LEIGH ROBINSON reports on a horse training facility that is determined to be first past the post.

THE region's most advanced horse training facility has received an investment of £10million that will help expand the business, making it the premier resource of its kind in the UK.

Based at The Beeches in Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, Horses First Racing has been developed since 2004 on what was previously a dairy farm.

Following major conversion and development work it now incorporates 175 acres of top-quality training facilities including hill gallops, flat gallops, schooling field, Softwalker, Vitafloor and a state-of-the-art Seawalker.

The investment deal was brokered by Andrew Chalk, who is a partner at the firm of Marlborough-based Withy King Solicitors which acted on behalf of Horses First Racing.

Andrew said: "This is already a top-class horse training operation, one which is well regarded and known throughout the horse training community. The new investment will take it up another level, adding to its excellent reputation and raising the bar to all other training facilities."

Overseen by trainer Jeremy Gask, Horses First Racing currently trains more than 40 horses for both the Flat and National Hunt racing. This is expected to grow to about 70 by the end of 2008.

The Seawalker itself took more than two years of research and investigation to develop and recent investment has seen it upgraded through the installation of a new filtering system that will keep the water in the walker extremely clean.

Eamonn Wilmott, founder and managing director of Horses First Racing, said: "This new investment is fantastic news for the business. I'd like to thank Andrew, who was instrumental in securing the finance which has made the expansion of the business possible.

"We're hugely excited about the future as it will enable us to consolidate our position as a leading horse training outfit and develop the facilities further that will help attract some of the best horses in the country."

Andrew added: "Not only is Horses First Racing a top-class training facility it also operates an enviable environmental policy, one which other businesses should take note of."

Fully organic-certified through Demeter (the certifying body of biodynamic farming in the UK), the management have planted more than 1,800 new trees and are currently planting extensive new hedgerows as well as maintaining the existing ones according to strict guidelines which protect the nesting and feeding sites of birds.

The company follows as much as possible a policy of reduce, re-use and recycle both in the yard and in the office. This includes the composting of all bedding and muck from the yard on site and use of the composted material on the land.

All electricity comes from Good Energy which supplies 100 per cent energy from renewable sources such as wind and wave power.

Finally, most of the staff live on site and therefore do not have to drive to work. Those that do drive live locally with staff sharing travel where possible.