Broodmare Field Turned Training Center: Michelle Nihei’s Story Of Success

Michelle Nihei’s Circle 8 Ranch was originally nothing more than an old broodmare field with unseen potential according to Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. When she laid eyes on it, it became a series of furlongs and gallop sets in her mind, and would eventually contribute to her multiple graded stakes wins as a trainer.

The broodmare field eventually turned into a one mile circuit that Nihei has her horses complete three times as part of their daily training and a six-furlong left-handed reseeded turf course. She has seen great results with this facility. The horses are more relaxed and happy and not quite as high strung as you might see on the racetrack.

“When they go back to the racetrack after a couple of months,” said Nihei to Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Patrick Lawrence Gilligan. “everyone who has ridden them both before and after says it is remarkable how much stronger they are and how much better they takes the turns because now they know how to lift that shoulder instead of just flattening  around the turn.”

Nihei was born in Calgary in Western Canada. Her father was a scientist and her mother was a lawyer. Before she began her career in the Thoroughbred industry, Nihei followed in her father’s footsteps as a neuroscientist.

Nihei eventually realized she wanted to ride horses for a living instead of neuroscience and made the switch from lab coats to jeans and a helmet by becoming an exercise rider and then assistant to Todd Pletcher. She had the opportunity to gallop some of Pletcher’s most well known horses like Scat Daddy, English Channel, and Pollards Vision.

“It was an amazing fantastic experience,” said Nihei to Gilligan. “Everything I know about breezing horses I learnt from Angel Cordero and Johnny Velasquez. I was getting on ten a day sometimes. It was the best education you could get.”

Eventually a riding injury caused her to take a step back from exercise riding and led her to becoming a trainer. That is how she ended up in the presence of her future Grade 1 winner, Prince Will I Am. Michelle still rides Prince Will I Am to this day and now refers to him as her Prince Charming.


Published at Tue, 01 Dec 2020 21:07:24 +0000

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