From as early as Mark can remember he has been a fan of horse racing, growing up just three miles away from the home of the greatest flat race in the world, the Epsom Derby may have something to do with that. Mark recalls how his father would take him up to Epsom downs straight from school when it was a Wednesday race so they could go and see the Derby, as well as attending most other meetings through the year. “Watching them down at the start loading the stalls and jump out the gates was what I really enjoyed”. It was these first experiences being so close to racehorses where the passion to work with race horses came from. Mark and his father would also be regular visitors to other nearby racetracks including many afternoons at Sandown and Kempton park watching and cheering home the great grey Desert Orchid, “we used to walk down and across to the jumps being close to the action was what I loved the most”.
The seeds were well and truly planted and there was no other career choice that would make more appeal than to be riding race horses with the aspirations to be a jockey or a Trainer one day. And so upon finishing at school in 1996 at age 16 Mark attended the foundation course at the British Racing School in Newmarket, learning all necessary skills to acquire a job in the racing industry. Mark started working life with Epsom Trainer Reg Akehurst and would continue to work with the family and son John upon Reg’s retirement. All the time developing his skills, style and technique to achieve his goal of becoming a jockey.
Mark served his apprenticeships firstly with Angus Mcnae who supplied Mark with his first rides, Gay Kelleway, Nigel Hamilton and then Jim Boyle. It was for Jim Boyle where Mark would take a more senior role once his race riding days had finished. He would take charge of day to day and racing duties in Jims’ absence, and helped Jim to accomplish some highly successful years including in 2009 where they was able to send out 61 winners from a relatively small string.
Looking back on this time some of Marks’ personal highlights was a memorable double at Goodwood with Idle Power and Desert Crystal and when Idle Power won the stewards cup consolation race. Mark says “Jim was a great boss to work for and with his veterinary experience taught and helped me a lot”.
Mark went on to work under Tony Pike in New Zealand learning different training regimes and methods, with emphasis on timings and clocking track work. The main highlight of his time there was overseeing Carricks work before his winning debut and building up to his narrow defeat in the New Zealand Derby. “A great experience one that I will always look back on fondly and appreciatively for what I learned there” tells Mark.
Once back in England and his home town of Epsom Mark had been instrumental in the early training career of Lee Carter who he was Head Lad for from when he began training in 2012. Mark was overseeing a highly successful strike rate of winners in the first two years and 27 wins in 2014 from a very small select string helping to achieve multiple award success for the stables.
Always looking to progress the next natural step for Mark was to start his own training career and upon securing a location to do that at Tattenham Corner Stables Mark has found the perfect place to start from. Beautifully situated in an idyllic calm and quiet environment for the horses, containing ample turnout space a walker and starting stalls with close proximity to the vast gallops Epsom has to offer. The attractive stables are well ventilated with high ceilings and offer the perfect home for any horse.
Mark finishes on: “Tattenham Corner Stables is a great opportunity for me, it is a professional complex made to house equine athletes and winners. I can train each horse on its own merit, with the varied gradient and surfaces the Epsom Downs training centre has at my disposal. My owners receive great value and an enjoyable experience whether they come to visit us here or on race days, the added bonus is with Epsoms’ close reach to so many southern based racecourses I can also keep my owners costs down to a minimum”.