Onwards and upwards ...


The first of the horses are on the move

Friday, 19 July 2019

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough."


Cantering on the Round Canter

It’s an overcast morning and a little bit cooler, thank goodness. There is rain in the west but it looks to me like it is moving northwards rather than eastwards. It would be very nice if we could get some as it has been a long time since we have had a proper downpour. The horses are going out and getting exercised and we are starting to move one or two into new homes later today. It will take us a week or two to sort everything out but at present we are getting on well.

Velvet Vista and Ness Of Brodgar

Thank you to everybody who has sent good wishes on my announcement yesterday. All the messages are very much appreciated by both Angie and I. I have had a fantastic time training and loved every minute. People say I ought to write a book, and I may do so some time in the future. I am sure it would be full of stories but the problem with racing books nowadays is there is only a small percentage of the population who would appreciate them. I see in today’s Racing Post a very prominent, now ex bookmaker, was stating the obvious in that the politicians of today have no idea about horses or gambling. How right he is. Everybody used to own a horse and use them as transport many years ago. We need to have leaders who can explain our industry and how it works in a clear and understandable way. It is only then that the sport can move forward. I have so many ideas that would improve the sport, but most of our leaders have no foresight, or imagination, and are only looking after themselves rather than the good and the future of the sport.


The great thing about British racing is that no track is the same and every day jockeys are riding at maybe one or two different tracks. They go left and right, uphill and down dale on all types of ground and sometimes mistakes are made, like the young apprentice yesterday who stopped riding for a few strides inside the final furlong at Leicester. We don’t want to become like America where every track is the same but this sort of thing wouldn’t happen then. The 10 day ban the apprentice got pales into insignificance to the pathetic ban the jockeys got for overstepping the whip numbers at Ascot. In my opinion the whole system wants sorting out once and for all, by people who know the game. At present we are tinkering at the edges and getting nowhere. I see we still have no senior person overseeing the stewards and the operating manager, who does all the official personnel at the racetracks, has resigned from the post. I could see that coming a long way off as the proper people who should be employed are being alienated by the pressures of a never ending fixture list.


It's the end of an era

Thursday, 18 July 2019

"The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Albert Einstein.

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.

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.

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.


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