They call it the Sport of Kings, but you can make room in there for a dentist, school teacher and a horse trainer. Rollingson Racing Stables – with horses from the Rocky Mountain Turf Club in Lethbridge, to Grande Prairie, Edmonton Northlands, Santa Anita, Minnesota, Phoenix, Arkansas and points beyond – consists of Dr. Tim Rollingson Jr. and brother Greg, with RMTC input from trainer Laurie Ferguson and the Rollingson family patriarch, Tim Sr.
“We only run six horses in Lethbridge, but you know a win is a win, be it in Lethbridge or anywhere else… but that first win at Sana Anita was awesome simply because of the history of the course,” Tim stated with a wide grin. “But it’s nice to see your horse run live, and there’s nothing better than to watch your horses run live here at home (Lethbridge).” Tim got the racing bug from his Grandma Ruby Fletcher, who used to bring young Tim to Bullys. His first impression of the sport was a Thoroughbred grandma’s Uncle Whitt had, called Hot Hot Hot.
Since then Tim has found horse racing was “a fun thing to do.” Among his innovations he has purchased several horses and “and named them after my wife (Christine) and each of my children. There is always significant family symbolism in the stables’ jockey silks and the horses we name. My wife loves the horses as much as I do.” You’ll find three horses in Tim’s stable - Jar Head Bork, Tea Nut Elly and Reign of Reno - all with special meaning to Tim, his wife and children.
“We often bring family and friends to Bullys Friday or Saturday – but Never On A Sunday, as the song states - to watch to horses run. My favourite place to be here is in the winner’s circle, and some of our winner’s photos have had as many as 50 people in them.” One of the brothers’ horses is Cat With A Twist, of which trainer Laurie Ferguson also has share.
“Laurie does a fantastic job for us,” the one-time high school basketball Phenom stated. And speaking of basketball Tim also coaches at Chinook High School and was president of the Lethbridge Minor Basketball Association for a while. But back to Laurie. “Her horses are well trained. She has real horse sense and she’s honest. A handshake from Laurie is something you can bet on.
“Of course Laurie is in Lethbridge, where she also runs her own horses, but she also comes to Grande Prairie with us each summer. “Some trainers never listen, but Laurie does. She also makes decisions on what is best for the horses on her own, besides in conjunction with us.” The trio are always on the lookout for horses and they’d like to be able to run in the Canadian Derby again. Likely the best horse they’ve owned was Solve. Tim was part owner, then the horse was claimed, and on his own he claimed Solve back.
“Solve, after leading down the stretch ran second in the Canadian Derby. That was an exhilarating, even in defeat. We are always looking for horses we like and we are actually looking for one to make another run at the Canadian Derby.”
They also have a “quite good” horse with Heber, “and we’re looking forward to what he can do here in Lethbridge. We are excited with our two-year-olds which are going to start running soon. We’ve named them Cumorah and Stripling Warrior.” One of Tim’s greatest thrills to date was to be in the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby when California Chrome (who went on to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years) won the Derby.
As to who rides their horses the brothers find it tough to pick a favourite jockey. “We want the jockey who we feel works best with the horse.” They look for a rider, male or female, who demonstrates the best rapport with the horse.
He recalls Natasha Coddigton riding Joe Dunk In for the Rollingson Stables in a major race and winning. While there aren’t many female riders in Lethbridge these past few years, they’ll have a ride if Laurie feels they match-up with the horses the brothers have left in her care.