Former Reaseheath equine apprentice Hannah Roach has made a winning start to her career as a racehorse trainer, recording an above average 65% strike rate in her first full season.

Aged just 22, she has taken over the reins from her former boss Joe O’Shea and runs a small yard on the outskirts of Nantwich with up to ten point to pointers in training. So far this season she has saddled 32 runners and recorded an impressive eleven wins, five seconds, and five thirds, including victory in the Holland Cooper Intermediate hunter chase at Cheltenham earlier this month.

The winner of this race, six year-old Iskandar Pecos, a horse Hannah bought and began training a year ago, is now bound for his final race of the season – the Champion Novice Hunter Chase at Stratford on May 31. Hannah has high hopes for this scopey gelding, who she says is more respectful of the bigger fences, and he has a good partnership with stable jockey Huw Edwards.

O’Shea’s owners have opted to remain in training with Hannah, with Time Leader delivering a fourth place in a hunter chase at Aintree and a third at Cheltenham, and others making their mark at smaller racecourses.

O’Shea still rides out and supports her, saying: “No one works harder than Hannah. She deserves this opportunity. She has her own ideas, but she’s very good at feeding horses and knows how to get them fit.”

Hannah is the daughter of Steve Roach, former Director and Head of Department for Agriculture, Countryside Management, Equine and Horticulture at Reaseheath and previous holder of the Reaseheath Star Award for his outstanding contribution to the college. He retired from Reaseheath in 2016.

Steve and wife Jill rode for pleasure when younger and bought Hannah her first pony. When she was 15, Steve took her to a riding school to look for weekend work, but they met O’Shea, who rented boxes at the yard, and she began working for him part-time. After she finished school she became a full-time groom / work rider for Joe and also began an 18-month horse care apprenticeship at Reaseheath, the completion of which coincided with Covid.

Hannah credits Apprenticeships Course Co-ordinator Dawn Joyce with her successful completion of the programme. She recalled: “I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to stay on the yard and it gave me the continuity to continue learning on the job as well doing a recognised qualification.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better trainer than Dawn. Because of Covid restrictions we had to record proof of practical skills on camera as evidence for the final assessment – such as tacking up, grooming and bandaging – and we had one to ones on line for the theory. Dawn supported me right through and I still use the knowledge I gained, particularly about nutrition and conditioning, every day.

“I’ve been involved in this sport for seven years now, I’ve learned a lot and I’m now ready to step up my career and expand. I’m proof that dreams really do come true!”

Dawn added: “Hannah was an extremely committed young lady and a pleasure to teach. She is living proof of the fantastic opportunities which are available in the equine industry to those who are dedicated and willing to work hard.”