Sally, you are quite young to be a professional horse trainer. How did you get into horse training?
I first started out riding in Pony Club locally and competing predominantly in show jumping and eventing from two years of age. My father, Brian Taylor, always had a few racehorses in work over the years, so quite often I went to the races with him and worked his horses on the beach from the age of 10. I went on from there. I started riding track work when I moved to Seymour, Victoria, for John Symons and Sheila Laxon firstly, and then moved home to Coffs and was offered a training position with Peter Wood and his horses.
I worked with Peter for just over 12 months. We shared in plenty of success too, winning the Grafton Cup in 2016 and then went on to to win at Doomben in Brisbane with Rednav two weeks later. Grafton Cup was a big thrill, being a listed race and beating some very good horses from Sydney and abroad, as well as some well known trainers. It was a great experience.
I officially started Sally Taylor Racing in February 2016, and so the journey began …
What’s involved in training horses?
Lots of early starts! My morning consists of riding 6 – 12 horses at the track and at the beach, as well as feeding, rugging, washing and cleaning stables – all seven days a week, morning and afternoon. Once the horses are up and racing, that means travelling to the races a few days a week at times, anywhere from Brisbane to Sydney – depending on the horse. So it’s a pretty full on career, but very rewarding all the same.
Tell us about the services you and your business, Sally Taylor Racing, can offer?
I offer full race training, spelling and pre-training for race horses. All my horses are subject to swimming, track work and beach work. I ride all my own track work, so I know how each horse is feeling and going at all times. Currently we have eight horses in work and another six in the paddock, spelling, waiting to come back into the stables. My horses all receive a very one on one environment each day and enjoy A+ care, with a team that go the extra mile. And I feel it pays off with results in many cases.
From a business point of view, what are the key goals you look to achieve with your race horses?
The key goal from an owners’ perspective and my perspective is always to have a happy, healthy horse and then leading on the journey towards a horse that is winning races. I know what is feels like to be on the other side of the table; not just the horse has to be happy, but the owners as well. A good relationship with a trainer and owner will involve plenty of communication and always a fair environment. Each horse is different, so it’s important to tailor the training to each individual horse. A “one size fits all” approach definitely does not work in this industry. I really enjoy the time spent getting to know and develop each horse to their full potential. It’s very rewarding.
How have you used social media in your business?
I have set up a Facebook page “Sally Taylor Racing”, and from this I have gained a lot of followers. I think that it’s a great way to keep everyone interested in my horses, what they are up to, and to share their results. There is a good racing community on the Coffs Coast, with one of the best regional race courses. We’re lucky to live here with these facilities.
Other than Facebook, what else have you done to grow your business? What are some of the challenges you have faced setting up your business?
Getting your name and business out there is a big thing to achieve, as I’m really just a “little guy” amongst some big names.
Another challenge I have found is finding reliable “horsey” staff. Since Coffs Harbour isn’t a well-established horsing area, unlike places like the Hunter Valley, there aren’t a great deal of skilled people in the area who know about handling racehorses. So, it’s a constant challenge to find staff.
What are the best advantages to doing business on the Coffs Coast?
I love the Coffs Coast! We have beautiful weather, besides all the rain Mother Nature has sent us recently! Plus, we have the best of both worlds, the beach and the bush. Coffs is perfectly located, as we don’t have to travel far to go over the border to provincial and metropolitan meetings, such as Brisbane, the Gold Coast, or Sydney, depending on the level of horse.
What features are the making of a good race horse?
This is always hard to pin point, but in my experience temperaments, breeding and confirmation are key, plus a few other factors such as good wind, and being sound.
Getting into horse ownership can be a difficult area to navigate. What are your suggestions for anyone looking to own a race horse?
Ask! If you don’t ask, you won’t know. A lot of people think being involved in a racehorse is too expensive and only for the rich, but it can be quite affordable and rewarding – especially if you have a few mates or family members that want to get involved as well. It’s lots of fun and can get a great return; just look at Takeover Target or Makybe Diva! I currently have shares available with no upfront costs!
What does the future hold for Sally Taylor Racing?
Sally Taylor Racing will keep moving forward, obtaining new horses and potential new owners. I have set plans for my horses, so my aim is to keep following those dreams and keep the plans alive, which will in turn, keep my business going for years to come!
Lastly, Coffs Cup is on in a matter of days. Got any hot tips you can share with our readers?
Hoping to start a couple of my horses for the upcoming race days: Sawtell Cup and Coffs Cup Events, so keep an eye out for Lolly Shoppe and De Joux!
Photos by Bruce Thomas Photography