Steve Neville at Beech House Stud takes our staff Q&A

Yard foreman Steve tells us about himself and his role in Shadwell
Steve Neville: likes to see a bit of fight in the youngsters he deals with

How long have you been working at Beech House Stud?

I started my tenure at Shadwell 32 years ago and I began at Nunnery Stud, where I worked with the stallions.

However, that wasn’t my original plan. I’d seen a stud hand job advertised in the Racing Post and was lucky enough to get an interview. At the time, I was working with the stallions at Cheveley Park Stud, a fact that had been picked up by then Shadwell manager Captain Dolby. He told me stallions were to become a big part of the Nunnery’s future and asked if I’d like to come on board. Nashwan and Unfuwain were en route, so I jumped at the chance. Happy days!

I worked at the Nunnery for 11 years. I had a great time up there, working with a certain Mr (Ron) Lott. They were, you might say, the good old fashioned days when the stallions were all walked in-hand. There wasn’t a horse walker in sight.

In 2000, Sheikh Hamdan decided to stand stallions at Beech House Stud and I decided to relocate. I started with Mujahid and while many others came and left, such as Erhaab and Muhtarram, it was fitting that Mujahid was also the last horse to stand here. I was lucky enough to transport him down to Besnate in Italy, where he was crowned champion sire multiple times. He was a great horse, but a tricky character who was a real challenge at times.

What role does Beech House Stud in Newmarket play in the Shadwell organisation?

Originally, Nunnery Stud took outside boarding mares, so Beech House was used as a private stud for all of Sheikh Hamdan’s stock.

This year, we would have had around 50 Shadwell mares and foals come through the place and we’re also in the process of weaning a fair few now. It’s also home to a pair of Arabian stallions, Handassa and Al Saoudi.

What does your daily routine consist of at Beech House Stud?

Stud work is seasonal, but during the peak times in the breeding season, I would be on the grounds at 6am before the other staff arrive to feed up and check everything. The vet would arrive mid-morning to scan mares and so on, and then everything is turned out to grass for the remainder of the day.

What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

It has to be working with the calibre of bloodstock that we raise here. I love watching the foals grow and mature into winners – hopefully! Seeing them win, having raised them as foals, gives you great satisfaction.

You can become very blasé about things and start taking it for granted. It’s not until you show people around and you tell them “she won the Guineas” or “he’s a brother to a Group 1 winner” that you sit back and think wow, how lucky am I?

Who is the best horse you’ve had the pleasure of working with?

Nashwan, without a doubt. He was a complete athlete, a very special horse. He was huge – a monster – but I’ve never seen such a nimble horse. You’d turn him out of a morning, and you’d be fixated on him. He was poetry in motion!

What do you like to see in young stock?

Everyone discusses conformation, which I agree is an important element of any horse’s make up, but I like to see a bit of fight in them too. I also think it’s important they pick up good traits from their dams – Sheikh Hamdan was a big advocate of that. He wanted to see the mare coming through in their foals.

You can also pick up on stallion traits in certain stock. Those who are hardy and tough – want to win – and those who are a bit soft and might just swerve a battle when it comes to the crunch. That comes through from an early age.

Give us a Shadwell horse to follow for the remainder of the season

Everyone loves Baaeed and it’s hard not to go with him. However, I really like Raabihah. She’s trained by a master in Jean-Claude Rouget, who is bringing her to peak at just the right time for a fruitful autumn campaign.

I’m also a big fan of Laneqash, who looked to have retained all his ability when chasing home Sacred on his seasonal reappearance in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes.

There’s also a very nice Night Of Thunder colt out of Daymooma on the farm. He could be one to watch in the next few years to come.

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

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