An Interview with Amber Cartlidge – Secretary and Assistant Trainer to Charlie Longsdon
Amber Cartlidge was born and bred in the Cotswolds – she grew up near to the picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water and now lives down the road in the equally chocolate-box Moreton-In-the-Marsh. Amber, 24, says, ‘I have never travelled very far, I’ve always lived around here and even went to university just down the road in Cirencester, at The Royal Agricultural University.’ There, she gained an honours degree in International Business Management, with food and agribusiness.
Amber had a fun horsey childhood, competing in many Pony Club competitions. ‘My family were not connected to racing; however, I grew up having horses,’ she explains. ‘I always fancied the idea of riding ‘pointing (I had one ride!), so when Ben Pauling first set up, I went in to ride out at the age of fifteen.’ As Amber’s interest in racehorses blossomed, her family’s interest in racing grew.
During the lockdown in 2020, Amber used her time on furlough to really improve her fitness by running and cycling. ‘The exercise became addictive, not something I ever thought I would say!’ chuckles Amber. ‘As a result, I do a lot of running, biking and now swimming. Last summer, I competed in my first ever triathlon, the Cotswold Classic – one and a half mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13-mile run. Unfortunately, the swim was cancelled due to bad visibility on the lake, which means I have signed up to it again!’ Amber duly competed again in it again last month, earning a personal best in the swim and cycle and coming third overall in her age group.
Last year, Amber completed The Great Racing Welfare Cycle, 500 miles in five days, raising thousands of pounds for a charity that is close to the hearts of stable hands. ‘It was so much fun, but hard work at the same time. We were well looked after, and it was for a brilliant cause. I never want to cycle up the brutal hill that Fleet Moss is ever again!’ True to Amber's grit, she participated again in this last month, merely a week after her triathlon triumph, conquoring the steep Ham Hill several times over the twenty-four hours.
Currently, Amber is Secretary and Assistant Trainer to Charlie Longsdon, where she rides out, works in the office, writes the monthly newsletter, and goes racing, amongst many other tasks. The yard had a brilliant last season, with the successful Snow Leopardess winning the Becher Chase.
Did you have a horsey childhood?
Yes, I had a very horsey childhood. I started with an extremely naughty Shetland called Nibbles, who eventually I was too scared to ride! My Grampy bought me an unbroken two-year-old cob, with two blue eyes, from a farm sale in Wales as my second horse! He had a heart of gold, but could not jump, we once got stuck over a small rail out hunting.
I then had a fabulous one-eyed pony who would jump everything on the hunting field, he was awesome. Followed by Larry, my incredibly special Connemara who was perfect at everything, and again was found following the field master over the biggest of Heythrop country. He had to be sold as I headed off to university and I said I could never get another one… until I got offered the brilliant Dave’s Dream – my horse of a lifetime.
Which equestrian disciplines have you competed in?
Being in the Pony Club meant I tried out most of the disciplines. I don’t like eventing, dressage is stressful, the poles fall down in showjumping, and they put stupid skinny fences in the middle of a cross country course. Therefore, hunting and team chasing were my idea of fun. I Open team-chased with Team Rideaway for a few seasons on the previously mentioned Dave’s Dream.
How did you get into racing?
I rang up Ben Pauling one morning to ride out, completely clueless and unable to ride racehorses. I used to ride out on Saturday mornings, progressing onto a lot before school every morning and working full time in my holidays. I learnt a lot and grew up at Ben Pauling Racing!
Which trainers have you worked for and in what roles?
Ben Pauling as a Stable Lass, Jonjo O’Neill as a Work Rider and Office Assistant, and Assistant Trainer and secretary for Charlie Longsdon.
Please describe your role as secretary and assistant trainer:
I do a bit of everything! I ride out two lots in the morning before entering the office or going racing, representing Charlie regularly. I do the entries and declarations, social media, staff organisation and owners’ communications. I have had to learn how to become a photographer to make sure owners get good updates! Through lockdown, it was essential we sent them lots of content when they could not see their horses. It is a very varied role, but I really enjoy it.
Have you ever ridden in races?
I had one point-to-point ride at Bangor. I was told to make the running, but I got to the start and too many people were trying to make it, so I just jumped off stone-cold last. I had a class spin, and when I realised everyone was off the bridle and I finally kicked on, I flew past them all to finish fourth. He probably would have won if he had someone on board who knew what they were doing.
Who is your racing hero?
I don’t have a hero as such. I just admire everyone in all aspects of racing and their fantastic commitment and dedication to the sport.
Which is your favourite racecourse?
Cheltenham – the home of National Hunt racing and my local track.
Which have been your favourite racehorses?
I have lots! Kildisart, I used to ride him at Ben’s in his early start to his career. at Charlie’s now, I now have a soft spot for Almazhar Garde, he is a completely loveable rogue.
A horse I never had anything to do with but used to love watching run was Un De Sceaux, his jumping was fabulous.
What has been your best day in racing so far?
Willoughby Court winning at the Festival.
What do you love about working in racing?
It is so varied. Obviously, racing is your life, and it becomes a passion. It is unlike any other industry. After university, I did try my hand at a boring office job, as the reason I went to university was not to work in racing! However, that was not for me.
What do you dislike abut racing?
You can’t make too many plans for the future, as you never know what runners you might have and whether you will be needed to go racing. It isn’t a complaint though, as I enjoy going racing.
Is social media positive or negative?
It is both. It is brilliant at marketing and keeping people updated. However, I think there is too much of it. People get addicted to it.
Gym, running, swimming, and cycling – how boring! Oh, and the occasionally pub afternoon.
If you didn’t work in racing, what might you have done?
I am not sure, something sales or marketing related.
What are your hopes/aspirations for the future?
I am still to decide! I have realised there are so many different career paths…
Favourite drink: Rosé.
Favourite meal: Chicken and Mushroom pie.
Favourite snack: Quavers.
Favourite holiday destination: I get home sick! Although a few days away in the sun is always nice, I don’t mind where it is!
Ideal day off: Get up, not hungover, do a good bit of exercise in the morning and then sit down in the pub watching the racing all afternoon.
Favourite film: A Walk To Remember.
Favourite book: I read too many books, all real life, easy-reading books. I loved the trilogy Me Before You, After You and Still Me.
Amber team-chasing her beloved Dave's Dream