“The definition of insanity – is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result”.
This is the smart mind-set of assistant trainer Marshall Watson. The Watson family have forty horses in training – each week more new recruits are coming into their progressive family run yard in Co. Armagh.
Marshall’s father Keith is the licenced trainer of their Springfield stables in Killylea.
His father has been training thoroughbreds for well over forty-five-years, his youngster Marshall knows nothing else but the racing life; “I Eat, breath and sleep horses, not often there is any chance to do anything else though I wouldn’t have it any other way” insisted Marshall.
Watson Jnr is a realist; he undoubtedly understands things don’t happen overnight when training racehorses;
“Unfortunately there is more downs than ups in this game but when you get a good day really do appreciate them – because they can be long coming back around” asserted Watson.
We put the question to Marshall if he didn’t become the assistant trainer – what job would have attracted him; Marshall responded; “I have a finance and investment degree, maybe if I wasn’t training horses – I’d be stuck in an office somewhere twiddling my fingers; though I couldn’t envisage my employed life without a horses involved” jested Marshall.
Most dominant stables in Ireland have the financal backing of their millionaire owners – how does the Watson’s operation attract new owners to their modest Killylea stables; “Getting winners is significant, but also the social aspect on race day are as vital to us. We encourage all owners to join in which leads to friendship and some owners join forces to better their eminence. It must be fun, enjoyable and cost-effective to every owner- at all budgets” emphasised Marshall.
Being involved with racehorses is never an regular nine-to-five job, it’s is all or nothing and Marshall’s dedication to his family yard is no different; you to put the work at home in to get the results on track;
“We start work at 7:30pm by feeding the horses, then the first lot goes out at 8:30pm, between 9:55pm to 10:00pm no one will get me as declarations is the most important part of my morning (making sure you’ve the right equipment declared and jockeys on the right horses). The last lot will be out around 12:45pm and the yard is finished up for 1:30pm. Then my father and i sort out the evening feeds in-and-around 5.30pm and check all the horses over” explained Marshall.
Horse racing has long been considered a losing sport – you will lose a lot more than you will ever win; we put the billion pound question to Marshall, how does he deal with the bad results?; he replied “I don’t let bad runs annoy me, as I have a quotation I always stick by: ‘you will train more loses than winners’, that’s a fact – it’s not a game to let bad runs annoy you, fatalities do upset though that is a natural sentimentality” added Marshall.
The Watson stables recently won the Ulster National at Downpatrick racecourse – what was that entire experience like and will you be targeting for bigger races next season?; “it was unreal for mum, dad and everyone connected to the yard to tick a big race of the old bucket list – all I can recall was a hell of a hangover the subsequent morning.
The Ulster national winner; Amaulino will contest a lot of staying handicap chases (rated 130) over the future season but will start over back over hurdles of a mark of 110” asserted Marshall.
We had to interrogate Marshall to give our readers a couple of your horses to keep an eye out for this upcoming season; he responded “Apart from the stable stalwarts which would be a bit easy to give I’ll put my head on the block and give two unraced four years old to keep on yours side this season. Jimli and Meetmeattheborder.
How does Marshall Watson relax from his chaotic working life? “I do enjoy a social drink with friends – or driving down to mallow to see my much better half Niamh. Rugby is a sport I love watching but regrettably never get the time as the winter weekends are manic; being involved in a hands-on stable isn’t for everyone though for me I’m living the dream” insisted Marshall.
The 3 D’s- Decide, Delegate and Disappear” is the winning formula for any racehorse trainer and his capable assistant; you will be hearing a lot more about the Watson family and their horses in the imminent future – winning is their goal.