About Peter & Karen
Peter and his wife Karen have transformed what began as a modest bungalow and a couple of fields into a top class racing yard. Stables were built to start with - 50 boxes now, with overflow accommodation just down the road - followed by a six furlong uphill all-weather gallop, and recently a new circular gallop and a second schooling area.
All of this is less than a stone's throw from where Peter was raised in Little Newcastle, and where he first enjoyed success training point-to-pointers.
Since he started training at the top grade in 1995, his horses have been regular visitors to winner's enclosures on all the famous racecourses in the land - most of them, of course, a long distance drive from deepest Pembrokeshire. Peter and his team clock up thousands of miles every year from Perth to Exeter via Folkestone and Aintree!
Those close to Peter admire his hard work, dedication and hands-on approach to the work he loves. In the days building up to a big race, it's no surprise to find him out all alone in a box late into the night putting the final touches to an important runner's preparation. Peter knows by sight and by name each and every one of the horses in his care - their likes and their dislikes, and their idiosyncrasies.
Team Bowen is very much a family outfit. Wife Karen has a lifetime of experience working with horses - in both the show ring and as a former champion point to point rider. At the age of 16, she was third in the National Ladies Championship, and later was Northern Champion lady rider. She raced against the likes of Peter Scudamore and the young Richard Johnson, and scored her first winner under Rules when she beat top jockey Steve Smith Eccles in a photo-finish.
With her race riding days behind her, along with nine broken collar bones, these days Karen is usually out riding first lot at crack of dawn, and is an astute judge of horses as well as a skilful teacher of novices.
All three Bowen sons are following in their parents' footsteps.
Eldest son Mickey, 19, now rides work regularly as well as training point-to-point horses; Sean, 17, after great success in pony racing, as well as riding work, is riding winners in point to points, and started his career as an amateur jockey with a win on his first ride under Rules, and has since scored for his father in his mother's colours; James, 13, is heading in the same direction, currently enjoying great success in pony racing.
Back when he was a youngster, Peter worked in his father's horse business. "I always seemed to be given the real rogues to sort out", he recalls. He started to train point-to-pointers, soon with eye-catching success. His best horse was Brunico, who won 23 races in 2 seasons, including four races in 8 days. One unforgettable afternoon at the Lydstep course, Peter's pointers won 5 out of 6 races. Those were the days when, with no gallops of his own, he worked his horses on the grass verges of the busy A40 to Fishguard, only yards from the lorries speeding to the ferries. "It was hard work to start with!" he says with modest understatement.
The first winner under Rules, in October 1995 at Sedgefield, was Iffeee, a hunter chaser who'd won only twice in 27 starts before joining Peter. He started at 20/1! Inside six months Iffeee won six times from 9 starts - an early illustration of Peter's genius for improving horses that have disappointed for other stables.
Then came Stately Home, bringing home to Pembrokeshire the Channel Four Trophy for the most wins in a season. No novice had ever won as many races.
Ballycassidy and Yes Sir have also since won the same trophy. Mr Ed was narrow runner-up in the Cesarewitch, before Dunbrody Millar won the historic Topham at Aintree, and Snoopy Loopy " the best I've trained so far"- won the valuable Betfair Chase at Haydock last year, ahead of the country's top chasers including Kauto Star.
Peter leads his team from the front. He's hands-on operator paying the closest attention to every detail and every horse, with a burning desire to succeed.
What's the secret? "Make sure you get hold of good horses, and then find out what's wrong with them - and put it right". Yet another understatement of the art of getting a horse to produce his best at the appointed time.