Interview with Top Owner The Honorable Mrs Elizabeth Wills
Updated: Jan 15
The Honourable Mrs Elizabeth Wills lives near Cheltenham and caught the racing bug from her husband, Ian, who farms and has yearlings. She is surrounded daily by horses, and also an array of dogs, cats and hens!
Mrs Wills, also known as Lizzie, has owned racehorses for over thirty years, having had her first winner in 1988 with the first horse she ever had in training. Over And Above was trained by Nicky Henderson and won five in total. Sh remembers fondly that he was “always in the frame and always ran his heart out.” King’s Gait was Mrs Wills’ first winner on the Flat, trained by Tim Easterby; Un Ace, trained by Kim Bailey, was AP McCoy’s last winner at Ascot before retiring, and in which Mrs Wills had a share in via the Ace In The Pack Partnership.
Are you “horsey”?
I hunted as a child and last rode about twenty years ago on a horse I bought from Stow Fair!
How did you initially get into racehorse ownership?
Through my husband.
What was the inspiration behind the design of your racing colours? I picked my favourite colours blue and pink – and hoped that I could see them clearly at the racecourse. I wanted cerise but it wasn’t allowed in years gone by!
What was the first racehorse you owned?
Over And Above.
Who have been your trainers?
Nicky Henderson, Kim Bailey, Tim Easterby and Jonjo O’Neill.
How many racehorses do you own at present?
I have four as sole owner: Generation Gap, Ashfield Paddy, File Illico and the newly named Copper Cove by Jet Away out in the field, plus one with shared ownership: Prince Escalus.
Do you have any favourite racehorses you owned?
Over and Above – my first racehorse.
What are your favourite racecourses?
York – it’s a wonderful course and the new paddock has really improved it. People really love their racing in the North and of course, there’s always a wonderful atmosphere plus Cheltenham for its atmosphere and the racing.
Which racecourses look after owners the best and why?
York for its committee, who always come and talk. Haydock and Musselburgh are very good at looking after owners.
What was your best day’s racing?
I can’t choose as all days racing are exciting. The memory of my first winner will always give me a thrill.
My first winner with Jonjo will, of course, be a very happy memory but just to have a horse on the racecourse is always exciting.
How do you name your unnamed purchases?
I look at the breeding,
Who is your racing hero?
Everyone is – especially the National Hunt jockeys.
What, generally, does racing do well?
It really depends on which course. Speaking from the owner’s point of view, some courses are very good at looking after you, whereas some definitely need to improve. I think the stall handlers do an amazing job, but so do all the groundsmen, meaning we can get our horses racing. It must be hard for everyone at these difficult times.
And, how could it improve? By looking after the lads and lasses at the races – always give them free food and drink for the day, also improve viewing at some courses. Prize money must be looked at and the public must be encouraged to go racing. If you have good racing and facilities and people with welcoming friendly faces it should work! They must not out-price themselves!
What is your favourite holiday destination?!
Fishing, shooting (including picking up with my dog) and meeting people.