Philip Kirby Racing

Racehorse Trainer based at Richmond, North Yorkshire

Quickfire Questions Sarah & Pippa


Up first we have ….

When did you first sat on a horse?5yrs old

How long have your worked in Racing ? 19 years
Best part of the job ? Combining a hobby with your job
Worst part?  Losing any horse, especially bad if you have personal attachment to them like many of us do……and RAIN!

Favourite horse associated with – Rhinestone Cowboy (Jonjo’s)

Sarah visiting Rhinestone Cowboy in retirement

Simply Smashing (Past)

Lady Buttons (Present) – Not for the trophy’s, I rode her from her early years and have always loved her!

Sarah on Buttons at Punchestown

Fav songs ?  I have many, including…
Brian Adams – Summer of 69, Kelly Clarkson – Beautiful Disaster

Dream Celebrity date ? Robbie Williams

Dream car ? A fast black one!

Biggest character in the yard ? Tight between Little Bruce & Top Cat! 🤔

Favourite TV Series ? Prison Break (great taste  Sarah, have you seen it yet? NETFLIX)

Earliest Racing Memory? The party after Jonjo’s 100th winner as a trainer (yes…I am old!)
Best thing about working for Phil ? I know what he started with and saw the work that has got the yard where it is now. Makes it all matter more

Sarah endured some pretty rough winters with us at Castleton in 2010 & 2011!

Worst thing about working for PhilToo laid back, he only shouts at Pippa!🤣 (spot on)

Pet Hate – People who think the world owes them a living – go do some work, earn some respect!

Most Memorable Win?

 There have been many, but loved Simply Smashing winning at Hexham after spending 2 circuits dropped out a fence behind, with Kyle James literally driving from flag to post for 4 miles! He had one speed, but would go til his legs fell off for you!

* note he is the one at the VERY back in yellow and red with a noseband. Don’t mistake him for the one  mid pack in the same colours. He only comes into the picture very late on the outside.

I get very emotional every time for Buttons, but usually manage to hold it together!!!😳

Biggest achievement?

 Not sure it’s an achievement but I have a best day schooling which I am glad to have(from my brave days). Schooling Rhinestone Cowboy with McCoy on Witchita Lineman upsides – amazing memory. McCoy’s instructions for us non-professionals was simply don’t slow down! Rhinestone was the better jumper and out-jumped his younger half bro at every hurdle, gaining lengths every time, with Jonjo and head lad Roche giggling like school boys in the jeep upsides! It was a great days work!

Sarah on Rhinestone Cowboy

Favourite jockey ? Davy Russell & Richie Mclernon.

Cheltenham or Aintree? Cheltenham.

The Gold Cup or The National? The Gold Cup.

Jumps or flat? Jumps.

Summer or Winter? Winter.

Favourite track? Haydock & Wetherby.

Horse to follow for next season ? December Second would be interesting to see go jumping

Fav dinner? Sunday roast.

Fav drink ? Vodka, but only drink if I go out….which doesn’t happen now I’m a mummy!

Fascinating fact?

 I am fully trained in the Monty Roberts join-up technique. My first job was at a yard with some of his tour team. I got trained up and got to see Monty doing his tour sessions. I can’t say I have used it much, but I’d say I am good at ‘reading’ a horse. Tip – don’t do it with your lazy pony, it will beg to ‘join-up’ at any opportunity to avoid being lunged!🤦‍♀️

Job you would like to do if not racing ?

Own and run a holiday ranch, just need the bank balance to do it!!

Dream holiday ? An African safari.

Funniest PKR moment: When Phil fell off Jess. Simon sneezed and Jess shot round so fast Phil was literally sat on fresh air! You had to be there, but was so funny!🤣

Most frustrating second ? Buttons Mares Aintree Bumper 🙈 

Best memory at Green Oaks ? Buttons completing her double at Donny for the second year.

Worst habit – swearing & cake 🤬🍰

Strong point ?

I think I was quite good at guessing what Phil’s opinion would be on work related stuff (used to be anyway, when I worked on the yard and not in the office!)


Moving on to…

  (interviewing myself of course…🤣)

Favourite Film ?  ‘Notting Hill’

Favourite TV Show- torn between Prison Break & ‘Outlander’

(Currently 5 seasons on Amazon – it’s FANTASTIC)

Favourite food ? Chinese – but not sure I feel quite the same way about it now 🙁

Favourite sweets : I am a chocoholic

Favourite Restaurant – at the moment I’d say anywhere with no cooking or washing up! Out of lockdown, TGI Fridays

Favourite song: Perfect by Ed Sheeran

Favourite Holiday destination  – Portinatx in Ibiza – we have had some fantastic family times there, its so beautiful

Dream Holiday destination – A Carribean Cruise with a Master Suite overlooking the front of the ship 😁

Irrational Fear – Flying. Wish I could conquer it but I get worse 🤦‍♀️

Celebrity Date – I’m allowing myself 3 😜Zack Efron, Sam ‘Jamie Fraser’ Heughan & Ian Somerhalder

Winter or Summer : Summer for warmth except for the jumps  racing

Dream Car – I’m not into fancy cars,  love my jeep, its a  Volkswagen Amarok


Not really… but I love seeing a black cat cross the road in front of us, always salute magpies and will be wearing these again under my boots for Wetherby in November!

