Former racehorse trainer, Nigel Smith, will host his song and story act in Fuengirola next week. / SUR

From the racecourse to the stages of the Costa del Sol

The former farmer enjoyed a career training prize-winning racehorses prior to arriving in Fuengirola to work as an entertainer

Tony Bryant
TONY BRYANT

It is sometimes difficult for entertainers on the Costa del Sol to create a show that is truly different from the rest, especially seeing as the local music scene has just about every genre covered. However, one expat entertainer is currently embarking on a series of shows that are completely unique, because, as he is keen to point out, "nobody else is doing this type of show".

Nigel Smith, who arrived on the coast in 2015 to work as an entertainer in the La Jabega Hotel in Fuengirola, will host the first of his 'one man song and story act' next week, a show where he shares stories and secrets from his long career as a professional racehorse trainer, as well as singing songs from his extensive repertoire.

Born in Worcester in 1956, Nigel grew up on a farm in the small village of Upton Snodsbury, which is where his love of horses materialised.

Nigel first started in gymkhana, and he also acquired a passion for hunting.

He then entered into show jumping and point-to-point racing (steeplechasing for amateur riders), but the six-foot-tall, 14-stone, youngster soon realised that a career as a jockey would not be possible, so he decided to try his hand at training.

He applied to the Jockey Club for a permit, which would allow him to train his own horses and those owned by his family.

"I needed references from people who already had a licence. Those that knew me thought that I had the necessary background because I lived on a farm which had plenty of land and horses, and because I had hunted," Nigel explains to SUR in English.

Nigel received his permit at the age of 23, and he was one of the youngest to get a permit in the UK at that time. Until then, he had been riding other people's horses, but now he would need one of his own. He went to speak with the manager of Barclays Bank in order to secure a loan of 2,000 pounds, which he would have to repay in one year.

"The bank manager was the person who gave me a start. It would have been a damn sight harder without his help. I repaid the loan in twelve months to the day, after the selling the horse that I had brought with the loan, and this is how it all began," he says in his countrified accent.

After receiving his full licence, he went on to train the horses of many private clients, one of which was a horse called 42D. It was sponsored by the owner of Trident International Bras, and this is a period Nigel describes as a "hilarious time", because the horse ended up on page three of The Sun.

He also trained the winner of the first floodlit race in Wolverhampton, which was attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A breakdown in a relationship in 2003 led to his decision to go to China to train horses, a position he had learned of in a local racing publication. More than 60 people applied for the position, although it was Nigel who secured the post.

"At that time there were lots of little clubs in Beijing owned by rich individuals who raced against each other. Then a chap built a massive complex and he employed 18 trainers from around the world. I was the only one from the UK," he says.

After three years in China, Nigel headed to New Zealand to train horses, but after his father became ill, he returned to the family farm in Worcester.

Singing to his horses

Nigel's other love is singing, a passion that developed while singing in the church choir as a child, although he says that he was never confident enough to sing on stage. This all changed after he began singing to his horses, that became his first audience.

"You need to know what you are doing when breaking in a horse, or you are going to get hurt, because one end kicks and the other end bites. I found that the best way to do it was to keep calm, which for me, was to sing. I used to ride around the country singing to my horses, which seemed to keep them calm," he says, bursting into laughter.

Of course, stories such as these and numerous others are included in Nigel's one-man show, which can be seen at the A'Roma Pizzeria in Fuengirola at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17 May.