An Interview with Hannah Dean - Head of Travelling to Ben Pauling
Updated: Jan 14
Hannah Dean, nee Worgan, grew up in the Welsh-English border village of Undy, Monmouthshire, alongside ponies and the Pony Club, often taking home rosettes. After doing work experience in a racing yard, Hannah got bitten by the bug and started there after finishing school. She gained great experience working for a couple of big yards, before settling at Ben Pauling’s successful operation in Gloucestershire.
Initially, Hannah was another member of the team, in the background to successful horses, such as Barters Hill and Kildistart but she has had her own memorable days since. She’s ‘done’ Le Breuil (Breuilly) since he won a Warwick bumper, culminating in a half-length success in the National Hunt chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and a third in last year’s Becher chase. She also has Global Citizen under her care, including when he won the Champion Hurdle trial at Haydock and the Wayward Lad Novice’s Chase in 2019. She has spent many days beside Ascot-winner Nestor Park and has high hopes for Newbury-bumper winner Fine Casting. All these successes are testament to the care and diligence Hannah puts into the horses in her care, and is representative of how she has undertaken the Head of Travelling role since last year.
Hannah, 25, lives with husband Jack, 32, in Evesham, Worcestershire, with their gorgeous three-year-old Jack Russell Tia. Also Hannah’s shadow and constant companion, Tia is a third-generation terrier bred by Hannah’s mum, Sally. Jack is an ex-jockey and they met through trainer Milton Bradley’s former stalwart, The Tatling.
'I took The Tatling to his last ever race when he won as a fourteen-year-old over five furlongs at Wolverhampton,’ explains Hannah. ‘I then took him to a few ROR classes. Jack had won on him a few times in his career and that’s how Jack and I got talking,’ smiles Hannah. ‘All because of The Tatling.’
The rest, as they say, is history.
Did you have a horsey childhood?
Yes – I’ve had ponies and horses all my life. I was riding before I knew I could, doing everything: Pony Club, mounted games, showjumping and eventing. I had two ponies – Sugar and then Demi – a play on demerara sugar!
How did you get into racing?
I did work experience in racing for a week whilst at school. After that, I wanted to start full time, which I did after my GCSEs. My Dad was always into racing so I probably got it from him. I went straight to a trainer, no racing school or anything like that.
Which trainers have you worked for?
I started out at Milton Bradley’s where I stayed for two years. I then went to Paul Nicholls’, where Irving was one of the horses I did. I then spent a year at Jonjo O’Neill’s, where I did Minella Rocco for his two wins in novice hurdles and led up AP McCoy on his last ever ride on Box Office at Sandown. I then went to Ben Pauling’s in September 2015.
How did you get the job as Ben Pauling’s head of travelling?
I did the Second Travelling for two years and then got the Head of Travelling last season, in 2020.
Describe your typical day:
Start at 06:30 (if I don’t have an early start), muck out my four and ride out.
If racing, I’ll bandage the runners and load up, aiming to arrive at the racecourse three hours before our first race. We unload, wash off, plait and I’ll take the colour bag. Then we grab something to eat, get the horses ready and off we go.
Leading up AP McCoy in his final ever ride at Sandown
Photo Credit: Toby Connors
In a nutshell, what does your job entail?
I look after four horses and ride out. I also assist in running the racing – the staff, etc – and look after the racing tack room.
What are your favourite horses?
Eloped, who I looked after and rode in a charity race. She sadly died too young. And Le Breuil!
Many amazing memories with Le Breuil
What’s your favourite racecourse?
Ascot, because of its prestige, grandeur and free food in a great canteen.
What’s been your best day in racing?
Le Breuil winning the four miler at the Festival.
What’s been your favourite day out of racing?
Jack’s and my wedding day. We had to change the date a couple of times due to covid but it went ahead in July – every minute was brilliant.
Hannah with Eloped
What is the best aspect about working in racing?
The big days.
And the worst?
Early mornings and late nights.
Describe yourself in five words:
Short-tempered, caring, bossy, love having a laugh – oh, that’s eight!
The Silence of the Lambs.
Charts and ‘80s music.
Disaronno on the rocks.
I do go to the gym when I can but that’s not a hobby! Dog walking and I can’t wait to travel Asia this summer.
Hannah with Irving