Donald Whillans - an introduction to The Trainer

Donald leads in Bruce
Donald leads in Snapping Turtle (Callum) after a handicap hurdle victory at Musselburgh

Donald has been training horses at his Dodlands Steading stables, situated on the outskirts of Hawick in the Scottish Borders, since the early 1990s.

Principally a National Hunt trainer, he also has several Flat winners to his credit and currently has around 20 horses in training as has been the case for the previous 5 or 6  seasons.
The stable regularly has runners at all of the Scottish jumps courses, and in the North of England with Newcastle (a fine, galloping track) being a particular favourite.

He lives adjacent to the yard with wife Helen. Sons Garry & Callum, are both jockeys with Garry concentrating on the Flat these days with approaching 50 winners to his credit. During the winter months takes an active role as one of the National Hunt team members.
Conversely, Callum is principally a National Hunt jockey who for the last 3 or 4 seasons has been attached to big yards south of the border, but for season 2016-17 will be based at Dodlands Steading. Callum is a very experienced jockey, and has ridden over 50 winners and is looking forward to the new season, and picking up rides from the host of trainers in the area.

Early Years

Being born and bred in Hawick, and a member of the Whillans' Family, it comes as no surprise to learn that Donald has been involved in racing all his life. Father Charlie ('Chuck') Whillans trained horses to race on the thriving Borders' Pony Racing  (aka 'flapping') circuit, and Alistair ('Brother Ali') Whillans holds a full licence and is very successful dual purpose trainer based at Newmills on the other side of Hawick.

As with many Borders' youths, Donald's sporting interests  were Rugby and Horses. Donald played scrum half for Hawick Rugby Club into his mid twenties whilst his passion for horse racing flourished amongst the Common Riding and prolific Borders' 'flapping' scene.
Indeed, it was 'flapping' racing in which Donald made his first venture as a trainer - and not without success.
But it was his ambition to train National Hunt horses that saw Donald obtain a Point-to-Point licence in the mid 1990s. Upon training 8 winners in 2 seasons, the switch to training under Jockey Club rules was not long in coming.

Permit Holder to Full Licence....and beyond

Donald Donald trained a few family owned horses (father Charlie is still an owner with Donald and a daily visitor to the yard) under permit with noted success - a treble at Perth being a particular stand-out - until obtaining his full licence in 2000.
Barney Rubble was the heroic horse who provided Donald with his first winner on each occasion (permit holder & full licence)
With the assistance of his race-riding sons Garry & Callum, Donald has been gradually building up both the quality and quantity of his horses in recent years.

He is in regular attendance at NH Sales in Doncaster and Ireland, assessing young stock, with good conformation at realistic prices - witness grand performers of recent times such as multiple winners Hartforth and Snapping Turtle.
This season the yard houses off-springs of top class NH sires such as Beneficial, Definite Article, Midnight Legend and Oscar.



 

 

Donald  on gallop
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