This is the time of year when a lot of racing stables will be dreaming of what could be next year. The yearlings are still very much learning their trade and each and every one could be the good horse a stable is looking for or the next good horse in the big yards such as John Gosden's. There are shoes that need to be filled even in the bigger stables and Enable's departure from Clarehaven means there is a big hole waiting to be filled.
We can tell you already that the Brocklesby has been won as long as the heavens do not open on Town Moor, the early season Kempton 5f race for 2 yo fillies is in the bag and the photo for the winner of the mid September Novice at Newbury has been ordered. If we cannot dare to dream then we are probably in the wrong game because whilst most of our wishes will not come to pass, it is good to have dreams to carry you through a cold, dark and likely very wet Winter. Disappointments are very much part of the racing game and will have to be dealt with, hopefully on bright sunny days.
In some sports it seems impossible to dream. I used to love F1 in the days of Mansell vs Senna but whilst I admire Lewis Hamilton and his brilliance, I hardly ever watch an F1 race anymore. It often seems the same with the Derby given the dominance of Coolmore in recent times but as long as sporting owners such as Sheikh Fahad and Bjorn Nielson are prepared to run their best horses against them, it ensures there is some interest in the race but it would be great if a horse running for less established connections such as Pyledriver can prevail in the near future, for the good of the popularity of the race outside of the racing bubble.
Racing needs its leading figures, the big players that people can aspire to be but it also needs other players to have success, to keep people daring to dream and to keep people interested in the sport. 2020 has been an awful year, no one will tell you otherwise but importantly in terms of horse racing it is a year that has allowed many to think the unlikely could happen one day. Whilst the dream is not easily attainable, at times over the last decade it has felt like the dream has been fading, the light has got brighter this year.
Who can forget Roger Teal haring down the rails at the July Course after Fenton won the July Cup. Roger nearly pulled off a win in the 2000 Guineas with Tip To Win and is no stranger to a good horse but it was a victory for a smaller stable. It was a feel good story for the sport and would have made potential incoming owners to racing, to think, maybe, just maybe it could be me one day. The French Wizard David Menuisier has been producing good horses for a while now but Wonderful Tonight's victory on Champions Day was his breakthrough Group 1 victory in the UK. These are just two examples of a year that has given ITV many diverse stories to sell the sport, alongside success for the top players which is also important. There have been a lot of new Trainers that entered the ranks in 2019/2020 and all of them have had tremendous first seasons, injecting fresh blood into the sport and increasing the competition.
Horse Racing in this country is not in bad shape as we start to move back towards more normal times. Hopefully many who have viewed horse racing from their tvs during covid-19, will want to participate in leisure activities nearly every weekend for the short-medium term and will gravitate towards our racecourses. If only the prize money situation can be improved! Dr Hon is a big dreamer and that is why he has set up Global Group Racing. He loves the UK and it is his home as much as Hong Kong in more normal times. We are realistic that we are starting at the bottom with a small team of horses and we would just love to have some winners in 2021, Chris has proven himself to be a fine trainer and we hope the ambition of having winners is a realistic one in the near future but we must dream of bigger winners to come one day.
We aspire to be at a level only a few will ever reach but ultimately it is improbable and without Roger Teal and David Menuisier and all the other medium and small trainers that have had big winners this year that I have not mentioned, dreaming would be impossible.
Whilst this blog has mainly focused on the training side of things, Hollie Doyle has been unbelievable for the sport in 2020 and has to have increased racing's popularity. She has certainly fulfilled many dreams that must have seemed unlikely when she was an Apprentice starting out in the sport. I would also like to mention just how great it was seeing Tom Eaves get a winner at the Breeders Cup. There were some great stories out in Keeneland for UK racing but Tom is a hard grafter and a top bloke, he rode my brother's first winner and was a big help to him when he first started training, it was his win I enjoyed the most.