New trainer is determined to make a name for himself Liam Headd talks to Oliver Signy about his ambitious plans to make his mark on the racing world. Pictures by Phil Cannings

For any new horseracing trainer, starting up on your own can be a daunting task and one that can become a long process.

But for Oliver Signy, things have been running smoothly during the early stages of his training career as he works hard out of The Croft Stables, Lambourn.

Along with his wife Katherine, the 33-year-old is starting to put together his team for the future, just four months after acquiring his own yard.

“I was looking around for a yard and this place came available, which was very lucky," he said.

“Knowing Lambourn and the area, including the gallops, the facilities and the suppliers was a big help and it gave me a leg-up.

“The facilities help a lot and it’s great having jockeys who live nearby come and ride out – because we are a small team, it was a major advantage.”

Oliver, who has a degree in International Equine and Agricultural Business Management from the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, first experienced the Valley of the Racehorse when an opportunity opened up with fellow trainer Oliver Sherwood.

He said: “I was assistant to him for two seasons and during that time he had Many Clouds, who won the Hennessey (Ladbrokes Trophy) and the Grand National.

“Learning there was very good and that led to me working for Jonathan Sheppard in America, where I learned the racing industry, the system and the techniques.

“I came back and was assistant to Jamie Snowden for three seasons and it was good to learn how a new younger trainer worked.”

And after his time learning from a variety of trainers, he elected to start up himself and Lambourn was the obvious area to base.

Oliver said: “Here, there are three or four jump trainers that I can call on for help or advice.

“It’s a big help with the gallops and they [The Jockey Club] are always there to help, whether you’re out on the gallops or schooling on the grass.”

Katherine added: “With the contacts that Ollie has built up over the last six or seven years, to come to a training base, Lambourn was the obvious choice.

“With the facilities being geared towards jump trainers, everyone in Lambourn has been thrilled that a new jump trainer has come back.

“We have a good base here and that makes people want to help, which is great because they have great expertise and knowledge.”

Oliver and Katherine had a busy period towards the back end of 2019 and they haven’t looked back since.

He said: “We bought this place on September 5, with help from both of our parents, we got married on September 14, the horses arrived on September 16 and I think we had our first runner in November.

“We have had a few horses come in – we have 10 now – and we’re slowly building them all up.”

Having spent a few seasons with Snowden and Sherwood, Oliver believes the experienced gained can help him throughout his career.

He said: “They are different style trainers and you pick up what they have learned and you tweak it yourself, but everyone’s main goal is winning races.

“You want to pick up the best bits. You learn how not to do it and you change your technique and that is how you attract owners.”

During his time in the US and his period with Sheppard, Oliver noticed a difference in the approach to the industry.

“They do a lot of track work and they often run where they race; the prize money is also a lot more which tends to attract some of the big owners."

Katherine added: “The set-up is completely different and that is partly due to labour costs and wages being different compared to here. It certainly opens your eyes a lot more.”

Oliver has set himself and his team targets for the upcoming year.

He said: “We obviously want to get the first winner on the board and then we want to slowly build up, have a full yard and continue to improve the yard.

“We want to bring it back to its former glory, but yes, the aim is to have a full yard."

“It is licensed for 31 horses and our boxes are a good size,” added Katherine.

“We want to rebuild some of the yard and it could mean that we could extend to a 50-box yard, which would be fantastic.”

Being so close to a number of racecourses, including Newbury, is an added bonus for the Signy Racing team.

Oliver added: “There are five or six racecourses close and with there being good road links, you can get everywhere quite quickly.

“It’s also close to London and Birmingham, which means that owners can come down to the yard, which is really handy.”


Photos by Phil Cannings