We still have the Breeders’ Cup to come, the Hong Kong International meeting and the Japan Cup but it feels like a good time to look back given the majority of the European season is over and the big meetings are behind us. When Adayar won the King George I was hoping we finally had a Derby winner we could talk about over a cup of tea or a pint down the The Affleck Arms for years to come but whilst it didn’t work out in the Arc and it likely then bottomed him for Ascot, he hasn’t gone on to achieve what I hoped he would and will now surely go down as a good Derby winner rather than one of the best Derby winners. Snowfall blew the field apart in the Oaks and made many think she would have gone close in the Derby and then did the same back home but she too has not gone on in the last part of the season, she travelled menacingly in the Arc before not finishing off her race and was very disappointing at Ascot. Baeed went from strength to strength and downed Palace Pier at Ascot, Native Trail showed himself to be the best two-year old around in the Dewhurst whilst Luxembourg also impressed. Trueshan ended up taking top staying honours whilst a whole host of Sprinters had their day in the sun at Group 1 level. Mishriff put up one of the performances of the season at York.
It is important to note this was the second Champions Day that there were no Coolmore winners or Gosden winners on the card and the ground could not take any blame this time around. Prize money continues to be the number 1 problem the sport in this country faces but there needs to be competition at the top of the tree to make things interesting and that has come this year from Charlie Appleby who had a phenomenal year, mainly with home grown talent and Andrew Balding who just failed to cling on to the title as well as William Haggas who has had an outstanding season and with further investment made on property in the town earlier this year he will surely become Champion Trainer before too long.
As much as the very top needs healthy competition it is encouraging to also see emerging forces appearing that will ensure those at the top of the tree don’t rest on their laurels. George Boughey has continued to climb the ranks, had a 2nd at Epsom in the Oaks, picked up plenty of BlackType with his two year-olds and one would imagine he will have north of 100 horses next year, establishing himself in the top 25 very early in his career. Kevin Philippart De Foy has had a very good first year, being a bit unlucky not to go closer in Black Type races and proving himself with a variety of horses, he has had the cheque book out in recent weeks and it would be a big surprise were he not to build on 2021 next year. James Ferguson has brought the very tough El Bodegon along beautifully and picked up his Maiden Group 1 in only his second year training, a very impressive feat and it will be a surprise if the son of Kodiac doesn’t keep him the limelight next year as he is a very likeable individual that will surely compete at the top level in 2022.
Grant Tuer has had a breakout season and is closing in on 50 winners, the Yorkshire based stable has rarely gone a week without a winner and has bought shrewdly to keep the flow of winners coming in. Joseph Parr is another who has had a good second season with a small number of horses, closing in on 20 winners after a constant flow of winners in recent winners and Tom Ward has kept his head down and quietly hit the 30 winner mark in just his second season training, he is sure to keep moving up the ranks. Alice Haynes has had a fine end to the season, has done very well with her two-year olds and won the Listed Silver Tankard at York for Amo Racing, they will surely give her more support next season and she has built a fantastic platform from which to dive into 2022.
Looking at our season I think Chris and the whole team can be very proud of what we have achieved. We sit just outside the top 100 but wehave always had less than 20 horses in the stable and so to hit 25 winners on the flat at a strike rate of 20% during the 2021 season has been a fantastic achievement, smashing our original target of 15. Global Prospector for me has been the stable’s greatest achievement, moving up the ratings from 70 to 94 and it would be fantastic if he could be competitive again next season in decent handicaps and perhaps at Listed level. Global Wisdom was not able to show his best on gluey deep ground at Newbury but he remains a horse of promise who should be a Saturday horse next season. We have two promising unraced three year olds and should have 7 or 8 yearlings so we hope there are gems to be unearthed that can up the quality for 2022 and push us into the top 100. Whilst it will be difficult tobeat circa 25 flat winners next year we will set the target at 30 and see if we can bring in some older horses at HIT sales next year to help achieve it.
The jockeys title became enthralling towards the end and wasdue to William Buick never giving in and being a model of consistency in thesaddle, always giving his horses a chance to show their ability. Whilst Oisin was the Champion and always found a winner when he needed to it was a valiant effort in defeat from William. Champion Apprentice Marco Ghiani started the year strongly and kept producing the goods, building more connections as he went, bagging a first Royal Ascot winner and Group winner and ensuring he won’t be forgotten now he has joined the professional ranks. Outside of Apprentices we use Mark Crehan proved that he is a fine young jockey and I am sure will contend for the title next season given his Boss will have a lot of heavy artillery. Oisin McSweeney has been brought along gently by his supporters up North but he will be given a lot more opportunities next year and should keep his agent Niall Hannity busy.
Silvestre De Sousa rode seven of our 25 winners, many of them fine rides but for me his best was on the Maiden Thaki as no jockey had ever been able to get him to jump before and he was able to make therunning on him from a wide draw at Wolverhampton, for me the start is often as important as the finish, if you end up in the wrong position in a race you often just cannot win. Thore Hammer Hansen has ridden 5 winners for us and has now ridden out his claim, he is stylish and dependable and did very well to nursehome a Richard Hannon horse to claim valuable Black Type in third at Newbury last Saturday, I am sure things like that won’t go unnoticed and he should go onto big things in the future. Marco rode us two winners as an Apprentice as did Darragh Keenan who has been riding out of his skin in recent weeks. Harry Burns rode us 4 winners, forging a good bond with Global Prospector and Stefano Cherchi clicked with Sir Oliver and has won on him 3 times. Aled Beech got on well with the tricky Global Esteem and got his head in front on two occasions. We have been let down on very few occasions this season by our jockeys and a big thank you to you all for helping this season be such a success. Also a big shout out to Josh Moore who rode London Eye beautifully to win on him at Worcester over jumps and recently had a horrible tumble at Fontwell. I was pleased to read the hospital finally got their ass in gear and operated on Josh after a lengthy delay, get well soon. Another mention must go to Jack Tudor who rode London Eye beautifully when 2nd in the Fixed Brush Novices’ Final back at Worcester.
What is not in dispute is that we are very lucky in thiscountry to have talented people within the sport and figures like Nick Bradleyare proving that you can have success as an Owner without spending huge money. There are somany positives and the funding just needs to move in the right direction. Our sport’s funding model is broken and ARC saying they will put more money in the pot if racing allows 9 races on a card is not the solution for the long-term. 9 races on a card is not the issue, the number of fixtures is. Any sensible person knows we have a product that is too diluted as it is. We did not run a horse at Newcastle last Friday even though it was the perfect race for him because if you worked out the cost, the stress it puts on the team and then the prize money, it would have been insanity to go and the horse would have had to be long odds on in any cost benefit analysis. The way horse racing is funded has to change, there are so many bright people to make it happen and it will only happen with strong forceful tactics. My old Boss in London relentlessly told me for years you should never start with it can’t be done as most things can be achieved and he slowly turned my mind set. This is something that very much can be changed but people always start with there are too many different interests to make it happen rather than how it can happen. There is only one regulator, one group that provide horses to run and one group that owns them and pay the bills, if these three pull together then they can force the results. It is the BHA that have the power and it is the Trainers and those behind the scenes and the Owners who provide the product, without the horse there is no racing and whilst you need a racetrack to run them at, the ultimate power lies with those beautiful four legged friends who power around the tracks, without them there is nothing.