Janine Lees tells us all about working at Snarehill Stud

Continuing our series of Q&As with Shadwell's valued team members
Janine up close and personal with the legendary Battaash

Janine Lees is in the spotlight for the latest in our series of staff profiles, highlighting members of the team who pull together to make the Shadwell racing and breeding operation such a success.

Janine works at Snarehill Stud in Thetford, a state of the art rest and rehabilitation facility for the Shadwell horses.

If you like what you hear about working at Shadwell, check out our employment page to see what opportunities we have on offer.

How many horses do you have in Snarehill at any one time?

When we’re full, we can have 38 in and the same at Shoulder/Breck, the other farms at our disposal.

What is a horse’s daily routine at Snarehill?

It depends on the individual. If they’re here on holiday they’re usually given walking exercise and turned out into their paddock. If they’re here due to injury, we work in conjunction with our vet Rohan Abanades and our physios, who give them the best rehabilitation programmes for them.

What facilities do you have to help the horses’ rehabilitation?

We have some amazing facilities here at Snarehill. We have the high-speed treadmill, on which a horse can do controlled exercise rather than ridden, and the aqua treadmill, which is great for horses with leg issues, as we can change the water level and incline to suit each horse. The cold water helps the limbs without putting pressure on them.

We have the swimming pool, which we use for the horses that can’t do anything other than walk. It keeps the freshness out of them without compromising their injury. We also have the spa, which cools all the limbs and helps with the circulation.

There’s also the vibrating floor, which again helps with the horse’s circulation. We’ve had great results with poor moving horses on there.

The salt room is used for horses with respiratory problems and skin conditions. The salt is filtered through a fan out into the air for them to breathe. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

We also have three gallops – the grass, polytrack and the woodchip for the ridden horses.

Do the horses enjoy their time using the various equipment?

The horses are given a gradual introduction to all the facilities here. Some pick it up more quickly than others, but once they know what to do it’s enjoyable for them.

What is your proudest achievement in rehabilitating horses?

We had a Night Of Thunder gelding called Al Mutathar come to us after two surgeries on the same fetlock. He was very poorly with pneumonia and it was a long road with him, working closely with the vets and utilising all of our facilities.

But finally we got him back to his trainer Richard Hannon and he won first time out at Newmarket only six weeks after leaving Snarehill. It was a great team effort and gave everyone a real boost.

Who is your favourite Shadwell horse you have had through your hands?

I couldn’t pick just one out, they’re all my favourites! But I did have a soft spot for Mohaather, or Mo Farah as I called him! He was so cheeky, and I knew his sire Showcasing when he was in training.

I was so proud when he won the Sussex Stakes after his time with us and delighted when he came back here later in the year to wind down before going to Nunnery Stud for his well deserved stallion career. I can’t wait to see some of the little Mo Farahs he has.

How did you come to work at Shadwell?

I’ve been in racing since I was a teenager, working my way through the ranks to become assistant trainer to John Gosden for 17 years. In that time I worked with some amazing horses such as Showcasing, Golden Horn and most memorably Taghrooda.

I didn’t want to become a trainer myself, so I decided to learn about the rehabilitation side, and I chose Shadwell as I knew the quality of horses it produces.

I phoned Dennis O’Brien, having spoken to him a few times while working with John Gosden, and I was lucky it was the right call at the right time, as Dennis was just reopening the Nursery yard and offered me a position.

Dennis did say it would be too quiet for me, but in fact it was just what I needed! So you have Dennis to thank for bringing me to Shadwell.

What’s the best aspect of working with the horses?

Every day is different, the work is never boring and there’s something new to learn everyday.

I would recommend anyone to come to Shadwell, as there is just so much to learn here. Not just on the rehabilitation side, as there’s also Nunnery, Beech House and Derrinstown studs for the mares, foals and stallions, and we also have the re-homing and the physiotherapy side.

There’s also the opportunity to go to our trainer Owen Burrows and work in a racing yard, so really there’s something for everyone.

One of the most famous horses you’ve had through your hands at Snarehill is Battaash. What can you tell us about him?

When Battaash comes home for his well deserved holiday there’s such a buzz around the yard.

It’s where the hard work of Bob Grace, his groom at Charlie Hills’, finishes and mine begins.

Battaash is such a legend. Every year he improves and it gives us such joy to watch him.

We don’t wrap him up in cotton wool when he comes. He’s a seven-year-old sprinter and he knows best! He has to have his routine and the sooner we do that the easier it is for us.

When he’s turned out into his paddock, he has to go out first. If he’s ridden, he has to go out first. He loves attention and his carrots.

Give us a couple of Shadwell horses to follow for 2021…

The horses I’m most excited about this year are Masnoon, a three-year-old Shalaa colt with Sir Michael Stoute, and Moshaawer, a three-year-old Frankel colt with Roger Varian. Both their trainers think highly of them, so they’re going in my Ten to Follow.