Opera singer Heather Main married a Berkshire vet, switched to training racehorses, and is now saddling winners with an incredible formula, writes Brian Radford.
She walks calmly around her pristine yard singing Mozart arias, and the horses respond by launching into a high-pitched whinny, and dancing behind their stable door.
It’s an amazing rapport between a chorus of contented racehorses and a talented trainer, based near Lambourn.
With a chuckle, Heather said: “First, I’d like to stress that I’m neither barmy nor living in fairyland.
“When I start singing, the horses lean out of their boxes, and join in. They prick their ears, look up, and whinny. Some even dance.
“Mozart is their favourite, so I sing some of his arias to them.
“It’s proving to be a great way to get them relaxed, and boost their well-being before a race.”
Island Cloud, a three-year-old filly, is the yard’s leading soprano. Heather added: “She has a wonderful voice – a clear, high-pitched whinny, and she loves to dance.
“Al Kout is our top tenor. He’s an unraced three-year-old that cost us £11,000 from John Gosden’s stable. He has lots of class, and a grand voice.”
Heather broke her amazing secret after landing a 440-1 treble with Childesplay (8/1) and Rake’s Progress (6/1) at her local Newbury track, and Fair Selene (6/1) at Chepstow.
Leading equine psychologist Grahame Frank, the ‘horse mind doctor’, said: “I’ve never heard anything like this before, but it definitely can work.
“Horses will respond to many things in many ways.
“This lady has found a remarkable formula that’s doing well for her, and long may it last. Being relaxed like this is one thing, but the horse must still have the ability to do the job.”
Holding a trainer’s licence has inevitably forced Heather to abandon her busy stage career, which included solo performances at the Royal Albert Hall and Barbican.
Heather adds: “I have room for 10 more, and I’ve just taken in an unnamed bay sprinter that is showing excellent promise, and should be ready to race quite soon.
“He’s got a decent voice, and has responded brilliantly to my Mozart bits. He cost me 18,000 Euros, so I’m on the lookout for an owner.”
Lucky Berkshire owner Andrew Knott bet his horse Childesplay each-way at odds of 150/1, and it finished second. It went on to win four times, and was retired to stud last week.
Andrew said: “Heather makes racing fun, and is a top trainer. Singing to the horses might sound crazy, but it works, and that’s all that matters.”