Worst habit – Being disorganised. Spending too much time on my phone. Too many photos (15,000 on camera roll) and definately  too many pets 🐱🐶🐹🐴😽

Profession – Artist (part time and not enough hours in the day!)

Favourite racecourse to have runners? Aintree

Favourite local track : Wetherby

Best Owners meals at a racecourse: Chester (the buffet is legendary)

Best staff canteen : Wetherby – Vicky’s chicken sandwiches  👌🏻👏

The Gold Cup or the National? The National

Memorable funny moment out of racing:

Phil trying and failing to get to grips with skiing last February….funny to everyone but him!

A funny moment in racing:

Only realised later but when Phil led in Platinum to win the Old Borough Cup, the presenters ignored him, not having a clue who he was, and interviewed only Russ. We had a laugh afterwards.

Most exciting win – Lady Buttons in the Mares Chase at Doncaster 2019

Most memorable winner?

A shortlist!  Platinum’s Old Borough Cup, Lady Buttons many,  Golden Jess at Cartmel, Top Ville Ben in the Rowland Meyrick

Top Ville Ben’s big day at Wetherby

A golden oldie video – Goldan Jess, what a horse he was. Now in happy retirement. 

Most memorable days racing :

Not a winner, but a massive day for our family and our team  – the 2019 Grand National when we had our first runner in the race, Don Poli. The exciting of walking the course knowing that this time we had a runner….all the build up, the parade. I have always loved the National and it meant such a lot. He got round safely 😊

Most surprising winner?

Simply Smashing after tailing himself off at Hexham, Kyle James never gave up and in the end he won comfortably. We’ve watched it a million times! Sarah also picked this race out.

Biggest relief winner :

Same  as Phil – ‘Amazing King’ at Yarmouth. The last furlong seemed very long. It bought us some new stables and Izzy a fancy new pushchair! King still lives with us in retirement. 

Most frustrating Loser ?

Phil missing a marker out in The Grimthorpe Gold Cup on Simply Smashing, winning and then getting disqualified. He  hadn’t race-ridden for 13 years, and then had only ridden in 3 . It was a such an achievement to win but then so awful to lose it so quickly.

Phil and Simply Smashing led all the way in Yorkshire’s most famous 4 mile Point to Point race

Frustrating horse not reached full potential:

Agglestone Rock( we have his Sixties Icon half sister into training this week, ‘Wynyard Icon’)

Favourite Horses ?

So hard as I get so attached. Agglestone Rock, Amazing King, Andorn, Simply Smashing, Golden Jess, Lady Buttons, Little Bruce, Shine Baby Shine, Show Promise… so far

Favourite Famous horses:

Desert Orchid, Red Rum, Persian Punch, Arazi, Un de Sceaux, Sprinter Sacre, Frankel

Current National Hunt horse I would like to have here from another yard:

Tiger Roll

Dark horse to watch:

We have Santini’s 3 yr old half sister by ‘Walk in the Park’ coming to train, she looks a lovely sort for the future. I am also looking forward to our homebred Martaline filly who we have called ‘Martalindy’ after our racing mad daughter! 

Fascinating Fact :

I met HM the Queen at Windsor, had a tour of the stables while she fed the horses carrots. Presented her with a portrait of her 2 Highland ponies, then rode one of them  with her Show Producer, round Windsor Park. HM watched as we rode past the window. No cameras allowed but I can still play it all in my head! An amazing day. I did get this photo before entering the stable yard! She was called Balmorel Curlew. 

Hidden Talent:

I can recite the Winners of the Grand National, back from Maori Venture (in  1987 when I learnt it) to ‘Lottery’ in 1839 🤣 can be useful in a pub quiz but not for much else!

I was  County winner over hurdles  – but on foot!

Earliest Racing memories:

 Grittar winning the National, watching ‘Phar Lap’ & ‘Champions’ , and reading my first Dick Francis, this one, when I was 11.

Favourite childhood memories :

Pony club camp week & staying up late to watch Horse of the year Show on ITV. Harvey Smith, Nick Skelton & David Broome!

My parents taking me to watch the Gold Cup and The National.

Meeting Desert Orchid!

Looking forward to most, once life returns to some sort of normality:

 Lots of things! Seeing our Owners, family & friends again, Lady Buttons trying to win her third Listed hurdle at Wetherby, Ben on the National trail, Little Bruce having a crack at the Cheltenham X Country race in November 🤞🏻 I love seeing how the bumper horses start progressing to see if we have a potential superstar. Excited to begin showing our 3 year old homebred coloured stallion, Merlin Under saddle.


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