this season for Matthew Daniels who is Michaela’s son
Shanghai Shane – Another 8-year-old this time a gelding who came from Brian Barr. He needs good ground to show his best and to improve his reputation as a ‘naughty boy’
He’llstopatthetop- A 5-year-old Telescope gelding owned by Tracy and Donna. Bought as a yearling by Colin and Julie Bright and broken in by Ben Clarke he was acquired privately last season and has overcome a difficult sarcoid problem. Making his debut at Larkhill in a Bumper he ran well to finish second and looks a promising prospect. Named after an expression that Tracy has used when riding work to less experienced riders!
Earth Storm – The goal for him will again be the Hunt Race at the Quantock meeting in March and a repeat of his success in 2020. In the meantime, he will be campaigned in Restricted races.
Arron Butterfield who stables his two horses Footloose and Spivey Cove at the yard will be riding Tracy’s horses this season. Now working part-time for Colin Tizzard, he works at the yard the rest of the time and he and his father Alex are now an integral part of the Team Williams.