The first recorded trainer at Whitsbury was a man called John d’Mestre, who trained here pre-1900, both flat and jumps. It is said he trained a Grand National winner. The next recorded trainer was Norman Scobie, who was an Australian, and was private trainer to Sir Charles Hyde, from 1925-40. Sir Charles Hyde was proprietor of the Birmingham Post & Mail, and other provincial newspapers. He died in 1940, having decided that Hitler would win the war he was going to America. He was a batchelor and had 20-30 horses in training. It was very much a gambling stables, along the lines of Druids Lodge.

william hill

William Hill

In 1941 the estate was purchased by William Hill. The estate was very run down, except for the grass gallops which had been extended and taken care of for over 30 years by a wonderful man called Ted Hall. William Hill took on Norman Scobie as trainer and he trained privately for William Hill and his friends. He didn’t last long with William Hill, who then employed Monty Smyth as trainer. (Monty Smyth was uncle of Gordon Smyth) Monty trained until 1960 with a number of very good horses, mainly fillies, including Zanzarra and Vertensia.

Between 1960-65 William Hill renovated all the racing stables and in 1964 he purchased Majors Farm and developed Majors Farm Racing Stables.

Sir Gordon Richards took the tenancy of the racing stables in 1965. He trained a lot of very good horses for Sir Michael Sobell, Arnold Weinstock and Lady Beaverbrook. His best horse being Reform. Gordon retired in 1970 and Bill Marshall came in as a salaried trainer. Bill had a short but successful career here. In one year he trained 70 winners by 1st August, including first and second in the Coventry Stakes (Whippet Quick and Legal Eagle), and many others including My Swannee and Rafingara.

William Hill died suddenly in 1971 and the whole place was put on the market in 1973. Bill Marshall moved to Newmarket in 1973, and the racing stables were empty until 1976.

In 1975 The Legal and General Pension Fund purchased the estate with CJ Harper as their tenant. The first trainer after that was James Bethell in 1976. He lived in Majors Farmhouse. The best horse he trained was Daring March.

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid

David Elsworth was the next trainer tenant, starting with very few horses. He trained Heighlin to win the Triumph Hurdle, and many staying races on the flat, in his first year. A list of his good winners include the two great warriors: Desert Orchid and Persian Punch. Others include In the Groove, Indian Ridge, Rhyme and Reason. David Elsworth left and went to Whitcombe in Dorset, where he stayed for 4 years, and the yards were then split between James Toller at Majors yard (best horse Compton Place), and Major David Chapple in Manor yard.

In the early 1990’s David Elsworth returned until he moved on to Newmarket in 2006.

Ralph Beckett followed David Elsworth. He came with a small string and ended up filling both yards. His Oaks winner and best horse was Look Here. When Ralph left to go to Kimpton, the yards were let to George Baker (best horses Humidor, and Belgian Bill). George left at the end of 2012, and Marcus Tregoning moved in during February 2013.