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It's the end of an era

Thursday, 18 July 2019

"The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Albert Einstein.

06_Walking
Walking back from the Farm Canter

It’s an overcast morning and we have already had a couple of reasonable showers. It is very warm though and muggy once again. The forecast is for bands of rain to come across the whole country from now until Sunday which will certainly help the ground on the courses and the fields at the stud. They are all in desperate need of a good drink. Everybody is in this morning and working well and after yesterday’s announcement that I am going to retire at the end of the month, we are starting to get things sorted out for the future. All the horses have been doing good canters and I will be finding them new homes in the not too distant future. We have got one or two nice unraced horses which will be for sale and I can recommend them highly.

18_Pick_of_grass
A nice pick of grass after exercise

It has been 40 years of enjoyment for me being a racehorse trainer and as I often tell people, I have never done a day’s work as I have loved every minute of it. Firstly I must thank all my loyal owners, past and present, who have shared all the ups and downs of the racing life. There are so many big winners to remember, Bob Returns being the highlight winning the St Leger. Even Top’s narrow defeat in the 2000 Guineas was also a fantastic day. Babodana, Cool Edge, Franklins Garden, Ted Spread, Steenberg and Smokey Oakey were all high class flat horses and, along with Halkopous and Staunch Friend, who were both Grade 1 jumpers, I have been very lucky to train some marvellous horses. I must have had thousands of horses through my hands over the years and every one of them has been treated the same. Beat them with kindness has always been my motto, both animal and human.

There is not enough space to thank everybody here but I must mention Mystic Meg who has been the staunchest of supporters for many years. Dame Judi and Bryan, David Noblett and the whole of the Marriott family have been an unbelievable support these last few years. Michael Bowring and his late mother were also great supporters and I trained over 50 winners for them. They, along with every owner who has ever been involved with us, all have my heartfelt thanks for the support they have given me.

I must mention the staff over the years. Some may have not lasted very long, but people like Johnny East and Phil Green were unbelievable at the beginning of my career and Ian and Di have been stalwarts towards the end. I have had some lovely texts from ex-employees who said I put them on the straight and narrow and helped them think about life in a different way. All I did was tell them the truth and how to have manners.

Angie and I will be continuing at the stud with the mares and young stock for the time being. We both want to thank everybody who has been involved at Flint Cottage, Exeter Ride and Frankland Lodge over the years, whether in a big or small way, for their support.

22_Walking
Third lot 

I have not finished from putting the sport to rights though and yesterday’s meeting of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association had Nick Rust, the BHA chairman, announcing the investigation into the sales practices would be published after consultation with everybody. I hope he gets a consensus of what they have decided as the sales ring is the one place that does need sorting out if new owners are to have confidence going forward. I am sure this will be a tricky area for the sales company’s and agents but, without doubt, there needs to be more clarity with this situation.