Rebecca Menzies has always been prepared to take on board help and advice from the best – and that has been paying off as the young trainer continually looks to move forward as she makes a name for herself.
She has felt privileged to heed words of wisdom from her former boss Ferdy Murphy, while other legendary names in northern jumps racing, Peter Beaumont and John Wade, have played their part in her career to date.
“I was really lucky Ferdy gave me plenty of responsibility early and I got to do a number of different jobs,” she said.
“It stood me in good stead and he’s still on the end of the phone now if I want to ask him anything.”
After leaning the nuts and bolts from the former West Witton handler, for whom she worked as a stable hand, then secretary to travelling head lass and assistant, Menzies set up on her own over five years ago at the former stables of Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Beaumont at Brandsby in North Yorkshire.
For the past two years she has been based at John Wade’s establishment at Howe Hills at Mordon in County Durham, where the 29-year-old has seen her standing as a dual-purpose trainer rise even more.
“Things are going great and it’s exciting we’ve got some nice young horses coming through,” she said.
“We’ve often had a yard full of handicappers and it’s exciting we’ve got bumper horses and horses winning novices on the Flat this year.
“Some good owners have supported me from the start, and recently new owners and new partnerships that are having horses based up in the north. Some southern-based owners are having horses up here. It’s great.
“We’re not massively up on numbers. We’ve still only got about 35 in, but there’s just better quality so I’m really pleased.”
While she has made the most of bargain-basement buys, Menzies is now looking for a better product and only recently splashed out £120,000 for the three-year-old gelding Fearless, winner of a bumper on his only start so far.
There are still bargains out there, too, as Fabianski, a £2,000 purchase in September, has won her first two races over hurdles for the Menzies team.
“We’ve been really lucky with the horses we’ve bought,” she said.
“At the same time, we bought a horse in Cheltenham for £120,000 and he looks as though he could be exciting. A horse called Fearless out of Oliver Sherwood’s. He won a bumper at Wincanton.
“We are just injecting some quality in our team.”
Mainly a National Hunt stable, Menzies is happy to be classed as a dual-purpose trainer.
“We’ve got a good bunch of staff and we like to keep them on all year round. It’s easier to do that if you’ve got Flat horses as well,” she said.
“We are still predominately jumpers, but we are getting more Flat horses now and having a good time at Newcastle on the all-weather through the winter and hopefully we can build up more of a turf team as well over the next couple of months.
“That’s my plan, to get a few more through the door for the summer.”
Menzies’ ambitions are being fuelled by the excellent facilities at Howe Hills.
“It’s really good. We’ve got all top-class facilities. It’s a good place to bring owners. You can drive up the side of the gallop – it’s a proper set up,” she said.
“I want to keep improving quality each year. I wouldn’t be worried about numerical winners, it’s prize-money winners and better-quality winners, that’s what we’re after.
“Hopefully we can keep improving into the spring and then we if we can win a race at one of the festivals great, if not there’s next year.”