Wirral Olympian Sam Quek on her love of horses and fashion
PUBLISHED: 18:02 06 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:02 06 August 2017
Gold medallist Sam Quek steps out in style after swapping her hockey stick for horse racing. It's all in a good cause, writes Janet Reeder
Wirral-based hockey player Sam Quek may have won Olympic gold for her prowess on the pitch but she also has a big passion for the sport of kings...which is why she finds herself taking part in a fashion shoot at the Manor House stables in Malpas.
Sam is an ambassador for the Jockey Club Racecourses North West and is currently promoting a £20,000 development award that encourages young women to take up horse racing.
This year the unique award will be presented to a female jockey who rides a winner at Carlisle’s #AmazingMonday fixture on August 7th and then goes on to win the Betfred Ladies’ Trophy Handicap Stakes at Haydock Park on August 12th.
Sam, who is from Upton, explains:‘ The Jockey club NW have this development award for female jockeys. Amazing Monday is the only female race card in the world and the winner of that will go on to compete in the Ladies’ Cup at Haydock and then win the £20,000 award.
‘You have to be tough to be a jockey. It’s the only sport after cycling where an ambulance follows you around. I was talking to one of the jockeys, Katie Walsh, and she said if you’re good enough you’re good enough. It’s just about taking the opportunities that come your way.’
Being an ambassador for the Jockey Club NW isn’t Sam’s only connection with the racing world. She is also the proud co-owner of a racehorse called Conqueress.
‘I’ve always been a massive horseracing fan - my granddad was the one who started it for us,’ says the 28-year-old.
‘We’d all gather round the telly, cheering on the horses and it just progressed from there; going to the race days, being annual badge members at Chester and now I have a horse as part of a syndicate here at the Manor House.
‘It makes going to the races a completely different experience, having an actual horse. It’s so much more. So to get on board with the Jockey Club is a massive thing for me.’
Now back living in the Wirral, following her Olympic success in Rio in 2016, Sam says she may return to Bowdon Hockey Club, where she played before she headed down south.
‘I was there from being16 before moving down south in 2009 but I want to go back I think. It’s the only global club in the prem. The junior section is really strong.’
When she’s not playing hockey she loves to soak up the scenery of the Wirral with her boyfriend Tom Mairs and yorkies Max and Ollie.
‘I like going for walks down the Wirral Way especially with the dogs,’ she says.
‘ Because I lived away from the Wirral for so long I realise you have to make the most of what you have. I love the views across the Dee and, of course, Liverpool is close. It’s where I usually go when I go out if I’m going to go for dinner, or shopping.’
One of her favourite places is Chamber 36 in Liverpool’s Berry Street, a tea house, Oriental street food and cocktail bar which happens to be owned by her twin brother Shaun.
‘I enjoy cooking and my partner enjoys cooking so we eat in quite a bit,’ she adds.
‘We spoil ourselves when it comes to shopping, we like proper good fresh ingredients. ‘
Sam also loves fashion, admitting she’s more into high street shopping than designer gear.
She tells me: ‘One of my main messages is that a lot of people try to stereotype women in sport, as masculine, sweaty and dirty. I’ve found that being a sports person, people try to categorise you as that,’ she explains.
‘I’ve always thought you can be both. Just because you’re on a hockey pitch doesn’t mean you can’t look good.
‘As soon as I step over that line, I’ve sweat on my face and spit in my hair but then post-game I’ll get a shower and put some make-up on and if I’m going anywhere I’ll make sure I’m looking glamorous because I also enjoy doing that as well. I just need a little bit of direction with the clothes that I wear. When I’m at a high profile event I tend to seek advice both in terms of hair and clothes.’
But that’s not made her immune to a fashion faux pas, which she deflected with the same deft skill she shows on the hockey pitch. Following her appearance on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2016, Sam stepped out at the National Television Awards in the same dress as presenter Stacie Solomon.
‘I was genuinely not bothered even though I turned on the telly the next day and I was all over This Morning and Loose Women,’ she laughs.
‘It’s taken a while to get a thick skin but now it goes over my head and because I acknowledged it on Twitter as a laugh, the papers couldn’t then run a story saying “Sam Quek mortified”. I just tweeted “Oh, Stacie Solomon, we have such great taste!” and then straight away it’s sorted.’
Sam will soon be back on television, working with Channel 4 covering football for the Women’s European Championships. In fact, football was her first love before she became a hockey player for the Wirral team at the age of 10.
‘I think in the long term I want to get involved in sports presenting,’ she admits.
‘Covering the next Olympics in the studio would be amazing; a dream come true. I’ve been working with Liverpool FC TV as well. I have a show on every night, so that’s been a massive learning curve. I’ve just fallen into it really. I didn’t come out of the jungle thinking I’d have a TV career but it has just happened. There again, it’s just about taking the opportunities that come along.’
With thanks to
Andrea Davies from Barbara Daley www.barbaradaleyhair.co.uk,
Lauren Casey from Smudge Boutique www.smudgeboutique.com
Matthew O’Brien www.mattobrien.co.uk
Faye McAuley @Fayemcmakeup
Jessica Dalgleish at the Jockey Club
Manor House Stables www.manorhousestables.com