Andrea Kelly, 45, grew up surrounded by Welsh ponies in Llantwit Major. Now, she is a massive part of Tim Vaughan’s team, having been there since he started training in 2006. Andrea started as a work-rider and has done stints as the head girl before doing the travelling. She credits being “well taught” by former colleagues Paul Morgan and Mark Jones, and way back taught to plait and turnout horses by Sue Easton. Andrea is, indeed, brilliant at turning out and wins many best-turned-outs. Nowadays, she lives only twelves miles from her childhood haunt in LLanharan, which is ten miles from the yard.
In February 2018, at the Goldolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, Andrea was shortlisted to the final three in the Leadership Award for being “an exceptional leader and an inspiration”. All of her fellow stable staff rallied round and were so proud when she finished runner up at the awards’ ceremony after a day’s judging in London. Then, in November that same year, Andrea received the Stable Staff Recognition Award in the inaugural Welsh Racing Awards.
Andrea is constantly shadowed by her Shih Tzu Barney, who is ten, and has always been her beloved “lorry dog”. She is a bubbly, smiley person who will always help out, offer sound advice and have a laugh.
Did you ride as a child? I have always been horsey. I started off with Welsh Section B ponies with Sue Easton; she taught me how to turn out to a very high standard, and I started riding there too.
I was lucky enough to have grown up with a 11hh grey Welsh Mountain pony called Misty when I was 3 years old, then moved onto 13.2 chestnut working hunter pony called Brandy. Then, when I was 16, I had a 16.2 bay lightweight hunter mare called Charisma - I did lots of pony club, showing, hunter trailing and hunting on her. I also rode a smart 15.2 show hunter that I bred out of Charisma. I was so lucky from day one.
Have you worked in any other horsey disciplines? Yes, I worked with show jumpers - Martyn Edwards, who was top of his game, and his son Mark who is now top of the British circuit. In the winter, I worked in a hunting/‘pointing yard with a well-known lady, Mrs J Thomas who owned the well-known mare, Scally’s Daughter.
I’ve also done free-lance house/dog sitting.
How did you get into racing? I knew Tim Vaughan throughout all of his ‘pointing days. I would offer to tag along for days out when he was riding, so I was on-hand when he started training his own – the rest is history.
Which is your most favourite horse(s)? I’ve had a soft spot for too many horses. So, here’s a few: Mad Professor, Kings Euro, Saint Are, Falcarrgha, Dovils Date, Tara Mac, Dadsintrouble, Le Fin Bois, Ruacana and Cap St Vincent.
What have been your best days in racing? My best days racing includes Beshabar winning the Scottish Grand National, which was Dickie’s first winner of the race and Saint Are at Aintree, winning the novice hurdle and a year later winning the novice chase. Also, Stewarts House winning the Grand Sefton was another top day and drive!
What are your favourite racecourses? Aintree and Punchestown.
Where are your favourite overnighters? Perth and Punchestown.
Which is your favourite racecourse canteen?! Newton Abbot.
What is the most favourite part of your job? Bringing home a winner and dealing with owners, representing the boss and seeing my lovely racing family.
What is the least favourite part of the job? Long journeys home after night racing and motorway closures!!
Do you still ride out? I ride five lots when I’m not racing – got my safe ones!
Who do you admire in racing? Richard Johnson, for his manner and determination.
Do you prefer Flat or National Hunt? I’m a jumps girl!
How could racecourses improve conditions for stable staff? Facilities are improving all the time – but more free food possibly, as service stations cost a fortune.
What is the best advice you were given? Be punctual and manners costs nothing.
What is the best advice you can give? Speak to people as you’d expect to be spoken to, work as a team.
Is social media positive or negative for racing? Positive!
What is your ideal day off? Definitely a lie-in, and out for Sunday lunch. I also love pamper/ spa days, shopping and walking my dog.
What is your favourite food? Roast beef.
What is your favourite drink? Pink gin!
What music do you like listening to? Chart music.
Where is your favourite holiday destination and with whom? Caribbean and Dubai. I love the sun and beach days with cocktails.
How was lockdown for you during the coronavirus pandemic? COVID-19 has been not too bad for me. I kept focused from day one! And I never let it get me down! I’ve done lots of walking to keep fit, done some baking and homemade dinners: I’ve enjoyed doing all this as I’m usually never home to cook. I’ve also done decorating, tidying of cupboards, etc. I’ve learnt that we all need time for ourselves and family, as you never know what’s around the corner; it’s worth trying to get a work-life balance.