Look out South Florida; Natalie Fawkes is the new kid on the block. If her last name sounds familiar – it is. Her dad is David Fawkes veteran trainer and winner of almost 1,000 races and board member of the Florida HBPA.
Natalie has gone from show horses to thoroughbreds. And she’s certainly off to a fast start. In her first 12 races her horses are hitting the board at 50%.
She celebrated her first ever training win on October 14 as Bonnie Scott ridden by Paco Lopez took the tenth race at Gulfstream Park West.
Why did she get started?
“I’ve been working with my father in his barns learning the ropes for about 4 years now,” she said. When asked why she chose to throw her hat into the training ring she commented, “I was born into it, so it was always there. I always had a love for the horses. I used to do show horses but started to take more interest in race horses.”
“But it wasn’t only my dad who had a big influence on me. My mom had a huge part in it. She was in the industry with him for a long time.”
Natalie had a group of owners (Hot Scot Racing Stables) call her and asked if she wanted to train their horses. “I talked it over with my dad to see if it was a good idea to at least start.There were a lot of things I needed to take into consideration. I decided to go for it. Then I took my trainers test and passed it on the first shot. That was it,” she continued.
Making the transition from show horses to thoroughbreds
We asked Natalie what the difference is between training a show horse and training a thoroughbred.
“Show horses are more technical. You have to ride a lot smarter and better with the show horses. It’s a totally different ballgame,” she said.
When asked if making the transition to thoroughbreds was difficult she said, “Thankfully I have that show horse background. At first it was difficult, but it helped me a lot with my feet with my hands and my balance. I already had that in play. I also had knowledge on the bits and equipment, that Old English knowledge from the show horses.”
Now came the big question. How good of a handicapper are you? “Next question,” she joked. “Before the race I look at the horses’ energy levels. How they’re feeling physically and mentally. That’s my biggest thing. If you have a horse that’s physically OK but mentally kind of dull, I’m not going to just hope the horse wakes up. I think that’s the biggest thing with these thoroughbreds, getting them mentally ready.”
On the business side she said, “I’m never going to say no to taking on a horse. I’m always open to more opportunities, picking up new clients. I’ve been fortunate. Out of the 7 or 8 horses I have, only 2 are owned by the same people. I’m starting to develop a good client list. I think that’s really good for someone like me, starting out young.”
“My favorite horse in my barn right now is a horse named Sherpa,” she said,“I claimed him for 16, and I ran him two weeks ago in non-winners allowance, and he finished second. I really like him, he’s got such a personality, I can’t help but love him.”
Will she be a claiming specialist? “Not really, I like the 2-year-olds as well. I have a first-time starter coming up. I know she’s going to need the race. With the 2-year-olds you never know what to expect. They can really surprise you. That I like. The reason I like the claimers is that it’s such a confidence booster when you can improve a horse.So far I’ve been pretty good with claims.”
We wish Natalie Fawkes the very best in her new career. Look for her horses, she’s got them ready.
If anyone is interested in contacting Natalie Fawkes to train their thoroughbreds, you can contact her on Facebook here and on Instagram here and soon to be on Twitter. Or you can always contact us here at the Florida HBPA offices for trainer information.
Watch Natalie’s First Training Win