Newmarket raised Toby Lawes feeling more comfortable in the training ranks after a tough 2020
His love of the sport was born within the confides of HQ, but Toby Lawes is now relishing being a member of the training ranks a couple of hours south in Dorking.
The 28-year-old, who was raised just outside Newmarket, in Westley Waterless, was shown the ropes as a youngster by the likes of James Eustace, Chris Wall, Sarah Humphrey and John Ferguson.
And more recently he was the assistant to leading jumps trainer Nicky Henderson, for whom he was the regular work-rider of the mighty Altior.
Lawes decided to go solo towards the back end of 2019, but within a few months the Covid-19 pandemic had taken hold, making it a tough start to the new venture.
However, 2021 has proven to be much kinder so far, with the former Dullingham Primary School pupil having chalked up seven victories since the turn of the year.
“I was lucky to have been brought up near Newmarket,” he said.
“I’m from a real horsey family and I had the ability to ride out on my doorstep.
“It was James Eustace who gave me my first real taste and I was hooked.”
With regards to his positive start to the year, following an obstacle-ridden 2020, Lawes added: “After about four months everything was called off.
“I had 10 or so horses, and at that time I was getting to know them and the gallops where I’m based in Dorking.
“It was difficult to judge the horses while I was still learning about everything, including how to best work in the yard itself.
“I’m very lucky to have worked with wonderful people who have been a fantastic help.
“Nicky Henderson came down to see the place and so did Nico de Boinville (jockey). We played around with a few ideas and the best way to do things – that was a big help.
“It isn’t an easy game but I’ve been delighted with this year so far.
“I’ve got a great team and now we have got to know our horses, that is showing in the results.”
With regards to his hopes for the remainder of the term, Lawes has no major targets.
Instead, he is looking for a continuation of what has got his Henfold House Stables base to this point.
“I try not to set too many targets,” he added. “Earlier in the season I would have been very happy to end with a high single figure number of winners.
“The main thing is we do the best thing by the horses. If we make the right decisions than the results will take care of themselves.
“It’s important we don’t ask the wrong questions of them and set things back.
“I find that if you set strict goals you can set yourself up for disappointment.”
And there is one horse in particular that Lawes is optimistic will come good later in the year.
“Nashville Nipper finished third at Huntingdon recently and we were pleased,” he said. “He’s a big, solid unit that takes plenty of getting fit.
“He’ll have a summer break, but we expect him to progress nicely over the next few months and then hopefully we can find a prominent handicap for him in the autumn.”