Samantha de la Hey - Ascot Interview

23 February 2021

As Cyrname takes his place at the start of Saturday’s Ascot Chase his owner will be watching on nervously from her Sunningdale home. Samantha de la Hey is passionate about her horses and does not find watching them race easy:

“I would rather not watch but I feel I owe it to the horse and make myself.”

Samantha has spent her life surrounded by racing, her father Stuart trained from their Somerset home and her mother’s horses ran in similar colours to those that Cyrname will sport this Saturday.

It was whilst growing up that Samantha would first encounter a young jockey named Paul Nicholls - Paul used to ride for her father - and he was the first person she called when, together with her husband Johnny, they decided to become owners 11 years ago.

Paul had a mare called Far from Blonde in the yard and their first foray into ownership brought about a couple of minor placings at tracks such as Exeter and Wincanton before the mare was retired to stud. Since then, a partnership with the Ditcheat based Champion Trainer that has seen many more highs along the way.

“One of the greatest highlights was when Cyrname won the 2019 running of the Ascot Chase, so many friends were there to celebrate as Ascot had run the Denman Chase that had re-arranged following the cancelation of Newbury. It was such a memorable day with an incredible atmosphere.”

The de la Heys’ have enjoyed Cheltenham Festival hurdling success with Diego du Charmil but Samantha says “our passion is chasing. We tend to buy a certain type with the help of Paul and agents such as Tom Malone, Anthony Bromley and Claude Charlet. They will normally start off hurdling for their education, but the end goal is to go chasing.”

As for being an owner during these unprecedented times Samantha says “we have been very lucky and have been able to go racing when owners were permitted on-course. We also have horses with Richard Hannon who kindly ran them at Ascot so that we could attend as we reside in the same zone. The hardest part about watching from home is not knowing how your horse is if it doesn’t finish in the first three as the television footage tends to follow the winner but the trainers that we have horses with try to keep us updated as much as is possible.”

“Horses have been a godsend during these times, they have given us something to follow.”

Like so many who have missed out on attending the races over the past months Samantha looks forward to the days when they return. “Racing is enjoyed by everyone, families and friends together and enjoying the day, win, loose or draw.

We have often invited friends to the races who have never been, and they have all thoroughly enjoyed it and returned time and time again – young or old everyone enjoys the races.”