Groomed, signed, delivered….









5,000 thoroughbreds are each year born in Great Britain. Some forty of them come from the Royal Stud in Sandringham where they’re delivered by their Danish groom.


Text and photos Camilla Alfthan


“Sandringham Stud – Strictly Private”reads the sign post at the entrance of the stud. The red brick buildings with the four legged residents is situated in Norfolk where the royal family have had their home since 1862 in the nearby Sandringham House.

It was the Prince of Wales who moved the stud from Windsor Great Park to Norfolk with the prize money from their two best stallions who were also brothers –  the Triple Crown winner, Diamond Jubilee and the 1896 Derby winner, Persimmon who also won the St. Leger.


While Diamond Jubilee was sold to Argentina Persimmon stayed at the stud –  literally so, as his statue is the first thing that you see at the entrance in Sandringham. To the right, there’s the cottage of  the Danish stud groom, Anne-Lise Riis Jensen.


Even if she has never owned a horse, the breeding of the horses has always interested her.  Since she entered the business in 1985, Anne-Lise has delivered close to 500 foals; most of them at the National Stud in Newmarket.


Apart from her 14 employes Anne-Lise is a responsible for the stud’s altogether 76 horses, of which 71 belong to the Queen. With over 100 horses during the summer months she’s far from a nine to five job should one of them fall ill or begin to foal at night.


Home is where the horses are


To Anne-Lise, the horses are a lifestyle. Ever since she left her native Denmark her  home has been were the horses are.

After 10 years at the National Stud and two seasons at the Meridian Stud in Norway she returned to England in 2010 after a friend had drawn her attention to the vacant position when it was advertised in the Racing Post.


Today, her office is situated in the former tea house of Queen Alexandra. Opposite there are the Walled Gardens where vegetables are grown next to the stallion’s paddocks where golden dome that sits in the middle of it all was a gift for the Queen’s 50th anniversary. For the Danish stud groom, horses are a passion.


“We all work here in the hopes that the horses that we bring into this world will do well. There are no secret formulas and that is what makes it all so exciting “


“We all work here in the hopes that the horses that we bring into this world will do well. There are no secret formulas and that is what makes it all so exciting The owners dream of making a horse that may win the Derby or one of the other classic races. We watch them from the day they are born and we see how they’re prepared for specific races. It’s an ongoing evolution where it’s the dreams keep us going,” tells Anne-Lise who has been in love with the sport since her early teens.


“I was attracted to the excitement and the speed  – that these amazing animals will give all they’ve got to get first past the finish line. There was nothing better than presenting them in the paddock before a race and then hoping they would win,” tells Anne-Lise who also spent her holidays travelling to thoroughbred sales all over the world to help present them.


At 39, however, she left her secure job at the National Stud to study at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire.

“People thought I was crazy to do such a thing but it was the best thing I ever did for myself as most people in this business are selftaught. Passing an exam increased my confidence in the decisions I make on a daily basis.”


The handsome Persimmon stands at the entrance of the Royal Stud

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