Darren purchased the main Ballarat establishment Forest Lodge in August 2001 and has since completed major renovations and extensions to develop it into a training centre of excellence.  Darren is always looking for new ways to update the facilities to utilise them to their full potential. There is a smaller stable on the other side of the racetrack which is leased from the Ballarat Turf Club and used primarily as a pre-training facility. The training complex at Warrnambool is significant for its access to the beach and water walker.

The utmost priority for all the facilities is to uphold safety for both horses and staff and to ensure that the horses receive the best care available and are happy in their environment.


Take a look at his new training facility out at Maldon by clicking here - Trevenson Park






Hill Track 


The most significant aspect of training at Ballarat is access to the straight 1400m uphill synthetic track. What makes this track so good for the horses is the Pro-Ride training surface, the lack of turning, and the natural landscape on the incline which is great for the horse’s legs. The Ballarat Turf Club has also installed timing, cameras and a lighting system every 200m up the hill which provides trainers with all necessary information on the training performance of their horse.








Trotting ring with jumping logs


Darren has built a fully functional trotting ring equipped with many different sized jumping logs. This area is mainly used to warm the horses up before riding out. The smaller jumps are great for teaching balance and getting a horse to switch on and focus in their work. The larger logs are usually used as a warm-up for the jumpers before taking them out to the schooling lane over the steeples and hurdles.







Schooling Lane


The schooling lane at both Ballarat and Warrnambool is equipped with logs, steeples and hurdles for Darren to train and refresh his jumpers.












Treadmills are a terrific training tool for a number of reasons. The treadmill reduces the concussive forces on a horse’s joints, they can be used for horses coming in after an injury to start their training without the added weight of a rider on their back, or for a horse with a sore wither/back as it removes the need for a rider whilst still giving them a good workout. Treadmills can also be used so Darren can see how the horse handles a gallop while providing a close up view of the horse working. Of course the intensity of the horse’s workout can be adjusted by altering the speed and incline of the treadmill to the exercise program can be very specific. There are numerous treadmills located at both Ballarat stables and at Warrnambool.









Darren has 3 walkers at the main Ballarat stable, 1 walker at the pre-training stable and 1 walker at Warrnambool. The walkers are used to exercise the horses either pre- or post-workout.












The pool at Ballarat is a natural dam with a walking bridge in the middle to lead the horses around. No chemicals are used in the pool and it is much safer than other pools due to the natural sloping edges and high closed in fences.












The beach at Warrnambool is vital to Darren’s training and management of his horses. The varying depths of sand, and of course the normal variations of soft and firm sand, give horses a natural ground to work on and is kind on their joints and tendons. Once they are finsihed working along the beach the horses can then go for a surge through the water which gives them a further workout while keeping the pressure off their legs. The beach can be very mentally stimulating for the horses too. 









Water Walker


The water walker at Warrnambool is a terrific training tool. It is especially useful as a method of introducing exercise after a horse returns from injury, or for managing an existing injury, as it builds up muscle whilst keeping pressure off the legs and joints.










Bull Ring


The bull ring is a great place for the horses to go when they first come into work out of the paddock. The staff can give the horses a lunge and let them kick up their heels before riding. The bull ring is also used for first rides on young horses that

are straight from the breakers.